The Rosary, a Spiritual Weapon – Notes from Fr. Ripperger

I took these notes from Fr. Ripperger’s talk on “The Rosary, A Spiritual Weapon.” I wasn’t planning on posting them but there is so much beauty in this talk I had to. All words below are from Fr. Ripperger (video at bottom). Bold is mine.

“We are at war. A spiritual war that not only encompasses our interior lives – where we have to fight the adversary daily through normal temptation. But we must fight exterior, we all know the world is sinking into ruin. It doesn’t take too much to look, to see this thing is slowly going down on virtually every level – morally, spiritually, financially, socially, politically, etc. It it sinking into the hands and the domination of the prince of this world.

In order that we, ourselves, do not succomb in this battle we need weapons, obviously in order to fight them. Obviously in order to make use of the Rosary as a weapon we must be in a state of grace and firm in our faith. There’s a reason for that. The saints and the Church tells us that none of the sacramentals have any efficacy on the side of the individual using them if they don’t have faith in them. The second thing is you have to be in a state of grace in order for your prayers to merit anything.

There is a common misconception that if I do a good thing, God will reward me. That is not true. The good work that you do is only meritorious in the eyes of God, that is, it is deserving something from God (Who’s infinite) if you are participating in His nature in some way. And that is what we call grace, as St. Paul says. So, unless you are in a state of grace you cannot merit anything from God. So all these people in a state of mortal sin doing these good works, they are not meriting anything on the side of Heaven. Their works can have natural good effects but to actually beget merit in the eyes of God doesn’t help much. And here is the thing – when it comes to the spiritual warfare merit is practically everything. Not all of it but practically everything. So how holy you are determines how powerful your prayers are in waging a spiritual warfare. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to become holy.

People say, “what is holiness?” Sanctified perfection is defined as excellence in grace – you have a lot of it. And the adornment of the soul of all of the virtues. There is a common misperception that the spiritual life is just flowery and wonderful. That’s not it at all. The minute you start becoming holy the first thing God does is make your life miserable. And He does that for a reason – He has to start stripping you of seeking after the consolations. If you’re doing prayers for the consolation you have a natural motive and you’re not doing it for His sake you’re doing it for your own. And so that slowly has to be stripped of it. The point is that you become holier. The efficacy of Rosaries, as you say them, will increase significantly. These 2 realities – our Rosaries and our firm faith in grace are the bulwark of our defense. And the Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons laid in our hands by Our Lady.

We have known from the tradition all along that Our Lady gave it to St. Dominick, she gave it in this form and we know what it is. We know that the Rosary will be a very efficacious prayer if for no other reason than there is a reference to it even scripturally. Re-reading John 21:6 “He saith to them: Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore; and now they were not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes.” And John 21:11 “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, the net was not broken.” The 153 is the number of Hail, Mary’s in a full 15 decade Rosary. That’s the reason why there was 153 fish named specifically. They weren’t able to draw it in. Which indicates that the Rosary is greater and stronger than those who use it. And it indicates that the efficacy of the Rosary as a net, in order to bring in sinners as well as to conquer enemies. That is, it can bind them and restrict them so they can’t hurt you, they can’t affect other people.

Among the 15 promises of the Rosary find that the Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell. St. Padre Pio said the Rosary is the weapon, not a weapon, the weapon to use in spiritual combat. Obviously the Sacraments and things like that would take precedence over this but here he’s talking about things which the lay people can do themselves without the need for a priest and things of that sort.

It’s founded on the devotion to Mary. We know from Scripture that Mary shall crush his head.

It promotes a life of meditation, and this is quite important. People go to priests and say they are…being bombarded with thoughts, and the way to break that is through meditation. Because as you meditate the (bad) cannot stand what you see in your imagination and they will bail out, they will try to avoid it. And they cannot stand the imagination which is properly subdued through the habit of prayer. It blocks them from being able to affect our intellects, and they hate an imagination that is subordinated to God. If you’re praying you’re lifting your mind and heart to God, which means you’re subordinating your mind to God and submitting it to Him. And that they don’t like.

