It took me a little while to warm up to the rosary and to realize that the rosary is not an optional Catholic devotion.
Like most converts from Protestantism to Catholicism, in the beginning, I found just about anything Marian, a BIG problem. In fact, just the idea of venerating Mary, was downright scary.
Why I Avoided Marian Devotion
Most Catholics who have minimal exposure to Protestants falsely assume Catholics dislike Marian devotion because Protestants hate Mary. Not so. Why would a Protestant hate the mother of Jesus or any other person in the Bible who loved our Lord, or actually bore him?
That just doesn’t make sense.
The reason Protestants hate Marian devotion is because they are deathly afraid of committing idolatry. In time, I grew in understanding and now I love the Blessed Virgin – our Mother.
Is the Rosary VAIN Repetition?
Once I overcame that first hurdle, I decided to tackle the Holy Rosary. Mentally, I battled two things when it came to the Rosary. First, I found it extremely boring.
Second, some evangelicals see the rosary as aimless, repetitive praying. The King James Version of Matthew 6:7 says:
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
The rosary is repetitive, so they see it as VAIN repetition and not pleasing to God. Interestingly, the Douay-Rheims say:
“And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.”
The second translation has a slightly different meaning doesn’t it?
However, after much praying and research, I eventually outgrew my misgivings. I became really excited about the Rosary and I cultivated a devotion to the Rosary, till this day.
And then I realized that not all Catholics were as enthusiastic about the Rosary as I was.
The first time I saw a Catholic state that the Holy Rosary is only an optional devotion because it came about through private revelation, I was shocked.
As Catholics we are are not obligated to believe in private revelations, so some Catholics believe that the rosary is just one out of a myriad of devotions that are dear to pious Catholics.
There are many reasons why the rosary is not optional which I shall address in later posts. But in this post, let us examine two miracles that took place where the Holy Rosary played a prominent role.
Keep in mind these two miracles are not your average minor miracles that only two people know about. These two miracles occurred in front of a large group of people and are held in high esteem by the Catholic Church.
The Rosary is Not an Optional Catholic Devotion: The Battle of Lepanto (1571)
“The Battle of Lepanto took place on October 7, 1571, when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of European Catholic maritime states arranged by Pope Pius V, decisively defeated the fleet of the Ottoman Empire on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece.” Wikipedia.
Why is this battle so important? In this Battle, the Mother of God, through the Holy Rosary, assisted the Holy League in defeating our ancient enemy.
Pope Pius V did not rely on his own strength but he ordered all monasteries and convents to pray the Rosary for the impending battle. Mass was celebrated and the Rosary recited every single day on the vessels as well, so you had a double spiritual assault from land and sea.
If our Lady had not intervened, it might have been the end of the Christian West. The Holy League won the battle despite the odds and Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in gratitude.
The Rosary is Not an Optional Catholic Devotion: The Miracle of the Sun – 1917
In 1917, three children, who lived in Fatima, Portugal, claimed that a lady appeared to them and referred to herself as the “Lady of the Rosary”. Wow. She also asked that they pray the Rosary every day and to transmit her messages to everyone. As proof, she promised to perform a public miracle.
“At her final appearance to the children, on October 13th, 1917, over 70,000 people had gathered at the site of the appearances, in expectation of the miracle that the children mentioned she would perform. That afternoon, an unexplainable miracle of the sun was experienced, by over 70,000 people. This was printed in Fatima newspapers the following day, which gave credence to the message the Virgin Mary had communicated to the three children.”Source
If the Rosary were just another optional devotion, would it be associated with such grand miracles? What miracles could be wrought in our lives, if we only faithfully prayed the Holy Rosary?In part two of this series, we will take a look at the power of the Holy Rosary as taught by the Saints.
So, what do you think? Is the Holy Rosary an optional devotion?