Oct 7 – Memorial for Our Lady of the Rosary
This day was originally observed as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. Its date was chosen to commemorate the European victory at the third naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. This battle marked the high point of Turkish (Muslim) advance on European soil with the Balkans and the regions west and north of the Black Sea returning to Western (Christian) hands in the succeeding centuries. This victory, after two earlier defeats at the same location, was attributed to Our Lady of the Rosary as special processions were made on that same day in Rome for the sake of this crucial victory.
Pope Pius V ordered that a commemoration of the rosary should be made upon that day, and at the request of the Dominican Pope Gregory XIII in 1573, allowed this feast to be kept in all churches which possessed an altar dedicated to the rosary. In 1671, the observance of this festival was extended by Pope Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Pope Clement XI, after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on 6 August 1716 at Peterwardein in Hungary, commanded the feast of the rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church.
All these joined in continuous prayer
I have always found it very difficult to pray the Rosary at one continuous stretch when I was young. Perhaps it is the feeling that it is a repetitive prayer, and one which requires tremendous concentration. However, as I grew older, I realised that praying the Rosary allows me to destress and discover the importance of reconnecting with God.
The Gospel of today is a familiar one — and, in fact, is the First Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation. Mary must have felt very uncertain when the angel Gabriel made the announcement of great joy to her. I believe that this incident is instructive for all of us, especially in this period of time where we are living in a period of great uncertainty. There is a tremendous amount of stress placed on us during this period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of a familiar response to our world will make it really difficult for each one of us to cope.
What makes it all the more overwhelming is that this stress is very insidious. I have seen some of my colleagues slowly turn into a different person. They are becoming more impatient in their conversations with others, and also slightly more dismissive of the plight of others. The interesting thing is that there is an outright denial of the situation when I point it out to them, but it is certainly something which I have seen increase in frequency over this period of time.
The response to this situation is found in today’s first reading, where we see how Mary and the apostles all gathered together to pray continuously. This is indeed something which is more critical in our times today. There is an important and urgent need to pause whatever we are doing, and go and pray. Yes, we need to stop whatever we are doing and offer a period of time to God. It would be good to switch off all electronic devices, and find a quiet corner, where we can really be silent and listen to God.
The human body is not designed to work on a continuous basis. We will need to find time to pause and pray to allow the human body to recollect itself, and discover the purpose of our lives. Prayer allows us to reconnect to God. In this aspect, the role of the Rosary is helpful and, in some instances, life-saving. The repetitions of the Hail Marys are are not meant to be something boring but instead, should be viewed as something that seeks to calm our harried souls.
As we continue with our lives, let us make an effort to dedicate to God 10% of our waking hours. Assuming a person sleeps for 8 hours, the individual will be awake for 16 hours, and hence could set aside 1.6 hours of his time. This works out to be about the average length of 2 episodes on Netflix, which surely is something we can afford to give up. Prayer is a priority, not a luxury in this time, and when we pray the Rosary, we unite our feelings with the people all around us.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who continue to promote the Rosary prayer to all around them.