It invokes the most powerful of all saints – Our Lady. It is the pious tradition of the Church that Our Lady’s state of grace is so excelling that it is greater than all of the other saints combined. That’s how high she is in the heirarchy of things. Obviously if she is the Mediatrix of all grace and you’re receiving graces as a result, the cause is always greater than the effect. It’s a philosophical principle. So if she’s the Mediatrix of all grace and you’re receiving it from her, she has to be great.

The very prayers of the Rosary drive the (bad) out. They can’t stand them. Just the calling of Our Lady is enough for them to say ok its time to get out of here.

In the Legion of Mary, we read in the Legion prayers, “Who is she that cometh forth in the mornings rising fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array.” Mary is the destroyer of (bad). In fact, she is his nemesis. She took his place in Heaven, but so much so that even if he had not fallen, she still would have so far excelled even him, and that is what he wouldn’t submit to. St. Louis Montfort said he would not submit to her and he couldn’t stand the fact that she was going to be this powerful. She is also the destroyer of his minion, his kingdom. She lays waste to their activities, renders them impotent, incapacitates them, instills fear in them – just at the thought of her. Just when they hear about her. And therefore her Rosary will do the same. But it requires devotion. You can’t do it mechanically. They will try to get you to do it mechanically because if they do that they’ve already removed the power that it ends up having.

The Rosary will destroy vice and decrease sin we are told by the saints. It has been said that if a person devoutly – and that is the key – devoutly – not mechanically and not because you’ve got to do it…but if you say the Rosary devoutly every single day for a year if the person is committing mortal sin he will either give up the sin or give up the Rosary. It’s one of the greatest, most powerful weapons in conquering vice and sin. As a form of meditation it helps to purifies the mind.

It provides special graces which help us to overcome our vice and decrease our sin. As an armor…it keeps away the forms of temptation and in this sense its a means of overcoming temptation, its a means of conquering it.

It defeats heresies. The reason the Rosary was originally given to St. Dominick was for the express purpose of finally crushing the albergensian heresy. They bring under a heresy called modernism, which Pius the X called the synthesis of all heresies. How do you know we are laboring under that? Just go to any Catholic Church…there is not a single doctrine of the Church that somebody in the Church won’t deny and other people will accept – that’s the synthesis of all heresies.

The root of modernism is what they call imitatism – it’s where you make yourself, your feelings, your own interior life the judgment of whether something is true or not, rather than the reality itself. Which is why the Church has always said part of the way you destroy modernism is getting back to sound philosophy that really truth is adhering our mind to reality not in how we feel. And this is something that’s quite important when you’re praying. If you’re praying because you basically do it because you feel good, you’re just a modernist. And this is one of the reasons why a lot of times people come and they’ll say well I started meditating but it was hard so I gave up. well okay so what you’re telling me is it’s your feelings that really are determining how you’re behaving in relationship to God which is not the way God speaks to us. He doesn’t speak to us through our feelings I know you’ve probably heard that a hundred million times but the fact of the matter is He doesn’t speak to us through our emotions He speaks to us through our intellect – it’s called faith – and through our heart – it’s called charity – and the various gifts of the Holy Ghost that’s where He does it. In our intellect, in our heart that is the will that’s where He speaks to us. All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in the intellect of the will, not in the emotions. We have to subordinate those through virtue. And the other reason too is is that, you remember when I said God makes your life miserable, it’s because you have to be purified. Your will has to be tested and proven. It takes a long time to root out sin and sin when you pull the roots out it’s brutal. I mean all you have to do is look at somebody who has some kind of an addiction and see as they’re trying to break their vices how brutal of a process it is. It’s the same thing with our other sins and here’s the here’s the our sins are rooted so absolutely deeply in our souls when we commit them, that even after we asked for forgiveness the defects from that sin remain. That’s why we have the temporal punishment due to sin that’s why you gotta spend time in purgatory to get purified of these things. But that’s also why there’s two stages of the interior life or there’s three but there’s the first one is broken down it’s called the purgative – is broken down into two parts – the active purgative way it’s where you purify yourself to the degree you can. But our sin is so rooted that God himself has to come in and start ripping it out and that’s the passive purgative way and that’s pretty intense. The Saints talked about there’s darkness there’s hard time in dealing with it but that’s a sign that we cannot you cannot judge where you’re at in the spiritual life about how you feel. The person going through the passive purgative way feels like trash all the time but they’re closer to God than any of us who might feel better about our spiritual lives. So you can’t make that the judgment yourself.

So, what am I talk about this in the context of the Rosary? Because the Rosary will drag you outside of yourself. Our Lady is called the conqueress of all heresy. that means she is the one that has to conquer modernism ultimately. whether it be through grace or what have you but she’s the one because modernism is the synthesis of all heresies. And so nobody can say the Rosary any length of time and be a modernist in fact usually if they’re modernist one of the first things they kick out is the Rosary which is always a bad sign. And this is something that’s quite important because the only one who can conquer this, aside from God, is Our Lady. The Rosary is a great weapon against modernism in our own families. I mean we see this all the time. “Did you go to Mass?” “No I didn’t feel like it or I don’t get anything out of that she said I didn’t get anything on that I said what do you mean by getting something out? Do you feel grace? Grace is something that exists in our soul you can’t feel it. So how do you know you’re not getting anything out of it? And I think that’s something that’s quite important, this is one of the reasons why the Rosary is so important because when people start saying the Rosary their life start transforming because they’re starting to realize that they themselves can’t be the standard of judgment about whether something is good or not or bad or good for them spiritually and etc it has to be what the church is always taught – all of us are the same we all have the same human nature we all receive graces, we all go through the same steps of purgation. Now those steps might be a little bit different in each person’s case but we all go through purgation. Then we have to go through an illumative stage where God starts stripping us even how we think about Him not necessarily because it’s wrong but because it’s disproportionate to Him and then He starts mystical contemplation in order to give us that knowledge to where we can continue pursuing.

And then there’s the unitive stage where he draws us and purifies our will to the last stages. You know most people don’t know this but it is a fact when Christ said be perfect – it’s attainable. He would not have said that if it wasn’t attainable and what that basically means is is that there’s a there’s nine levels of prayer the last level prayer is called the transforming union when you reach the transforming union the person has already stopped even venally sinning and they’ve rooted out almost all of their imperfections. Some of the Saints say that God will allow the person’s not spiritual or moral imperfections but their physical and other kinds of imperfections to remain so that they actually have to continue fighting and maintaining the virtue that they’ve attained through this process. The Rosary is one of the fastest means to that to that end. Those who are fettered spiritually will have their bonds broken. There’s a reason why it’s called a vise now vice actually means weakness that’s what it really means but it also in English of course it has the connotation of clamping down and holding on to us right and this is one of the reasons why it’s so important to break every single attachment to everything that is created. You know when God said you shall love the Lord with your whole heart He was being serious. He means that you are to love no created thing except for His sake. That’s it. Now, you can’t attain it – that’s the perfection of charity, you can’t attain that without perfect detachment from everything that’s created.

Doesn’t mean you become indifferent and care less what happens to your wife or something like that that’s not what we’re saying what we’re saying is that you have to be able to let loose of them focus purely on God and then your motivation in relationships your wife or your neighbor will become totally on fire and with the love of God. That’s where perfection consists in. Anytime you have an attachment to anything John of the Cross tells us, that means there’s that much room in your heart that God can’t take up. So, that being the case, attachments are like the dog with the rag you know you stick the rag in front of the dog it clamps down it and then you can drag it anywhere you want right that’s exactly what attachments are in relationship to spiritual warfare. If you’re attached to anything, if you have any vice to anything, you can be drug around by that attachment and become quite a problem to everybody else by the demons because they know what your attachments are they’ll motivate you to do that and even through your attachments they can make you think you’re doing the best thing in the world and that’s just not the case. So it’s through the Rosary that this fetter, that is, the attachment is being bound to this thing that you know I shouldn’t be bound to, we should only be bound to God because in heaven nobody has any attachments except to God, that’s it. St. John of the Cross said it’s so severe that you can’t even have attachments to spiritual things other than God. You make use of them to get you closer to Him, like statuarian the consolations that come, those don’t become your focus they just become the means of getting closer to God. So the Rosary is one of the primary means of breaking attachments and this bondage.

