The Rosary and Public Prayer

10-11-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Sunday was a busy one in our parish. The Blessing of Animals at 12:30 was one of the best attended I’ve ever seen. Fr. Pat prepared 48 programs–and used them all! Of course it was nice that it was outside, in good weather, both of which were helpful in our current circumstances.

Later that afternoon a smaller group of about 25 people gathered along the sidewalk in front of our Church for the Life Chain. While not a chain per se, it is a line of people, most of whom hold signs about the dignity of human life as they quietly pray the Rosary. Again, being outside in good weather was a big help.

These events got me thinking about public prayer. While we are accustomed to praying in Church, both the Blessing of Animals and the Life Chain were opportunities for us to pray in public. It was interesting, especially during the Blessing of Animals, to note the curiosity of passersby. I hope they were inspired by our faith.

To be sure, our Lord commanded us not to use public prayer to show off (Matthew 6:5 – 6). But He responded to the public prayers of Peter in prison on two occasions, by sending an angel to release him. He also granted healing to people over whom both Peter and Paul publicly prayed on various occasions in the Acts of the Apostles. So it is clear that our Lord has no problem with public prayer done for the right reason.

Last week I told you that October is the Month of the Holy Rosary. That’s because the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7th. Another act of public prayer has been scheduled for that day, a Rosary on the Church steps led by the Legion of Mary. While I had to write these words before it happened in order to make the bulletin I’m sure it will go well.

The Feast of the Holy Rosary was established in 1571. A Muslim fleet was threatening to overrun much of Europe, with possible dire consequences for Christianity. Pope Pius V led the praying of the Rosary, while Don Juan of Austria led a fleet in defense of Christian Europe. The battle that ensued, the Battle of Lepanto, ended the threat and reestablished peace.

Since that time, the Rosary has been seen as a prayer for peace. It is also a prayer that has been recommended by countless saints over the years. Our Blessed Mother, especially at Fatima, asked us to pray the Rosary for peace.

Given the unrest in our country and our world, I think we would all do well to make a habit of praying the Rosary regularly. If you don’t know how, I’ll be happy to teach you or point you to resources that will assist you. Praying the Rosary is a wonderful way to reflect on the scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary, called the Mysteries of the Rosary, as well as praying for all those in need.

In his First Letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 2ff), St. Paul commands us to pray for ‘kings and all in authority, that we may lead a tranquil life.’ I am always impressed by the fact that St. Paul’s response to the persecution of the Church, was enduring at the hands of the Roman authorities was prayer. He knew that those charged with the responsibility to govern needed the assistance of prayer.

In our own time, we are blessed to have many ways to participate in our government, primarily by voting with an informed conscience. But we can never neglect prayer, especially in such turbulent times.

St. Ambrose of Milan instructed people to pray not only for themselves, but for all, just as did St. Paul.

“If you pray only for yourself, you pray for yourself alone. If each one prays for himself, he receives less from God’s goodness than the one who prays on behalf of others. But as it is, when each prays for all, all are in fact praying for each one.”

With that in mind, let’s be sure to pray for each other, our country and its leaders, and all the world. Whether publicly or privately, let’s remember that our prayer is never just for ourselves, but for all God’s people.

While you’re at it, remember that daily Hail Mary for me!

Have a great week!

Fr. John