Praying the Rosary- As Pertinent Today As Ever

Slide4May 13, 2014: In honor of Our Lady of Fatima, the Lady of the Rosary

A Personal Story

I don’t make a habit of baring my soul; conservative Catholics learn to hold what’s important close to the heart.

But last month, when fellow Serra Club member and friend Mary Uhler, Editor of the Madison Catholic Herald,  asked to interview me on why I make rosaries, it was time to crystallize my thoughts and to tell this particular story. It is a story illustrating how God works very quietly, yet powerfully in people’s lives today.

Most of us, if we reflect back on our lives, particularly on difficult or anxious times in our lives, will realize how God was actually walking along with us in our pain, was limiting our suffering, and was putting that suffering to good use.  He was definitely answering our prayers, provided we prayed.  This is the brilliance of God’s redemptive plan; that he transforms the evil perpetrated by Satan into good, provided we invite His help.  And what better invitation to God

Our Lady of Fatima can there be than the Rosary, the prayer which contemplates the life of Christ through His Mother Mary, whom He shared with us from His cross?

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13th.  This miraculous appearance of Our Lady in 1917 in Portugal is one of the most famous appearances of Our Lady, which skeptics would be hard-pressed to refute, given the remarkable evidence.  The miracles of Fatima were witnessed by 70,000 people, and were documented in the press.  The messages of Fatima predicted World War II and the Soviet domination of Russia.  Pope John Paul the Great, now Saint John Paul, attributed his survival of a near-fatal shooting on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima in 1981 (May 13), to Our Lady of Fatima.

And what was the message of Our Lady of Fatima?
In this apparition, the Blessed Mother declared herself “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”
The central message was to pray, to devote ourselves to the Holy Trinity, and to pray the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.
At Fatima, Our Lady gave us the Fatima prayer, which is often incorporated into prayer of the rosary:

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

My Story- What the Rosary Has Done for and Means to Me

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Slide1Here is the story Mary Pubished in the  May 8, 2014 issue of the Madison Catholic Herald, in the Mother’s Day section: Visit the Catholic Herald to see the article, or read an extended version below, which includes numerous photos.

Thank you so much Mary, and thank you so much Catholic Herald!

Extended Version

Why do I make rosaries, and what does the rosary mean to me?

The short answer is that I have discovered that the rosary is one of the most powerful ways that we can tap into the power of God, and I look for ways to share this discovery with others.

That might sound somewhat exaggerated and melodramatic, but those who are aware that historical battles have been won through the power of the rosary (such as Battle of Lepanto) might not be surprised that our own personal battles can be won through the power of the rosary as well.

Homeschooling Mom

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Copy of the Rosary made for me by my son

As a cradle Catholic I was taught to pray the rosary.  But my passion for the rosary, my desire to make rosaries, and my commitment to promoting prayer of the rosary began much later, while a homeschooling mother.

Our Holy Family Catholic Homeschoolers were being taught to make simple string rosaries at St. Michael’s in Dane many years ago, when my children, older than most in the group, took an interest, instead, in an old man sitting in the corner, quietly making chain rosaries for the Missions with a pair of pliers.

My 12-year-old son became so interested that he resolved to learn how to make chain rosaries, and eventually made a beautiful blue crystal chain rosary for me, a copy of which I still carry with me every day.

Experience in Hospital

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20 Decade Rosary (Olive wood from the Holy Land and St. Benedict Crucifix),made for son Chris when he was at seminary.

Soon after that, my son was struck by juvenile diabetes and was hospitalized, in very serious condition.  Since I stayed with him, the doctors asked me to wake him every hour all night long, to make sure that it was possible to wake him.

I lay on a cot next to him all night, but I doubt whether I got one minute of sleep.  I prayed the rosary in my pocket, which he had made for me, over and over again, and did not stop all night.

In the morning, the resident doctor told me that we were finally out of the woods, but that my son had come within a hair’s breadth of going in to a coma.

Back then, with less technology, the job of keeping oneself alive daily with juvenile diabetes by balancing insulin injections, food and exercise was a challenging one, and my 13-year-old son no longer had time to make rosaries.

I’m not sure why, because I don’t generally think in these terms, but it dawned on me that Satan probably wanted to stop a young man from making rosaries.

My reaction was to get mad, resolving quietly to myself that Satan was not going to stop us; if my son cannot make rosaries, I will make them instead.

Making Rosaries

So, I got my son to teach me, and I started making chain rosaries myself.

At first I made Mission rosaries to send overseas, and then I realized that Madison, Wisconsin also had a need for rosaries, so I made rosaries for anyone who was interested, free of charge.

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Rosaries made for Cathedral Parish

Today I still provide free rosaries for my parish (Cathedral parish in Madison), which welcomes new parishioners with a gift package containing among other things, a rosary.

Importance of Prayer

But there is more to the story. First of all, the anxiety and terror a parent naturally feels in the face of something like juvenile diabetes (JD) was gradually dispelled.

Our son has not had one single emergency room visit (common for most JD patients) now in 14 years, and is healthier and happier than most people are.

I now realize that when we walk with God, ordeals are not terrifying; they become easy.  What should be living hell, instead becomes a joy.

Prayer of the rosary, especially before the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration, has become an essential part of my spiritual life, and of my survival of the challenges of this life. In any crisis, prayer before the Blessed Sacrament brings resolution.

Rosary for the Bishop

Our family’s involvement with the rosary also took some other interesting turns.  Five years after I started making rosaries, I attempted to round up 31 women from the Madison Catholic Woman club to pray the rosary for our Madison Bishop Morlino, who was being attacked unfairly in the local media.

logo_blue_reflectedI wanted to organize one rosary to be prayed for Bishop Morlino each day of the month.  My son Tom, then an 18-year-old college student with an interest in computers, suggested that we put the Rosary for the Bishop program up online to facilitate membership, and he built a website for me –Rosary for the Bishop, http://rosaryforthebishop.org/.

Pretty soon, we added another great brave outspoken bishop to the website, who was in need of prayer. This was Bishop Nickless from Sioux City, Iowa.  We became aware of Bishop Nickless through our other son Chris, who was building and managing the local Catholic radio station in Sioux City.

Spreads Thoughout the World
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It was not long before Tom decided to add all the US bishops and our Pope to the Rosary for the Bishop website.  From there on, the Rosary for the Bishop website soon took on a life of it’s own.

Out of the blue, we got a request from the editor of the UK Catholic Herald to put all the UK bishops up on the website, and Rosary for the Bishop was featured in the UK Catholic Herald.

Slide1We also got requests from people in South Africa, from Australia, South America, and from various places in Europe.  Today, the Rosary for the Bishop website organizes global prayer of the rosary for bishops, with email reminders available, and with maps and statistics, for over 1580 members from 26 countries, 258 dioceses and from 1,001 parishes, who have prayed over 297,000 rosaries for 453 bishops globally since then.

Bishop Morlino now has over 500 rosaries prayed for him each month, and has had over 45,000 rosaries prayed for him through this program since it began in 2005.

It’s even become a challenge to keep the website updated with all the changes in bishop appointments, and we are currently looking for volunteer help.

My son, who was forced to quit making chain rosaries at age 12, is now a professional web developer who has facilitated global prayer of the rosary in a way I never imagined possible.

Rosary in Lithuanian

Over the years I became more and more aware of the power of the web.  With my Lithuanian roots, I had learned my prayers as a child in Lithuanian, and still pray the rosary in Lithuanian.

St. John Paul the Great Praying at Lithuania's Hill of Crosses, 1993

St. John Paul the Great Praying at Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses, 1993- his mother was of Lithuanian ancestry.

 

When I searched for Lithuanian prayers on the web, I was amazed to find that very few were available, and no audio was available at all.

The 50-year occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union following World War II had almost eradicated religious material from print, and this shortage was reflected online.

So I asked my son Chris, then operations manager of Catholic Relevant Radio in Madison, to record some Lithuanian rosary prayers, and I posted those on my website at www.SyteReitz.com.

Later, as this old lady became more “wired,” and as I got requests from people through the website, I recorded more Lithuanian prayers myself, and posted those as well.  Today, quite a few visitors download Lithuanian rosary prayers from my website.

(See free Lithuanian Rosary mp3s, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 2-16)

Rosary Resources

I also collected rosary resources from the web in English for my website.  I combined instructions on how to pray the rosary with sacred art and with Bible quotes for each of the mysteries, creating a detailed instruction manual.

Slide1A staff member from our parish suggested that I should turn that into a downloadable pdf for mobile devices, so guess what, my favorite web developer Tom was pressed into service again!

The free downloadable How to Pray the Rosary Mobile PDF is one of the most downloaded pages at http://sytereitz.com/2013/10/how-to-pray-the-rosary-mobile-pdf/ .

A Prayer for Children and for Popes

To me, the Rosary is one of the most powerful ways that Jesus Christ, through His Church and through His Blessed Mother, offers us to tap into the power of God through fervent prayer. The rosary invites us to prayer on many levels.  Beginning each decade with the Our Father given to us by Christ Himself, the rosary continues with other beautiful traditional Catholic prayers, which teach us many truths of the Faith. The rosary inspires us to reflect on the life of Christ, and ultimately invites us into contemplative meditation. The brilliance of the rosary is its adaptability to whatever level of spiritual maturity or frame of mind we are in, ranging from panicked repetition to collected meditation.  It is equally appropriate for children and for Popes.   With God, all things are possible, and our rosaries are always as close as our pockets.

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The realization that Jesus Christ is just as present, accessible, and willing to be involved in our lives today as He was 2,000 years ago, via something I carry in my pocket or count on my fingers, is something that I treasure and that I want to share with others.  Much as I value my own personal interaction with God, the cumulative talents of the Church and her tradition, as encompassed in the Holy Rosary, surpass any prayer I could personally compose.

Anybody who listens to Bach instead of composing their own melodies will be able to appreciate the availability of beautiful majestic prayer such as the Rosary, that comes from the Church’s 2000 year tradition and has received the stamp of approval from our Blessed Mother.

Even my husband Rolf, who is not Catholic, has encouraged our family in our devotion to the Rosary.  His support and his company at events like the Madison Capitol Rosary Rally for Religious Freedom have been most appreciated.

My favorite Rosaries

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Chris and Rebecca’s Rosary

On a personal note, some of the rosaries most precious to me include the rosary my son first made for me at the age of 12, the 20-decade Holy Land olive wood rosary I made for another son when he attended seminary, the rosary made by me which was buried with my brother 3 years ago, and the sterling silver and Swarovski pearl and crystal rosary I recently made for my son and his wife for their wedding, which they designed for use with their future children during family prayer.  I also treasure the thought that some of the other rosaries I have distributed might be instrumental in bringing others closer to Christ and to His Blessed Mother.

More Photos of My Rosaries:

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Stainless Steel Rosary

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Brown Cocoa Bean Rosary

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Rosaries for Cathedral Parish

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Large black religious habit rosary

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Fire polished glass, olive wood

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Rosary pliers and wire

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Fire Polished Glass

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Olive Wood

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Brown Cocoa Beans

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Blessed Mother Centers

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Sterling Silver, Swarivski Crystal and Pearl

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Sterling Silver, Swarovski Crystal and Pearl

 

 

How to Make a Rosary

Here are some resources that will help anyone interested in making wire rosaries:

Our Lady’s Rosary Makers HOW TO VIDEOS:

Part 1 –
Part 2 –
Part 3 –

TOOLS: Pliers and Wires
Rosary Maker’s Guide – http://www.rosarymakersguide.org/plierswires.htm

PDF instructions w/ diagrams
http://www.olrm.org/publications/pdf_files/wire_inst.pdf

How to Pray the Rosary: http://sytereitz.com/2013/10/how-to-pray-the-rosary/

How to Pray the Rosary mobile PDF :   http://www.sytereitz.com/2013/10/how-to-pray-the-rosary-mobile-pdf/

 

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for Us!