We live in unnerving times. Things we have relied upon seem to be shifting under our feet. In recent months we have witnessed North Korea’s declaration of war on the United States; storms of biblical proportions; fires ravaging the West Coast; earthquakes rocking Mexico and Japan; and the nation’s worst-ever mass shooting in Las Vegas. All the while, our political culture feels like a tinderbox ready to go up in flames with the slightest spark.
These kinds of events are soul-shaking, leaving many of us bracing ourselves for what might happen next.
The most common reaction to such crises is to want to do something big to try to stem the tide or protect ourselves. But most of the time the big solution we want is simply unattainable. The weight of this helplessness can leave us feeling defeated, dispirited and even cynical.
But instead of looking for a big action that generally ends in defeat, what if we could find something that focused on something small that paid big dividends? We have that kind of solution at our fingertips: Our Lady and the rosary. Like David’s small stone that slew Goliath, the rosary’s tiny actions have had overwhelming results. Through it, Mary has won battles, calmed political unrest, prevented disasters, ended famines and plagues and much more.
Among the victories connected to Our Lady, The Battle of Lepanto (1571) generally gets the most attention. In the famed sea battle, the Holy League was victorious over the Ottoman navy despite being clearly outnumbered. The victors credited the rosary with their miraculous win, and Pope Pius V instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory in honor of the battle, and two years later it was renamed feast of the Rosary by Pope Gregory XIII. The day of honor spread to other countries and eventually was added to the universal Church calendar. In 1960, Pope John XXIII renamed it again and it became the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
There are countless lesser-known battles where Our Lady’s role and the rosary were pivotal for Christian victories, including the Reconquista of Spain; the Battle of Vienna and the numerous battles waged by Prince Eugene to throw the Ottomans out of Europe; and the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.
There are also plenty of stories of Mary preventing war, giving her the title the Queen of Peace. In her 1871 apparition in Pontmain, France, Mary appeared to four children whose families faced imminent invasion from the Prussian Army. During the apparition, the beautiful woman said nothing, but held up a banner that read, “But pray, my children. God will soon answer you. My Son allows Himself to be touched.” Around the same time as the apparition, the Prussian army halted and retreated, ending the Franco-Prussian War. The official Prussian documents read: “We cannot go farther. … There is an invisible ‘Madonna’ barring the way.”
Mary is also a remarkable multitasker. She deals with several issues when she appears or inspires souls. Consider her appearances to St. Juan Diego in Mexico. Not only was she able to end the native’s resistance to Catholicism, resulting in somewhere between 4-10 million converts, but she also healed the rift between the Spaniards and the native people. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas, and the miraculous likeness of Mary that appeared on Juan Diego’s “tilma” is the most produced image of a woman in history.
When looking at Mary’s influence collectively, there is overwhelming evidence of her efforts throughout the centuries to help bring her spiritual children back to the Church and her Son. From apparitions, inspiring saints, the brown scapular, the miraculous medal, Marian consecration and the rosary, Mary continues to try to assist us even today. The Miracle Hunter has documented around 2,500 apparitions of Mary in recent decades. Most will never be approved because of the labor and time involved, but the sheer number of them speak to the lengths she will go to help her children. Like a good mother, no problem is too small to garner her attention, and, like a true Mother of God, no problem too big.
In a world currently beset by what seem like apocalyptic troubles, now might be a good time to tap this hidden resource. How? The answer is very simple: we have to ask. We have to initiate a relationship with her by simply talking to her. But the relationship can go much deeper by saying the rosary daily, as she asked at Fátima and elsewhere. Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Our Lady of Fátima, reported that Mary told her that for our times today there is no problem — material, but especially spiritual — that cannot be solved with the rosary.
We can go even deeper still in our relationship with the Queen of Heaven by consecrating ourselves to her through the method of St. Louis de Montfort or the contemporary work of Father Michael Gaitley in “33 Days to Morning Glory.” She cannot be outdone in generosity, so whatever we give to her will not leave us empty. I have never heard anyone say, “I regret my Marian consecration.” Instead, St. Louis de Montfort called it the shortest way to heaven. Through it, Mary helps us to live out our own unique earthly mission. We can see this dramatically in the life of St. Pope John Paul II, where a quiet Polish priest profoundly changed the world because of his close relationship to Mary. She is anxious to help us bring order, peace and joy to our lives, our families and beyond.
In our complex modern world, our problems look terribly complicated, so it is easy to assume that their solutions must be equally complex. The Marian option might appear to be simple — perhaps too simple — but simplicity is not the same as superficiality. Many things that seem simple can be incredibly powerful, efficacious and surprisingly profound. The love between a mother and her children is one of these things. We understand this on a human level. How much greater it must be when Mary — the Mother of God — is also our mother.
Carrie Gress, Ph.D., is author of “The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis” (TAN Books, 2017)