When Sister Veronica told my catechism class that God’s weapon for peace was the Rosary, I was fascinated. Here I was, a kid ready to do something heroic for Christ and already confident in the powerful intercession of His Blessed Mother. So, I eagerly accepted Sister’s invitation to take up this spiritual weapon every day to contribute to peace in the world and in every human heart.

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted is the bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. He was installed as the fourth bishop of Phoenix on Dec. 20, 2003, and is the spiritual leader of the diocese’s 1.1 million Catholics.

Pray the Rosary every day

In the midst of the mounting casualties and terrible suffering caused by World War I, since world leaders showed no interest in working for peace, God sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to little children in central Portugal with a plan that could convert hearts and thereby stop the bloodshed. When beatifying Jacinta and Francisco at Fatima, St. John Paul II explained, “In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came here to Fatima to ask men and women ‘to stop offending God, Our Lord, who is already very offended.’ It is a mother’s sorrow that compels her to speak … ‘Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them’”.

Join us in Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Fatima
This is the third in a series of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s reflections on Our Lady of Fatima.

When we pray the Rosary, we place ourselves beside Mary as she watches over her Son’s Mystical Body the Church in a way similar to how she watched over Jesus as He grew in age and wisdom in Nazareth. With Mary’s help, we contemplate the varied mysteries of Jesus’ life: the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious. By means of these mysteries, Jesus conquered sin and reconciled the world to Himself. He made Himself our Peace. Then, breathing the Spirit upon the Apostles after His Resurrection, He gave them the gift and duty of forgiving sins and bringing His peace to the world (Cf. Jn 20:19-23).

Praying the Rosary helps us to center our hearts on Christ as Mary did, meditating upon all that was said about her Son and upon all that He did and taught. We open our hearts to receive God’s love and peace, manifested and expressed in the various stages of Christ’s life and redemptive mission. In this way, like Mary, we open our hearts to the graces contained in these Mysteries so that through us peace and reconciliation may be sowed in our society, beginning in our daily relationships, purifying them from selfishness and pride. As Pope Pius XI said, “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 labors”.

The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

As we pray each of the 20 mysteries of the Rosary, reflecting on episode after episode of Jesus’ life, He draws us deeper into His mercy and peace. The Five Joyful Mysteries, for example, begin with the Annunciation, when God the Father sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth to announce to Mary His plan to introduce His Beloved Son into the human family, a plan that would begin as soon as she gave her consent to become His Mother. In the Second Joyful Mystery, the unborn Son of God traveled in the womb of His mother to the hill country of Judea where He encountered John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth, as the two mothers rejoiced in God’s plan of Salvation unfolding in their lives. In the Third Joyful Mystery, with Mary we rejoice in the Christ child’s birth in a humble stable in Bethlehem, recalling with wonder the glorious singing of the Angels and the silent adoration of the Magi. The Fourth Joyful Mystery leads us to the Temple in Jerusalem where Jesus was presented to God by Mary and Joseph, and where Simeon foretold that (Lk 2:34) “… this Child is destined for the fall and the rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted”. Then, in the Fifth and final Joyful Mystery, we ponder the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, after three days of frantic searching by Mary and Joseph; and we are reminded of the words that Jesus spoke during His public ministry (Lk 11:9f), “… seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”.

Similarly, with the Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary that follow, we place ourselves beside the Mother of God and gaze with love and wonder upon her beloved Son, at different moments of His Redemptive Life. Everything that Jesus said and did is packed with meaning and, when contemplated in prayer, fires our hearts with ever greater love for Christ and deepens desire to be His witnesses and servants in the world.

Join us in Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Fatima