Praying the Rosary for Peace

The Apostolic Exhortation Recurrens Mensis October of Paul VI to the Bishops, Clergy and People of the Catholic Church: URGING USE OF THE ROSARY DURING OCTOBER TO IMPLORE THE AID OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY IN RECONCILING MINDS AND HEARTS, SO THAT TRUE PEACE MAY SHINE AT LAST UPON THE WORLD.

The recurrence of the month of October provides Us with an occasion for inviting the entire Christian people once more to the practice of a form of prayer which is rightly dear to Catholic piety, and which has lost none of its importance amid the difficulties of the present day. We are speaking of the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Misunderstandings prevalent

            The intention which We would propose this year to all Our sons and daughters, since it seems to Us more serious and urgent than ever, is that of peace among men and between peoples. Despite some progress and some legitimate hopes, murderous conflicts are continuing, new points of tension are appearing, and even Christians, who appeal to the same Gospel of love, are seen to be in opposition to one another. Within the Church itself, misunderstandings arise between brothers who mutually accuse and condemn each other. Hence it is more urgent than ever to work and pray for peace.

            An anniversary increases Our confidence in this effort, namely, the fourth centenary of the apostolic bull Consueverunt Romani Pontifices,(1) by which St. Pius V gave the rosary a form suitable for all time, during a period of many troubles for both the Church and the world. Faithful to this sacred heritage, from which the Christian people have never ceased to draw strength and courage, We exhort the clergy and faithful to beg earnestly from God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, peace and reconciliation among all men and between all peoples.

I. THE INTERCESSION OF MARY

Undoubtedly, peace is the concern of men and a good common to all. As such, it must be the constant care of everyone, but especially of those who carry the responsibility of states and of the community of peoples. But indeed, who does not have a share of responsibility in the life and peace of a family, of an enterprise, of an association? Despite much good will, there are many interests in opposition; much selfishness is shown; many antagonisms increase; many rivalries conflict with one another. Who does not see, then, the unflagging action demanded from each and all in order that love may triumph over discord, and that peace may be restored to the city of men?

No peace without God

            But peace is also the concern of God. He has placed in our hearts the ardent desire for peace. He urges us to work toward it, each doing his share, and for that purpose he sustains our feeble energies and our vacillating wills. He alone can give us a peaceful soul, and confirm in depth and solidity our efforts for peace.

            Prayer, by which we ask for the gift of peace, is therefore an irreplaceable contribution to the establishment of peace. It is through Christ, in whom all grace is given us,(2) that we dispose ourselves to welcome the gift of peace. And in that undertaking, how can we do otherwise than to depend lovingly upon the incomparable intercession of Mary, his mother, of whom the Gospel tell us that she “found favor with God”?(3)

Reasons for confidence

            It is the humble Virgin of Nazareth who became mother of “the Prince of Peace,”(4) of him who was born under the sign of peace,(5) and who proclaimed to the whole world: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”(6) The Gospel teaches us that Mary is sensitive to the needs of men. At Cana, she did not hesitate to intervene, to the joy of the villagers invited to a wedding feast.(7) How, then, would she not intervene in favor of peace, that precious possession, if we only pray to her with a sincere heart?

            The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminds us most opportunely that Mary continues to intercede with her son in favor of her children on earth.(8) When she quite simply told him, “They have no wine,” Christ responded most generously. How, then, would he not show the same generosity to her when she says, “They have no peace”?

II.  OBLIGATION OF EVERY CHRISTIAN

If every man, “as much as he can, as best he can,”(9) must work for justice and peace in the world, then each Christian will have it at heart to ask Mary to pray with us and for us, so that that peace which the Lord alone can give, may be granted us.(10) Moreover, by meditating upon the mysteries of the most holy rosary we learn, through Mary’s example, to become peaceful souls, through loving and unceasing association with Jesus and with the mysteries of his redemptive life.

All must pray

Let all the children of the holy Church pray:

  •  Children and young people, whose future is at stake amid the changes that are shaking the world.  Let parents, teachers and all priests strive to make of them men consecrated to prayer.

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  •  The ill and the elderly, who sometimes are disheartened by their seeming uselessness. They should rediscover the powerful strength of prayer, and become loving souls, drawing men peacefully toward the source of peace.

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  • Adults, who work hard all day long. They will find their efforts bearing more fruit when these arise from a life of prayer.(11) By knowing Mary they will the better know and love Jesus. Many of our ancestors in the faith have had this life-giving experience.

