Stick around after any Catholic Mass and you’re bound to see a group elderly women gathering around a statue of Mary to pray the rosary. The sight has become so common as to be a point of derision. An old pious practice, it certainly only exists to bring comfort to the blind believer… Or is it, perhaps, a weapon… A weapon we should all wield? Perhaps it is the most powerful of weapons, not of destruction, but restoration – it is the Weapon of Mass Restoration.
The Origin of the Rosary
In medieval times, the monks at the local monastery (there were that many monasteries that most communities had one) would recite all 150 psalms each day. The laypeople found a warm familial feeling around these austere places of worship and were desirous to take part in their small daily liturgical celebrations. Unable to memorize the psalms, they began invoking the intercession of Our Lady. Around the same time, Our Lady so graciously appeared to the magnanimous St. Dominic, endowing him the with the chain of beads that we use today and call the Rosary.
The Importance of the Rosary
This communal gathering around the invocation of Our Lady began to take noticeable effect on those who prayed it. Miracles occurred more and more often – even appearances of Mary herself. On a very human level, it had a calming psychological effect on its adherents. As Fulton Sheen said so famously of the Rosary’s oft-made fun of prayer of repetition: “You can never say ‘I love you’ too much.”
On the supernatural level, Our Lady has appeared many places throughout Church history (including an explosion in recent times available here) urgently exhorting us to pray this Weapon of Mass Restoration as often as possible. Most notably, at Fatima, we were warned: “"Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world . . . for she alone can save it." This is private revelation, yes, which means you do not have to believe it. But it also means that the Church has thoroughly investigated the appearances and deemed them worthy of belief. The term “devil’s advocate” comes from the Church and its investigations of such private revelations, meaning there was always one person designated to attempt disproving such revelations.
The Metaphysics of the Rosary
This prayer is much more than simple mental therapy. Prayer is, as one Dominican put it, “to give our thoughts and desires over to the One whose thought actually causes what it conceives, for what God thinks, is.” God is the perfect source of all being and goodness. What is good belongs to God’s being. What is evil is an absence of this perfect source that we call God. Our prayers belong to the better part, while our thoughts are most often absent of God. Prayer, then, by being in touch with the perfect source of being itself, allows us to participate in the mind of God in such a way that we might have an actual effect on the world. When we pray, we are in touch with the innermost part of ourselves, the part that literally shares in the same being as God, and thus allows us to causally effect the world by our prayer as he does.
Pray the Rosary
Why the Rosary? Perhaps Our Lady had COVID in mind – when access to Mass and the Sacraments might be difficult. Perhaps she had the illiterate in mind – thus we don’t need to be able to read Sacred Scripture. Perhaps she had the disabled, the weak, the elderly, the suffering, the infirm in mind. Perhaps she had those astray from the Church in mind. Perhaps it was because literally anyone and everyone can pray the rosary. In doing so, we might find that we begin to share in that communal and familial embrace those medieval congregations had. We might find that we restore relationships that were lost, families and communities that were broken. We might find the strength to endure real pain. In times of destruction, let’s remember the Weapon of Mass Restoration – let’s pray the rosary.