Essentially means that those who are in spiritual bondage will find freedom through the Rosary and this applies not just to ourselves but to those for whom we offer the Rosary up for. In other words we all know people in our lives who have serious issues in vice and in virtue, they have no intellectual clarity, do you pray the Rosary for them? If you find that your children or those that are descending into spiritual bondage through mortal sin and worldliness this is the weapon this is the one you’ve got to use. And the families that pray it regularly every single day will find that, doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be attacked in some degree or another, but they’ll find that their children generally speaking will receive a lot more grace and so the children will have a lot less difficulties. Those who are tempted will find peace we are told. As was mentioned the Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons against temptation. Peace is defined as the tranquility of order and when we’re talking about spiritual peace what we really mean by that is that the soul through charity St. Thomas said because one of the fruits of charity the fruits of the Holy Ghost which is when he resides in us we have charity is peace. And what that means is is that charity is the one by which we love God and labor so for the sake of God so if you love God the more you love God the more your soul becomes order to God and as a result peace starts setting in. You can’t will peace. I get a charge out of these bumper stickers that you know try peace or will peace, that’s not how it works. The way it works is you have to have right order and then peace arises naturally out of that as an effect. And so in our own spiritual life the Rosary will give us a lot of peace if we’re saying it consistently because it will start ordering our lives more towards God especially to the meditation of His mysteries and those types of things.

The benefits of the Rosary well as I mentioned it purifies our souls by washing away sin there are three sources of temptation the world of flesh and the devil and all three hinge upon the flesh for the devil can do nothing except acting upon the flesh that is to try and get us tempted and the world can only move the flesh. Essentially what this means is that your greatest enemy the one that you have to conquer and overcome even more than the devil is yourself. That’s the thing that you have to conquer. For you are the one who keeps choosing evil, you’re the one who keeps increasing your vices by the sins you commit. You’re the one who keeps making your soul a mess. One of the aspects of Ignation spirituality is that they get you to realize that you’re the problem you’re part of the problem here and I think a lot of people there’s this one time this one nun I think it was either St. Padre Pio or St. John of the Cross, can’t remember who it was written to. The woman wrote said you know I’d be a much holier nun if it wasn’t for all the other nuns in the convent and he wrote back says oh no it’s quite the contrary, it’s their imperfections that become the means of your purification and sanctification. And so people always trying to look you know if I just didn’t have these things I could get my spiritual life in order that’s just not how it works.

Therefore one of the primary benefits of the Rosary is to help you to purify your soul and get it washed so that your sin isn’t there so you can start conquering yourself. It gives us victory over all our enemies anybody who studied history knows about the Battle of Lepanto but for those of those who don’t and those who do will do it just to refresh here. One of the greatest of all Rosary victories was the Battle of Lepanto. The Moslems at the peak of their naval power in the Mediterranean threatened over on Christian Europe. Pius V formed a league against them and the Christian fleet was commanded by a good and holy catholic. As early as September 17th Pope Pius enjoined the recitation of the Rosary on all Christendom for the success of the Christian arms he ordered all the churches to have the 40 hours devotions with public processions and recitation of the Rosary. On the fateful October 7th when they met he himself spent the entire night in prayer. Before moving to attack Lepanto, the Christian sailors devoutly recited the Rosary while the papal Leggett gave the apostolic benediction to them. For three hours the 65,000 men all of whom had received Holy Communion that morning continued to recite the Rosary. Then on each ship general absolution was given for the last time by one of the chaplains by the way that’s one of the few times of general absolution is okay because you just don’t have time to hear all the confessions. The attack began. The way in which had been against the Christians suddenly dropped the battle raged until late in the afternoon when the Turks gave way and the victory gave the naval power of the enemy a blow which it never recovered and ended their threat in Mediterranean Sea.

