Thursday October 7, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Reading (Galatians 3:1-5)†† Gospel (St. Luke 11:5-13)
Today as we celebrate this feast of our Lady of the Rosary, we recall that it was precisely the Rosary which brought about the victory for the Christian peoples over the Muslims back in the year 1571. At that point, the Church was about to be destroyed (Europe, in essence, was about to be overrun) so the Holy Father asked that the people would pray their Rosary specifically for help from heaven in overcoming the onslaught of the Muslims. So the people prayed, and, by the miracle which came from heaven, things turned around and the Christian forces were able to defeat the Muslim forces that were pushing their way across Europe at that time.
When we think about this and then we put it together with the readings today, we begin by looking at what Our Lord says when He tells us that we are to ask and we will receive, to seek and we will find, to knock and the door will be opened to us. It is precisely through prayer that this is going to happen. We have been given by heaven all the weaponry that we need, particularly the Rosary. As we pray the Rosary, what happens is that we begin to be formed according to the mysteries of Jesus Christ; and if we are going to be formed according to Christ, to be united with Him, then what will happen is that we will begin to live more perfectly the life of Christ.
We see also, in the Acts of the Apostles, that the apostles, after Our Lord had risen from the dead, gathered around Our Blessed Lady and she taught them how to pray. We also do the same. Unfortunately, what is happening because many people do not see immediately the results that they desire is that they have sought other things. We can look at what Saint Paul has to say to the Galatians today when they abandoned Our Lord because they thought that faith was not enough, that they needed something different. He begins the reading by saying, Oh, stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Isnít this what is happening to so many Catholics? They have abandoned the Blessed Sacrament; they do not pray; but they run around doing all kinds of bizarre things thinking that maybe this will work or maybe that will work: ďMaybe Iíll get what I want if I try this, that, or the other thing.Ē But they do not pray.
That is something we all have to look at. It is prayer that is going to bring about the very things that we need. Our Lady has said that prayer can actually suspend the laws of nature. All we have to do is look at what has happened throughout history; as Our Lord prays, Our Lady, the apostles, the saints throughout history, we see extraordinary things happening because of their prayers. The same thing can happen with us, but we have to be patient. Our Lord makes very clear that even if this manís friend would not give him what he needed because of friendship that he will certainly do so because of his persistence. So we need to pray and we need to persist in prayer. We get frustrated when something does not happen quickly, but when we are talking about bringing a soul to Christ, when we are talking about bringing children back who have fallen away from the Church, when we are talking about trying to deal with any human being, we have to recognize the value of that personís soul and that it is not as quick as just saying a prayer or two, or even doing so maybe for a few days or a few weeks. Sometimes it takes years. We are to persevere in prayer and we are to trust. That is the lesson we have to learn.
At times, God is going to allow things to look like they are utterly impossible, hopeless, and it is through prayer that we are going to be able to have our victory. The greatest victory is the salvation of souls, to snatch them away from Satan, and to break the bond that he has upon them. That is not going to happen in any way other than prayer. And sometimes, depending on the hold the devil has on a person, it is going to take a lot of prayer coupled with penance to be able to bring about the conversion of souls. That is what we are called to do, to place ourselves at the service of others, to operate on faith and not on works of the law, as Saint Paul says, but to operate on faith, knowing that as we pray the Lord is hearing our prayers and He is granting the grace for which we are asking to the person for whom we are praying, or granting the grace for the situation about which we are praying. If we persevere, even if it takes ten or twenty years, the prayer is heard, the grace is applied, and we trust as we operate by faith Ė not by sight Ė that the grace for which we are asking, because of our perseverance as well as because of our friendship with the Lord, will be answered.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.