By: Caitlin Bootsma
There was a time when I really questioned the place of the Rosary in our spiritual life. After all, it isn’t one of the seven sacraments and it just seemed like something extra. It is, however, a sacramental. A sacramental, I learned in a theology class, is “anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.” (Baltimore Catechism, Question 292).
In other words, the rosary is an aid in our spiritual life; the beads are a physical reminder to enter into a devotion through which we plead for Our Lady’s intercession. The more experiences I go through in life, the more I realize how desperately in need I am of a Mother’s care and protection. Whether I am asking her to intercede for our country, for a friend who is ill or in need or for the well-being of my family, I trust that she hears me and takes my prayers to Christ (Who, as we know from Scriptures, always listens to His Mother).
October 7th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (and October is the month of the Rosary). The Feast falls on this day because it is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto during which, in 1571, Christian forces prayed the rosary to ask for Mary’s protection. Don John of Austria defeated Turkish forces, and the victory was attributed to Our Lady’s intercession.
How fitting it is that this feast takes place in commemoration of a battle. We have so many battles in our lives as we seek to cooperate with God’s grace so that we can reach heaven. We have personal battles to avoid sin and to pursue virtues; we battle against the culture of death to seek truth and beauty for ourselves and our families; this fall especially, we battle to protect our religious freedom promised to us in the Constitution. Regardless of the joys in our life, there are always battles to be fought in our fallen world.
Yet, as we fight for what is good, we have the gift of a Mother, given to us by Christ on the Cross. When you are feeling hopeless, and that the battle can not be won, pick up your rosary beads and pray to the Mother of God for help and protection.