Why the Rosary is the Best Spiritual Vaccine for the Pandemic

By: Megan Naumovski

If you look up synonyms for PANDEMIC, you find at least 40 different words of which only a small handful seem at all connotative of something as negative as the Coronavirus.  Most eml of the synonyms listed seem to invoke a description rdmore relatable to what many films of us have found as an antidote to our current situation of fear and outbreak

—the rosary.

Catholic (but catholic, with a little “c”)

One of the first words I saw was “catholic”; not to be confused with Catholic, which is a proper noun describing a kind of Christian.  The adjective catholic also means universal, and when we say the Nicene Creed at each Sunday liturgy, we are proclaiming belief in the four pillars of the church; one, holy, catholic (not Catholic) and apostolic.  We are stating our belief in the one church of Jesus Christ that is his universal church.

Rosary

There are few times I feel more catholic (and Catholic) than when I say the rosary because it is the total and the whole of intercessory prayer (by the way, ALL synonyms for pandemic as well.) I feel I can–in a steady and comprehensive way–capture the totality of all prayers in my heart, as well as those for the  suffering around the world, and give them all to Jesus in faith through the capable hands of his mother.

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”

-Saint Maximillan Kolbe

Empyrean

 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. —Revelation 12:1

Empyrean means heavenly or celestial.  The divine transcends through prayer of the rosary because of the four sets of mysteries we consider, Glorious, Sorrowful, Joyful or Luminous are scriptural.  Each guide us through five “decades” which begin with an Our Father, then ten Hail Mary prayers, and finally a Glory Be.

Birth of Jesus

Each decade is based on a moment in the life and legacy of Christ, including that which began in the womb of his Blessed Mother, and ending with her reuniting with him in Heaven. We meditate through these divine moments with the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, which can take us to great depths of these great mysteries. Where would we be without the divine help of the Holy Spirit?

“The celestial b0odies are the cause of all that takes place in the sublunar world.” –Saint Thomas Aquinas

The repetitive prayer of the “Hail Mary”, most of which is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, starting around verse 42 “Hail Mary, full of grace…” ends with a simple a petition to ask Our Lady for her prayers, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” I think it is a good idea to ask her to pray for us at this defining moment, when we enter the empyrean realm.

Terrestrial (physical)

We do not usually think of the physical when considering prayer, but the rosary involves the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—as we account for each prayer while walking with the Blessed Virgin Mary through her son’s life. Because my own ‘terrestrial” mother has been devoted to the rosary for years, having made many a pilgrimage, she has a wide variety of rosaries.

Taking an extra suitcase when she goes on her “holy travels”, my mom buys up all the rosaries she can fit and brings them home to hand out to everyone she meets all year long.  On several occasions she purchased one for every child in my kids’ school (about 350 students.)

JPII rosary quote

The rosaries range from simple plastic rosaries, to six-feet-long rosaries that include every decade—all 20—on one long strand. Some rosaries are themed, such one I have with icons of the great basilicas as the Our Father beads; there are also “peace rosaries”, and “stations of the cross” rosaries. Some rosaries have special beads that smell like rose petals because many have reported the smell of roses when fervently praying the rosary in holy places.  Others are made from small rocks from the land where visions of Our Lady took place (I have one of these too!)

In any case, if you ask someone who has a great devotion to the rosary to tell you about their favorite rosary you will get a fast answer.  Devotees hold fast to their favorite. Some prefer the smooth wood or the gripping texture of rope. Consequently, if we get too attached to our favorite rosary, sometimes we will be asked to give it up to someone else.

Unique Tool for Spiritual Growth

I have heard many stories of someone who adores a certain rosary (for sentimental reasons or the feel of it, etc.) they will hear the Holy Spirit nudge them to give it away.  Always reluctant, they hear it loud and clear within their spirit and feel the unmistakable nudge to hand it over. Always to a recipient that seems to be on the verge of discovering the devotion for themselves and sure enough pass the special sacramental on to bless another.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit wants us to keep the spirit of the prayer in the forefront, which is trust in the intercessory prayer of Jesus’ favorite lady, his mom.

Rosary medicine

Many of the faithful have turned to this prayer over centuries of pandemic disease, wars, starvation and natural disasters.  With burdened fingers grasping the smooth beads in search of refuge, tender souls find themselves universally affected.  Perhaps the fifteen promises that accompany the rosary make it appealing to some. I believe the rosary is pandemic because we receive consolation from our spiritual mother.

“Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” —Saint Padre Pio

“The Rosary is a prayer both so humble and simple and theologically rich in bible content. I beg you to pray it.” –Saint John Paul The Great

“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult is it, that we cannot resolve by the power of the Holy Rosary.” Sister Lucia (visionary of Fatima)

“Give me an army saying the rosary, and I will conquer the world.” –Blessed Pope Pius IX


Megan Naumovski is on a mission to remind the world of the love God has for each and every soul, and how that love deserves our response. Every day she is a wife and mom in her domestic church, but in the world she helps lead others to Christ though ministry leadership, teaching, speaking and blogging at The Domestic Church of Bosco, http://boscoworld.blog.


Related Links

The Holy Rosary according to the Method of St. Louis de Montfort

5 Whimsical and Witty Things I Learned about the Rosary

 

 

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How Saint Catherine of Siena Leads You to God

The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena on April 29th. One of only four women Doctors of the Church, Catherine’s writings and life continues lead people to Christ.

Catherine of Siena

Catherine has been particularly important in my life. When my wife was pregnant with our youngest child  complications existed. Several times throughout the pregnancy we feared having a miscarriage. We prayed daily for the safety of our unborn child and asked for saints Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Gerard of Majella for help and intercession. Avila Catherine Geraldine was born in late 2018. She was healthy!

Since then my family continues to look to Catherine of Siena as a role model and guide to God. The Doctor of the Church provides mystical insight into the Gospel and demonstrates the depths of God’s love.

Fierce Defender of Truth

Few individuals have displayed such tenacity for the truth as Catherine did in her life. During the 14th century, the Catholic Church endured one of the most corrupt periods. Known as the Avignon papacy, the popes succumbed to worldly powers, specifically under the influence of the French monarchy. Catherine wrote frequently to Pope Gregory XI. An example of her boldness is shown in a Letter to Pope Gregory, “But, I hope, by the goodness of God that you will pay more heed to His honor and the safety of your own flock than to yourself, like a good shepherd, who ought to lay down his life for his sheep.”

Love is a Divine Furnace

Another key theme in Catherine’s writing is describing how God  love burns away sin.  God appears to be absent in our life. Suffering seems mysterious. That was the way I thought before reading the saint’s works. Her description of love as a divine furnace helped me better understand how God allows suffering to draw us closer to Him.

Fire of God's love

Reflecting on my past pains I realized how my prayer life actually bloomed. Having recovered from the contracting COVID19 a couple weeks ago, I rediscovered the importance of relying on God. At first I was angry for getting sick. I took all the precautions. Prayers started out as laments and ended in hope.

God was using my sickness to cauterize my sinful inclinations and renew my prayer life and trust in Him.

Spiritual Sister

According to the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his General Audience on November 24, 2010, “Catherine (of Siena) is one of these and still today speaks to us and impels us to walk courageously toward holiness to be ever more fully disciples of the Lord.” Her intercession is powerful. I used to only think of saints as people too lofty to relate to. But reading the Sienese saint’s writings and her struggles I gained an intimate spiritual relationship with her—like a sister.

Her wit and spiritual knowledge helps me grow in holiness. Sanctity. That truly is the purpose of family. Catherine wrote,  “There is no sin nor wrong that gives man such a foretaste of Hell in this life as anger and impatience.” Wow! Those words sound like they were written specifically for me. Parenting tests your patience. Daily. Hourly. And sometimes nearly every minute.

Catherine of siena quote

Catherine reminds me to trust in God. Her holiness shows through in her books and letters. I highly recommend looking to this Doctor of the Church for spiritual guidance.


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3 Stages of the Christian Spiritual Life


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 10,  2019.


The spiritual life for the Christian is not a mere horizontal path, but rather vertical and likened to a ladder— consisting of different levels of progression. Thus, the spiritual journey for the Catholic-Christian is composed of three steps being the interior, religious, and spiritual.  In this post, I will focus on individuals from St. Luke’s Gospel who exhibit each stage.

Stages of Christian Spirituality

Stage 1— The Interior Life

First, the “interior life” refers to the initial level of the spiritual path for Christians. At this stage, a person demonstrates the ability to be self-aware (self-autonomous) and shows the capacity to utilize their imagination. This stage is necessary for a Christian to increase and deepen their spirituality. However, it is possible to have a profound interior life without being spiritual.  A pragmatic instance of this is a secular artist painting a picture. They exercise their imagination without contemplating the mysteries of God. Nevertheless, normally the more powerful the imagination is, the greater potential a person has to power their “spiritual engine”—the mind.

Example of the Rich Young Man

Jesus and Rich Young Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two instances of the “interior life” within the Gospel of Luke include the Rich Young Man 18:18-30 and the centurion at the Crucifixion 23:44-49. Regarding the former, the Revised Standard Edition refers to the Rich Young Man as a ruler who initiates contact with Jesus by posing a query: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”(v. 18).  An analysis of this statement shows the ruler demonstrating the “interior life” on a twofold manner: he knew Jesus was a good, informative teacher (he probably heard about the previous work and preaching of Jesus from others) and the question asked was of metaphysical nature, which thus required imagination and intellect to ponder.

