Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
October is the month of the rosary. As Catholics,e are so blessed to have several traditional devotional practices that focus on the Blessed Mother. Whenever I am challenged by those outside the Catholic Faith who criticize Catholics for their devotion to the Blessed Mother and claim that Catholics worship Mary, it is easy for me to call upon the human experience mothers in our lives. I know that I have always appreciated the respect and affection that my friends had for my mother, and I know that it was reciprocal.
Our Faith is enriched by the special attention given to the Blessed Mother. Various prayers associated with Mary. At the commendation of a priest’s funeral, the priests present will sing the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen). One of the titles given to Mary is Regina Cleri (Queen of the Clerics). The Memorare is another favorite Marian prayer and it is attributed to St. Bernard. It is obvious to me of the special affection most Catholics have for the Blessed Mother. When I publicly recite Marian prayers, many people will pray aloud with me, reciting the prayers from memory.
The rosary, which is identified as Mary’s prayer, is really about her Son and the great mysteries of salvation history. Every mother takes pride in the accomplishments of her child, including the Mother of the Son of God. So, appropriately, the mysteries of her Son are used in the meditations of the rosary. St. John Paul II proudly displayed the large “M” on his coat of arms, unabashedly a promoter of his allegiance and devotion to the Blessed Mother. He even added the Luminous mysteries to the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of the rosary.
The rosary is unique. It offers to the individual an opportunity to experience the comfort of a mother in different situations through the recitation of this prayer. I have visited hospital waiting rooms and have seen people holding a rosary, likely praying for the well-being of their loved ones. I know that beads were fingered by students when tests were approaching. There was no absence of rosaries recited by parents whose sons and daughters were engaged in the defense of our country. As a chaplain, I can testify that when my units were preparing for deployment, the rosary was the prayer instrument of choice that could be carried easily into challenging situations.
Last Sunday, October 4, at St. James Parish in Kenosha, I processed with members of the Kenosha community to pledge our trust in God and pray for peaceful solutions to the problems facing us. We turned to the Blessed Mother in the recitation of the rosary, knowing that a mother will always listen to the pleas of her children. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a long tradition of Marian devotion. The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate has and continues to promote devotion to Our Lady. A couple of years ago, a film was produced entitled “Power in My Hands.” In the film, testimonies about the impact of the rosary and trust in the power of that prayer are offered by individuals from various walks of life.
Perhaps during October, we might view the film and be inspired by these witnesses. If you have children in your home, then I would suggest taking a favorite statue, painting or icon of Mary and praying the rosary out loud together. Remember, a family that prays together stays together. Can you imagine the power embedded in the minds of young children who experience their parents praying? You can develop a practice to pray the rosary daily. Believe me, it will change your life, bringing comfort and focusing your attention on a loving God. Praying the rosary will always remind you that the Mother of God wants her sons and daughters to always LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 6, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.