Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
(Jonah 4:1-11; Luke 11:1-4)
It is said that the rosary became popular centuries ago as an alternative way to pray for those who were unable to read. Readers would recite the psalms which number one hundred fifty. Non-readers would say as many “Hail Mary’s” in the then full rosary of fifteen decades. But why has the devotion still such strength that it is said very often when people gather in homes to pray? The answer has to do with how repetitive prayer focuses people attention. We do not pray the rosary concentrating on every word. Rather we focus especially on Mary recognizing her as our mother since she is the physical mother of Jesus, our brother. We ask her to reinforce our prayers to God for assistance.
Today the Church celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary. The Dominican pope St. Pius V established the feast after the combined Catholic navies defeated ascending Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Lepanto. Pius had led a rosary procession asking the Virgin Mother’s intercession before God on behalf of his sailors.
In today’s gospel Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. He shows them how to say the “Our Father,” a prayer that is not lost in the rosary. Indeed, when we pray the rosary, we begin every section with that appeal to God. We know that God hears our petitions and will come to assist us.