Who would ever think that beads, some made of plastic, others of wood, still others of rope or cloth, attached together, would be one the most effective weapons against the Devil??? Unless they were cannonballs attached to chains and swung by Hercules (or Prince Fielder), it seems that such things would be a mere annoyance to the evil one, at best. It seems like they would be swatted away like flies from an elephant. I mean…really…can you imagine those little old ladies from church, using their “beads,” dropping flying elbows on Satan’s head from the top of a steel cage or whacking him on the head with a metal chair??? (Ok, maybe I still remember the WWF…a little too vividly)
Well, that type of “silliness” is exactly what the world would want you to believe. But I would hope, as Catholics, we know better in both our heads and our hearts. As Pope Adrian VI said, the Rosary is the scourge (or flying elbow to the ribs…metal chair to the head) of the Devil.
In fact, one of the most ardent supporters of the Rosary, Padre Pio, described the Rosary as THE weapon against the Devil. Rumor has it that, a few days before his death, Padre Pio told some Friars in his room “Bring Me My Weapon!!” When the Friars saw no physical weapons near him, Padre Pio exclaimed that the Rosary was the true weapon against the Devil. Hence, the title of this article.
The Rosary is a prayer having many different meanings and benefits that are too numerous to talk about here, so I will just focus on one aspect – weaponry! I never thought of the Rosary in that way…as a weapon…well, until the last year or so. I’m not quite sure why I was so blind. (As an aside, if you ever want to see a really cool Rosary, check out this weapon!)
The Rosary was given to us by the Blessed Mother herself, probably through Saint Dominic in the 13th century. She called it her psalter, wherein the 150 Hail Marys follow the pattern of the 150 Psalms. In October 2002, Blessed Pope John Paul II added the Mysteries of Light (Luminous Mysteries) “[t]o bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary [and]…include the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion.”
For the longest time, I, unfortunately, was one of those Catholics that thought of the Rosary as a group of repetitive prayers that was hard to get through without falling asleep or daydreaming about other things. I never quite realized what it really was. Maybe I was never taught how to properly pray the Rosary.
As a weapon, I’ve heard the Rosary described as equivalent to launching missiles at the evil one. I’ve heard it described as the nuclear weapon against evil. I’ve actually come to be fond of the mental image of the Rosary chain being wrapped around the Devil’s neck to shut him up from whispering in my ear. (Ok, was that too graphic?) Maybe some of you like the imagery of the flying elbow or the metal chair.
However, before we talk about why the Rosary is an effective weapon, lets be very precise about who this weapon is used against. I always thought the enemy was self evident, but lets be clear. First of all, the world is in need of prayer. Through the prayers of the Rosary, we meditate on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In so doing, we fill a void that is ever present in this world and seems to be getting bigger. If we don’t fill that void, who will? That’s the easiest answer in this whole article! Its really easy to see who is filling that void. Look down….way way down…in the center of hell encased in ice (for you literary fans). Ok, maybe look at the television, read the newspaper, look at popular culture. Take a wild guess who is filling that void in the absence of prayer! I think it’s self-explanatory. As Padre Pio said, if all of the demons in this world became visible, they would blot out the sun!
Now that the who is taken care of, lets look at the “what.” When we talk about the Rosary as THE weapon against the Devil, we should not limit our thinking to just “big” evils (like Communism) or to just “smaller” evils such as gossip. Similarly, we should not limit our thinking to combat against just mortal sins or just venial sins. The Rosary is THE weapon against all of the above and everything in between. It is equally effective in converting a communist nation as it is in helping us shut our mouths when we want so badly to talk about others, in rejecting heresy as it is in helping us reject the temptations against purity, and in dispelling materialism as it is in playing a PS3 when we should be out cutting the lawn. No one ever said that the Rosary was for the strong or only for kings and princes. In fact, it is probably most effective when said by the meek and humble, the simple, and the poor in spirit.
Ok, Ok, but why is the Rosary such an effective weapon against the Devil? Why does the famous exorcist Gabriel Amorth report that, during an exorcism, his colleague reported hearing the Devil say that each Hail Mary is like a blow against his head?? Again, the answer is fairly straightforward.
First and foremost, the Rosary is the prayer of the Gospels. As Pope Pius XII said, the Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel. Other writers have described the Rosary as the Gospels on a chain. Think about it. 18 of 20 of the mysteries are directly described in the Gospels. So don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Rosary is not Biblical! The “last” two mysteries, the Assumption of the Blessed Mother and the Crowning of the Blessed Mother as Queen of Heaven, can be inferred from reading Scripture.
For those reasons, when we pray the Rosary, we are praying the Gospels…and in praying the Gospels, we are praying Jesus Himself. How can this be, you ask? Well the answer is…surprise!!…again really quite simple. The entire body of Scripture (let alone the Gospels), when distilled, condensed, and concentrated into one word…is the Eternal Word…Jesus Christ himself. Therefore, praying the Gospels is praying Jesus himself.
