18 OCTOBER: Praying the Rosary for peace
AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) is issuing an open invitation to participate in an extraordinary event taking place on 18 October: “One Million Children Praying the Rosary”. We talked about this prayer initiative with Father Martin Barta, Spiritual Assistant to ACN International.
What is this prayer campaign about and when was it started?
The idea for the campaign came about in 2005 in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. While a number of children were praying the Rosary at a wayside shrine, several of the women in attendance strongly felt the presence of the Virgin Mary. They immediately thought of Saint Padre Pio’s promise: “When one million children pray the Rosary, the world will change.” And that is exactly what this is all about: having faith in the power of children’s prayers. After all, Jesus teaches us: “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).
How can people join in the campaign?
Quite simply: we are inviting teachers, priests, nursery teachers and parents to pray the rosary together with children on 18 October for peace and unity in the world. ACN has instructional materials on the prayers of the Rosary, posters and a letter of invitation for children and adults.
Why the 18th of October?
October is traditionally the month of the Rosary; the 18th is the feast day of Saint Luke the Evangelist. He has handed on to us the story of Jesus’s childhood and, according to tradition, is said to have been close to Our Lady, the Mother of God. Therefore, the date is quite fitting.
Why has AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED become involved in this prayer campaign?
We not only see ourselves as a pastoral charity, but also as a prayer community. Our founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten, deeply venerated Our Lady of Fatima. There, the Virgin Mary proclaimed to the visionary children, “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world.” The daily project work carried out by ACN in 149 countries allows the organisation to see first-hand just how greatly Christians and the entire world are suffering from the effects of terrorism and war. Only God can bring peace. We can play a part in this – through our work, but first and foremost through our prayers.
Do you receive reports from the world church on how many children take part?
Our materials for the prayer campaign are available in 27 languages, including, for example, Arabic and the West African Hausa language. Children from around 80 countries and on all continents are taking part. Accounts of the events are frequently sent to ACN and, over the past year we have received reports from countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Cameroon, India and the Philippines. It is truly a campaign of the world church!
Children and the Rosary: this is not an easy connection to make for the churches in our part of the world. How do you get young people excited about these prayers?
I believe that it is actually the other way around: children are far more open to the rosary than a lot of adults. When the Rosary is prayed correctly and under proper guidance, offers us a glimpse of the Virgin Mary, and a relationship with her that grows more intimate the longer you pray the Rosary. This intimate view of Our Lady is something that we can learn from children!