Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Now that we’ve celebrated 100 years of Fatima, do you want some further explanations why we should pray the Rosary daily as Our Lady directed the children and us to do?
Servant of God Sister Lucia can tell us. She gives a clear explanation in her book “Calls” From the Message of Fatima. First, she begins by again reminding that this call from Our Lady came the first time at her first apparition on May 13, 1917.
Our Lady ended her initial message with the direction, Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.
Next, Sister Lucia mentions how essential it is to pray to receive grace and overcome temptation, and how the Rosary is an accessible prayer not only for the seers who were children then but also for most all people.
Sister Lucia, at this time a Carmelite in Coimbra repeats a question she was asked many times: “Why should Our Lady have told us to say the Rosary every day rather than go to Mass every day?”
“I cannot be absolutely certain of the answer, as Our Lady did not explain and it never occurred to me to ask,” she answers for this “call,” but she shares what she thinks and has come to understand about it, willingly leaving “all interpretation of the meaning of the Message to Holy Church, because it pertains to the Church to do so; hence I humbly and willingly submit myself to whatever It may wish to say or to correct, amend or declare.”
Sister Lucia Reasons
She believes God is a Father who “adapts Himself to the needs and possibilities of his children. Now if God, through Our Lady, had asked us to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, there would undoubtedly have been a great many people who would have said, quite rightly, that this was not possible. Some, on account of the distance separating them from the nearest Church where Mass was celebrated; others on account of the circumstances of their lives, their state in life, their job, the state of their health, etc.”
Yet, “On the other hand to pray the Rosary is something everybody can do, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, great and small.”
Lucia keeps everyone in the loop. Anyone can pray the Rosary anywhere, and at different times.
“All people of good will can, and must say the Rosary every day,” she says. “Why? In order to put ourselves in contact with God, to thank Him for His benefits and ask for the graces we need. It is the prayer which places us in familiar contact with God, like the son who goes to his father to thank him for the gifts he has received, to talk to him about special concerns, to receive his guidance, his help, his support and his blessing.”
Pointing out that we all need to pray every day, Lucia says that God asks us for “a prayer which is within our reach: the Rosary, which can be recited either in common or in private, either in church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or at home, either when traveling or while walking quietly in the fields,” she explains. “A mother of a family can say the Rosary while she rocks her baby’s cradle or does the house work. Our day has 24 hours in it. It is not asking a great deal to set aside a quarter of an hour for the spiritual life, for our intimate and familiar converse with God.”
She describes how she believes that after the Holy Mass, praying the Rosary — taking into account its origin, the prayers in it, and the mysteries of the Redemption we recall and meditate on for each decade — “is the most pleasing prayer we can offer to God and one which is most advantageous to our own souls. If such were not the case, Our Lady would not have asked for it so insistently.”
Lucia answers any questions people might have about the number of the prayers in the Rosary, clarifying that “we need to count, in order to have a clear and vivid idea of what we are doing, and to know positively whether or not we have completed what we had planned to offer to God each day, in order to preserve and enhance our relationship of intimacy with God and, by this means, preserve and enhance in ourselves our faith, hope and charity.”
And what of those people who are able to attend Mass daily? Should they still pray the Rosary daily? Of course. For the reasons she just gave Lucia says that “even those people who are able to assist at Mass every day should not…neglect to say their daily Rosary.”
She adds this detail. “Obviously, the time they devote to saying the Rosary is not the same as that during which they are assisting at Mass. For such people, praying the Rosary can be looked upon as a way of preparing themselves to participate better in the Eucharist, or as a thanksgiving after it.”
Besides, Lucia describes how she sees very few truly contemplative souls who maintain within themselves “a relationship of intimate familiarity with God which prepares them for the worthy reception of Christ in the Eucharist.” So vocal prayer is “necessary for them too, meditated, pondered and reflected upon as much as possible, as the Rosary should be.”
It always comes round to the Rosary.
She adds that while many fine prayers can be used to prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and preserving our intimate relationship with God, “But I do not think that we shall find one more suited to people in general than the praying of the five or fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.”
Again, she believes and calls the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours marvelous, but she thinks it is not accessible to everyone.
Her answer? “Perhaps for all these reasons, and others that we are unaware of, God, who is our Father and understands better than we do the needs of His children, chose to stoop to the simple ordinary level of all of us in asking for the daily recitation of the Rosary, in order to smooth for us the way to Him.”
Adds More Powerful Reasons
Sister Lucia gives another reminder that the Magisterium has said much over years about praying the Rosary. Moreover, because “what God through the Message, has asked us for so insistently, we can conclude that the Rosary is the form of vocal prayer which is most suited to people in general, which we must appreciate, and which we must make every effort never to abandon.”
Why? “God and Our Lady knows better than anyone else what is more appropriate for us and what we most need.”
“Moreover,” she continues, “it will be a powerful means of helping us to preserve our faith, hope and charity.”
Here’s why the call for the daily Rosary is also for everyone. She says, “Even for those people who do not know how, or who are not able to recollect themselves sufficiently to meditate, the simple act of taking the Rosary in their hands in order to pray is already to become mindful of God, and a mention in each decade of a mystery of the life of Christ recalls Him to their minds; this in turn will light in their souls a gentle light of faith which supports the still smoldering wick, preventing it from extinguishing itself altogether.”
So what can happen if we neglect this directive from our heavenly Mother at Fatima?
Sister Lucia gets right to the point. “On the other hand, those who give up saying the Rosary and who do not go to daily Mass, have nothing to sustain them, and so end up by losing themselves in the materialism of earthly life.”
All of which leads her to conclude for us, “Thus the Rosary is the prayer which God, through his Church and Our Lady, has recommended most insistently to us all, as a road to and a gate way of salvation: ‘Pray the Rosary every day.’”