Pray the Rosary in October
Pope Francis prescribes daily Rosary & Divine Mercy Chaplet as spiritual medicine for heart, soul and whole of life
During the Sunday Angelus Pope Francis prescribed praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet daily as efficacious spiritual medicine for the heart, soul and whole of life.
Pope Francis said:
‘I would like, now, for all of you to consider a medicine. But some may think, ‘The Pope is being a pharmacist now?’ It is a special medicine to make the fruit of the Year of Faith that is coming to a close more concrete. This little box contains the medicine, and some volunteers will distribute it to you as you leave the square. Take it! It’s a rosary with which one can pray also the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, spiritual help for our souls and for spreading love, forgiveness and brotherhood everywhere. Don’t forget to take it. Because it does good, eh? It does good for the heart, for the soul, for all of life.”
Pope Francis has dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima, who has told us through her message to the visionaries of the importance of praying the Rosary daily.
“Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world . . . for she alone can save it.” (Our Lady, July 13, 1917)
“God has placed peace in her hands, and it is from the Immaculate Heart that men must ask it.” (Jacinta, shortly before her death)
“When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.’ “ (June 13, 1917)
When Pope Francis Fell in Love With Our Lady
Pope Francis didn’t always have such a deep devotion to Our Lady or to praying the Rosary. Father Jorge Bergoglio was 49 when he fell in love with Our Lady. Two encounters with Mary in the 1980s transformed the future Pope Francis’ devotion to her — witnessing Pope St. John Paul II praying the Rosary and discovering the sacred painting of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.
To understand why Father Bergoglio’s devotion to Mary underwent a radical transformation, it’s important to know something of the traumatic events that led up to this moment in his life. He had served as the Jesuit provincial during Argentina’s “Dirty War,” when the military and paramilitary death squads conducted state-sponsored terror, resulting in the killing of as many as 49,000 civilians. Left-wing guerrillas also killed 6,000 military, police and civilians. The death squads singled out for execution anyone working with the poor, including priests, religious and catechists.
Father Bergoglio used his position to publicly criticize the violence of the junta and the guerrillas. But more than this, he put his own life at risk by rescuing people from the death squads and helping others to evade arrest, providing them with the means to flee the country. He personally drove through the streets of Buenos Aires with men and women in his car who were being hunted by the regime. It has been estimated that Father Bergoglio saved at least 100 people during the Dirty War.
Pope Francis has admitted that the stress of living through those times resulted in personal problems for him:
“I had to deal with difficult situations, and I made my decisions abruptly and by myself. My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative.”
Like countless Catholics before him, Father Bergoglio turned to Our Lady in his pain and suffering.
St. John Paul II Taught Jorge Bergoglio How to Pray the Rosary
Two years after the end of the Dirty War, Father Bergoglio witnessed Pope St. John Paul II pray the Rosary. This encounter most probably took place during Pope John Paul’s apostolic visit to Latin America in 1985. Following Pope John Paul’s death, then-Cardinal Bergoglio gave this personal testimony on the impact on his life of seeing the Holy Father praying the Rosary:
“If I remember well, it was 1985. One evening I went to recite the holy Rosary that was being led by the Holy Father. He was in front of everybody, on his knees. The group was numerous; I saw the Holy Father from the back, and, little by little, I got lost in prayer. I was not alone: I was praying in the middle of the people of God to which I and all those there belonged, led by our pastor.
“In the middle of the prayer, I became distracted, looking at the figure of the Pope: his piety, his devotion was a witness. And the time drifted away, and I began to imagine the young priest, the seminarian, the poet, the worker, the child from Wadowice … in the same position in which he knelt at that moment, reciting Ave Maria after Ave Maria. His witness struck me.
“I felt that this man, chosen to lead the Church, was following a path up to his Mother in the sky, a path set out on from his childhood. And I became aware of the density of the words of the Mother of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego: ‘Don’t be afraid; am I not your mother?’ I understood the presence of Mary in the life of the Pope. That testimony did not get forgotten in an instant. From that time on, I recite the 15 mysteries of the Rosary every day.”
It’s as if, at that moment of inspiration, St. John Paul’s deep devotion to Our Lady was passed on to the man who would succeed him as successor of St. Peter 28 years later.
Cardinal Bergoglio’s insight into the significance of the Rosary to Pope St. John Paul as a “path up to his Mother in the sky” resonates with Pope John Paul’s own description of the Rosary in his apostolic letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Pope John Paul concluded his exhortation to the faithful to pray the Rosary with a Marian prayer composed by Blessed Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary, that uses the image of the Rosary as a “chain” to heaven:
“O blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you.”
Pope John Paul, like his successor Pope Francis, saw the Rosary as a precious chain of prayers that joins us to heaven.