THE MONTH OF THE HOLY ROSARY
By Fr. Abe Arganiosa
October is dedicated as Month of the Holy Rosary and with it we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Queen of Peace. We need to know the historical event connected to this feast so that we can appreciate it better.
In 1571 the Ottoman Empire was preparing for invasion of Europe. The goal was not only political but also religious. The Turks wanted to spread Islam to the West. In response, Pope St. Pius V called upon Catholic monarchs to unite and defend the people and our Christian Faith. The Pope also commanded all Catholics to pray the Rosary for the triumph of Catholicism and preservation of Western civilization. The encounter came to be known as the naval Battle of Lepanto in Mediterranean Sea. Despite the obvious superiority of the enemies the Catholic armada won and Christendom was saved through the intercession of Mary.
The miracle at Lepanto must not be interpreted as a perpetual struggle between the Christians against our Moslem brethren. Instead the message of Lepanto is essentially spiritual and moral. In our struggles in life the Blessed Mother intercedes for us to God. The gravest battles that confront us are the temptations of Satan leading to Sin and Death. We are not alone in facing our demons because the grace of God is helping us through Our Lady. This is actually the synthesis of the entire Mariology as expressed in the Sacred Scriptures.
In the book of Genesis, right after Adam and Eve were punished for succumbing to the deception of the Devil, God immediately announced the first proclamation of Salvation: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” [Gen 3:15]. The First War between God and Satan was characterized by the first announcement of the Messiah with his Mother – ‘The Woman’. Later when Israel was in danger of invasion by the Assyrians the prophet Isaiah told King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord for a sign” but the King was clever enough and declined. The prophet went on: “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign… The virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” [cf. Is 7:14]. St. Matthew taught us that this prophecy was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus and the Virgin Mary [Mt 1:23]. Once again the solution is Jesus with Mary. On his part, St. John referred to Mary using two important Titles without ever mentioning her name: The “Mother of Jesus” and “Woman” [Jn 2:1-4/ Jn 19:26-27]. St. Paul did the same: “In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son born of a woman…” [Gal 4:4]. Mary is called Woman repeatedly not to demean her maternity as the one who gave birth to the Lord but to point the fact that she is the promised Woman whose Seed shall vanquish the Serpent.
In the final struggle between the Savior and Satan right on Calvary there stood at the foot of the Cross the same Woman ever faithful to her Son through which she became the Mother of all believers [cf. Jn 19:26-27]. Then in the Book of Revelation wherein the same Apostolic witness attests once again to the confrontation between Jesus, Mary and the Devil: “And a great sign was seen in heaven; a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” [Rev 12:1]. The sign given by God is once again the image of the Woman who gave birth to the King of Kings [Rev 12:5]. In the same Chapter the Dragon tried hard to defeat the Child and the Madonna but failed in each turn.
It is very striking that the sacred image of Our Lady of the Rosary is the exact representation of the Woman Clothed with the Sun as described in the Book of Apocalypse. Mary dressed as a Queen with Crown of Stars and on her arm the Male-Child destined to be the King of the nations [cf. Rev 12:5]. Actually, almost every time the Blessed Virgin appears in the history her description is always similar to that. St. Juan Diego described her as such in Mexico and so did St. Bernadette Souberous in France and Sr. Lucia in Fatima, Portugal.
Thus, in our spiritual life full of sorrows, pains, failures, brokenness and sinfulness we look at the image of Mary and Jesus as our emblem of hope. We look at Mary as a shining star of Christian life through which we sigh with tenderness and affection. As our Mother and Queen the Virgin teaches us the secret to Victory – ‘Follow the will of the Lord’ [Lk 1:38/ Jn 2:5]. The Mother always points to her Son, thus we say: To Jesus through Mary!
Let us celebrate by daily recitation of the Rosary through which we reflect on important events in the life of the Lord Jesus through the eyes of the Blessed Mother. By doing so, we shall be able to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of the Gospel guided by the Woman whose Immaculate Heart is deeply united with the Sacred Heart of her Son Jesus.