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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Among the apostles raised up in the sixteenth century to combat Luther’s heresy, Saint Peter Canisius, of the Society of Jesus, holds a distinguished place. The devotion of the Rosary was one of the means he used to rescue souls from hell. Every day he recited the Rosary, and in his old age he almost always had it in his hand. Often, when this holy old man would walk through the streets of Freiburg, supported by his stick, he would be surrounded by Christian mothers who would ask him to bless their children. He did so with happiness, but what did he recommend to them? To be devout to the Blessed Virgin and to recite part of the Rosary every day. A good example for those who have to raise children or lead souls! Our Saint died repeating several times: Ave Maria, Ave Maria. Happy is the one who dies greeting the Gate of Heaven, the Queen of Angels and Saints!
– Another apostolic man, Saint Clement-Marie Hofbauer, Redemptorist, showed himself very attached to the devotion of the Rosary. While still a child, he was often found in remote places, rolling the beads of the rosary between his fingers, and praying to the Blessed Virgin, as he saw his mother praying. He encouraged his brothers and sisters to do the same. Were these not foreshadowings of what he would one day be, a zealous propagator of the Rosary? It was with this favorite weapon that he fought the powers of darkness and brought souls back to God.
“Happy,” he would cry out, “he who understands all that there is of faith, hope and love in the practice of the holy Rosary!” He liked to repeat that through this devotion he had always obtained from God what he had asked for. “My own library,” he would say, “is my Rosary. My breviary and my rosary take the place of everything.”
He almost always had the rosary in his hand, in the confessional, inside the house, and even in the busiest streets of the city of Vienna where he lived. How many souls he brought back to the faith by this powerful means! They had been Freemasons, Protestants, lukewarm Christians and indifferent Catholics, young men given over to debauchery. When he learned that a sick person refused the sacraments, he went to him, armed with his rosary.
“When I am called to a stubborn sinner,” he would say, “and I can recite a rosary on the way, I am reassured in advance of the outcome of my undertaking. I don’t remember a single sick person dying without being converted in such a case. The greater the distance, the more certain I am of success, because then I have more time to say the Rosary.”
When the holy missionary returned from an errand of this kind, he would say, “God has given me a soul again at the cost of a rosary.” He never ceased to recommend this devotion to his disciples; he liked to provide them with a small rosary so that they could easily pray on the way, and talk in their interior with the divine Mother, without being noticed by anyone. He died in 1820. Let us pray to him to obtain for us his unshakeable confidence in the most holy Rosary. Let us draw from it, as he did, the light and help necessary for our sanctification and the fulfillment of all our duties.
– Another child of St. Alphonsus, the venerable Januarius Mary Sarnelli, distinguished himself by his tender devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary. In order to spread her cult everywhere, he not only preached it, but also distributed a large quantity of rosaries. How happy he was to make them himself during the hours of recreation after lunch and supper! He confided to one of his friends that, in his greatest sorrows and his toughest battles with hell, he felt extremely strengthened by pressing his Rosary in his hands. In the evening, when he went to bed, he would wrap his arm around it, using it as a shield against the assaults of the powers of darkness. This was how he won so many victories over the world, over hell and over himself. Being near death, he asked for his Rosary: “For I want, he said, to die reciting it.” He was surprised by agony at the third decade; and then, seizing his crucifix, he did not cease to kiss it until his last breath (June 30, 1744).