In this month of October, which is dedicated to the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded of Our Lady of Fatima’s call to “pray the Rosary every day,” and how Our Lady of Victory has helped Catholics win battles, such as Lepanto, through praying the Rosary. One might confidently say those Rosary-praying soldiers give a whole new level of meaning to the expression “prayer warriors”!
With so many devotions and sacramentals in our rich Catholic faith, we find that there are always new layers of meaning and appreciation to be found in them, and the Rosary is no exception. One of the saints of October, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, is famous for spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She is also the patron saint of devotion to the Sacred Heart and of those who have lost (or are in danger of losing) parents.
If you’re mourning the death of a parent, this is the saint for you. But relevant to this Rosarian month of October, much of what we learn through St. Margaret Mary can help us to have refreshed zeal for the prayers of the Rosary.
Born the only daughter among several brothers, Margaret Alacoque added “Mary” to her own name, adopting the name of Our Lady after she was cured of a sickness. Margaret had been suffering from rheumatic fever and was bedridden for several years. As soon as Margaret made a vow to Mary that she would enter religious life, she made a full recovery. After Margaret’s father died, a family member withheld their abundant inheritance. Margaret worried about her mother. Reflecting on this she said, “The heaviest of my crosses was that I could do nothing to lighten the cross my mother was suffering.” Her family destitute, Margaret visited the Blessed Sacrament to be strengthened. After their wealth was restored, her mother sent her to social events hoping she would secure a financially beneficial husband. While still dressed in her fancy clothes from a party, she received a vision of Jesus, and then St. Margaret Mary changed course and entered the convent.
Famously, while there, she began receiving more visions of Jesus and was taught the devotions to the Sacred Heart as requested by Our Lord. The devotions He gave her include the First Friday devotion and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. But there’s another devotion to His Sacred Heart that is less known but is incredibly powerful: making a Holy Hour of reparation and consolation to Jesus of Gethsemane, especially on Thursday nights. This devotion bears great fruit and can certainly be offered any time you’re able, but there are special graces associated with praying the Holy Hour on Thursday evenings. Best of all, this Holy Hour can be made right in our own home, as we prayerfully unite ourselves to Jesus in Gethsemane.
We ask St. Margaret Mary to intercede for us that we may persevere in prayer and have the tenacity to see sorrows and sufferings as graces leading us closer to our Lord’s Sacred Heart in His Garden Agony. St. Margaret Mary is a wonderful mentor this October, as making a Holy Hour to honor Jesus of Gethsemane is also honoring the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary.
Inspiration for the Rosary
Here are three quotes by St. Margaret Mary that serve as wisdom for us in our own lives and a special inspiration this October, helping us to find heartfelt graces in the Rosary, especially the Sorrowful Mysteries and particularly the First Sorrowful Mystery. After all, the Agony in the Garden is the Passion of the Sacred Heart.
1. “Go courageously to God, along the way He has traced out for you, steadfastly embracing the means He offers you.”
This is a wonderful quote to pray at the beginning of the Rosary, since the Most Holy Rosary is a “way” He has prepared for us … a journey of prayer we can “steadfastly embrace.” As we begin that procession of mysteries, while praying the Sorrowful Mysteries we can think of courageously going along the way He traced out when He asked His Apostles … and transcending time and space asks each of us, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” (Mt 26:40) May we respond, “Yes. Lord, count me in!”
2. “We must submit to the Will of God … for we know it is better to suffer in this life than in the next, since one moment of suffering willingly accepted for the love of God, is worth an eternity of happiness …”
What a wonderful quote to contemplate before praying the First Sorrowful Mystery. After all, that’s exactly what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Not my will but Thine be done.” (Lk 22:42)
This is yet another reminder that our suffering is a precious gift we can give God while we’re still alive, to offer up for the conversion of souls; the souls for whom we are praying; the release of souls in Purgatory; the reparation of the hearts of Jesus and Mary; and the purification of our own soul.
3. “Look upon yourself as a tree planted beside the water, which bears its fruit in due season; the more it is shaken by the wind, the deeper it strikes its roots into the ground.”
This quote by St. Margaret Mary reminds with its metaphors of trees and roots of the Garden. Let’s continue this beautiful metaphor further and say: Look upon yourself as a tree planted in the Garden of Gethsemane. Offer any suffering you experience along the way, all those experiences of being “shaken by the wind,” to cling deeper to Christ and have a gift of love to offer Him.
To celebrate the influence of St. Margaret Mary this month, why not go to First Friday Mass and Devotions; plan to make or go out to eat a French-themed breakfast or dinner (whether simple croissants or savory bouillabaisse!) with someone whose heart needs cheering; and try praying this prayer written by St. Margaret Mary to place your heart in the Heart of Jesus:
Lord Jesus … Place my weak heart in your own divine heart, continually under your protection and guidance, so that I may persevere in doing good and in fleeing evil until my last breath. Amen.
To honor the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary this October and follow the example of St. Margaret Mary’s spirit of loving reparation in a special way this month, visit Catholic Holy Hour to receive a Holy Hour you can pray right at home, with the devotions of October as its theme, such as the Most Holy Rosary, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Margaret Mary.
St. Margaret Mary was a zealous advocate of praying a holy hour, honoring Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. Thisbeautiful devotion so dear to St. Margaret Mary and requested by Our Lord will give us a closer bond with Jesus and Mary, as it is the First Sorrowful Mystery of Our Lady’s Rosary.