St. Dominic had tremendous vision: Without denying the troubles of the soul, he eases them, transforms them, and elevates them little by little.
On Sunday, I went to an early morning Mass in the New York metropolitan area. Just as the Mass had ended, the pastor of the church, who was not the celebrant of the Mass, ran down the aisle. “Wait a second!”
As he approached the front, he explained: “There’s been another shooting. In Dayton, Ohio.” Just hours before, as most of us well know, there was a shooting at a Wal-Mart in El Paso.
The pastor led the congregation in the St. Michael Prayer to counter evil and a Hail Mary for God’s mercy and consolation for those who were murdered and those who love them. He talked about the absolute urgent need to pray for an end to the violence in our society. And he pleaded: “I beg you to pray a rosary today for an end to evil and for God’s mercy on those who have died and who suffer terrible pain.”
He said it like someone who truly believes in the power of prayer.
He said it like a priest who truly believes in the power of the Rosary and how much Mary wants to stamp out evil in this world.
Today’s the feast day of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, who was the popularizer of the Rosary.
Fr. Donald Calloway recently wrote a megabook compendium (I can’t think of any other way to put his Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Rosary but Didn’t Even Think to Ask). It’s called Champions of the Rosary and if you read even some of it, you start to get what a powerful weapon we have in our spiritual toolbox with the Rosary.
But in The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Dominican Saints, Fr. Abroise Gardeil, O.P, focuses on how the Rosary can be transformative when it comes to ongoing human formation.
That which makes the Rosary so powerful a lever is its basis, chosen with a remarkable knowledge of the organization of our human nature. The Rosary comes to lay hold upon us where we are struggling amidst worldly, sometimes dangerous, joys; amidst sorrows, always unreasonable, often crushing, and nearly always badly borne; amidst earthly hopes of every kind. Joy, sorrow, hope, these are indeed the three shores against which our agitated soul beats in turn. Dominic knew this and with an insight of remarkable precision saw all human life enclosed within these three sentiments.
And how’s this for a commercial for the Rosary?
[H]e gently lifted this poor life toward better joys, hopes, sorrows; he does not crush us with the splendors of Sinai or of Tabor. He draws us with the vision of joys holily understood, of sorrows divinely borne and of true hopes. Without denying the troubles of the soul, he eases them, transforms them, and elevates them little by little.
He says, too, that “The soft prayers of the ‘Our Father’ and the ‘Hail Mary’ rise like the music of love which, at each repetition, accentuates its insistence.” What a counter to the culture of contempt, which often seems the very air we breathe on so many platforms and in so many places.
Fr. Gardeil further observes about the life of Saint Dominic:
How great a knowledge of divine things, of the human heart and the secret of adapting them was needed to compose the Rosary! Who could know how to proportion the divinest remedies to the most human of needs and unite them, the one with the other, by that most efficacious and consoling of ties, prayer? Who but the disciple inspired by Him who, being God and having created man, knew at once all that God could be to man and all the need which man has of God?
So many human hearts are aching. And so much in the news doesn’t help. So much in our daily lives can add to the pressure and pain. The Rosary is a lifeline not only for our own lives but for everything that is so out of our control. In prayer, we work together in the Divine mysteries of the Church to save the souls of men and women and precious innocents who might otherwise be in utter misery.
The Rosary is a lifeline not only for our own lives but for everything that is so out of our control.
If we’ve got the Rosary, why not use the Rosary, every chance we get? For our souls, the souls of those around us, and the souls of those we pass by … and those a block or a state or a world away we may never meet. Pray the Rosary more, and in community when we can. Make a hashtag for it if it helps get us all praying with this weapon against evil, this weapon against our own succumbing to evil — including the evil of despair that the onslaught of anger and violence in news and politics can tempt.