During a recent hospital stay, I had an interesting experience.  The night nurse was taking my “vitals” before bedtime when she noticed my Rosary on the nightstand.  She told me she was a Hindu and never heard of the Rosary before.  

I explained this traditional Catholic prayer and she quickly became interested.  I likened praying the Rosary to the use of meditative prayer beads in her own religious faith. I went through the Rosary prayers, their meaning and purpose and the role of the Blessed Mother in our Catholic faith.

“I want to say these prayers” she said.  “How can I learn them?” I directed her to a website and she seemed so happy.  Just goes to show how we can share our beautiful Catholic faith anytime, in any circumstance, wherever we are!

The Catholic Church has been blessed with the intercession of the Mother of God through this prayer since the early 13th century when, according to Catholic tradition, she appeared to St. Dominic (1170-1221) in 1214 offering him the idea of the Rosary. There are various legends and stories regarding how the Rosary initially came to be but its current form of fifteen mysteries – five joyful, five sorrowful, five glorious called “decades”– was formally established by Pope Pius V (1504-72) in 1569.  Pope St. John Paul II added five “luminous” mysteries to the decades of Rosary in 2002.

October is the month of the Holy Rosary.  October 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

This prayer is one of the most popular, meditative prayers of the Catholic Church. Seeking the intercession and help of the Blessed Mother Mary in our daily lives is understandably attractive, praying to her Divine Son through her.  The mysteries of the Rosary are really contemplations of the whole life of the Lord Jesus – his life, death, and resurrection – in a real sense through Mary’s eyes.  She was “there” after all, present throughout his life.  The Rosary, like all Catholic prayer, should lead us to the Lord Jesus with Mary his Blessed Mother as our intercessor and guide.  She brings our prayers to him through the Rosary.  Would any loving Son refuse the prayers of his Mother?

I pray the Rosary each day.  It gives me the chance to remember the many prayer intentions recommended to me as Bishop by the faithful I meet wherever I go.  I recommend it, in turn, to all Catholics.  It can be recited and prayed anywhere, anytime by anyone, young or old, saints as well as sinners.  If you have not prayed the rosary, give it a try.  If you already do, teach, and share it with others.

In this month of the Holy Rosary, which is also Respect Life Month, what better time could there be for praying the Rosary for the protection of human life in all its stages and the for conversion of hearts. As Bishop, I invite all the clergy and faithful of the Diocese to join together in praying the Rosary for this and all our special intentions.

Read the reflections of some great saints:

“The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description.” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979)

“Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” St. Padre Pio (1887-1968)

“The Rosary should be said with faith, for our Blessed Lord said, “Believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you.” St. Louis De Monfort (1673-1716)

“Do not cease praying for your children; God's grace can touch a hardened heart. Commend your children to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When parents pray the Rosary, at the end of each decade they should hold the Rosary aloft and say to her, "With these beads bind my children to your Immaculate Heart", she will attend to their souls.” St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660) 

“The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world.”  Pope St. John XXIII (1881-1963)

"By its very nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and lingering pace. The Rosary is the Bible for those who can neither read nor write."  Pope St. Paul VI (1897-1978)

“By holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection.” … “The Rosary is a prayer both so humble and so simple and theologically rich in biblical content, I beg you to pray it.” Pope St. John Paul II (1920-2005)

“With the Rosary we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, model of faith in meditating on the mysteries of Christ and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it shapes all our lives.” Pope Benedict XVI

“The Rosary is a school of prayer.  The Rosary is a school of faith.” Pope Francis 

“In times of darkness, holding the Rosary beads is like holding your Blessed Mother’s hand.” A faithful Catholic

Think of your loving mother, whether still with you or living in eternity.  Is there anyone who would not want to reach out and hold her hand again? Reach out for the hand of your Blessed Mother in heaven and hold it through her Rosary.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us – born and unborn – now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”