Jesus responds by telling the man to adhere to the Decalogue. The man then tells Christ that he diligently follows the commandments. But Jesus required more, he wanted the Rich Ruler to give away his material goods to the poor. But the man was unable to do so.  While he exhibited an “interior life” by asking the right question, the Rich Young Man was not spiritual due to failure to move past material wealth (v.23). Augmenting this point the narrator tells the reader that the man was sad to give up his possessions and thus shows why he cannot move past the interior level.

Example of the Roman Centurion

A second case of someone having the interior life in Luke comes at the close of the gospel. After hanging upon the cross for several hours, darkness came over the land and the veil of the temple split in two and Jesus uttered his final breath. During this a centurion proclaimed “Certainly this man was innocent!” (v.47). The centurion saw the curtain torn and perhaps remembered Jesus’ premonition that the Temple would be destroyed. Such recall shows intellect and imagination. In fact he had such a powerful imagination, that the centurion “praised God” in v.47. Because of this, he had a profound “interior life”.

Stage 2—The Religious Life

Defined as the level where one is focused on concepts of rituals and/or sacraments, the “religious life” is the next stage in Christian spirituality. To put it another way, this phase denotes an experience of contact with the Transcendent deity via religion.

Two prime examples of this are the Pharisees in Luke 6:1-5 and Peter in 9:28-36. With the former, the Pharisees badgered Jesus and his disciples for gathering grain on the Sabbath. Their query in v. 2 shows that they are primarily concerned with Jewish ritual practices, which exhibits a sign of being in the “religious life” phase. The narrator gives a further clue that this is a case of the “religious life” because Jesus corrected them by showing that David set a precedent in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. The Pharisees were thus being nit-picky about the Sabbath law.

Example of the Transfiguration

Transfiguration

 

 

 

 

The second incident of a person existing in the “religious life” level of spirituality occurs a few chapters later at the Transfiguration. Upon witnessing Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah, Peter utters a seemingly perplexing statement, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths…” (9:33). Knowledge of the main Jewish celebrations is needed to ascertain Cephas’ point. Peter is referring to the Feast of Booths which recalls Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their wandering in the desert for 40 years. Although Peter is being an astute Jew by wanting to follow that ritual custom of erecting a tent, his missed the true purpose of the Transfiguration and hence he is at the “religious” level of the spiritual life and not yet at the final stage.

Stage 3—The Spiritual Life

The final phase of the spiritual journey is at the level of the “spiritual life”. The phrase “the spiritual life” is delineated as the level where mankind’s spirit and the Holy Spirit connect— it also presupposes and fulfills the latter two stages in the spiritual excursion.

Example of Mary

At the outset of Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s fiat in 1:26-38 is the most perfect expression of obedience to God and a person having the fullness of the “spiritual life”.  First of all, when the angel Gabriel came to her, Mary although initially concerned did not flee. Rather she listened to the message. After hearing the news of her future pregnancy, Mary asked “How can this be since I have no husband?” (She pledged her life to remain a virgin). Gabriel responded by telling her that Jesus will be conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s reply in v. 38 displays her complete surrender to God’s will and shows why she exhibits the “spiritual life”.

Example of the Repentant Sinful Woman

The next case of the “spiritual life” in Luke also is of a woman. In 7:36-50 a sinful woman wept at Jesus’ feet, because of her sins, and cleansed them with her tears and expensive ointment. Luke juxtaposes this woman with Simon, Jesus’ Pharisaic host. He scorned the woman due to her sin. Jesus quips back by saying that the woman washed his feet without him asking. Simon failed to welcome Jesus with the same hospitality (v.45-47). Verse 48 shows the climax of this passage, “Your sins are forgiven”.  She desired forgiveness and Christ is pleased to forgive. For this reason, she is an example of having the “spiritual life”.

St. Francis de Sales quote

 

 

 

 

 

St. Francis de Sales declared, “All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.” Our reflection on St. Luke’s Gospel proves that God meets individuals at various places and times. Whether you are at the beginning or more advanced path to holiness, the key to “climbing” the spiritual ladder is to let Christ carry you— cooperate with Divine Providence this week! I challenge you to plunge yourself into the Scriptures this week and mediate on how you can better encounter Jesus.

Related Links

The Three Ways or States of the Spiritual Life

Three Stages of the Spiritual Life by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P

St. Teresa of Avila Pray for Us!


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