The Pope has issued an invitation to every Catholic worldwide: please take the month of October (a Marian month, since both the last Fatima apparition and the Miracle of the Sun happened in October) and pray a rosary everyday. Also, every faithful should conclude the rosary with a special invocation to Our Lady (the Sub Tuum Presidium) and with Pope Leo XIII’s prayer to St. Michael Archangel.
This is completely in character with our dear Pope, one of the most Marian popes we’ve had in the last century (perhaps second only to St. John Paul II.) It is also consistent with his appeals for prayer and penance in his recent Letter to the People of God.
It is worth highlighting that this is not something the Catholic faithful should take lightly. First of all, it is always proper and holy to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (so much so, that it’s one of the three conditions attached to attaining an indulgence.) Secondly, because only after fervent prayer does any action on the part of the Church (which includes each of us) bear any fruit. Claire Navarro has explained superbly why this is so in her inaugural article for Where Peter Is.
The Church has been under attack in recent times. This attack does not come from the abuse victims, who seek only justice, closure and a healthy change in the Church’s praxis so that no one else will suffer as they did. Rather the attack comes from those who seek to take advantage of the abuse scandal to undermine the Pope’s Magisterium and advance a preconceived agenda. Even more sinister, the attack comes from the supernatural realm, since it is fitting that the Devil would attack the Visible Head of the Church and the bishops in order to lead as many souls as possible away from the path of salvation.
In fact, a little discernment can certainly make obvious that such hatred and contempt for the Holy Father can only be attributed to Satanic influence. And we know that some “kinds” of demons can only be “driven out by prayer” (Mk 9:29). Prayers to Mary were credited for the military victory in Lepanto. In Fatima, Our Lady urged the faithful to pray the daily rosary for the conversion of Russia… and the Soviet Union, which held half the world in its ideological and anti-theistic grip, miraculously fell like a castle of cards. The power of prayer is enormous.
I can only imagine the power of millions of Catholics around the globe praying the rosary in unison. The good it would do, if every single Catholic would take up the task the Holy Father has given us this month, of praying the Holy Rosary everyday, especially under these special auspices of both Our Lady and St. Michael, defeater of demons. I am sure that the Devil’s grip on the Church would be loosened, so that our clergy would be more sanctified (in order not to commit heinous crimes), that the scales in the eyes of our laity’s souls might fall off and they might open their hearts to the Pope’s teachings and that every single action we might take to tackle abuse in our Church might bear good fruit.
And I think that this might unite our Church, so divided in the past few years. For this arrangement can certainly be welcomed and embraced even by many the Pope’s critics, who are devoted to these traditional prayers and are concerned about the “smoke of Satan having entered the Church.” It would be good that they would pray these October rosaries with the proper disposition: and by this I mean, pray it with detachment, that the Will of God might be done in the Church, whatever it might be, and not that the Pope or the Church might go the way they think it should. But I also believe that God attends to our prayers, not out of our merits in praying them (for our merits are naught), but out of His goodness, so that He takes even our imperfect offerings and turns them to good.
So let us take up the challenge the Pope has laid out for us. We have nothing to fear, nothing to loose, and in fact, everything to gain. The Church is at a crossroads and all hands are on deck to bring up a happier outcome. Here is the Pope’s full appeal, as per the VaticanNews website:
“The Holy Father has decided to invite all the faithful, of all the world, to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October, and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.
In recent days, before his departure for the Baltic States, the Holy Father met with Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., international director of the World Network of Prayer for the Pope, and asked him to spread this appeal to all the faithful throughout the world, inviting them to conclude the recitation of the Rosary with the ancient invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium”, and with the prayer to Saint Michael Archangel that he protect us and help us in the struggle against evil (cf. Revelation 12, 7-12).
The prayer – the Pontiff affirmed a few days ago, on 11 September, in a homily at Santa Marta, citing the first book of Job – is the weapon against the Great Accuser who “goes around the world seeking to accuse”. Only prayer can defeat him. The Russian mystics and the great saints of all the traditions advised, in moments of spiritual turbulence, to shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God pronouncing the invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium”.
The invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium” is recited as follows:
“Sub tuum praesidium confugimus Sancta Dei Genitrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo Gloriosa et Benedicta”.
[We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin].
With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attachks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.
The Holy Father has also asked that the recitation of the Holy Rosary during the month of October conclude with the prayer written by Leo XIII:
“Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen”.
[Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen]“
Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.