By Matthew Bosnick
“The Rosary is the weapon for these times.”—St. Padre Pio.
I’m a 29-year old Catholic with a wife, an eleven month-old daughter, and a son on the way. If you are like me, you look at the world we live in and are genuinely concerned for the family you are responsible for raising. While we live in an age of incredible medical and technological capability, “progress” and “enlightenment” have also brought darkness and confusion: The darkness of death and the confusion of relative truth. Countless books and articles have been written diagnosing the reasons for this decay, which St. John Paul II dubbed “the culture of death.” The reason for the ‘-isms’ with which we describe the cultural malaise—relativism, nihilism, hedonism, modernism—is the attempt of Satan to obscure and hide the message of the gospel: That Jesus Christ, the son of God, suffered, died and rose from the dead to save us from our sins and allow us to come back to the Father. It’s easy for us laymen to look to the hierarchy of the Church and our political leaders to “fix” the culture. But we have a weapon to fight darkness and confusion with, and that weapon is the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school, so I’ve always had a good idea of the importance of the Rosary as a prayer. But I did not pray it regularly until after the baptism of my daughter, Madeline, a moment that was a conversion not only for her but for me as well. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “The second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the entire Church” (1428) and likens it to St. Peter, who denied Jesus three times but was “drawn and moved by grace” to repent and affirm his love for the Lord (1429).
Before Madeline’s baptism, I’d sought meaning and answers from largely secular sources: I’d recently read Dr. Jordan Peterson’s popular Twelve Rules for Life and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, for example. But after the baptism, during a visit to my parents’ house, I found a copy of Archbishop Charles Chaput’s Strangers in a Strange Land. Archbishop Chaput does an excellent job of describing the wrongness in our culture and presenting a solution for correcting it: live a Catholic life, by following the example of Jesus. This book made me examine my prayer life, which I realized was weak and stale. I needed structure, among other things, so I decided to begin praying a daily Rosary.
The Rosary, like our Blessed Mother who conceived and gave birth to our Lord, is a prayer that leads us to Jesus. All Marian devotion, just like Mary herself, glorifies and praises her Son. We are called to bring the good news of Jesus to all people, and the Rosary is a prayer that focuses on Jesus! It involves meditating on his Incarnation, life, death, and Resurrection—and these events are the meaning and answer to everything and the answer to what our world needs. Young men search for meaning and purpose in all sorts of ideologies. But we Catholic men know that the world needs the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, whose mission it is to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19) and whose purpose is the salvation of souls. The Rosary causes us to focus on this mission.
Why is the Rosary a weapon? We, the Church on earth, are the Church militant. Catholic men can appreciate this. We need purpose and we want action. We fight a daily spiritual warfare in our lives. The Rosary was given by Our Lady to St. Dominic to fight the Albigensian heresy and it was the cause of the victory of the Holy League over the Turks at Lepanto. Mary is often called the New Eve and she is depicted crushing the head of the snake. Asking her to intercede for us is a powerful prayer for our own battles against temptation and sin.
The Rosary leads us to seek a life immersed in the sacraments and the Church. And this is its most powerful purpose: The Blessed Virgin Mary brings us to her Son, who lives in the Holy Spirit in the Church. Mary’s intercession does this and she proves it when she goes “in haste” to tell the good news of the Annunciation to her sister Elizabeth (Lk 1:39). Mary’s intercession prompted Jesus’ first miracle, when he turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. She brought the Lord to the world and brings him to us now. When we make the Rosary a constant part of our prayer life, Mary’s prayer for us causes us to come to her Son frequently and receive his grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to worship him in the Mass and receive him in the Eucharist, and to adore him in the Blessed Sacrament. Meditation on the scriptural mysteries of the Rosary brings us to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
Times change but one thing remains constant: That Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). While he was in Athens, St. Paul preached to the Stoics and Epicureans the good news of Jesus and the Resurrection. They asked of Paul “What can this parrot mean?” (Acts 17:18 NJB). We can deduce that Paul must have repeated the message more than a few times to be called a “parrot.” The gospel is truth and it never changes. And for that reason, and because the Rosary is a constant and repetitive meditation of the gospel, it is the perfect weapon for our times.