As we enter the month of October, dedicated to the Rosary, we can call to mind some of the different apparitions of the Blessed Virgin where she speaks about the Rosary.
The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly celebrated as Our Lady of Victory, is the commemoration of the victory of the fleet of the Holy League of 1571 against the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto. However, the sea battle from the 16th century was not the only important rosary event from October.
In 1917, three shepherd children from Fatima, Portugal, received miraculous visits from Mary at the Cova da Iria, a place where they pastured their sheep near their mountain homes. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta have passed into the history of devotion to the Blessed Virgin because of the message they were able to give the world thanks to the privilege of having been visited by the Mother of God.
What are the ten lessons from Our Lady of Fatima for praying the rosary?
1. Pray with intentionality
When Mary visited the children, they were able to see the power of their prayer. As soon as others were aware of the heavenly visits to the shepherd children, they brought them prayer intentions that they wanted them to share with the mysterious Lady who was coming monthly to the Cova da Iria. Men and women are so weighed down by the troubles of this world, and there are always many intentions for which it is good to pray. These shepherd children became true prayer warriors, dedicating themselves to pray for the needs of those around them, as well as the greater needs of the world in general. They would pray especially for the Holy Father, for the salvation of souls and for the end of war.
2. The Rosary is a great way to meditate the mysteries of the life of Christ
Each day, a Christian can pray the Rosary and is thus ensured to meditate on some scenes from the life of Christ. The words of the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Fatima prayer serve as a background for the mysteries of the Life and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At the beginning of each decade, a mystery of the life of Christ is announced and meditated during the space of the prayers recited. Time is given to meditate the life of Christ and thus the person praying is introduced more fully into the mystery of Christ.
3. Normally, it is good to pray five decades
Mary would ask them to pray the terço, the Portuguese term for the five-decade rosary. The word means third and refers to praying five of the fifteen mysteries known in the traditional Rosary. Thanks to Saint John Paul II, we have now adopted the Luminous Mysteries made popular by Blessed Bartolo Longo, for a grand total of twenty mysteries. The children would not have the patience for fifteen or indeed twenty decades, but five decades seems much more approachable for most people.
4. The Rosary is a great prayer against war
The children received the visits of Our Lady during the final throes of the First World War. Though they had limited contact with the war, they were exhorted to pray for its end. They received the Rosary as a different type of weapon to battle for an end to war.
5. The Rosary is a great prayer for peace
Beyond asking for the end of war, the Rosary serves as a means to achieve personal peace. The three children became true apostles of prayer and were able to achieve inner peace, even though they had to suffer many tribulations because of popular opinion and even the reactions of their own friends and family.
6. The Rosary is a great prayer to save souls from Hell
The Fatima prayer, added on after the Glory Be in every decade, is a great prayer to ask for the salvation of souls. By having this petition ingrained through the frequent recitation of the Rosary, people become used to praying for the intention of all intentions: the salvation of souls.
7. The Rosary is a great prayer to seek personal conversion
Praying the Rosary made a profound impact on the shepherd children. They received the immense grace of seeing the Blessed Virgin, but they also were introduced to a true life of prayer that helped them walk the path of personal conversion. Frequent prayer changed their interior attitudes and expectations from life.
8. The Rosary is a great way to learn to pray
The Rosary is fairly short and fairly easy. It is a great way to learn to pray. It is a mixture of what is called vocal and mental prayer. The repetition of the words is a vocal prayer and is one of the easiest types of prayer. The combination with the meditation on the mysteries is a mental prayer. Thus, the person who prays the Rosary is introduced into prayer, beginning with what is more familiar and moving on to what is more difficult.
9. The Rosary is a great way to pray always
The Rosary can become part of one’s daily routine, thus helping the Christian to respond to St. Paul’s exhortation to pray without ceasing. (1 Thes. 5:17) Mary did not ask the children for a daily Rosary, but to pray always, sempre in Portuguese.
10. Repetition within the Rosary is a gift
Some people are taken aback by the constant repetition within the Rosary. However, this repetition allows the person praying to meditate the sense of the words and to have time for prayer. In a world that tries to invade even our interior thoughts, the repetition of the Rosary helps to build up a shield to defend our interior life.
Perhaps beyond all of these tips that can be gleaned from the apparitions of Fatima, the most important is that during the Rosary we treat Mary as our Mother.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. Mary Our Mother, pray for us.