The Power of the Rosary

By Fr. Charlie Prass

Some ask, "Where is the rosary found in the Bible?"

At least, by accommodation, since nothing is wasted in Scripture; all have a meaning. Thus, it was not in vain that, in response to Jesus' "Bring hither of the fishes which you have now caught," Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty-three. And although there were so many fishes, the net was not broken (John, 21, v.9-1 1).

In the fu11 rosary, there are likewise 153 Hail Mary’s. Coincidence? There are no happenstances with God, a God of infinite power and wisdom. Too, the rosary has often been compared to a net. And throughout the centuries, big fish have been hauled ashore.

If we are faithful to the daily rosary, as Our Lady asks, the impossible becomes possible as is manifest by this true story. Rudolph Smit had been born of Dutch parents in the Netherlands but he grew up in Switzerland, that international country. Thus, already as a boy he spoke his own native Dutch, German, French and Italian languages. Later, he became a priest, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate.

One afternoon, Fr. Smit had just finished a retreat for some Sisters at a hospital in a small town of Montana. Those were the days when the west was the "wild and woolly west''-very sparsely inhabited. He was packing his bag to go to the next town when Mother Superior came and begged him to stay overnight "because as usual, the Chaplain was late returning from his vacation" A good Dutchman that he was, Fr. Smit agreed.

At midnight, there was a knock at the door. It was Mother Superior. "Please come, Father. There's an emergency in the operating room. The man speaks only German. Since you know this language, you may be able to help him."

Down the operating room, what a sight met the eyes of Fr. Smit. There on the table was the long form of a tall man, completely covered by an immaculate linen sheet except for the head and the big black eyes and, overflowing on the sheet, a long black beard nearly a yard in length. Father put aside the doctors, nurses, and especially the Sisters, and went over, stood at the foot of the table, looked down at the man and asked in German, "Is there anything I can do for you?" The man looked up at him with those big black eyes and said, "Yes, Father. Thank God you came, Father. But I knew you would come. Please hear my confession. But first, there's something I want to tell you. "I came to this country five years ago from Bavaria in Germany. I've ever been up in the hills taking care of the sheep. I seldom came to town. I never learned English. And during those five years, I never went once to Holy Mass but every day, l said my rosary. And every day, I asked my Mother Mary that should the time come for me to die, I'd have a priest with me.

“This afternoon, Father, I was very foolish. I went to close the gasoline tank near the electric generator with a lighted match. There was a great explosion, a flash of tire, then everything went black. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in the wagon of my neighbor who was bringing me to the hospital. And, Father, my neighbor never comes by my place; but today, he came and found me. Please hear my confession.

Fr. Smit heard the man's confession, gave him Communion, anointed him with holy oil, and gave the Papal Blessing with the plenary indulgence. Then those big, black eyes closed in eternal sleep. The doctor came over, examined the man, pronounced him dead, then began to mutter, "I don't believe it. I simply can't believe it."

Fr. Smit was tired after an eight-day retreat with the Sisters. He impatiently asked, "What don't you believe? Can't you see? The man is dead."

"But Father, he should have been dead many hours ago. Look for yourself.'' The doctor pulled back the sheet. The heart and lungs were burned through and through- black like charcoal-but the head and the beard were not touched by the flames. Fr. Smit said it looked like our Mother Mary had covered the man with her mantle till the priest could arrive.

Yes, the power of the Rosary- by the express wish of the Father in heaven. To it also, I give a large measure of credit for my perseverance in the priesthood- already 54 years and probably, for the following incident in far-away Mindanao.

It was my first assignment in the Philippines- at Kidapawan near the center of Mindanao-where there was a large cluster of Cebuanos.

It happened after a 10:00 o'clock Mass in a distant barrio. In 1955, we were still obliged to fast since midnight. "Father, there 's a woman dying. "Where?" "Just over there". After 45 minutes, I asked "Where?" "Just over there." After another 45 minutes, we reached the house. The lady was over 90 years old and critically ill. She had been living up in the hills, hadn't seen a priest for 30 years. She made her confession, received the holy oil and the Papal Blessing. There was no Communion as there was none reserved after the Mass. During the ritual, I was reflecting how all those years of study and all the hardships were a small price to pay for such a privilege to bring Christ in His sacraments to a little old lady in the hinterlands of Mindanao. Such joy there was on her face!


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