October 13th marks 100 years since the Miracle of the Sun, concluding Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Many dioceses are marking the occasion by performing a consecration to Our Lady, including my own Archdiocese, Denver. Are you looking for a concrete way to mark the anniversary and heed the call of Our Lady of Fatima? First, we can follow the bishops by making a personal or family consecration (such as with the method recommended by St. Louis de Monfort), We can also live out the message in a daily way by strengthening our devotion to the rosary.
On the day of the final apparition, Mary said: “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.” In response to Our Lady of Fatima’s invitation to pray the rosary, my wife and I decided to join the Confraternity of the Rosary. It’s a very simple process. You contact a priest of the Dominican order and ask to be accepted. You can find information on the Confraternity through the websites of the various Dominican provinces, organized regionally: Eastern, Central, Western, and Southern. The commitment entails praying fifteen of the decades of the rosary each week (not under pain of sin), keeping in mind the intentions of the other members of the Confraternity. It is encouraged to pray with others, but there is no obligation to do so. And that is it!
If it’s that simple, why join the Confraternity? Pope Leo XIII wrote both an encyclical and apostolic constitution on the Confraternity. In the constitution, Ubi Primum, he describes the purpose of the Confraternity—to join with others to honor Our Lady and in doing so to help each other:
The end for which the Confraternity of the Rosary has been instituted is . . . [to] be drawn to praise and honor the Blessed Virgin, and by unanimous supplication secure her patronage. . . . The result is, that while each one contributes a little towards the common treasure, all receive a great deal from it. For whenever a person fulfills his obligation of reciting the Rosary according to the rules of the Confraternity, he includes in his intention all its members, and they in turn render to him the same service many times over.
The Confraternity helps us to focus on praying the rosary in a more intentional way and with more support. While the rosary is a wonderful devotion for the individual, the Confraternity unites you to other Christians and helps to overcome the problem of individuality. For those who already pray the rosary regularly, the Confraternity strengthens and formalizes their commitment to prayer. In addition, there is a special plenary indulgence offered to members of the Confraternity on the day of their enrollment and on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Annunciation, Purification, Assumption, Our Lady of the Rosary, and Immaculate Conception.
The Dominican priest, Bl. Alan of Roche, was, after St. Dominic, the great promoter of the rosary and its Confraternity. He received fifteen promises related to the rosary from Our Lady. Here are a few, one with specifics the Confraternity:
(1) To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
(4) The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
(11) What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
(12) To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
(13) I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.
Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray the rosary in reparation for sin, for the conversion of sinners, and for peace in the world. As we’ve seen throughout the Church’s history, Our Lady will help us in extraordinary ways if we take up her request. We need to pray for the restoration of family life, to avoid nuclear war, for a strengthening of the Church, and for the conversion of our country. Joining a confraternity will help us to be consistent in this effort and will strengthen our commitment to respond to Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray the rosary every day.