by Brian Smith
Back in the Middle Ages, many Catholics began observing special devotions around a particular theme each month — the Seven Sorrows of Mary for September, for instance. Today, many families are reviving this practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. By practicing monthly devotions, the core values of the faith will become more alive within your family. The beauty of monthly devotions is that there is no set way to celebrate. So, be creative, make it fun, and adapt your celebration to your own family.
Here are some ways to celebrate the popular devotion for October, the holy rosary.
Talking with Kids about the Rosary
In the year 1206 in southern France, many people were beginning to think that Satan was not a fallen angel but rather a “bad god.” This, of course, is not true. The Catholic Church has always taught that Satan is a fallen angel; one that rejected God’s love and mercy. There is but one true God.
A man by the name of Dominic was very troubled by what was taking place in the hearts and minds of his countrymen. Dominic began to pray very fervently and made many sacrifices. He hoped that this misbelief that Satan was a god would soon pass.
God was very pleased with Dominic’s prayers and allowed Mary to appear to him. Mary gave Dominic the rosary and taught him how to use it as a prayerful weapon in combatting the evils taking place on Earth. Mary asked Dominic to encourage others to pray the rosary in hope that more souls will follow the teachings of Jesus.
Dominic was canonized a saint on July 3, 1234. His feast day is Aug. 8. St. Dominic is also the founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, also known as the Dominicans.
The holy rosary is a prayer in which we meditate on the life of Jesus. Because of the mission that Mary received from God, her life was closely tied to Jesus. Mary’s Immaculate Heart was always focused on the life of her son Jesus. When we pray the rosary, we are asking Mary to pray for us that we might be more focused on the life of Jesus.
Feast Days & Memorials
The following days can be connected to this month’s devotion. Click to learn more.
18 St. Luke
A take away for kids to memorize and/or include in their daily prayer.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” (Lk 1:38)
Questions to help propagate the faith with your children.
- How can we better follow Jesus as Mary did?
- What sins can we petition God to help us combat?
- Which mystery of Jesus’ life is most important to me?
Incorporate this month’s devotion with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Recite the following prayer as a family.
Praying the rosary as a family is a great tradition. It is hard to say an entire rosary properly, especially with younger children. Older kids, who may have never prayed the rosary before, may also struggle. What’s important is to develop a system that works for your family.
The rosary can be recited in many different ways. Consider some of the ideas mentioned here. In addition, you could consider skipping the beads altogether and using sacred art as an inspiration, such as with this book.
To learn the proper way to pray the rosary in its entirety, click here.
Learn about God’s infinite mercy.
On October 7, 1571, the Battle of Lepanto took place after tension between Christian Europe and the Islamic Ottoman Empire had been mounting for many years. The Ottoman Empire was closing in on Rome and was on the verge of overthrowing Christian Europe. St. Pius V saw the impending danger and summoned as much militia as he could to combat the Ottomans. Despite his plea for help, St. Pius’ fleet was outnumbered nearly double.
Before the battle took place, St. Pius V prayed the rosary very frequently, begging Mary to plead with God that Christianity would be saved. The pope asked all of the men in the papal forces to carry a rosary with them into battle and to pray it often.
The battle lasted nearly five hours; the sea turned red from all of the bloodshed. In all, 16,000 men lost their lives that day, and even more were injured. The papal forces had succeeded and Christian Europe was preserved. St. Pius V declared Oct. 7 as the feast of Our Lady of Victory. Two years later in 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the name of the feast to the feast of the Holy Rosary.
Help the church to grow within your own community.
Many parishes across the country have scheduled times where parishioners may congregate to pray the rosary together. These times are often published in your parish bulletin.
In addition, there are two national rosary campaigns that take place during the month of October. Catholics from the United States (and beyond) will be coming together to pray for our nation and our fellow citizens. Consider attending a rosary rally near your home:
For more information about monthly devotions, see the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: #20, #32, #190-191 and the Catholic Encyclopedia: Special Devotions for Months