October– The Month of the Rosary and Respect Life

10-07-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Robert Aliunzi

Dear Friends,

By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to certain devotions. In the month of October for instance, we focus on two significant commemorations: Respect Life and the Holy Rosary. October also includes the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary which we celebrate on October 07 and the best way to celebrate the month is, of course, to pray the Rosary throughout the month. Here in our Diocese, we have the Arizona Rosary Celebration during which all the Catholics from around the Diocese gather to say the Rosary and honor Mother Mary in downtown Phoenix at the Convention Center. This year this celebration falls on Sunday, October 15.

But coming back to October 07 we may ask, why does the Catholic Church celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 07? Well, it is because on October 07, in the year 1571, a great victory was won over the mighty Turkish fleet by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between "oared" ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world at the time comprising, a Muslim force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. Victory at that battle was attributed to the intervention of Mother Mary.

We are told that in that battle, the patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Knowing that the Christian forces were severely and materially disadvantaged, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. We know today that the victory was significant because it prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and clearly revealed the Hand of God working through Our Lady.

At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: "The Christian fleet is victorious!" and shed tears of thanksgiving to God. What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria who was said to have carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy.

At Lepanto, the Victory over the Muslims was believed to have been won by the Catholics praying the Rosary that was why even though the Muslims had superior numbers, the Turks really were overwhelmed prompting Blessed Padre Pio, the Spiritual Father of the Blue Army, to say: "The Rosary is the weapon," and how right he was! The Rosary remains the most lethal weapon the devil fears the most.

The Battle of Lepanto was at first celebrated liturgically as "Our Lady of Victory." Later, the feast of October 7th was renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary" and extended throughout the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716.

And then came Fatima, Portugal, where Our Lady, when asked her name by Lucy, one of the three children to whom she appeared, emphatically said: "I am the Lady of the Rosary." At Fatima, Our Lady taught us to pray the Rosary every day.

In honor of our Mother Mary, here at our parish, in anticipation, we began with a wonderful talk given by our very own Fr. Gabriel on September 28 on the First Five Saturdays Devotions to Mother Mary. Going forward, we are going to give prominence to this Devotion every first Saturday of the month for the next four months. This first five Saturday’s devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message from our Mother Mary. Its central focus is on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiation for the many injuries against the immaculate heart of Mary. In return, our Blessed Mother promises to assist those who complete the devotion at the hour of their death with all the graces necessary to attain salvation for their souls.

This devotion consists of four main activities:

  1. Going to Confession
  2. Receiving Holy Communion
  3. Reciting the Rosary
  4. Meditating for 15 minutes on one or more mysteries of the Rosary.

So, from this month of October to February 2024, I invite you to:

  1. Do the devotion as a family at your homes.
  2. Bring in your friends along for confession or Rosary on the first Saturdays after Mass.
  3. Start the Devotion in any month if you are not able to do so this month and continue on your own for five consecutive first Saturdays.

Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for us! Watch out for more reflection on the Respect Life in an upcoming article.