Feast of the Holy Rosary: A Sermon
What comes to our minds when we think of the Rosary? We think of the parishioners who recite the Rosary after our weekday Masses, we think of the Rosary processions or vigils that we have participated in, we think of the times we have fumbled with our beads at home or in church. We don’t tend to think of battles. And yet it is a series of military victories that led to the creation of today’s Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
On 7 October 1571 the forces of Christendom, under the command of Don Juan, defeated the Turks at Lepanto. The famous sea victory was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin because the Rosary had been recited both by the soldiers before battle and by many of the faithful in Rome. St Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victories and, shortly afterwards, Gregory XIII changed this to Our Lady of the Rosary. In the early eighteenth century, following some further victories against the Turks, the Feast was extended throughout the Church. And so October became known as the month of the Holy Rosary.
These historical events remind us of the importance and power of the Rosary. Numerous popes and saints have recommended the prayer as an effective weapon in the Church’s spiritual armoury; indeed Padre Pio called it ‘the weapon.’ At Fatima the Blessed Virgin, who identified herself as ‘the Lady of the Rosary,’ told the three young visionaries: Pray the Rosary every day… to obtain peace in the world.
Let us have trust in Our Lady and, especially in this month of October, pray the Holy Rosary. It’s a wonderfully flexible prayer. It doesn’t depend on spending long hours kneeling in church. We can fit it into the spare moments of the busiest day – I often say a decade or two while I walk along the street or wait for the bus. If Mary can help win great battles then she can also help us with our own battles, our worries and problems.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen
PS Buona festa to Fr Tim (Hermeneutic of Continuity) at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.