May 18, 2017
ORLANDO | During the month of May, the Church honors the Virgin Mary and her role in leading believers to her Son, Jesus Christ. Among the popular devotions to Mary is that of praying the rosary. Tradition is that St. Dominic received instructions on how to pray the rosary from Mary in the thirteenth century but the practice of using beads to count the prayers originated in the Eastern Church. Beads were part of a Greek monk’s habit and were referred to as his “spiritual sword.” Parishes throughout the world use this “spiritual sword” to fight spiritual battles, increase their faith and grow in love of Mary and Jesus.
Marta Frailes, a parishioner at St. Matthew Parish in Winter Haven, has been part of the Hispanic Rosary Group for more than 20 years. When she first arrived in Winter Haven, she knew no one until someone invited her to the rosary group. “It helped me a lot without my even realizing it,” she said. “It opened me up to a deeper faith walk and it gave me more solid faith. Simply by meditating on the rosary, you can’t help but to get closer to Jesus Christ. It is like a compass.”
Frailes said that when she reflects on the mysteries of the rosary, she imagines what the Blessed Mother was thinking and feeling, especially on the road to Calvary. “She is a mother, loving and always present,” said Frailes. “One can relate to that.”
This follows Mary’s teaching of the rosary to St. Dominic—that the life of Jesus and Mary was to be the subject of meditation, through the 15 mysteries, or events of Christ’s life: five Joyful, five Sorrowful and five Glorious mysteries. In 2002, St. Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries, leading to the 20 we pray today.
Sylvia Kronz, a member and leader of the Marian Prayer Group at St. Matthew, has been praying the rosary for 50 years. “My mom sent me to May devotions (praying the Rosary, Litany of Mary and Benediction), hence the beginnings of my devotion to the Blessed Mother,” she said.
“After being married about five years or so and still not conceiving a very much wanted child, I began making a rosary novena asking God’s blessing of a baby,” said Kronz. “This novena consists of 27 days of petition immediately followed by 27 days of thanksgiving. I continued to pray this novena and delivered my son, Richard shortly before our seventh wedding anniversary.”
Perhaps this explains why the Joyful mysteries are Kronz’ favorite: “It was a happy time in the life of Jesus and Mary, but not without some sorrow at the Presentation when Mary was warned of future trials in her life.” And trials did come for Kronz who braved open heart surgery in 2016. She attributes its success to the intercession of Our Lady and the rosary.
Richard Montverde, faith formation director at St. Matthew Parish, recently began a Legion of Mary Praesidium at the parish. He said, “When I first came back to the Church to get confirmed back in 2011, one of the first lessons I had was the importance of the rosary. So, I started the rosary novena and I prayed that I would find the love of my life.”
The journey first led him to the seminary. After a period of discernment, he came to the conclusion that priesthood was not God’s path for him. He met his wife at the going away party.
Montverde said, “She (Mary) had sent me to the seminary to grow closer to her Son so that I could become a better Catholic man.”
He added, “Since leaving the seminary, I have done all I can to increase devotion to the Blessed Mother.” He has helped teens and catechists at St. Anthony Parish in Lakeland as well as adults at St. Matthew become consecrated to Jesus through Mary using St. Louis de Montfort’s guide, True Devotion to Mary.