by Glenda Meekins
Marian devotion has been part of Catholic tradition as far back as 36 A.D. when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to St. James on a six-foot pillar of jasper, in Saragossa, Spain—while she was still living in Ephesus. Her purpose was to encourage him on his mission and she asked that he build a church in her honor. She promised her assistance to those that would call on her.
Since then, numerous Marian apparitions have been witnessed world-wide in which Mary often asks the faithful to pray the holy rosary. In addition to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, Pope Leo XIII officially dedicated the month of October to the holy rosary in 1883 saying, “It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in her maternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God (On Devotion of the Rosary).”
The rosary is a Scripture-based prayer which guides the faithful in meditating on the life Christ through the Joyful, Luminous, Glorious, and Sorrowful mysteries. The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, who celebrate their 170th anniversary this year, pray the rosary Sunday through Friday. On Saturday, they pray the rosary of the Seven Dolors or Sorrows.
La Salette Father Joseph O’Neil, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish in Orlando, said that when the priests pray this rosary, “We are accompanying Mary in the sorrows of her life. When we pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary’s we are meditating on the seven sorrows of Mary. As we pray it helps us relate to our own life.”
More than 250 parishioners of the Diocese of Orlando had a special opportunity to pray the rosary before a replica of the image of Our Lady of Charity which visited St. Augustine Parish in Casselberry September 12-14. Pope Francis’ was given this image of the patroness of Cuba during his visit to Cuba last year and was asked to take it to Cubans living outside the island as a symbol of love, reconciliation and forgiveness.
“…learn to pray with Mary, for her prayer is one of remembrance and gratitude,” said Pope Francis in his homily at the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity Shrine, “it is the canticle of the People of God on their pilgrimage through history. It is the living reminder that God passes through our midst; the perennial memory that God has looked upon the lowliness of his people, he has come the aid of his servant, even as promised to our forebears and their children for ever.”
Myriam Morales is president of the Legion of Mary, a diocesan group whose purpose is to conserve the tradition of the Catholic faith, convert hearts to Christ and comfort those who are afflicted through rosary meditation.
For her, the rosary is a journey to deeper spirituality. “The rosary is a form of meditation,” she said. “It helps us grow spiritually, stay calm and maintain our focus.”
Through the legions’ rosary prayers, Morales has seen cancer patients go into remission and many stories of conversion.
A devotion that began many centuries ago continues to make its mark in the lives of Catholics today. Throughout the world, the faithful honor Christ through devotion to His mother. The rosary not only honors the mother of God, but also provides a model of faith and enables the people of God to better live out the practice of their faith in their daily lives.