October has been traditionallydedicated to the honor of Our Lady of the Rosary and the recitation of her Rosary. Her feast is celebrated on the 7th of October, in memory of the Victory believed to have been brought about through her intercession by the faithful,reciting herRosary. It was in 1571 that this battle, crucial for the survival of the Church then was waged between the Holy League, as it was called,composed of a patchwork of some Spanish and Italianfleets against the overwhelmingly huge naval fleet of the Ottoman Empire with a large array of warships tensof thousands of men trained in naval warfare. It was not only a war between opposing armies but between two religions, Christians and Muslims, a war where theChristians were definitely at the losing end. It was fought at Lepanto, hence the famous Battle of Lepanto. Miraculously the Holy League prevailed despite their enormous disadvantage. The Turks were mercilessly routed. It was Our Lady’s victory for the Church. The faithful with the Blessed Mother’s light, the rosary, prevailed over defeat, over darkness.
Once again this year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called all Catholics all over the world to pray the rosary particularly on the of month of October for a very urgent reason. Another battle! The Vatican Press Office said the Pope wants “ all to join in communion and in penitence as the People of God , asking the Holy Mother of God and St Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the Devil who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other) The Pope says, He(the Devil) is the Great Accuser who goes around the world to accuse people. He reminds us that “in moments of great spiritual turbulence, we take shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.”
Pope Francis, being a Jesuit, keen on this perennial battle and schooledin the Ignatian meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on the battle between the two standards, that of Jesus, the other of the Devil, perceives this menace in our midst today: the Devil has escalated his war against humanity particularly the Church and her faithful. This conflict started way back in the Garden of Eden and which will continue until he is finally defeated in the end of time; when God iscompletely glorified by all. The devil is helpless before God so he strikes against humankind as it is created in God’s image and likeness.
We are aware of these wars being waged on many fronts in our world today: nations at arms against each other particularly in the Middle East but also beyond, some forracial reasons, others, religious; Many die as the martyr’s in these persecutions. There are threats of war amongpowerful nations, all creating unrest and uncertainties among countless peoples.Grave calamitieshit different countries both rich and poor and the devastation of nature and properties. The Holy Father have all these in his mind, most especially what is happening in the Church under his care, divisions and dissensions under his apostolic office;sexual abuses and scandals among priests, bishops even Cardinals;The disheartening apostasy from the faith in the Catholic Church, the repudiation of many Catholic tenets, like the sanctity of marriage, the inviolability of life, particularly of the unbornof the; the family is endangered and the future of humanity is not ensured. The Enemy has seemingly the upper hand in the affairs of the world; He has entered every area of life particularly the family and is determined to win. Signs of the Impending end times? Pope Francis says “onlyprayer can defeat him.” And the prayer he asks is the Rosary.
Fatima and the Rosary
Our Lady at Fatima has made repeated appeals to pray the rosary everyday. On May 13 1917 she said to the three children:”Say the rosary every day to bring peace to the world and end of the war.”World War I was about to start then. Nowadays we believe that prayers of the rosary worldwide have averted the danger of a World War III.Nevertheless it is very apparent that we are still in war and it is against the Snares of the Devil in our daily life. This is the battle that the Pope is warning us against and more. Let me quote again from Our Lady’s message from the Blue Book “Continue to recite it (the rosary)…thus responding to the invitation which the first of my beloved sons, the Vicar of Jesus, has so urgently made to you.”(msg. 182,e) In this message Our Lady affirms and concurs with appeal the Pope has made. The Church in heaven and earth are clearly united in battling against him whom Our Lady calls, her Adversary.(Blue Book passim)
Mary and the Blue Book
In order to understand better why the Church, the Popes in history and Pope Francis insist in the recitation of the Holy Rosary let us look into the messages of Our Lady, received through interior locutions by Fr Stefano Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests and compiled in the so called “Blue Book” used in cenacles and dubbed “the school of Mary”. They are in consonance with the messages of Our Lady in Fatima but now addressed to priests and consequently also to the laity(604 in all, from 1973 – 1997).While these messages have no Papal approval they carry several imprimaturs, meaning there is nothing contrary to faith or morals in the manuscript. The proof of authentic spiritual and even pastoral value can be gleaned from the response they have received all over the world from priests, bishops, even Cardinals ,of course, the Popes from Pope St John Paul II on and more numerous than the clergy are the laity. (The messages will be in italics, together with the message number and line or paragraph.)
