This Oct. 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fátima. At Fátima, Portugal, Our Lady urged the shepherd children to pray the rosary daily to obtain peace for the world. In this time of crisis in marriage and family life, a daily family rosary — a daily rosary from all Catholics — for the strengthening of marriage and family is a powerful means of building peace in the world.
Family life is in crisis. By 2015, 40 percent of all children in the U.S. were born outside the protection of their mother and father’s marriage. While each situation is unique and statistics don’t determine the fate of each child, on average, studies show that children living without their married mother and father suffer much higher rates of poverty, more emotional and behavioral problems, more difficulty in school, lower graduation rates and more problems with delinquency, drug use and early sexual activity. Society pays a cost for all these problems, from a heavier burden on special interventions in schools to increased use of the court system and social services. These children need hope and peace. These children need prayers.
Cohabitation has increasingly replaced or delayed marriage, but statistics correlate cohabitation with more domestic violence between the couple and against any children in the household. Cohabiting couples and their children suffer lower mental health outcomes and lower rates of stability in later marriages. These couples need prayers.
Marriage has been associated with higher income and savings, better emotional and physical health, and greater satisfaction in life. But according to Mary Beth Celio’s 2013 report “Marriage and Family Ministry in the Catholic Church in Western Washington,” the number of weddings in the Archdiocese of Seattle dropped 41 percent between 1991 and 2010. This decline in marriage mirrors national trends. In the Catholic Church, a decades-long decline in marriage rates parallels a similar decline in rates in infant baptisms.
Marriage is linked to stability and peace for individuals and for society, but it is an endangered species with an uncertain future. The very institution of marriage needs our prayers. The vitality of future generations of the church needs our prayers.
The rosary is the perfect prayer for these intentions. As St. John Paul II stated:
“The family, the primary cell of society, [is] increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families … will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age.” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae 6)
The joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious mysteries of the rosary invite us into the family life of Jesus and Mary. The joys and sorrows of our own family life can find a home in these mysteries. Meditating on the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus, we recall our joy at the news a new child would bless our own family. The joy of family get-togethers resounds in the Visitation. Communication problems and challenging expectations show up in finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. The pain of loss which families experience accompanies the sorrowful mysteries, and the hope of reunion with our departed loved ones finds a place in the glorious mysteries. The wedding at Cana highlights the gift of marriage, and the proclamation of the kingdom of God reminds us that the beatitudes should be at the heart of Christian family life.
The rosary is centered on the contemplation of Christ, who is our peace. As St. John Paul II said, “the Rosary has a peaceful effect on those who pray it.” And Pope Francis has encouraged newlyweds to let the rosary be “a privileged moment of spiritual intimacy in your new family.” May we pray the rosary to bring peace to our families, to heal the wounds of family breakdown in our culture, and to implore peace for our world.
Our Lady of Fátima, pray for us!
Northwest Catholic – October 2017