Praised be Jesus Christ!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
With heartfelt gratitude to all those who have prayed for my recovery, I write to inform you that, since my previous letter, physical therapy has aided my rehabilitation so greatly that I am now able to offer daily the Holy Mass. Words cannot adequately express my joy at this gift of God’s grace in my life. As a priest, Bishop and Cardinal, the return to the daily offering of the Holy Mass, the principal daily work of every priest, unites me most fully to you in our spiritual bond as members of the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. Jn 15, 5-8; Eph 4, 4-13). At the same time, my recovery continues to remain an intensive process. Divine Providence will determine the time of my return to my usual pastoral activities. In the meantime, please help me to prepare, as best as possible, for that time by your prayers.
This letter, however, is not principally intended to be an update on the condition of my health. It is, rather, an instrument of the pastoral charity which is the distinctive grace of the priesthood and episcopacy, offering sound direction and encouragement to the faithful. In specific, I write to encourage you to recite daily the powerful prayer of the Holy Rosary.
Although the Feast or Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7th, the entire month of October is dedicated to fostering this most highly prized devotion to Mary, which she herself has given to us. In writing to you about the daily praying of the Holy Rosary, I underline three important considerations.
First, the message of Our Lady of Fatima urges us to honor her by praying the Rosary every day. Second, when Our Lady concluded her apparitions at Fatima on October 13, 1917, Our Lord granted a remarkable confirmation of the apparitions in the Miracle of the Sun. Third, in asking us to pray daily the Rosary, Our Lady indicated a specific intention: peace. Pope Saint John Paul II, echoing Our Lady’s messages to us at Fatima, explained that “the Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 40).
The peace for which we pray, while reciting the prayer of the Rosary is not a peace given by this world (cf. Jn 14, 27), but rather the peace obtained for us by the blood of the Cross of Jesus Christ (cf. Col 1, 20). Let us recall that Our Lady of the Rosary was first given the title of Our Lady of Victory by Pope Saint Pius V, to honor the victory of peace, which was won, through her intercession and especially through the praying of the Holy Rosary, at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Changing the title of Our Lady of Victory to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Pope Gregory XIII underlined the powerful instrument for attaining the victory of peace, namely, the praying of the Holy Rosary.
The victory of peace is ultimately the victory over Satan who, since the sin of our First Parents, never ceases to tempt us to commit sin. It is the victory worked by God the Father through the Redemptive Incarnation of His only-begotten Son. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is the privileged instrument through which God the Father sent God the Son into the world to win for us the victory. She is the woman whose Son crushes the head of the serpent, Satan, as God the Father promised after the sin of Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 3, 15). She continues to be the channel by which the grace of Christ wins the victory over sin in our daily lives.
By praying the Rosary daily, we draw near to the Mother of Our Savior, who teaches us, as she taught the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana: “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you” (Jn 2, 5). She, whom Our Savior gave to us as our Mother – the Mother of Divine Grace – helps us to stand faithfully, with her, beneath the Cross of Our Lord, one in heart with her Immaculate Heart in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus (cf. Jn 19, 25-27). With her, we share in the Triumph of the Cross.
The victory of peace, sought through the Immaculate Heart of Mary by praying the Holy Rosary and attained in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, overcomes the confusion, error and division, all the works of the Evil One, which so fiercely attack today the world and the Church. For that reason, I urge you today, if you are not already doing so, to pray the Holy Rosary, seeking the intercession of the Mother of God for the victory of peace, peace in your soul, peace in the world, peace in the Church. I leave you with words of Pope Saint John Paul II, whose papal ministry was so strongly marked by devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Let us pray the Rosary, if possible every day, either by ourself or in community. The Rosary is a simple prayer, but profound and very effective, even to ask favors for families, communities and the world” (Regina Caeli, 28 April 2002).
Imploring Our Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to bless you, your homes, your families, and all your labors, I remain
Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph,
Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE