Father Richard Kunst
Why This Feast Is So Important, Personally & Generally!
October 7 is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is an important day for our diocese as well as for me personally.
Originally the day was called Our Lady of Victory, because it marked the date of a major naval victory called the Battle of Lepanto. In the middle of the 16th century there was a threat of a major Muslim invasion on Christian Europe. Pope St. Pius V gathered many of the Christian nations to offset the impending attack with great success despite being largely outnumbered.
The pope called on the faithful to pray the rosary so that the defense would be successful, and it worked! It is truly a pivotal event in world history, because if the Muslim invasion would have been successful it would have likely changed Europe forever.
This date is important to our diocese, because Our Lady of the Rosary is the patroness of the Diocese of Duluth and for me personally, because I was ordained a transitional deacon on this feast day back in 1997.
The rosary is truly one of my favorite prayers, and it is the first prayer I say every morning after waking.
I think many Catholics have maybe not prayed the rosary as much as they used to, and I really want to encourage you to that end.
The whole month of October is dedicated to the rosary as well, so I would suggest you find your old rosary in your dresser drawer, or wherever it may be and actually pray it! It is a great habit to get into!
A card attached to this large rosary belonging to Pope Benedict XV states that it was believed to be used by the pope and was then presented to nuns in 1944. The card is old enough to be convinced of its authenticity.
Popes are presented with thousands of gifts during their pontificates, often during papal audiences or general audiences. Unable to keep them unless they are of historical or religious importance they are often given to the poor or, in this case, to a religious order.
A side note is Pope Benedict reigned from 1914 – 1922—in other words, during the appearances of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Battle of Lepanto was a pivotal moment in the history of the Catholic Church.
A great concern of Pius V’s pontificate and one that occupied his final years was the encroachment of the Turks with their victory over the Venetians in Cyprus. This led to the high point of his foreign policy. He was able to form an alliance against the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, defeating them, thereby putting an end to their influence in the Mediterranean. The Battle of Lepanto took place in October of 1571. 30,000 Turks were killed, 10,000 were taken prisoner, 90 ships were sunk, 180 were captured, and 15,000 Christian slaves were set free.
Pius V attributed this victory to Mary and established a feast in her honor to commemorate it. Eventually it became the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the month of October became dedicated to her. In his Apostolic Constitution on Praying the Rosary, 1569, Pius outlined his great faith in Mary and his devotion to her through this prayer dedicated to her.
Rediscovering a Beautiful, Ancient Prayer: A Commentary by Father Richard Kunst
October is the month of the rosary, but there is good reason to focus on the rosary in the month of April as well.
The last day of April is the feast day of St. Pius V, A Dominican pope who was very much devoted to the rosary and was the eventual cause for the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th, and the patronal feast of our diocese.
The rosary is perhaps the most common of the Catholic devotional prayers. Up until recently it consisted of 15 decades of “Hail Marys” with each decade proceeded by the Lord’s Prayer and followed by a doxology, accompanied by a meditation upon the life of Christ called a mystery. A few years back Pope John Paul the Great introduced five more mysteries, making the complete rosary twenty decades. This is the first substantial change to the rosary in nearly 500 years.
When the whole rosary is prayed, it is a virtual epitome of the liturgical year and the Gospels, though ordinarily only five decades are prayed at a time.
Pious tradition states that the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the rosary. Though Dominic and his order really are responsible for popularizing this form of prayer, in fact the rosary predates Dominic by at least 100 years. In reality, the rosary had a slow development.
It is a form of prayer that did not come from church authority but from the faith of the common people. Many monasteries at the time would pray all 150 Psalms every day. Though it was impractical, many lay people wanted to imitate this form of prayer. Eventually the normative practice became quoting 150 short Scripture passages, hence the fifteen decades. Through time, the passages became regularized as quotes from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: the words of the Angel to Mary, “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28), and the words of Elizabeth to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42).
It should be clear to anyone at this point that for the most part the rosary is little more than simply quoting Gospel passages in prayer. Anybody who does not have a problem praying with the Scriptures should not have a problem praying the rosary. For this reason, it is unfortunate that it is primarily only a Catholic prayer.
Although the mysteries of the rosary also had a slow development, they were pretty much accepted in their current form by 1483. In 1573 St. Pius V established the feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary” in honor of the defeat of the Turkish Muslim fleet at Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
Because so many different religious traditions have used beads to help them in prayer, the word itself is actually synonymous with prayer; the Old English word for “prayer” is “bead.”
There is nothing magical about the beads. They are simply a mechanical device to keep track of where you are in the prayer. With so many repetitions of different prayers, the beads become almost necessary; they themselves should never be the focus but in fact should help us to concentrate on the prayer.
To pray the rosary appropriately we almost should ignore the beads. People who go out of their way to find the most beautiful rosary may in fact be missing the point; the beads should very much be of secondary importance.
Although the rosary is not a mantra in the strict sense, it certainly can act as one. Mantras, mostly a part of Hindu prayer, are a continual repeating of words to “get in the zone” of prayer, to make the prayer as natural as the breath you are taking. Saying the same prayers over and over again certainly lend themselves to acting as a mantra, all the while meditating on the life of Christ in the mysteries.
It is an unfortunate reality that so many non-Catholics have a problem with the concept of praying a rosary. There is no reason to shy away from this prayer anymore than there is reason to shy away from the Gospels. The rosary quotes the scriptures and traces the entire life of Jesus in prayer and meditation.
Catholics, too, should be more accustomed to praying this beautiful and ancient prayer.
I often will tell parishioners to pray the rosary often enough so that it will not look out of place in their hands in the casket. —Father Richard Kunst
Learn More: http://ascensionpress.com/t/category/… The Battle of Lepanto was a pivotal moment in the history of the Catholic Church. Learn the dramatic story of how Our Lady interceded for the Christian fleet in their victory over the Turks. www.catholictimeline.com Subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/c/ascensionpress