October is one of the two months that the Catholic Church recognizes as a month devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (The other month that is even more closely associated to Mary is the month of May.)
The month of October was chosen to honor the Holy Mother, Mary, in thanksgiving for her protection that she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the rosary. For the people of different faiths, Catholics DO NOT WORSHIP Mary or idolize her. We worship the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We honor, revere and venerate Mary and ask for her guidance and help, as she is our intercessor, and she presents our spiritual requests and needs to her Son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf. One of the best ways to ask for Mary’s help is to pray the rosary.
We, as Catholics, continue to observe our feast days, Holy Days of Obligation, weekday Masses and the weekend Mass obligations, even with the social distancing of Covid-19. We observed the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Wednesday.
Apparently the Church chose Oct. 7 as the feast day and consequently, the month of October, to honor Mother Mary with the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. This was done in honor of a great military/naval victory that occurred on Oct. 5, 1571. What transpired was the well-known Battle of Lepanto. At this point in time, Pope Pius called on the rulers in Western Europe to defeat the Muslim Turks, the Islamic threat, as they were on a mission to conquer the Mediterranean nations, including Rome.
Pope Pius gave a proclamation to all Christians to pray for Our Lady’s intercession by praying the Rosary. As it turned out, the brisk fighting by the European Christians broke the hold of the Muslims. The Muslims either were drowned or they fled ashore during the raging battle and were captured or slain. Because of this victory, Western Europe and Rome were saved, and Pope Pius declared an annual day of commemoration to Our Lady of Victory. This feast day was established in 1571. Because of this, Pope Gregory XIII (Pope Pius’ successor), in 1573, established that the first Sunday of October would be the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
It would be safe to say that the Church wanted to thank the Holy Mother by extending its desire to offer thanksgiving to her for the unbelievable victory at Lepanto by designating the entire month to her for her interceding for the Christian fleet and the victory against the Muslims.
Now the actual feast day is always celebrated on Oct. 7. This is the reason why we celebrate October as a Marian Month. We dedicate ourselves to praying the rosary. We pray the rosary before every weekend Mass. The rosary also is quite often prayed before the weekday Masses. And we all should pray the rosary in the comfort of our homes as often as we can. Why? To give thanks to our Mother, Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, for her intercession. Mary hears our petitions and presents them to her Son. Remember, He never told His Mother no.
For anyone not familiar with the rosary, it is a series of prayers, melded together, that make up the rosary. The prayers consist of the Sign of the Cross, the Apostle’s Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Fatima Prayer, and the Hail, Holy Queen. There are four sets of Mysteries, and depending on the day of the week, one set of Mysteries is proclaimed during the praying of the Rosary. You start praying the Rosary by making the Sign of the Cross; then by holding the crucifix, pray the Apostle’s Creed; then on the first bead, pray the Our Father; then on the next three beads we pray the Hail Mary; then on the last bead, we pray the Glory Be. Then we announce the first of five mysteries for the Mystery of the Day, then pray one Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and the Glory Be, then the Fatima Prayer. After this, repeat, until all five decades are prayed. Now, at the end, pray the Hail, Holy Queen prayer; and finish the rosary by making the Sign of the Cross. In my opinion, this is the greatest prayer that we have.
As St. Pope John Paul II stated several ago about his favorite prayer, the rosary, it is the greatest Marian Prayer in the Church. He states, “The rosary does in fact put us in living communication with Jesus … through his mother’s heart” and “beats the rhythm of life.”
Bob Cox is a deacon at St. Ann Catholic Church in Florence. Contact him and other board members at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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