SPIRITUAL LIFE: The Month of the Holy Rosary
October 4, 2022
In October we celebrate the Month of the Holy Rosary. This is because we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7. There is a significance to this date and why the Rosary is honored on that date. Before we dive into that, it is important to dive into the origins of the Rosary. Finally, I want to look at why it is still important today.
Catholic tradition holds that the Rosary in its current form was given to St. Dominic in the year 1214. Mary appeared to Dominic in a vision and presented him with the Rosary to bring conversion to sinners and those who preached the Albigensian heresy. This was a dualist heresy that held there to be both a good and an evil God who were equal. Dominic’s victory over this heresy with the help of the Rosary was a great defense of the sovereignty of the triune God.
There is some argument amongst historians that the Rosary existed before St. Dominic’s vision. It is true that Catholics had prayer beads, known as “Pater Noster” beads with which the Our Father would be repeatedly prayed. Also, after the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., there was a rise in devotion and prayer through Mary. This council defined and defended Mary as the “Mother of God.”
In Dominic’s vision, Mary directly also references the Psalter beads. This was a circle of beads with which the 150 Psalms would be recited. Mary asked Dominic to preach “her psalter.” Following this vision, he began to preach the Rosary and the Hail Mary and spent the rest of his life teaching this. His preaching focused on using these prayers to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ and grow closer to him in conversion. It is clear then that what Mary gives to Dominic is something unique and new, meant to be meditative on the life of Christ.
Another century later, in 1571, at the Battle at Lepanto, allied Catholic states in Europe defeated the Ottomans. This battle served as a turning point in the Muslim military expansion into Christendom. Pope Pius V had called for all the Christian faithful to pray the Rosary for victory. It followed that the Feast of Our Lady of Victory was established. The date has changed throughout the ages, and the name as well. St. Pius X moved the Feast to Oct. 7, the date of the victory in war, while Pope Paul VI, with the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms, renamed the feast to “Our Lady of the Rosary.”
Our world right now, a lot like during the time of St. Dominic, is in need of conversion. When Mary appeared to the children at Fatima, she continued to encourage the praying of the Rosary. It is important to remember that the Rosary is a Christ-centered prayer. Mary intercedes for us and brings our prayers before Christ as her own. Our culture and world needs to be brought and laid down before our Blessed Mother so that it can be immersed into the life of Jesus Christ.
Our Lady of Victory, Pray for Us! Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for Us!
Father Joseph Sund is associate pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Elgin, St. Bonaventure Parish in Raeville, St. John the Baptist Parish in Petersburg, St. Peter de Alcántara Parish in Ewing, St. Theresa Parish in Clearwater and St. John the Baptist in Deloit Township.