Last week I wrote about the reality of spiritual warfare and how knowledge of Scripture is a good way to resist Satan’s tactics.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about another powerful spiritual weapon that has transformed my life, and is most effective in sending Satan on his way.
October is traditionally earmarked as a month of particular devotion to the rosary, with Oct. 7 annually designated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Those of you who already pray the rosary – which is entirely rooted in Scripture – don’t need me to tell you what this prayer can do to change your life.
Over the years, I have been an on-and-off prayer of the daily rosary. When I look back at those periods where I prayed it every day, I see peace and a quiet trust that all my concerns will work out. When I look back at those periods where it fell out of practice, there is confusion and despair, not to mention a weakened faith.
This week I’ve been skimming through probably the most complete book you will ever find on the rosary’s history, supporters, and method of praying it. Donald Calloway authored “Champions of the Rosary,” a kind of encyclopedic look at this most powerful prayer. Calloway himself talks of his seriously wayward young adulthood and how he discovered the prayer when he stopped in a Catholic Church one day and heard some elderly ladies praying it. He was moved to learn more about it, and eventually became a priest, whose primary work now is to promote the prayer.
My favorite part of the book is when Calloway features 26 “champions” of the rosary, saints through history who promoted the prayer and wrote about it. Some of these champions include Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II, Padre Pio, Josemaria Escriva, Louis de Montfort and Father Patrick Peyton among others. In reading each of the profiles, I am once again inspired to pick up my beads and meditate on the events of Jesus Christ’s life, as well as those of his most Blessed Mother, Mary.
In Genesis, we read how God said the Woman will crush the head of the serpent. That is exactly what happens every time one picks up their rosary beads and prays it with attentiveness and reverence. Satan hates Mary, because God chose her to bring Christ into the world through her womb. No one on Earth knew Christ better than his Mother, and so when we pray the Our Fathers, the Hail Marys, and other prayers on the beads, we go to Mary to teach us about Christ and to enrich our understanding of his life and mission on this Earth. And she gladly does so.
As Pope John Paul II said in his 2002 Apostolic Letter, the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the rosary is a Christocentric prayer. Christ is at the center, as we meditate on the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of his life. The rosary is an inexhaustible source of an ever deepening life in Christ.
If you have never prayed the rosary out of skepticism that it is idolatry, or if you have prayed it but fallen out of practice, I strongly encourage you to read Pope John Paul II’s beautiful apostolic letter and the book by Donald Calloway. There are a number of other good resources out there about this prayer as well, three of which should be arriving in my mailbox this week, because I can never read enough or learn enough about this prayer that has changed my life and which I love so much.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.