In many of her apparitions, particularly those of the twentieth century, the Virgin Mary has implored all of humanity to say the Rosary in order to change the hearts of humankind. Why the insistence on this repetitive prayer?
The world’s most ancient religions have used repetitive prayer to raise followers’ mental states to a more mystical plane. The practice of counting prayers with stones goes back thousands of years before Christ. The earliest Christian monks retired from the world repeating a simple prayer over and over, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me.” Medieval monks reported entering an altered state where they saw a powerful light around them after repeating this prayer for hours in a day. Even if one has no feeling for the words in the prayer, it is a starting point to empty the clutter of the material world out of the mind. Scientific research on individuals who habitually chant mantras or repeat prayers documented that these subjects had lower stress levels, higher immune systems, less frequent insomnia, and lower blood pressure than the average population. They also had a calmer reaction to stressful situations and were much less apt to react in a violent or paranoid manner.
Medieval people loved Mary. The Hail Mary was developed from the scriptural greetings of the angel Gabriel in Luke’s Gospel. Like the Our Father, this was a simple prayer, easy for the uneducated laity to remember. Repeating these prayers several times brought one into a heightened state of grace. Eventually, the monks taught the great events of Jesus Christ’s life through the Rosary by developing a ritualistic, formulaic series of prayers that was accessible to the masses. The method of using prayer beads to count one’s prayers goes back to the earliest monks. The Rosary, a series of fifty beads divided up into tens separated by an individual one, has evolved from the Middle Ages. The directions for saying the Rosary are very simple: for each bead in the decade one says a Hail Mary, for each separating bead an Our Father is said. On each decade while one is repeating the rote prayer, a scriptural event in the life of Christ is meditated on. On one day the Joyful Mysteries are considered, on another the Sorrowful Mysteries and on another the Glorious Mysteries.
The Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation (Luke 1:30–33), The Visitation (Luke 1:50–53), The Nativity (Luke 2:10–11), The Presentation (Luke 2:29–32), The Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:48–52). The Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:38–39), The Scourging at the Pillar (John 19:1), The Crowning with Thorns (Mark 15:16–17), The Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17), The Crucifixion (John 19: 28–30). The Glorious Mysteries: The Resurrection (Mark 16:6–8), The Ascension (Acts 1:10–11), The Coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4), The Assumption of Mary (Song of Songs 2:3–6), The Coronation of Mary (Luke 1:51–54). Saying five decades of the Rosary takes approximately fifteen to twenty minutes each day. The beads tend to regulate the amount of time one spends concentrating on each mystery.
When Mary requests the world to say the Rosary, she is asking us to review the story of Christ’s life. The act of saying the Rosary is one that pulls the mind out of the material world and brings on a state of calm. Violent feelings and blind hatreds dissipate. The recitation of rote prayers is just a starting point in entering a more spiritual level of thought. In the early thirteenth century Saint Dominic had a vision of the Virgin Mary where she handed him a Rosary and made fifteen promises to those who said it on a daily basis: 1] Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces. 2] I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary. 3] The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies. 4] It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of people from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. O, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means. 5] The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish. 6] Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying themselves to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune.
God will not chastise them in His justice, they shall not perish by an unprovided death; if they be just, they shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life. 7] Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church. 8] Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the Saints in Paradise. 9] I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary. 10] The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven. 11] You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary. 12] All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities. 13] I have obtained from my divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and the hour of death. 14] All who recite the Rosary are my children, and brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ. 15] Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
Feast Days of Mary
January 1 Mary, Mother of God
January 21 Our Lady of Altagracia
January 23 Espousal of the Virgin Mary
January 24 Madonna del Pianto (Our Lady of Tears)
February 2 Purification of Mary
February 11 Our Lady of Lourdes
March 25 The Annuciation
April 25 Our Lady of Good Counsel (at Genazzano)
April 26 Our Lady of Good Counsel (elsewhere)
May 13 Our Lady of Fatima
May 13 Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament
May 24 Mary, Help of Christians
May 31 Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces
May 31 The Visitation
June 9 Mary, Virgin Mother of Grace
June 27 Our Lady of Perpetual Help
July 2 Visitation by Mary to Saint Elizabeth
July 16 Our Lady of Mount Carmel
July 17 Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 2 Our Lady of the Angels
August 5 Our Lady of the Snow
August 5 Our Lady of the Copacabana
August 13 Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners
August 15 The Assumption into Heaven
August 21 Our Lady of Knock
August 22 Immaculate Heart of Mary
August 22 Queenship of Mary
September 8 Nativity of Mary
September 8 Our Lady of Charity
September 12 Most Holy Name Mary
September 15 Our Lady of Sorrow
September 24 Our Lady of Mercy
September 24 Our Lady of Walsingham
October 1 Holy Protection of the Mother of God
October 7 Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
October 11 Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
October 16 Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 21 Presentation of Mary at the Temple
December 8 The Immaculate Conception
December 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 18 Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday after Ascension Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles Saturday before the last Sunday in August Our Lady, Health of the Sick Saturday after the Feast of Saint Augustine (August 28) Our Lady of Consolation Saturday before third Sunday of November Mary, Mother of Divine Providence