Tuesday October 7, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Reading (Acts 1:12-14) Gospel (St. Luke 1:26-38)
As we celebrate today the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, you recall that originally this feast was called Our Lady of Victory because Pope Pius V had asked Catholic people across Europe to pray the Rosary specifically for victory in a naval battle in which the Turkish forces, which were all Moslem, were about to destroy Christianity. Had they won the Battle of Lepanto, they would have had the entire Mediterranean and they would have had complete freedom to come and go as they wished. While the Christian forces were badly outnumbered, miraculously, through the prayers of the people, the Christian forces won. It was this that became a turning point, certainly at least in the naval part of the battle, but also to keep the Moslems out of the Catholic areas for that time so the Faith would be preserved.
Now when we look at what happens in our own lives, we can see that the old boy, the devil himself, is trying his best to infiltrate and to destroy us. We can see what is happening throughout the world as Catholics abandon their Faith. We can look, for instance, in places where these people prayed the Rosary five hundred years ago for the safety and preservation of their Catholic Faith, and now so many of the people have abandoned that Faith. In France now, where God has raised up so many great saints, less than 2% of the people go to Mass on Sunday. In Germany, there are more Moslems in the Catholic schools than there are Catholics. And in Italy, the Moslems are beginning to overrun the country. Throughout Europe this is happening and we see the same thing beginning to happen in the United States where we have made laws that allow almost no Christians to come into the country, but for Moslems, as many as they wish.
All of this is part of a plan; and it is not the plan that God had presented to us, but that is because the people have not done what the Lord has asked. He wants us to pray and He wants us to do penance, but we do not want to do that because we have found life just too easy and too pleasant. This idea of having to spend ourselves in prayer is not something that we really seem to want to do. And so as we sit around and do nothing, the devil is not sitting around but is doing much. Our Lady is calling us to take up the Rosary, a simple prayer, but an exceedingly powerful prayer because it is using the very words of God Himself, it is using the words of the angel Gabriel, it is glorifying the Most Holy Trinity, it is praying for the conversion of sinners, it is acknowledging our Faith. Everything is there in this one beautiful prayer. And not only everything with the power in its words, but with its power in the mysteries of the life and the death and the resurrection and the glorification of our blessed Lord, so that we consider and meditate upon these mysteries of who we are and our dignity and the love of God for us as He brings us out of our sinfulness, making us His own children and calling us to eternity with Himself. The Rosary becomes in this way the ladder to heaven, as Jesus told Nathaniel that he would see “greater things than this, even the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” That is a mystery that takes place as we pray the Rosary. But more than that, it is the Rosary, I believe, which is spoken of in the Book of Revelation as the chain which will bind Satan and cast him into the abyss. If you want Satan to leave you and your family alone, take up the weapon, the weapon of peace, but the weapon which will crush the head of Satan – that is, our blessed Lady’s Rosary. She has made the promises. We have seen them over and over again, but for whatever reason we tend to not want to do what we are asked to do. In the meantime, the devil is destroying our families and he is infiltrating the Church and destroying the faith of many because they are not taking up this simple but exceedingly powerful prayer.
It is an interesting thing to note that every single saint, for the last however many generations and centuries, that has started a religious order has required that the nuns and the monks and the priests all pray the Rosary. It is not an option. I do not know any religious orders in their foundation that did not pray the Rosary. There are many religious these days who do not because, again, they are following the same pattern as everyone else. But all of the founders of religious orders require it. All of the saints require it and they talk about it. Now these are people with profound lives of prayer, and they recognize that the foundation and the mainstay of their prayer life is in many ways going to be found in our blessed Lady’s Rosary.
If the Mother of God is asking this of us, if God Himself is asking it of us, if the Church is asking it of us – there are more encyclical letters written by the Popes over the centuries on the Rosary than on any other topic – then we need to realize that the wisdom of the saints and the wisdom of the Church is directed at us that we need to recognize, like little children, the simplicity of this prayer and the love which we can pour into it and the power which flows from it. If your children have wandered from the Church, pray the Rosary. If your family is being torn apart, pray the Rosary. If you are struggling in your life, pray the Rosary. It is precisely the prayer that the angels pray. It is precisely the prayer that the saints have prayed. It is the prayer that Our Lady has asked us to pray, and Our Lady will be faithful to all the promises she has made in regard to the Rosary. We simply need to have that childlike trust and to take up our weapon, the weapon of peace, the weapon with the greatest power. If we can come before Our Lord – in the Blessed Sacrament, especially – with Rosary in hand, all things will be ours.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.