October is traditionally held as a month dedicated to a special prayer, the Rosary. That is likely why Pope Francis has invited all the faithful to pray the Holy Rosary every day in October.
In his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, (the Rosary of the Virgin Mary), Saint John Paul II writes "the Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary…the most difficult problems." (no. 39).
Perhaps coming from the early tradition of praying 150 psalms or Our Fathers, tradition has it that the Rosary was given to St. Dominic as a way to combat heresy and win souls for God.
After the unlikely defeat of the Turkish navy on October 7, 1571 during the Battle of Lepanto, St. Pius V, who had asked the faithful to pray the Rosary, October 7 was named the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, later renamed to Our Lady of the Rosary. It is still kept today. The Rosary later gained a close connection with the apparition of our Lady at Fatima when she asked the children to pray the Rosary and later identified herself as "Our Lady of the Rosary".
The Rosary is a way to pray that involves contemplating the mysteries of the life of Jesus through the eyes of His mother, Mary. It is a prayer that invites us to draw closer to Christ by praying with Mary. The Rosary invites us to pray in the same contemplative way that we are told Mary prayed (see Luke 2:19).
The Rosary itself is made up of prayers that might be familiar: The Apostles' Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Hail Holy Queen. It is also common to pray the Fatima Prayer (O My Jesus). As it is prayed, the Rosary invites us to meditate on different Mysteries. Each day of the week is assigned a Mystery-the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, or Luminous. By praying the Rosary we are able to meditate more deeply on various aspects of the life of Christ.
If you do not currently make it a practice to pray the Rosary, perhaps this month, you could take some time out of your day to pray it.
In this month dedicated to the Rosary, take some time to entrust to Christ, through Mary, your most difficult problems.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Rebecca Spellacy is the Associate Director of Liturgy for the Office of Formation for Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Toronto.