Like most converts from Protestantism to Catholicism, just about anything Marian – is a BIG problem. Why is that? Most Catholics who have minimal exposure to Protestants falsely assume it is because Protestants hate Mary. Not so. Why would a Protestant hate the mother of Jesus or any other person in the Bible who loved God? 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.
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 think it is vain repetition and not pleasing to God. Interestingly, the Douay-Rheims says “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?
So I got over that.
What took me by surprise was the first time I saw a Catholic state that the Holy Rosary is an optional devotion because it came about through private revelation. Pious tradition says that the Rosary was given to St Dominic by the Blessed Virgin itself. As Catholics were are not obligated to believe private revelations, so some Catholics believe that the rosary is just another devotion like the Sacred Heart devotion or the Divine Mercy devotion. I disagree.
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 was very prominent. Keep in mind these two miracles are not your average minor miracle that only two people know about. These two miracles are held in high esteem by the Catholic Church.
“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.
In 1917, three children 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.” http://devotiontoourlady.com/rosary-miracles.html
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?