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Sunday:       Our Lady of the Rosary
Date:         October 7, 2002
Year:         A
The readings: [Gal. 1:6-12; Lk. 10:25-37]
The message:  The history of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Total words:  1436 words.

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** The readings follow the sermon.

May I take this occasion to wish you all a Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Holy Scriptures reveal to us that after the Blessed Virgin Mary had visited her cousin Elizabeth, she recited the Magnificat. One prophetic verse in that prayer still echoes today, "Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed." [Lk. 1:48] (C.C.C. # 971) The Holy Rosary fulfills the prophecy of those words, that the blessed Virgin Mary shall be called blessed today as much as she was called blessed in the days that followed the glorious birth of our Lord Jesus.

The Church Sacramental of the Rosary (C.C.C. # 1674), recited daily throughout the world, brings back to memory thousands and thousands of times the words of the angel of God, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." [Lk. 1:28] As a Catholic devotion, the Rosary involves meditation on the fifteen mysteries surrounding the lives of Our Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin mary. The Rosary engages our thoughts, our imagination, our emotions, and our desire. This serves the purpose of mobilizing our faculties in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompting a conversion of heart and a strengthening of our will to follow Christ. (C.C.C. # 2708)

Considering the immense treasure of spiritual good that is found in the recitation of the Holy Rosary, how is it associated with Our Lady of the Rosary? When and where did the Rosary have its origin?

Tradition asserts that the Feast of the Holy Rosary had its beginning when the Albigensian heresy was destroying the country of Toulouse. Shortly after September 12, 1213, St. Dominic turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the triumph of Catholic arms. As St. Dominic was kneeling before the Sacred Altar in the Church of St. Jacques, Our Lady appeared to him and instructed him to preach the Rosary among the people as a cure for heresy and sin. In thanksgiving to Our Lady for the miraculous victory that followed, it is asserted that the crusaders erected a chapel in the Church of St. Jacques and dedicated it to Our Lady of the Rosary. Based on this tradition, it appears that the devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary had its origin in those days.

Over and above the defeat of the Albigensian heretics at the battle of Muret in 1213, it is believed that the grace of God frequently shined upon the world through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.

At the same time, historical documents have not been able to accredit St. Dominic with the origin of the Rosary. The earliest trace of any Church documents alleges that it was a Dominican preacher, Alan de la Roche, who created the legend of St. Dominic in the fifteenth century.

Further research has proven that the Rosary was in existence prior to the days of St. Dominic. In those earlier days, its existence was patterned on the Book of Psalms. Originally, possibly as far back as the eight century, the Lord's Prayer was recited 150 times by religious communities. Those who were devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary replaced the Lord's Prayer with the first part of today's Hail Mary, reciting 150 Hail Mary's on beads strung on a cord.

It was not until the fifteen century that the Rosary was divided into three Chaplets of 50 Hail Marys each, at which time the mysteries were added to each Chaplet. By the sixteen century, the fifteen mysteries had become accepted by all as the proper way of reciting the Rosary. During that period of time, the second half of the Hail Mary was added and the "Glory be to the Father" was used to close each decade of the Rosary. In 1569, Pope Pius V officially approved the Rosary as it is known today throughout the world.

Four years later, Pope Pius V established the Feast of the Rosary in thanksgiving to Our Lady to commemorate the naval victory of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. On that same day, the first Sunday of October, while the members of the Rosary confraternity made their procession in Rome, Don John of Austria defeated the Turkish fleet.

Following the request of the Dominican Order, in 1573, Pope Gregory XIII allowed this feast to be observed in all the Churches that possessed an Altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary. In 1671, Pope Clement X extended the observance of this feast to the whole of Spain. Afterwards, in recognition of the victory over the Turks by Prince Eugene on August 6, 1716, at Peterwardein in Hungary, Pope Clement XI commanded that the Feast of the Rosary be celebrated throughout the world.

Other popes, namely Benedict XIII and Leo XIII, were involved in raising the Feast to the rank of a double of the second class and added the Litany of Loreto to the invocation of "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary."

Although the history of the Rosary is controversial, over the centuries, different Supreme Pontiffs, in their apostolic letters, have accredited St. Dominic with the origin of the Rosary. In 1883, Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical in which he commended to the faithful the devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary, attributing its origin to St. Dominic.

Keeping all this in mind, it was not until Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the three children on May 13, 1917 that she revealed herself to be Our Lady of the Rosary. Recognizing the apparitions of Fatima as being worthy of belief, on October 13, 1930, the bishop of Fatima authorized devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima.

Since then, on a date that I have not been able to trace, the "Feast of the Rosary" has officially become the "Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary."

The "Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary" is closely associated with the titles of "Our Lady of Fatima" and the "Immaculate Heart of Mary." In summary, it began as a most beautiful spiritual prayer in recognition of the salutation of the angel of God to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then, it progressed to meditating upon the lives of Jesus and Mary, each mystery requiring reflection upon a biblical passage or and inspired truths that the Church has proclaimed as a Dogma of faith. Such truths consists of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.

While reflecting upon the mysteries continues to be the norm of the faithful, now, based on the apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, additional emphasis has been placed on repentance, praying for sinners and doing penance. Through this spiritual devotion, Our Lady assures the world that evil shall be overcomed and that there will be a time of peace.

More specifically, in 1917, while communism was not so apparent, Our Lady asked that the faithful pray for the conversion of Russia and that Russia be consecrated to her. If such was done, communism would fall and Russia would be converted.

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary echoes the words of Job that are found in the Book of Job. "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." It has now become obvious to the world that the Lord God has eternal plans for the Blessed Virgin Mary and that He has commissioned her as the Second Eve to assist her Son in the salvation of mankind by bringing sinners to Jesus.

In the Book of Job, we also read, "The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning." Equally, it can be said about the Virgin Mary. The Lord has indeed blessed the latter days of Mary more than her beginning. Progressively, over a period of possibly one thousand years, the fulness of the devotion to the Holy Rosary was not fully revealed to the world until 1917 when Our Lady stated, I am "Our Lady of the Rosary." If we are to measure the countless progressive honours that the Blessed Virgin Mary has received since she has departed from this world, can we begin to imagine what honours awaits her in the days to come?

Today, let us reflect upon the mystery of Our Lady of the Rosary that is unravelling itself upon the world. Let us give thanks to the Lord for the wonders that He has bestowed upon Our Lady of the Rosary, our heavenly Mother and our heavenly Queen.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!

As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." [Gal. 1:6- 12]

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Gospel Reading...

"A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he said, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'What is written in the law? What do you read there?' The lawyer answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.'

And Jesus said to him, 'You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.' But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?'

Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day the Samaritan took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'

Jesus asked, 'Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?' The lawyer said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'"[Lk. 10:25-37]

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