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A Childlike Love for the Rosary
October 7th Readings Reflection: Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
Today is the Feast of Our Lady, Queen of the Holy Rosary. Today’s feast has a beautiful history tracing back to the year 1571. The Ottoman Turks had been threatening Europe with their strong military forces, sacking villages and slaughtering thousands of people as they made their way closer to Europe. A pivotal battle occurred at Lepanto, near Greece, where the Turkish navy threatened to overtake the city and enter Europe.
Pope St. Pius V asked the people of Rome to pray the Rosary for a Christian victory at Lepanto. Just as the Turkish fleet was getting into formation in the waters off Lepanto, the wind changed direction in favour of the Christian fleet. The Christians overtook the Turkish forces and rescued ten thousand Christian slaves. The Turkish fleet retreated, never to threaten Europe by sea again (Anne Carroll, Christ the King Lord of History). In thanksgiving to Our Lady for the Christian victory at Lepanto, Pope Pius V established October 7, the day of the battle, as the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Over four hundred years later, the Church still celebrates this feast.
The Battle of Lepanto is just one of countless miracles that have occurred through devotion to the Rosary. Our Lady has promised that “[w]hatever [we] ask in the Rosary will be granted.” Despite the great spiritual power of the Rosary, we often avoid praying it. Even St. Therese of Lisieux struggled with the Rosary, admitting that she would often fall asleep while praying it. The Rosary can seem monotonous, as we repeat Hail Marys over and over for a total of 53 times.
Maria von Trapp, herself a devout Catholic, wrote, “When we repeat over and over: ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…’ it is like the begging of little children who want something with all their heart: ‘Please, Mother, please! Oh, Mother, please, please!’” (The Story of the Trapp Singers, p. 81). Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel correlate with this understanding of the Rosary: “I give [Y]ou praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although [Y]ou have hidden these things from the wise and the learned [Y]ou have revealed them to the childlike.”
When we pray the Rosary, we can thus imagine ourselves as little children imploring Our Blessed Mother for help. Incidentally, today’s feast is also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, due to the Christian victory at Lepanto. When St. Therese of Lisieux was young, she became very ill and nearly died. A statue of Our Lady of Victories smiled at her, and Therese made a miraculous recovery. Since St. Therese’s Little Way is centered around becoming childlike, it is fitting that she has this connection with today’s feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
May Our Lady help us to always love the Rosary and may we, in turn, always approach her with a childlike love and confidence, trusting in the power of her intercession through this devotion.