Holy Rosary in the time of corona

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 October 2020
Bishop Dennis Villarojo of the Diocese of Malolos leading the praying of the Rosary during the 11th Healing Rosary for the World last May 27, 2020 at the Malolos Cathedral. Photo from Sandigan.

It is the world’s most powerful weapon in any war, the most potent medicine for any ailment but has always been shunned upon by many especially in this age of sophisticated technology and modern science.

This is the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved by most saints in the past 800 years, encouraged by the Mother Church, and now rediscovered by many in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

How prophetic were the words of St. John Paul II in October 16, 2002 when he declared it as “Year of the Rosary” by adding the Luminous Mysteries prayed on Thursdays.

The Rosary of the Virgin Mary… still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Introduction

It is very interesting to know that the celebration of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was instituted following the victory by the Spanish Armada over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto Bay on October 07, 1571. That decisive naval victory attributed to the praying of the Rosary ended the push towards Europe by the powerful Moslem Ottomans. That would be repeated less than a hundred years later at Manila Bay in 1646 when the Protestant Dutch navy retreated unable to break the defenses of the combined Spanish and Filipino forces who placed themselves under the patronage of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Following their victory at the La Naval de Manila, the surviving soldiers walked barefoot to the Santo Domingo Church then in Intramuros.

There are so many other stories of how devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary have led to many kinds of victories in various battles – not only in wars but also in plagues and diseases and other crises – waged by Christians both as a nation and as individuals not because the Blessed Virgin Mary is a “fighter” like a warrior but more of a woman of peace, a disciple par excellence of Jesus Christ.


The family that prays together,
stays together;
a world at prayer is a world at peace.
- Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton

Image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary whose feast we celebrate every third Saturday of October at Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

What makes Our Lady of the Holy Rosary so unique in fighting all kinds of battle in life is the path she takes, the path of Jesus Christ which is the path of peace. Here we find how though the Rosary is Marian in character, it is in essence Christocentric.

…to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). 

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #6

Jesus had told us that the peace he gives us is not like the peace of the world but a peace that is won out of love, not of violence and power. Mary as Mother of Jesus offers us the most intimate and incomparable model in contemplating Christ the Prince of Peace, his very person, his words and teachings that leads into inner peace within each person first.

And that is what every mystery of the Rosary teaches us: we remember not just by going back to the past but by making present anew Jesus Christ in the many events of his life relevant with us today because they are very similar with our own experiences.

When we contemplate the Joyful Mysteries, we realize that real joy comes from welcoming and accepting, sharing and finding Jesus who comes to us in the most ordinary ways. In the Sorrowful Mysteries, we find in whatever suffering we find ourselves into, Jesus Christ went through it all first for us, assuring us he continues to be with us even in death that leads us to the Glorious Mysteries of Easter. In these mysteries that end with the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, we are reminded and assured of our only “destiny” in life — to be back in the presence of God in heaven with Mary.

Mary in the Holy Rosary reveals to us that our fulfillment in life is found only in her Son Jesus Christ, the light of the world in whom everything must be seen and considered. All the rough edges, the dullness and darkness within us are dispelled when seen in the light of Jesus Christ. And that is why we find in the Luminous Mysteries the most “scriptural” part of the Rosary. According to St. John Paul II, though the gospels were silent about the presence of Mary in these Luminous Mysteries, it is most likely she was there present in silence, something so rare these days as we live our lives in the glitz and glamour of social media like Facebook and Instagram.


Photo by author, 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most unique battle man has ever fought, not only because the enemy is not seen and have made such visibly tremendous impact to our way of life in a global scale like World War II; it happened in the most unusual way that attacked and disturbed our inmost being as human persons desiring peace right in our hearts.

It exposed the sickness we have all been afflicted with, the lack of love, a love that is like the love of Jesus Christ willing to sacrifice, willing to forgive, willing to let go simply because of loving someone more than one’s self.

We have been in chaos within, longing for peace and love that have remained elusive because we have always been busy with everything except with God and our true selves. Long before we have adopted social distancing, we have long been distant from each other, even with those we live with in our homes – so cold and without love. Meals have become needs to feed one’s body, not as events to share one’s self with others as more and more people are getting used to eating by themselves, with cellphones beside them. Everybody is complaining about the face masks and face shields we have to wear without realizing when was the last time we really had a good look at each one’s face as a brother and a sister in Christ, an image and likeness of God, a person to be loved and cherished?

In praying the Rosary meditating in silence its mysteries, we not only discover the mystery of God but most of all our own mystery of being a part of his grand design and plan. That is why we feel anxious and fearful all of a sudden because death has become truer and closest to us in this time of the pandemic when “resting in peace” has become so common. And we know so well we have not loved enough!

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from wikidata.org.

By praying the Rosary, its beads make us enter the rhythm of life once again, that it is not just temporal and material but also eternal and spiritual. With Mary, the Rosary enables us to be conformed to Christ which is the very essence of Christian spirituality.

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings.

The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #15

I have been wondering why despite our many prayers and Masses, why have we not conquered COVID-19 yet? How many rosaries do we have to pray before God answers our prayers for a cure to corona virus?

Perhaps, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is reminding us today that the problem with COVID-19 is not just medical but deeply spiritual, calling us to be conformed in the person of Jesus Christ that calls for many battles within us against our pride, selfishness, painful past and memories, vices and addictions, so many other negativities that please our senses but leave us empty and lost because they all lack love from which peace springs forth.

Take that Rosary again, learn from Mary that true blessedness is in believing that the words of God will be fulfilled (Lk.1:45) in us by welcoming Jesus, sharing Jesus, and becoming like Jesus in love like his Mother. Amen.

From Google.

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