By Father Martin J. Smay October is the month of the Rosary. The Rosary is among the most noble prayers that the Church has. The origins of the Rosary are somewhat obscure, but in the first centuries of the Church illiterate hermits would recite an Our Father and a shorter version of the Hail Mary in place of reciting the 150 Psalms. They would make use of beads or seeds or stones to keep track of their prayers. About the year 1200, St. Dominic, who would go on to found the Order of Preachers (commonly called Dominicans), was entrusted by the Pope with the task of converting persons who held to a certain theological error. He at first had very little success in converting anyone and so he sought out the aid of the Blessed Mother. She subsequently appeared to him and asked him to promote the Rosary and by this means he would covert many souls. He began promoting the use of the Rosary and after a short time over 100,000 heretics were converted to the Catholic Faith. Soon, this devotion spread wide among the Christian faithful. The form of the Rosary has evolved over the years. When St. Dominic spread the devotion, it consisted of a single Our Father followed by 10 Hail Marys while meditating upon one of the 15 mysteries. Later, at the end of each decade was added a Glory Be. The most recent addition to this most venerable devotion came about in the early 20th century. At Fátima in Portugal our Lady appeared to three young children. She told the children that very many souls were falling into hell because nobody was praying or making sacrifices for them. Our Lady urged these young children to pray the Rosary daily and do penance for sinners, an admonition which they took very seriously. She also taught them a prayer and instructed them to say it at the end of each decade of the Rosary: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. The Rosary is a powerful tool for bringing souls including our own to Christ. It is recommended universally by the Saints of the last 500 years and innumerable miracles have been obtained by its devout recitation. So important is this devotion that in Church Law it is the only devotional prayer specifically mandated for those preparing to be priests and those in religious life. Certainly our Lady’s call to the children at Fátima over 100 years ago is all the more urgent today. There is no reason for believing that the iniquity on earth today is any less than it was then; in fact many sins which were formerly considered shameful have come to be celebrated and openly practiced. This month of the Rosary is a good opportunity for us to commit (or, recommit) ourselves to the daily recitation of the Rosary for the conversion of sinners and our own sanctification. Many of us can do this by the small sacrifice of turning the radio off in the car and praying the Rosary on our daily commute; others of us may have to make some other comparatively small sacrifice, like turning the television off for 15 minutes, in order to do so. Whatever sacrifice we might have to make, from the standpoint of eternity there are few things which can occupy our time more profitably. God love you and keep the Faith!