When the month of October begins, the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary comes to mind, a very endearing celebration for us since we come from the roots of the Province of the Order of Preachers that bears her name and we grew as an Institution under her protection.
Today we live in a society that faces different challenges. Sometimes we feel downcast, because every day, what we see in the media and on social networks are various news and events that have to do with serious problems in today’s society: war, climate change, poverty and more…; that although we try to see the signs of God’s presence, we find opposite, negative signs that make us believe that He is absent… and we hear the question: «does it make sense to believe, does it make sense to pray?» This moves me to look back at that important historical event which led to the establishment of this feast dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary: The Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
It is said that while the last great naval battle in history was fought in the Mediterranean, in Rome thousands of faithful recited the Rosary accompanying Pope Pius V. The battle lasted from the early hours of the morning until night, and in the morning. Then the Pope announced the happy news to all those present gathered in the square: the Holy Virgin had granted victory to the Christians. On the anniversary of this victory, Pius V established the liturgical commemoration with the advocation of Our Lady of Victories; later, his successor, Gregory XIII, changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary.
It is not the only “victory” attributed to the intervention of Our Lady of the Rosary. Other battles were won under her image or protection. Furthermore, in the recognized apparitions of the Blessed Virgin she always carried the Rosary, indicating the importance of praying it, because in reality, at all times, together with the world of solidarity, justice, willingness for service and love, there is also the world of violence, oppression, lies, self-interest… and Our Lady has given us a tool to help us turn to God and ensure her help because a mother never abandons Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2023 her children. In more tumultuous moments, the presence of the Blessed Virgin through the prayer of the Rosary has always been a source of strength to continue believing, continue hoping, continue aspiring and striving so that God’s plan be fulfilled in everything.
It is good to bring to our mind that Mary also experienced suffering in her own flesh. When the Lord, her son, was born in a manger, without a crib or adequate clothing, what is more cruel for a mother than to see her own son suffer misery? Furthermore, seeing her son on the cross, she suffered to the depths of her soul. But she was not discouraged, nor did she complain. She kept everything and meditated on it in her heart. She accepted reality as it came, she meditated on it from God’s perspective to capture the meaning of everything.
Mary knows very well the difficulties and sufferings that we have to endure in our lives, as well as the challenges that the world is going through. Therefore, we can hold onto her hand to sustain ourselves with strength and courage. I am convinced that praying the Rosary has an undeniable value because it means contemplating the unbreakable faith of the Blessed Virgin, and every time we pray it she confirms us in our faith, in our vocation and in our mission. She makes us see the greatness of God’s love, manifested in every mystery we meditate. Mary has shown us that believing makes sense and assures us that praying also makes sense.
At the Battle of Lepanto, thousands of Christians recited the Rosary with the Pope. I also believe that praying it in community, as a family, as groups of believers adds strength to this precious prayer. It is worth spreading her devotion.
Let us ask Our Lady of the Rosary to sustain us in our pilgrimage in this world and to help us transform our faith into a proclamation of the Gospel.
Happy feastday to everyone
With my fraternal embrace and prayer
Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.