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  •  Consecrated souls, whose life, like Mary’s, must always be closely bound to the life of Christ, so as to irradiate his message of love and peace.

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  •  Bishops and their priestly assistants, who have the special mission of praying “in the name of the Church on behalf of the whole people entrusted to them and indeed for the whole world.” (12) In the depths of their prayer, they will surely unite themselves with the supplication of Mary.

In this ardent desire for peace, which is the “fruit of the Spirit,”(13) we shall all devote ourselves, like the Apostles in the upper room, “to prayer together with…Mary the mother of Jesus,”(14)

      III. PRAYER INTENTIONS

            We shall pray for all who perform the tasks of peace in the world, from the humblest village to the greatest international organizations. Together with our encouragement and our gratitude, they have a right also to our prayers. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation.”(15)

            We shall pray that everywhere there may be vocations to become doers of peace, workers for concord and for reconciliation between men and among peoples. We shall pray that in every heart, starting with our own, sectarianism and racism, hatred and wickedness, may be rooted out, since they are the ever recurring source of wars and divisions. For if evil is strong, grace is even stronger.

            We shall pray to him who died for our sins “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”(16) We shall pray that among all the sons and daughters of the Church there may be a climate of mutual respect and confidence, of dialogue and reciprocal benevolence. We shall pray that all, while recognizing their differences, may realize that they complement one another, in the truth and love of Christ, according to the recommendation of the great Apostle St. Paul: “So far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. … Let us no more pass judgment on one another. … The kingdom of God …[means] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. … Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”(17)

All must be peacemakers

            We ourself, honored brothers, beloved sons and daughters, shall never cease to labor and pray for peace, as the vicar of him who “is our peace…making peace…bringing the hostility to an end.”(18) With the Apostle Paul, under whose name we would conceal our littleness, we exhort you “to lead a life worthy of the calling which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”(19)

            May the frequent meditation upon the mysteries of our salvation make you peacemakers, in the image of Christ, after the example of Mary. May the rosary, in the form handed down by St. Pius V—as well as in other recent forms adapting it, with the consent of the lawful authority, to the needs of today—be indeed, as our beloved predecessor Pope John XXIII desired, “a great public and universal prayer for the ordinary and extraordinary needs of the holy Church, of the nations, and of the entire world,”(20) for this rosary is, as it were, “the Gospel in miniature,”(21) and “henceforth, a devotion of the Church.”(22)

            By this prayer to Mary, the most holy Mother of God and our Mother, we help to realize the wish of the Council: “Let all faithful Christians offer urgent prayers to the Mother of God and Mother of men in order that she may intercede with her son in the communion of all the saints, until the whole family of nations—whether they bear the honored name of Christian or still do not know their Savior—may be joyfully assembled into a single People of God, in peace and harmony, to the glory of the most holy and undivided Trinity.”(23)

            It is with this intention, honored brothers, beloved sons and daughters, that we bestow upon you with all our heart our apostolic blessing, inviting you to recite the holy rosary with fervor during this month of October.

            Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, October 7th, in the year 1969, the seventh of our pontificate.

Pope Paul VI

Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol LXI, 10 November 1969, 649-654.


1     Bull.Ord. Praed., Sept. 17, 1569, vol. V, p. 223

2     See Rom 8,32

3     Lk 1,30

4     Is 9,5

5     See Lk 2,14

6     Mt 5,9

7     See Jn 2,15

8     See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 62: AAS 57 (1965), 63 [TPS X, 397-398]

9     See encyc. Populorum Progressio, no. 75: AAS  59 (1967), 294 [TPS XII, 168]

10    See Collect of the Mass for Peace

11    See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 34: AAS 57 (1965), 39-40 [TPS X, 382]

12    Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 5: AAS 58 (1966), 998.

13    Gal 5,22

14    Acts 1,14

15    Is 52,7

16    See Jn 11,52

17    Rom 12,18 and 14,13,17,19

18    Eph 2,14-16

19    Ibid., 4,1-3

20    Apost. Letter Il religioso convegno, Sept. 29, 1961: AAS 53 (1961), 646

21    Cardinal J. G. Saliege, Voila ta Mere (Marian pages assembled and presented by Mgr.
  Garrone), Toulouse: Apostolat de la priere (1958, p. 40)

22    Paul VI, allocution to participants in 3rd International Dominican Rosary Congress, July
  13, 1963: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, I (1963), 464

23    See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 69: AAS   57 (1965),
  66-67 [TPS X, 399-400]


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