In 1937, Pope Pius XI wrote that the Rosary is “a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight, to preserve the integrity of life, to acquire virtue more easily, and . . . to attain real peace among men.”
October is not only the month of the Rosary, but it’s Respect Life Month as well. So it’s only fitting that we combine the two and begin the habit of saying a pro-life Rosary, not just in October, but throughout the year, for this powerful weapon is vital in rebuilding a Culture of Life.
Our Spiritual Weapon
Tradition teaches that Our Lady gave the Rosary to St. Dominic, though this is possibly legend. We do, however, know that St. Dominic greatly advocated the use of the Rosary. Not only does Church history witness to the spiritual power of the Rosary, so does history, as well.
We see an example of this at the Battle of Lepanto. During the 1400 and 1500s, the Muslims and Christians were locked in battle, as Christians attempted to block increasing expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The decisive turning point came in 1571, when Pope Pius V sent a fleet comprised of Catholic European states to fight off the Muslims and protect the Mediterranean. He requested all the faithful say the Rosary, asking all to invoke our Blessed Mother’s intercession.
Despite being grossly outnumbered, the Holy League, as it was termed, won decisively. Pope Pius declared the Feast of Our Lady of Victory in honor of the Holy Virgin, which was later inserted in the universal Church calendar marking the date of the battle, October 7th. Today it is known as the Feast of the Holy Rosary. According to reports, the Muslims who later wrote of the battle recorded “seeing in the sky a lady dressed in armor holding a child.” While accounts vary, it is widely maintained that in battle the Ottoman side possibly lost as many as four times the number of ships as its enemies and Christendom was preserved from the would-be Muslim conquerors.
There are numerous testimonies to triumphs credited to the Rosary over the centuries, but here’s one other example. In 1628 King Louis XIII, the Catholic king of France, was attempting to put down rebellions by Protestant Huguenots. Fearing the possibility that his kingdom would be torn apart, he ordered “public rosaries and processions [to be] held nightly in Catholic churches all over France during the eight-month duration of the siege. Dominican friars accompanied the king to the battlefield and preached to the armies of the French the necessity of praying the Rosary daily for victory. The priests distributed more than 15,000 rosaries among the troops, with the soldiers praying together at set times during the day.” On October 28, the Huguenots surrendered, and the French were victorious.
Our Blessed Mother has often implored us to say the Rosary daily, and we know that she can and will hear our prayers if we persist. Starting now, in Respect Life Month, let us say a pro-life Rosary of the Joyful Mysteries and reflect upon the fact that every human being is sacred and valuable. With each decade, let us also pray that Mary will soften those hearts hardened by the Culture of Death.
Pro-Life Rosary: The Joyful Mysteries
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he greeted her saying “The Lord is with you.” He told her that she had found favor with God, that she should not feel afraid, and that she would soon have a son.
As we reflect upon Gabriel’s words and how Mary must have felt, let us remember that there are many women suffering from anxiety and fear because of a surprise pregnancy. Maybe they’re scared because they don’t have enough money. Or perhaps they’re afraid because they’re young or unmarried. Maybe they’re in an abusive relationship. Maybe they’re vulnerable because they have no family to help them. Let us pray for Mary’s intercession so that these women know that God is with them, telling them in the words of Pope Saint John Paul II, be not afraid to open the doors to trust Christ! He will help provide all that they need. And let us pray that, even if these women think that no one else is with them, they will somehow know that they can always turn to God.
2. The Visitation
Mary, pregnant with Christ, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’” Even John the Baptist, still a baby in the womb himself, understood that he was in the presence of Christ. This realization made him jump with joy.
As we reflect upon the fact that John, as a preborn baby, was able to sense and feel, let us pray that those with hardened hearts toward the humanity of the preborn come to understand that babies in the womb are indeed human beings. They can feel both pain and joy and deserve to leap with joy outside the womb as well.
3. The Nativity
In Luke 2:12, we read, “You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” As we think about this holy night—this beautiful gift of love—let us reflect upon the fact that Christ came to us as a baby. He could have come in any way he wanted—as a fully grown man or as the son of a rich king. But he did not. He came as a tiny, helpless infant to a young mother who trusted in God, for Mary had said “Yes!” to life, and her “fiat” (Latin for “let it be done”) made our redemption possible. She named Him Emmanuel – meaning “God is with us.” We must remember that, if God humbled himself to come to a poor family and to be born among the animals, there is room for all of us. Money and status mean nothing compared to life.
Let us pray for all those women who feel that they are too poor, too young, too uneducated, or too unskilled to care for a baby. Let us pray that they feel the strength of God and that, like Mary, they will trust in Him to guide them and that they will find joy in the birth of their babies. Let us also invoke St. Joseph, as patron of the family, to help care for these women as he cared for Jesus and Mary with all his might.
4. The Presentation in the Temple
Luke 2:22 says, “According to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” As was tradition, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to present Him to God. While there, Simeon approached the Holy Family. God had promised him that he would live to see the Christ child. After seeing the baby, Simeon said: “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
Let us pray that those who do not see the humanity of the baby in the womb also experience a light of revelation and come to understand that a baby is not just “a blob of tissue” or a “choice.” Let us pray that the callouses are removed from their eyes and that they work to protect even the smallest among us.
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Joseph thought Jesus was with Mary. Mary thought that Jesus was with Joseph. When they realized He was not with the group as they traveled, they frantically searched for him. According to Luke 2:48, “When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’”
Jesus was lost, and both Mary and Joseph must have been beside themselves. If you have ever momentarily lost sight of a child—or if you have lost a child—you know that fear and despair. Let us pray for all those mothers and fathers who have lost a child—whether through miscarriage, through abortion, through an accident, or through spiritual loss—so that they find healing, understanding, and peace in Christ.
At Fatima, the Blessed Mother told the children, “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.”
We face a war every day. We are at war with the Culture of Death—a culture that devalues even the smallest among us. If we truly want to make the demons take flight and preserve the integrity of life, we will use the most powerful weapon given to us, not just by saying a pro-life Rosary in October, but throughout the year.
When Mary and Joseph found Christ teaching in the temple, Christ said to them: “I must be about my Father’s business.” Let us imitate His example and attempt to build a kingdom of our loving God on earth.