It’s a powerful tool that is changing communities and changing hearts; it’s the rosary. Its popularity has increased over recent years, especially since Pope John Paul II called the Year of the Rosary in October 2003.
The Pope has spoken often on the importance of praying the rosary, urging Catholics to meditate on the mysteries in order to grow in faith, understanding and holiness. While the prayer which is most recited is the Hail Mary, the rosary is a meditation on Scripture and on the different points of Christ’s life.
The faithful have found the rosary to bring them personal peace and to lead them to social action. The devotion to the rosary is common among Catholic communities, so that most parishes have prayer groups, dedicated to it.
Others find solace and strength in praying the rosary on their own, either in their homes, on their lunch breaks or on the public bus on their way to work.
For the past 60 years, Arlene Shramek has started her day by reading the Bible and praying the rosary.
"When you commune with God, you do have a radiance that takes you through the day," the 95-year-old told Press & Sun-Bulletin.
The rosary has often been invoked to convert hearts and influence social change. In the mid-1900s, Catholics around the world began to pray the rosary for the fall of communism in Russia and Europe.
More recently, the rosary has been invoked for an end to abortion. It is not unusual for pro-life groups to gather close to abortion clinics and pray for the conversion of abortion physicians. In May, for example, Bishop James M. Moynihan of Syracuse joined 125 pro-lifers in the recitation of the rosary near an abortion clinic.
"It does bring about a relationship that you have with the Lord," Mary Wright of Endicott told the Press & Sun. "Prayer is what strengthens us and tells us who the Son of God is and what he has planned for us, and what the fruits will be."