Maybe more formally, praying the Rosary is both prayer and meditation because it is addressed to the Father, to the Blessed Mother, and to the Trinity, and is a meditation on Jesus Christ. Said in another way, the Rosary is a reflection on some of the most important times in Jesus’s life wherein we showed His love for us and also on the life of God’s most perfect creature Mary who, being full of grace, lived life to the fullest, totally free, and without sin.
This reflection on the mysteries of the Rosary causes us to remember and to look upon God Himself. Said more simply, the prayers of the Rosary say everything that the Devil hates to be said. It focuses our minds, hearts, and souls upon our Blessed Lord and His life. When we pray the Rosary, we enter mind, body, and soul into the mysteries of the Gospels and tap into the infinite graces just waiting to be poured out by the Holy Spirit through his spouse, the Blessed Mother. When we pray these words, the Devil cannot enter!
Some of you are not doubt asking how meditation on the mysteries, aside from vocal prayer, can possibly stop the Devil when he cannot hear our thoughts but only our words. I think the answer to that is also straightforward, if you have the right frame of reference.
The Rosary brings a true peace that is obtained from directly combatting evil with good. Some of this peace is derived from using the Rosary as an offensive weapon to directly attack temptations and sin. However, the notion of the Rosary as a weapon also applies to using the Rosary as a shield from temptations. Shields are weapons as well, at least in the divine sense. As Pope Leo XII said, the Rosary is powerful because Mary is the Mediatrix of Divine Grace and surpasses in power all of the angels and saints in Heaven. The grace that is poured out both vanquishes evil directly (offensively) and also protects our hearts, minds, and souls (defensively) from giving in to the temptations that we face. Accordingly, one way to think about the vocal prayers is to think of them as calling down grace for more of an offensive attack. In a similar way, the meditative portion of the prayers can be thought of as an internalization of Jesus himself which also calls down grace and shields our souls from some of the attacks. (Oh yeah, and remember who the Devil is…a fallen archangel. For that reason, Mary has more power than the Devil.)
But enough theory, lets be a bit more practical for just a minute. When holding the crucifix, we make the sign of the cross and reaffirm what we believe and what the Church believes. We ponder His life, death, and resurrection. We honor God, reaffirm our belief in the Blessed Mother and all other important issues that the Devil fights against.
On the first bead, and 5 subsequent beads, we pray the Our Father. There are no greater words known to man to honor the Father than to use the words that Jesus Himself gave us. More theologically speaking, it is important to remember that, in each of His mysteries, Jesus always leads us to the Father and is continually turned towards him. For that reason, the Our Father makes meditation upon the mystery, even when carried out in solitude, an ecclesial experience.
On the next three beads, we pray to/through the Blessed Mother for her to dispense grace, through her spouse the Holy Spirit, for an increase in three very important virtues, faith, hope, and charity (love).
As we move on, we then start to pray the Gospels and enter into the mysteries. Throughout all of the 20 mysteries, we focus on God and on very important moments in Scripture. Every time that we focus on God, we are taking our focus off of the world and off of ourselves. This is perfect prayer. However, it is exactly what the Devil does not want.
More specifically, the first part of each Hail Mary is drawn from the words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel and by Saint Elizabeth and is a contemplation in adoration of the mystery accomplished in the Virgin of Nazareth.
The center of gravity in the Hail Mary is the name of Jesus. It is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to His mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary.
Finally, Mary’s unique status as the Mother of God, Theotókos, allows us to appeal to her in the second half of the prayer, as we entrust to her maternal intercession our lives and the hour of our death.
After the Hail Mary, we say the Glory Be, also known as the “Trinitarian doxology” or Gloria, which is the high-point of contemplation. The glorification of the Trinity at the end of each decade raises our minds to the heights of Heaven.
Finally, some Catholics add the “Oh My Jesus” prayer, also known as the Decade Prayer, at the end of each decade. This prayer mirrors the prayer that Sr. Lucia has said that she received from the Blessed Mother at Fatima. This prayer calls to mind the need for mercy and penance, penance, penance!
Can you think of anything “worse” for the Devil? Seriously. What could possibly be more destructive against his temptations and plans than such meditations and prayers? They are both offensive and defensive weapons and entirely frustrate the desires and purposes of the evil one and his army.
Ok Ok, I’m just about done with this long post. So let me end with this. It is widely reported that the Blessed Mother, during her appearances in Medjugorje, said that Satan wants war. Well, if he wants war, then when are we going to get serious about launching missiles at this head? When are we going to get serious about jumping into the war and fighting the good fight? When are we going to swing a metal chair at his head, jump off the top rope with an elbow to the ribs, or simply just punch him in the face?!?! The time has long since come. As Pope Blessed Pius IX said, “give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the World!” So lets do it!
 Sister Patricia Preoctor, OSC, 101 Inspirational Stories on the Rosary, p.180
 Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Spirituality Series, National Centre for Padre Pio, Barto, PA. p. 74.
 C. Bernard Ruffin, Padre Pio: The True Story, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN. p. 367.
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_20030204_rosary-trujillo_en.html; See also Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus (2 February 1974), 42: AAS 66 (1974), 153.
 Authentic freedom will be a topic for a future article
 William Thomas Walsh, Our Lady of Fátima (Image, 1954), p. 225.