Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once explained the goal of prayer by deliberating on age. He asked the question, “What does it mean to get old?” He answered that we get old in a measure that determines our chronological distance from the source of life. We are born and we count the increasing years that further separate us from the womb; our parents’ participation in the divine act of creation, our source of life. The further we grow away from the source of life, the more difficult it becomes to maintain our innocence and purity in this vale of tears. So the Venerable Archbishop Sheen reminds us that the end of prayer is to grow closer to the source of life, to grow closer to God. We live in an age when growing younger is a material obsession. Uncountable material resources go into extending our temporal lives. However, the only true fountain of youth available to human souls is by prayer and growing closer to Christ, the source of all life.
In Mathew 18:3, Christ says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
To become like little children is to regain the innocence and purity of youth and this is only possible by the sacraments and grace. The modern world is hostile to innocence and purity. We are bombarded incessantly by messages of childishness and infantile narcissism by the spirits prowling around the earth seeking the ruination of souls. It is Christ who beckons us to return to the childlike innocence by growing closer to Him. We can only grow closer to the source of life by prayer and the sacraments.
As Christ further instructs in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” Christ came to us by our Holy Mother Mary, the God bearer full of grace. A most effective means to get to Christ is by His mother, our Mother by our prayers, particularly the most Holy Rosary.
The Rosary is for Everyone!
St. Louis de Monfort (1673-1716)—Confessor, Marian devotee, and founder of the Sisters of Divine Wisdom—was a great saint and champion of the Rosary. His life’s work was to teach and preach the Holy Rosary. He left us several enduring treatises such as True Devotion to Mary and The Secret of the Rosary which are sure to facilitate and enhance our devotion to Christ through His blessed Mother. Pope St. John Paul II said, “To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
In the introduction to The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis first suggests that all of us must pray the Rosary daily. There is the temptation to see the Rosary as a prayer for old ladies and small children, but this is a great error. Many are ignorant of the importance and power of the Rosary; “even several great, but proud scholars.” The Rosary is a vital endeavor comprised of vocal and mental prayer. It is called Mary’s Psalter. It takes the name Psalter from the 150 Psalms of Scripture which make up the Divine Office that priests are to recite every day. It provides the lay faithful a chance to participate in the prayers of the Church. By the addition of Pope St. John Paul II’s Luminous Mysteries, we now have twenty divine mysteries over the fifteen during the life of St. Louis, but the exhortation to pray the Rosary remains the same.
St. Louis de Monfort explains that Mary’s Psalter is more important and efficacious than praying the Psalms for three reasons. Firstly, because the “Angelic Psalter bears a nobler fruit, that of the Word Incarnate, whereas David’s Psalter only prophesies His coming.” Secondly, “just as the real thing is more important than its prefiguration and the body is more than its shadow, in the same way the Psalter of Our Lady is greater than David’s Psalter which did no more than prefigure it.” And thirdly, because Our Lady’s Psalter (or the Rosary made up of the Our Father and Hail Mary) “is the direct work of the Most Blessed Trinity and was not made through a human instrument.”
In light of the importance of the Rosary, St. Louis de Monfort explains how the Rosary is essential for everyone, priests, sinners, devout souls, and children alike. St. Louis implores priests to always constantly preach and teach the Rosary “for its salvific power” and he warns them “never to believe that the Rosary is not vitally important.” St. Louis continues to explain that “the Rosary is a priceless treasure inspired by God given to you because he wants you to use it as a means to convert the most hardened sinners and the most obstinate heretics. He has attached grace to it in this life and glory in the next.” For the greatest sinners, St. Louis explains that “even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have sold your soul to the devil, sooner or later you will be converted by the Rosary—say the Rosary every day for the final graces of salvation.” For devout souls, St. Louis says the Most Holy Rosary must “be planted in the garden of your soul. If it is carefully watered and properly attended to every day it will grow to such marvelous heights and far from hindering your other devotions it will maintain and perfect them.” And finally for little children, he implores them to pray the Our Father and Hail Mary as they mediate on the Holy Mysteries to safeguard their innocence.
Some of the Benefits of Praying the Rosary
The Secret of the Rosary is full of holy and wise counsel concerning growing closer to the source of life through the most holy devotion of the Rosary. This wonderful little tome is comprised of fifty short chapters St. Louis refers to as “roses” because as he explains early on, to recite a faithful Our Father is like producing a red rose from our mouths and to meritoriously recite the Hail Mary is likewise producing a white rose. If one is able to recite the entire Rosary meritoriously, it is like producing from our mouths a crown of red and white roses for our Holy Mother to wear. In the twenty-seventh rose, St. Louis conveys a few of the benefits of praying the Most Holy Rosary.
St. Louis intends to encourage us still more in this devotion practiced by so many holy people. He tells us that Rosary recited with the meditation of the mysteries brings about the following marvelous results:
- It gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the science of Christians and the science of salvation; Saint Paul says that it surpasses all human sciences in value and perfection, and certainly this is true.
- It purifies our souls from sin. Our hearts are cleansed by faith. As St. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” There is no better way to do this than by our devotion to the most Holy Rosary.
- It gives us victory over all our enemies. “Let vengeance be mine” says the Lord. By our Holy Mother’s intercession, God will vanquish our enemies in the most surprising ways. Christ instructs us in Luke 6:27-28, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This is only possible by graces which come from the sacraments and prayer, particularly the Eucharist and the Rosary.
- It makes the practice of virtue easy. When Christ tells us in Mathew 11:30, “My yoke is easy, and my burden in light,” we can make a comparison to our own yoke. We are exhorted to pick up the cross and follow Him and it will be a light burden if we are edified by grace. This is “foolishness to the Greeks” and the secular world, but made easy by the graces that flow from the Rosary.
- It sets us on fire with the love of our Lord. In Songs 8:6 we learn, “The flames of love are flames of fire, a blaze that comes from the LORD.” Devotion to the Rosary fuels the flames of our love for Christ.
- It enriches us with graces and merits. When the archangel Gabriel came to our Mother Mary, he did not call her Mary he called her “full of grace.” For while her name is Mary, she is full of grace, this is what she is. By our Lord’s command she is the mediatrix of all graces and the Rosary is a most efficacious way to ask Mary to usher graces into our lives.
- It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellowmen, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God. Christ’s twin commandments to love God and neighbor will be most honorably fulfilled by the graces flowing into our lives from a regular devotion to the Most Holy Rosary.
Conclusion—Pray the Rosary
Commit to the devotion of the Rosary to grow closer to the source of life, to grow more childlike in the eyes of God. Pope St. John Paul II instructs us that “the Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.” Surely we all desire to bring an abundant harvest of holiness to fruition by living out the commandments in our lives.
Let us follow the advice of countless popes and saints as St. Louis de Monfort implores: “Therefore let all men, the learned and the ignorant, the just and the sinners, the great and the small praise and honor Jesus and Mary, night and day, by saying the most Holy Rosary.”
The Rosary is for everyone! All souls striving to be faithful ought to make the most strenuous efforts to pray the Rosary as often as is possible, great promises of grace and holiness come to fulfilment if we seek Christ through our Holy Mother.