The Power of the Rosary in Discernment: Intercession, Contemplation, Protection
Throughout the liturgical year, the Catholic Church dedicates two months to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way. We honor her in May as we celebrate the feast of the Queenship of Mary on May 31, and we honor her in October as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7. This month’s feast commemorates the defeat of the Muslim Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Out numbered and out armed, Christians all over Europe picked up the rosary and prayed for Our Lady’s intercession. Our Lady came through for them in their time of need, and she continues to come through for us if we only reach out and ask for help.
As we enter into this month of the rosary, it is important to remember the powerful effects the rosary can have in our lives today and its value in discerning our vocation. As I look back on my journey toward the priesthood, the rosary has been a constant source of intercession, contemplation and protection for me in my time of need.
Recently I shared my vocation story with a group of young men discerning the priesthood. I mentioned that in high school and in my early years of college I strayed a bit from the Church and was often a source of anxiety and stress for my parents. As I reflect on this time in my life, I can remember very clearly coming home late at night after being out with friends to find my mother sleeping on the couch with the light on and a rosary tight in her hand. As my mother, she entered into the spiritual battle on my behalf. Maybe she could not control my actions, but was it possible that she could guide my heart? To this day I credit my conversion back to the Church to Mary, with my mother’s help, as she interceded for me in my time of need.
As we pray the rosary, we not only meditate on the words of the Hail Mary, but we also contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the repetition of the prayers, and the contemplation of the life of Christ, our hearts are softened and our ears are tuned to the voice of God. The turning point for me in discerning my vocation came one morning during Eucharistic Adoration. It was early in the morning and I was distracted, tired, and very confused about God’s plan for my life. I longed to serve him but I did not know in which way. That morning, as I was contemplating the mysteries of Christ while praying the rosary, I heard the Lord speak to my heart: “I love you. Do not be afraid to follow me.” It was such a profound experience that from that moment on I realized my vocation was to follow him by giving him everything, a total gift of myself. It was through contemplating the mysteries of Christ that the seed of the priesthood was planted in my heart.
Whenever we resolve to follow Christ more fully we are always going to meet opposition and be tempted to stray from the path we have set out on. The fact is that Satan hates to see us progress in the spiritual life. He hates to see us draw closer to Christ, so he will do everything in his power to knock us off track. In this constant struggle, we desperately need the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In my last year of seminary, as I was preparing for ordination to the priesthood, Satan was working hard to knock me off track. He planted thoughts in my mind that were not true. I began to ask myself, “How can I possibly become a priest?” I am a sinner. I am not smart enough. I am not well prepared. I will fail miserably. These were the thoughts in my mind. He also tried to convince me that a life of celibacy for the kingdom of God would not make me happy. It was during these times that I turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary all the more and clung to the rosary. Through contemplating the mysteries of Christ with Mary she assured me that his love was enough and that my joy would be complete if I chose to continue on this path. I am so happy I sought her good counsel!
If you are concerned about your children, or a family member or friend in need, pick up the rosary and ask Mary to intercede on their behalf. If you are confused about your vocation in life, pick up the rosary and contemplate the life of Christ. If you feel like you are being tempted every hour to stray from the path of the Lord, pick up the rosary and ask Mary to protect your good intentions. During this month of October may the rosary be a constant source of intercession, contemplation and protection for all of us in our time of need. May God bless you!
Please pray for vocations!
Director of Vocations
Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon