There was an opinion piece by Daniel Panneton in The Atlantic trying to associate the Rosary with Christian extremism. I’m not linking to the article because I would rather not give it a higher search engine ranking. But many Catholic publications have mentioned it. I think it’s important to learn what many people visualize when they think of practicing Catholics. We need to be aware so we can defend ourselves and also pray for those who hate the Church.
As far as Catholic hit pieces go, this one was poorly written. It reads like Mr. Panneton did an internet search for “guns” and “rosary” and wrote down what he saw in 5 minutes of reading. He saw words like “weapon”, “breach”, and “legionaries” and took them literally. I bet he thought he stumbled upon a goldmine of information about the dirty secrets of Catholicism and couldn’t wait to share them with his readers. Unfortunately for him, the Rosary’s military roots are not only well known but celebrated.
The Feast of the Rosary is October 7 which is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. Catch that? We honor the Rosary on the day of a military victory. Not only that, but many saints and our Holy Mother referred to the Rosary in military terms.
- “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” – Saint Josemaria Escriva
- “The Rosary is the Weapon.” – Saint Padre Pio
- “The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell” – Mother Mary in one of her promises to those who pray the Rosary.
Hiding in Plain Sight
To think that we aren’t fighting a war against Satan shows just how well of an adversary Satan is. It’s been said that the Devil’s greatest weapon is making people believe he doesn’t exist. Those who pray the Rosary know that Satan exists and there are evil forces at work in our world. They are utilizing everything they can muster to protect themselves and others. And while people don’t like to think about wars, violence, and evil, they aren’t things we can just wish away.
I carry my Swiss Guard rosary, a concealed carry rosary license, read Into the Breach produced by The Knights of Columbus, and try to faithfully live according to the Church’s teachings. I don’t think that makes me an extremist, but our society and culture have become so twisted and confused that anything the least bit normal will appear fringe.
Going back to last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!… Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” It sounds like Jesus was ramping up his disciples for battle. However, the way Jesus wants us to fight this battle isn’t with physical weaponry. He wants us to use a much more effective weapon — prayer and faith in Him. The Church, from its very start, knew it was going to have to fight for people’s souls. That’s not extremism, that’s just Christianity.
The Rosary Is Not Jewelry
That being said, I will give this Atlantic piece some credit. Mr. Panneton talks about people glamorizing the Rosary by literally associating it with weapons by taking pictures of rosaries wrapped around guns. And while there is probably an extremely small group of people who do this, I think we all know someone in a much larger group who have rosaries hanging on their car’s rear-view window who never pray it. What these groups have in common is that they are placing too much value on the physical rosary and not enough on Rosary prayer.
The rosary isn’t a magic talisman that we wear or carry to ward off evil. Nor is it a chant that when said just right protects us from evil. The power of the rosary isn’t in the beads or words, but in what it enables. It helps us form a powerful bond with God who protects us from evil. Mary gave us the Rosary so we may better know her son, Jesus, and come to love him and his Church. If you have a rosary somewhere, make sure you’re actually praying it. Don’t miss this great opportunity to form a relationship with God and relegate the Rosary to a decoration.
Praying for your Persecutors
I’m going to leave you with some thoughts on the Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging at the Pillar. I always pray this mystery for those who hate the Catholic faith and try to lead others into hating us too. I also pray for the misguided and confused, like our lost brother, Daniel Panneton. I think of the soldiers who brutally whipped Jesus to the point of almost killing him. They were just following orders or didn’t really understand who they were torturing. When I read articles like the one in The Atlantic, I become mad but also sad because I see someone who needs Jesus. Mr. Panneton and his base need our prayers for the Holy Spirit’s intercession and their conversion.
And in a case of unintended consequences, the sale of “military” rosaries increased since The Atlantic ran that op-ed. I guess not every Catholic has an ammo box full of rosaries like Mr. Panneton assumed and we could always use more.