The Apostolate of The Rosary (Fr. Hardon)

Fr. John A. Hardon

What do we mean by the apostolate? The apostolate is the work of an apostle, not only of the first followers of Christ but of all the faithful who carry on the original mission entrusted by the Savior to “make disciples of all nations.” A good description of the apostolate is to be a channel of grace to others.

So we ask, “How is the Rosary a channel of grace?” By now we have the testimony of at least forty Popes who over the centuries have recommended, even urged, the people to propagate the recitation of the Rosary as a powerful channel of grace to the world. Our Baptism and Confirmation give us both the right and the duty to engage in what we are calling the apostolate of the Rosary.

The Rosary Can Assist in the Conversion of Sinners.

Ours is an age of massive apostasy. Whole nations once Christian have abandoned, not only their union with the Vicar of Christ but their faith in Christ as the Incarnate God. In fact, not a few have abandoned even their faith in a personal God. Thus the underlying theme of Pope John Paul’s encyclical “Splendor of the Truth” is a plea to return in humble obedience and acknowledge our dependence on the Lord. Entire nations have lapsed into secularism, godless individualism, and practical atheism.

Only a flood of miraculous graces can restore Christianity and, within Christianity sound Catholicism. How are these miracles of moral conversion to be performed? How to obtain the graces that millions need to return to God? The verdict of history is, through the Rosary of the Mother of God.

The Rosary is a Perfect Prayer

Among the Bishops of Rome, Pope Benedict XV is outstanding for advocating the apostolate of the Rosary. He says that, “The Rosary is the perfect prayer.” It recognizes Mary as the Mother of God who wants nothing more than for those who have strayed from her Son to return to His embrace. The Rosary invokes Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces, including the graces of conversion.

It was not coincidental that when Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, she was fingering the beads of the Rosary and invited Bernadette to join her. The year was 1858, when France and other countries of Western Europe had become victims of the anti-Christian virus of the French Revolution.

It is also not coincidental that the Basilica at Lourdes is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The countless miracles of healing that have taken place at Lourdes in the past century and a half are only external witnesses to the deeper wonders of spiritual healing through the recitation of Mary’s Rosary.

The same is true of Our Lady’s message at Fatima. During her apparitions to the three peasant children, she told them to tell the faithful to do penance and pray the Rosary. Otherwise the world would be chastised for its sins. She also told the children that when we recite the Rosary, we should add between the decades what has now become a standard practice in the Catholic Church. We are to pray, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell, and bring all souls to heaven, especially those who most need Your Mercy.”

The Rosary Assists in the Sanctification of Believers.

The apostolate of the Rosary is also directed to the sanctification of the mass of believing Christians.

If there is one truth of faith taught by the Second Vatican Council it is the fact that we are called not only to salvation, by escaping hell, but to sanctification by our imitation of Jesus Christ.

The Rosary, we are told by the Church is an extraordinary means of changing tepid Christians into ardent followers of Christ. Why? Because the foundation of holiness is the practice of mental prayer, and the foundation of mental prayer is meditation on the truths of our faith.

The fifteen mysteries of the Rosary are the cardinal mysteries of Christianity. Prayerful reflection on these mysteries is at once a deepening of the faith and a profession of the faith. There is no more effective practice in the Catholic Church for achieving this deepening and profession of the Christian faith than the frequent recitation of the Rosary.

If we ask how the Rosary is such a potent conduit of sanctity, the answer is that the three sets of mysteries of the Rosary are the expression of our three greatest needs.

We need to grow in gratitude for all the blessings the Lord has given us through the Incarnation of His Divine Son. The Joyful Mysteries provide us with the grounds for our deepest gratitude to the loving God.

We need to grow in patience to accept the trials and sufferings, which the Lord sends us in this valley of tears. The Sorrowful Mysteries give us the strongest motivation in the world for patiently enduring pain. God became man so that He might endure pain out of love for us. Should we not be willing to suffer out of love for Him?

We need hope as we see one creature after another disappointing us here on earth. The Glorious Mysteries are the horizon on which we can meditate and strengthen our hope of rising from the dead, of joining Our Lord and His Mother, in body and soul, in that heavenly kingdom for which we were made.

All of this, and infinitely more, are locked up in the promise of Divine blessings through the prayerful recitation of the Rosary.

All that I have said was not only an exhortation to say the Rosary. Absolutely not! I am pleading with you to become apostles of the Rosary. Promote the Rosary. Urge the Rosary. Teach the Rosary. Shall I say, advertise the Rosary. It is through the Rosary that we can bring countless souls back to Christ from whom they have strayed. It is through the Rosary that we can make them lovers of Christ through the mediation of His Mother, the Mother of Miracles since the marriage feast at Cana even to the dawn of eternity.

NEXT MONTH: Poor Souls and the Dead.


Just as the Rosary helps us to see the goal of Heaven and prepare to merit it, it introduces us to the annual focus on the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell.

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This article, OCTOBER – MONTH OF THE ROSARY is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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