Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Roman rite of the Catholic Church. Since the sixteenth century when St. Dominic was inspired to develop the devotion, the Rosary has been used to combat both physical and spiritual enemies.
This feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V to honor Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. He attributed the victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was invoked through praying the Rosary throughout Europe for protection from the Turkish invasion.
In 1883, Pope Leo XIII, in the Encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio proposed the Rosary as an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society. In the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary) issued on October 16, 2002, John Paul II said that “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary…is a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness” (RVM, 1).
He explained that the Rosary “is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ” (RVM, 3). It is a privileged way of contemplating the life of Christ through prayer and worship, by which we are able to bring the transforming love of Christ into our lives and the world. Through the Rosary, our Blessed Mother assists us to look upon the Face of Christ as she did from the moment of His Birth, throughout His public ministry, during His Passion and Death, and at His Resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.
St. John Paul II called for the praying of the Rosary for peace in the world and for families. He said:
A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace. The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. At the start of a millennium which began with the terrifying attacks of 11 September 2001, a millennium which witnesses every day in numerous parts of the world fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence, to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). Consequently, one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace, especially in the land of Jesus, still so sorely afflicted and so close to the heart of every Christian.
A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age. (RVM, 6 emphasis added)
As a prayer for peace, the Rosary is also, and always has been, a prayer of and for the family. At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the Rosary. (RVM, 41 emphasis added)
If you are not already doing so, we urge you to pray the Rosary daily for the intention of peace in the world and for peace, unity, and harmony in all Christian families. Our world is in need of our prayers. Please join us in contemplating the Face of Christ, imploring the Blessed Mother’s intercession for the healing of divisions and wounds in our homes, neighborhoods, communities and the whole world. What powerful grace would come to the whole Church, if the families would pray the Rosary together daily.