We have nearly traveled through the month of May, even if it has been tarnished and hugely saddened by the coronavirus pandemic. However, have we ever fathomed how powerful the Rosary really is?
Giants in God’s holiness make us realize the power of this ancient yet ever new Marian prayer. First of all, irrespective of the pacifist groups around, we are constantly contending with an ongoing state of war. The Bible helps us understand this by presenting to us what St Paul himself wrote in his letter to the Ephesians where he explicitly says: For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
It is because of this evil and corrupt spiritual forces that we need to equip ourselves with the right weapons in order to secure a victory in this decisive battle. The Rosary is, in fact, one of the weapons! Why? How come the Rosary is a very efficacious weapon against satan? The answer may be found in the Pauline text. For Paul, the word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). Can a gladiator, in antiquity, win his fight without a sword? Certainly not! Thus, the Word of God is fundamental to both combat and defeat the evil one. If one looks closely at the Rosary one can easily detect how replete is it with the Word of God, the Bible!
In his apostolic letter on the Most Holy Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope St John Paul II clearly emphasizes the biblical foundations of this extraordinary Marian prayer. Thus, he writes: “The Rosary is one of the traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ’s face. Pope Paul VI described it in these words: ‘As a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany-like succession of Hail Marys, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel’s announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: Blessed is the fruit of your womb‘ (Lk 1:42). We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Marys constitutes the warp on which is woven the contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of mysteries proposes to us now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin’” (no. 18).
It is interesting to note that, since its texture is essentially biblical, the Rosary necessarily requires from us to pray it with a biblical heart. Within the same apostolic letter, Pope Wojtyla offers this suggestion to be put into practice:
“In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken ‘for me’. If received in this way, the word of God can become part of the Rosary’s methodology of repetition without giving rise to the ennui derived from the simple recollection of something already well known. It is not a matter of recalling information but of allowing God to speak. In certain solemn communal celebrations, this word can be appropriately illustrated by a brief commentary” (no. 30).
Obviously, such a prayer helps us not merely to remember but also to celebrate God’s salvation for us, in the here and now of our situation, whatever it may be! This, according to St John Paul II, is noneother than the pure exercise of contemplation, a word with which we introduce every mystery we are about to contemplate upon. He writes:
“Mary’s contemplation is above all a remembering. We need to understand this word in the biblical sense of remembrance (zakar) as a making present of the works brought about by God in the history of salvation. The Bible is an account of saving events culminating in Christ himself. These events not only belong to ‘yesterday’; they are also part of the ‘today’ of salvation. This making present comes about above all in the Liturgy: what God accomplished centuries ago did not only affect the direct witnesses of those events; it continues to affect people in every age with its gift of grace. To some extent this is also true of every other devout approach to those events: to ‘remember’ them in a spirit of faith and love is to be open to the grace which Christ won for us by the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection” (no. 13).
Fortified by this winning attitude that God is, in fact, saving us today, when we pray with faith the Rosary, we can joyfully pray it for every intention that will bring in our midst the saving reality of God’s Kingdom! By contemplating each mystery we let Christ’s victory over sin and death pervade our difficult junctures of history and be filled with the Holy Spirit of truth and grace. Through the praying of the Rosary we are filled, once again, with the same Spirit who is still at work in the glorified person of Jesus Christ, Our Only Lord and Saviour.
Seen from this perspective it makes perfect sense then saying that the power of the Rosary is simply undisputed. That is why Pope Pius XI would say: “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” Whereas St Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort would also confirm: “If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. For even if you are now on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil…sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul. If––you say the Rosary devoutly every day of your life.”
The list of these great people and men and women of God who would gladly harp on the Rosary’s spiritual power is endless. What is important now is that we take again the Rosary beads in our hands and start to bless our homes, communities and nations alike, by praying this extraordinary biblical prayer on a daily basis.