October is my favorite month, with its deep blue skies and crisp fall colors.
In the Catholic Church, we dedicate this beautiful month to the Holy Rosary. There are
several wonderful feasts, events, and saints during the month of October related to the
rosary that are worth reflecting on.
Let’s start with St. Therese, whose Feast Day we celebrate on October 1. St. Therese is
one of the most popular saints, known for her “Little Way” and for sending showers of
roses to many who ask for her intercession. St. Therese’s practice of doing small things
with great love made her a Doctor of the Church.Yet, St. Therese, despite being a saint,
had her weaknesses. Many years ago, I remember reading with a passage she wrote
about the rosary. She revealed, “when alone (I am ashamed to admit it) the recitation of
the rosary is more difficult for me than the wearing of an instrument of penance. I feel I
have said this so poorly! I force myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the
rosary; I don't succeed in fixing my mind on them.” I was astonished because I had
found a saint who actually had the same struggle with the rosary that I experienced (and
still experience!). So those of you for whom praying the beautiful rosary is difficult, St.
Therese is for you.
The next Feast to remember is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7,
because of the help of the rosary during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Lepanto was an
important naval victory which preserved Europe against the Turks. In addition to the
crew members on 200 naval ships praying the rosary in preparation, Pope St. Pius V
had asked that the rosary be prayed throughout Europe on the day of the battle in which
the Catholic League emerged victorious. 170 enemy galleys and 33,000 men were
captured, killed, or injured and 12,000 Christian slaves were liberated. Never again
would the Ottoman empire threaten Europe from the sea. This feast was originally
known as “Our Lady of Victory,” because Pope St. Pius V established it in 1573 in
thanksgiving for Mary’s protection and victory; the Feast serves as a reminder of the
power of the rosary.
Another important rosary celebration in October is the Miracle of the Sun on October 13.
Though technically not a feast day, it bears commemoration each year. This is the day
that Our Lady of Fatima performed her great miracle, six months after she first
appeared to the three little children in Portugal who had been praying the rosary. On
October 13 when Mary appeared, the children asked "What do you want of me?" She
replied, “I want a chapel built here in my honor. I want you to continue saying the
Rosary every day. The war will end soon, and the soldiers will return to their homes.”
They said, "Yes. Yes. Will you tell me your name?" She answered, “I am the Lady of the
Rosary.” Shortly thereafter, she performed the Miracle of the Sun, making it dance in
the sky and drying the rain, which was witnessed by 30,000-40,000 people. If you
haven’t already seen the 1952 movie, “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima,” do yourself
a favor and watch it this month with your family. You will not be disappointed!
Speaking of Our Lady of Fatima, she is credited with saving the life of St. John Paul the
Great during an assassination attempt in 1981. His Feast Day is one to celebrate on
October 22, and he is well known for being a strong advocate for the rosary. In fact, he
wrote in 2002 in his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae, “I believe, however, that to
bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an
addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and
communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry
between his Baptism and his Passion.” Shortly thereafter, St. John Paul the Great
instituted the Luminous Mysteries which we now pray on Thursdays.
Whether you are already dedicated to the rosary like JPII or Pope Pius V, or you are
young or struggling like the Fatima children or Therese, October is a great time to renew
our commitment to this ancient and powerful practice Like Therese, I have hope “that
the Queen of heaven, since she is my mother, must see my good will and she is
satisfied with it.” Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Mother of 7, VA