There are two devotions close to my heart and vital for the future of our Church and for the salvation of our souls — The Eucharist and the Rosary. May we rediscover each day a deeper and more abiding reverence and love for the Blessed Sacrament. May we also use this month — one which the Church dedicates each year to the Most Holy Rosary — to experience and/or re-experience the power and efficacy of this most beautiful prayer, for as Blessed John Paul II taught us: “To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
One would be hard pressed to find a better example of the life-changing power of these two devotions than through the following story of one man’s love for both.
From the inception of the Adoration Chapel in our parish and without interruption for nearly five years until a few days before his death, this gentleman came every Saturday morning. Initially, he came for two hours each week – from 3 A.M. to 5 A.M. Eventually, another person lent a helping hand by coming in a half-hour early each Saturday morning. That hour and a half was not enough for him – he added another hour each week when he joined his wife in the Chapel each Monday evening. He learned to pray the Rosary there. Oh, how he enjoyed praying the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament!
Nothing kept him away — not snow, not ice, not radiation treatment, not chemotherapy, not even a terminal illness. Just weeks before his death, he came in at 3 AM in obvious discomfort. He was coughing and had some difficulty breathing. But how devoutly he tried to genuflect and bow his head before his beloved Lord. After awhile, he settled in his chair, pulled out his favorite little meditation booklet and began to pray the Rosary.
He knew that others were willing to cover his hour and half for him. But he did not want to “inconvenience anyone”. Despite the cancer that was raging through his weakened body, “there was no reason for him to give up his hour yet,” he said, “except that he was getting a little lazy”. His fellow Adorers reminded him of all the prayers being offered for him during this difficult time and of their desire to be helpful to him and to his family. He appreciated everyone’s prayers and concerns and simply told us that he did not want to get angry with God. He never did.
“It was okay for you to leave,” he said to me. He did not want me to stay. He was at peace – one with his heavenly Father and Mother. I should have thanked him then for teaching me how to live and how to die – with absolute trust and faith in a God Who always knew what was best for him.
He spent his last hour before the Blessed Sacrament with his wife five days before he passed away. He died at home surrounded by his loving family and on the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. How great is our God! This simple and humble man would have been the first one to admit that there was nothing of any value that he ever did on his own. Anything of value that he did (and he did much of eternal value) was only by and through the grace of God. How abundantly willing He is to provide that grace to those who love Him.
God does not promise those who love him a life here free of trials and tribulations. Time before Him in the Blessed Sacrament or on your knees reciting the Rosary do not guaranty a struggle free life. But He does promise sufficient graces to carry our daily crosses and eternity with Him for those who love Him.
Visits before the Blessed Sacrament and frequent contemplative recitation of the Rosary are joyful preludes to our face to face encounter with Our Lord and His Blessed Mother in heaven. They are vehicles through which we make reparation to Him, His Sacred Heart, His Mother and her Immaculate Heart, for all those who have rejected Him, do not love Him and who have mocked His most beloved Mother. Through these devotions, He will transform us and use us to transform others.
Through Adoration we will gain a greater appreciation and love for the Mass, for the reception of His Body and His Blood, and a clearer recognition of our need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the daily recitation of the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary and the assistance of our heavenly Mother, we will draw closer to her Son.
May I ask you the same question Father Francis Hudson, S.C.J. once posed to his parishioners in a one sentence homily he gave: “What if God loved you only as much as you loved Him?” Or maybe we should reflect on a challenge issued by Leon Bloy, a French novelist, essayist and poet: “If you will look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not, even now, as saintly as the primitive Christians: you do not wholly want to be.”
We are each called to be saints. Only saints get into heaven. Don’t panic! God will mold us into saints if we desire it. All things are possible for Him. Start the journey. Use and love the tools He has given us — the Eucharist and the Rosary.