Guns and roses

The Church’s spiritual weapon of choice to combat the evil of our times is the rosary

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. Luke 2:19

As intense debate continues on the question of banning weapons—be they handguns, assault rifles, or nuclear—there is one weapon that the Church never tires to promote the use of: the rosary.

No other prayer has been recommended more by the Church and her saints over the centuries than this simple bead of prayers consisting of the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Infused with meditations upon the mysteries of Christ through the eyes and heart of His mother and ours, the rosary is a much needed medicine for our soul and our families, and the answer to the evils of our time. Why is it so important to pray the rosary?

In the Old Testament, the chief fault of the Israelites was their tendency to “forget the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:12) and all “the things He had done” for them (Psalm 78:11).

This also is our chief fault and the reason why, I believe, that the first thing Jesus taught us to ask of the Heavenly Father in the prayer He taught us is “Hallowed be Thy Name”—to remember the Lord Our God, to call upon His holy name and to make it reverberate ever more deeply in our heart and in all our actions. The rosary is a remembering of Christ with Mary—with her heart wherein lies the treasure of treasures!

When we pray the rosary, our memory is awakened with Mary’s help and filled anew and strengthened with the mystery of God’s redeeming love and mercy, of His friendship and longing for us. We all thirst for what only God can give, as the Psalmist beautifully expresses—“Like the deer that yearns for flowing streams,  so my soul is yearning for you my God” (Psalm 42:1). When we pray the rosary, we quench not only our thirst for God, but His for us. When Jesus cried out from the cross, “I thirst” (John 19:28), it was not just because He was parched, but because He thirsts above all for the souls He came to redeem.

The rosary is truly a “life-giving spring” that we should abundantly drink from every day. An icon of Jesus and Mary beautifully captures this image under the title of “Life-giving spring” and is most suitable to contemplate while praying the rosary.

When we pray the rosary, we reflect upon the most essential mysteries of our faith—mysteries not of past events, but “living” and present mysteries—those called Joyful that bring us to encounter He who is our true joy; those called Luminous for the divine light that penetrates the darkness of sin and hurt and illuminates our hearts with the Bridegroom’s love for us; those called Sorrowful that give meaning and purpose to all our sufferings in what Christ suffered to redeem us; and those called Glorious that rejoice in the promise of everlasting life with Jesus and Mary, strengthening and steadying our steps as we journey each day closer in our pilgrim journey to our heavenly home.

For good reason then does the Church call the rosary a “compendium of the Gospel.”

This I believe is the reason for Our Lady’s urgent message spoken to the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917—“Pray the rosary every day.” More than ever, we need to heed her words anew. For the world is growing increasingly forgetful of God and lost in its sterile and fruitless efforts to build a utopian kingdom of man’s design. People are despairing and becoming increasingly suicidal in a society infected with the “culture of death.”

The rosary is above all a prayer for peace — for peace in our troubled world, peace in our country, peace in marriage and families, peace in the womb, peace in our hearts. To pray the rosary, St. John Paul II reminds us, is to contemplate the mystery of Christ, who “is our peace,” who heals all division and makes us one in Him. Let us pray then for the gift of peace.

The rosary is the Church’s most powerful prayer, after of course that of the “saving action par excellence,” the holy Mass. And the reason for this is simple—Mary is the “woman” of Genesis 3:15 who crushes the head of the serpent. The great “saint of the rosary,” St. Louis de Montfort, explains how the devil, in a certain sense, fears Mary more than God himself. And this is because Satan is so full of pride, that “he suffers infinitely more by being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of the Lord.” As the rose is the “crown of flowers,” so the rosary is the crown of Mary’s children by which we triumph over evil.

No one has ever contemplated Our Savior and meditated upon His words and actions more than His mother. As St. John Paul II says, “It is not just a question of learning what [Christ] taught but of ‘learning Him.’ In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary?”

St. John Paul II stated that “the rosary is my favorite prayer” and he never tired in promoting it. His beautiful apostolic letter “On the Most Holy Rosary” should be read by all who pray the rosary, and would be a very wonderful document to reflect upon in a group study.

I would also recommend Father Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Morning Glory, and St. Louis de Montfort’s classic, True Devotion to Mary.

In this month dedicated to the holy rosary, may we take up this most beautiful rose of the Church, which is Mary’s, and learn from her how to contemplate the face of Christ, so that we might better be the face of Christ to others. This is the spiritual weapon that is most needed for the peace we long for.

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