Rosary Revival by Blessed Alan de la Roche
During my teenage years, growing up in a Croatian household, we continued to pray the family Rosary on Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Like most teenagers of that era – as now – I became more interested in sports, playing football and computer games and sadly falling into sin. My fond memories and excitement of the Rosary devotions taught to me by my parents in my childhood, set my foundation in knowledge of Christ and his Blessed Mother. But, I started to lose fervour and zeal.
In researching the content for this blog, I wasn’t aware, that while St Dominic preached the Rosary and achieved success in battling the heresies of his time by converting sinners, its momentum and excitement eventually waned. Like as when any great movement or spiritual good starts, the devil, knowing the Rosary of the Virgin Mary will be both the instrument and weapon of his defeat, no doubt interferes and people neglect the Rosary. This initial zeal followed by a lack of inspiration or desire, is paralleled with some who journey in the spiritual life. While loving the Rosary as a child and looking forward to praying it, temptations, sin and distractions were prominent in my teenage years (and I continue to battle them) which led me away from my initial enthusiasm and fervour.
In his book, Fr Don Calloway, Champions of the Rosary, describes how the sword of the rosary was forged, unsheathed, and entrusted to St Dominic. During the early 13th century Europe experienced a rise of Medicant orders, St Dominic and St Francis appeared on the scene. The Franciscan orders were instrumental in reform of religious life as was St Dominic. This was followed by the golden age of scholasticism.
After the initial success by St Dominic and his preaching of the Rosary the Confraternity of Prayer was established. Europe found itself in tragic times in the 14th & 15th centuries. The Babylonian captivity of the popes (1309-1377), saw the removal of the Papal seat from Rome to Avignon on the borderland of France. For nearly 70 years, the popes, all Frenchmen, were under the influence of French kings. The Bubonic (Black) Plague struck in 1348 and saw countless people die. It is estimated that Europe lost a third to half of its population, to this plague. Then came the great schism of the west (1378-1417) during which time we had two popes claiming the papacy and even at one stage three.
At the same time the Ottoman threat was advancing from the south east. The Siege and conquest of Constantinople (1453) by the Ottomans and their march into southern Europe through Greece (Athens captured 1458) then the conquest of Serbia in 1459, Bosna fell into Ottoman hands in 1463. Fear seized Europe, once again, at the threat of Ottoman invasion.
This threat and scenario is not too dissimilar to today. In 2021, we see the Covid pandemic and its effects, resulting in loss of life, people living in fear of disease and death and the closing of Church’s and places of worship. There are disagreements and confusion in the Church amongst Bishop’s over issues such as abortion, contraception, illicit unions and the worthy reception of Holy Communion. The persecution of Christians in the Middle East by extremist Jihadists and the influx of Muslims into Europe poses a constant threat to Christian culture. People are living with a lack of hope and faith in God which is growing faster than any plague or infection. The closing of Church’s has caused a pandemic of the un-baptised and the un-absolved, as the faithful are denied access to the Sacraments.
Yet, God never abandon’s His people! Through these turbulent times He is always calling us back to Himself. He gave us some great saints – St Vincent Ferrer, St Joan of Arc, St John of Capistrano to name a few. The imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis was published around 1418 -1427. The printing press was invented by Johann Gutenberg in 1455, and the first book printed was the Holy Bible. With this invention, books could be produced in large quantities in a short period of time.
Even though we may wander and turn our back to God, he always remains faithful. While enduring the trials faced by the people in the 14th and 15th Century and looking for God’s Mercy, Our Lady appeared to the Dominican, Blessed Alan de la Roche (literally translated Alan of the Rock) during the 15th century. According to St Louis de Montfort in his great work “The Secret of the Rosary”, he recounts how Our Lady appeared on several occasions to Blessed Alan encouraging him to preach the Rosary of which devotion had been lost. St Louis de Montfort continues:
“Blessed Alan began this great work in 1460 after a special warning from Our Lord. This is how he received His urgent message, as he tells it himself:
One day when he was saying Holy Mass, Our Lord, who wished to spur him on to preach the Holy Rosary, spoke to him in the Sacred Host:
“How can you crucify Me again so soon?” Jesus said.
“What did You say, Lord?” asked Blessed Alan, horrified.
“You crucified Me once before by your sins,” answered Jesus, “and I would willingly be crucified again rather than have My Father offended by the sins you used to commit. You are crucifying Me again now because you have all the learning and understanding that you need to preach My Mother’s Rosary, and you are not doing so. If you only did this you could teach many souls the right path and lead them away from sin – but you are not doing it and so you yourself are guilty of the sins that they commit.”
This terrible reproach made Blessed Alan solemnly resolve to preach the Rosary unceasingly.
Our Lady too spoke to him one day to inspire him to preach the Holy Rosary more and more:
“You were a great sinner in your youth,” she said, “but I obtained the grace of your conversion from my Son. Had such a thing been possible I would have liked to have gone through all kinds of suffering to save you because converted sinners are a glory to me. And I would have done this also to make you worthy of preaching my Rosary far and wide”
St Dominic appeared to Blessed Alan, as well, and told him of the great results of his ministry: he had preached the Holy Rosary unceasingly, his sermons had borne great fruit and many people had been converted during his missions. He said to Blessed Alan:
“See the wonderful results I have had through preaching the Holy Rosary! You and all those who love Our Lady ought to do the same that, by means of this holy practice of the Rosary, you may draw all people to the real science of the virtues.”
Reflecting on this revival, I can’t help but feel that Our Lady obtained for me a grace to restore the passion for the Rosary in my life. At the age 17, I was given a little booklet on Our Lady Queen of Peace, a booklet with some of the messages from Our Lady at Medjugorije. Her message spoke to my heart, allowing me to see the horror of my sinful ways and once again I found myself a keen devotee of the Rosary and with the help of Our Lady and God’s grace continue to see the benefits in my life – both physical and spiritual. I have often felt Our Lady’s help in gently guiding me onto the right path each time I have strayed and the praying of the Rosary has been the key instrument. As St Louis de Monfort recorded, St Dominic speaking to Blessed Alan, the practice of the holy Rosary continues to draw people (including myself) into the real science of practicing virtues. I am sure that those who practice devotion to the Holy Rosary will, too, find the grace of conversion and the inspiration to learn and practice virtue.
I am also convinced now, more than ever, that Our Lady and her Rosary, are key to thee victory over the threats we see in Christian society today. To end the adverse consequences imposed by the Covid endemic, the threat to Christianity by Islam, and the errors of Modernism infiltrating the Church instilling so much confusion and uncertainty, fueling the mass exodus from the Church and the great apostasy. The Church needs, once again, faithful sons and daughters, like Blessed Alan, to revive the reciting of the Rosary. Personal Rosary, Family Rosary and Communal Rosary. When one reads the promises to those who faithfully recite the Rosary, given by Our Lady to St Dominic and Blessed Alan, it is clear, that it is a vital arsenal in Christian warfare, the ultimate and Heavenly tool, next to the Sacraments to fight sin and heresy. The 15 promises are listed here:
Imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan
1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armour against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
I relayed earlier how the Rosary, as a weapon was forged and unsheathed when presented to St Dominic by Our Lady. The Rosary is a weapon. And as men, it is the greatest weapon we need, to wield in our mission as men, husbands, fathers and brothers. Blessed Alan certainly had this in mind when he preached. Fr Calloway tells how restoring the confraternity of the Rosary to almost 100,000, Blessed Alan, had the inspiration that the Rosary should be worn around the shoulder, like one wears a sling for a quiver, or from the belt, as a knight wears a sword. This style of wearing the Rosary helped reinforce the idea that the Rosary is a spiritual weapon.
Blessed Alan was a champion of the Rosary in a time the world most needed a guiding light and a return to prayer and conversion. This call is for you, Croatian men! Take up your weapon. Be a champion of Our Lady and Her Rosary. The world, in 2021, needs men to unsheathe this weapon, to faithfully recite the Rosary, destroy sin and heresy, and convert sinners. Men it is time to set your heart and world on fire!
“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labours.” – Pope Pius XI
Bog i Hravti