Let us listen to our Lady: She asks, “Why is the rosary so efficacious” (275e)
And she gives this answer to her question ”Because it is a simple prayer, a humble one and it forms you spiritually in littleness, in meekness, in simplicity of heart”. (.275f )“It is a prayer that you say together with me.(275,i)
Our Lady prays with us in this simple prayer and forms us in her own spirituality of simplicity littleness and meekness. How does he form us.She outlines for us:
“By contemplating its mysteries, you are led to understand the plan of Jesus, as spelled out in all of his life, from the Incarnation, to the consummation of this glorious Pasch, and thus you penetrate ever more profoundly into the mystery of the Redemption.
And you begin to understand this mystery of love through your heavenly Mother; moving through the passage way of her heart, you gain possession of the immense treasure of the divine and burning charity of the Heart of Christ “.
In the rosary you are formed for the perfect glory of the Father with the frequent repetition of Jesus taught you: ‘Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come.
You are also formed for the everlasting adoration of the Most Holy Trinity with the recital of the ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.’”(275,n,o,p,q)
Our Lady has given us explanation of the very core of our faith expressed In a very simple yet powerful prayer as we will see latter. It is not justrecitationmuch less is it alike repetitious mantra to obtain something but truly a meditation and formation into the mystery of salvation in our Lord Jesus. To explain her messages will be superfluous. We will continue to quote this message in the hope that we will see another dimension of the Rosary that the Holy Father wants us to open up to.
“Today your Holy Mother asks you to make use of the Holy Rosary as the most efficacious weapon for the fighting of the great battle, under the command of the ‘Woman clothed with the Sun,’
“Give your support to my invitation; multiply your cenacles of prayer and fraternity; consecrate yourselves to my Immaculate Heart; frequently recite the Rosary! Then the powerful Red Dragon will be shackled be this chain, and his margin of action will become ever more restricted. In the end he will be left impotent and powerless and harmless.
“The miracle of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart will be made manifest to all.” (275, r,s,t,)
Mary’s Final Battle
Every time we pray the Rosary, we pray for our personal intentions or private intentions ask by others for us to pray for. This view and use of the rosary while valid is in complete. The rosary indeed is a very useful prayer for obtaining favors for our or other’s needs. But Our Lady herself invites us to see further from ourselves and from our small needs. She invites us to look at our world from the from vantage point of God. God and His work of salvation for His creation where Mary, the Mother of His Son is a docile cooperator.She received the task of Motherhood of us at the foot of the cross from her dying Son.. The reason of His death was our sins. Mary was to take care of us with Him. Being a good and loving Mother, She wants everything good for her sons. She wants to guard them from sin and the cause of sin, the Evil one. From creation on in Scriptures the “Woman clothed with the Sun” (Rev 12,1)who would be taunted by the Dragon. …Angry with the womanand (he) went off to wage war with the rest of her offspring.(Rev. 12, 17) Our Lady knows that therole of that woman has been assigned to her to war against the Dragon and ultimately to defeat him. The Devil is proud and full of lies and wiles and he uses all means to entice to sin. Our Lady is humble and full of truth and holiness and her only weapon is a fragile rosary that will be the ‘’chain that will shackle him’.
The triumph of her Immaculate Heart will coincide with the triumph of the reign of the Lamb, of Her Son Jesus. (he Blue Book , passim) Pope Francis I am sure refersalso to this final battle and victory. The Battle of Lepanto was just a prelude. The definitive defeat of the Dragon will still be wrought through the rosary of our Lady. Our daily rosary involves us in this battle to prepare us for this victory.This gives us hope. Every rosary is a step towards that victory.
Beyond October and always
The call of our Lady of Fatima is for theachievement of peace and conversion of sinners. Peace is a fruit of conversion, among nations, communities, families, and in our hearts as we are all sinners. She assures usit is her rosary that will be her weapon to achieved the triumph of herImmaculate Heart and the reign of the Eucharistic Lord. She asks for daily rosary. The call therefore goes beyond the month of October. It should be part of our daily routine however should not be said routinely but with devotion, taking our active role in her final battle for peace..“Pray for us of Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthyof the promises of Christ.”