When our Lady appeared at Fatima one of the things that she was telling people was you need to pray the Rosary daily. you need to pray this. And I think there is a connection between Our Lady of Fatima and the Moslems. If you look at the picture that’s the statue of her and when they saw her appear she appeared standing on a crescent moon the crescent moon is the symbol of the moslems. She’s going to be the one that’s ultimately going to conquer them and we need to pray to her for that reason.

I would add the following to the powers of the Rosary as a weapon against what we face today. It teaches men to be men. For they have to conquer effeminacy. What’s effeminacy? Effeminacy we’re not talking about femininity, we’re talking about effeminacy. Effeminacy is a vice basically but it’s it’s where the person doesn’t want to, they prefer or they choose their complacency or the pleasure of not doing anything over the arduousness of pursuing something that’s difficult. So a guy who’s effinimate is the guy who won’t work hard he’ll avoid hard work, he’ll avoid you know going into military although sometimes that’s not necessarily legitimate I’m not saying that every man has to go into military, he’ll avoid certain things. Well let’s face it, prayer is one of the hardest things that anybody has to conquer in their spiritual life. It’s the ladder. It’s the one in which you go up you cannot attain perfection without it. But it’s at the same time because you have to go up it’s hard. So a lot of times you guys say I don’t do that that’s for women. Nope. I think that you’re not man enough to pray regularly and it is it’s hard. And so what results into this effeminacy is just a neglect of prayer you know it’s just an excuse for them to neglect prayer. It teaches them by studying the mysteries of Christ what a real man is willing to sacrifice for the sake of those whom he loves. One of the principal aspects every man is called as a man as such to provide and to protect. Either his wife or the society in the case of the priest for the church. The providence, part of the providence comes by means of sacrifice. And so what happens is I’ll talk a little bit about that about St. Joseph’ and why Our Lady of Sorrows plays such a key role in that whole sacrificial thing. But that sacrifice that the man has to go out and sacrifice himself to provide for the family. Now woman sacrifice in a different way and I don’t want to get it out of that but it’s just one of those things that if he is unsacrificial if he’s unwilling to sacrifice himself if he’s effeminate or selfish or what-have-you then he is simply not going to provide for his family spiritually especially. Because his obligation to provide and protect is not just physical or monetarily or economically or providing a home it’s primarily spiritual to protect them from the demonic to provide for them by means of grace through his sacrifice his prayer sufferings and good works and that type of thing. Well guess what prayer is one of the primary ways that he provides for his family and that means the Rosary is one the principle ways if he develops over habit of saying it is going to be one of the principal ways that he’s going to provide grace for his family.

He teaches women to be women. Who can meditate on the mysteries of Our Lady and not recognize the humility, the docility, the submissiveness to her husband for instance in the case of when st. Joseph said ok it’s time to go to Egypt you didn’t hear Our Lady whining and complaining and telling him he was an idiot and he didn’t know what he was doing. She did it no question. And all those things are exemplified in the mysteries of the Rosary. They’re all hallmarks of the perfect woman. We’ll just kind of make this side note just so we kind of clear the air. The submissiveness of a woman that did divine precept actually requires it’s actually part of the natural law is not there for her subjugation. St. Thomas Aquinas makes the observation that women are in three states – the first is the state of subordination. When she was created she was still placed under Adam bc she was his helper but the difference that st. Thomas says but Adam looked after her and took care of her loved her etcetera. And so the submissiveness there’s a sweetness to it that she got from it. But then after the sin she entered into a state of subjection where she’s still under him but he treats her like trash and doesn’t take care of her and her subjection becomes difficult and painful in fact it’s one of the primary things she has to overcome in herself that to conquer herself that type of thing. But he says in heaven women are neither in the state of subjection nor subordination because some women rule in heaven obviously the most powerful person in heaven next to our Lord is a woman. So what that tells you is it doesn’t matter what your state is in this life it doesn’t matter whether you have to be submissive to your husband who’s usually an idiot anyway we all know that. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you attain in perfection in relationship to that because that’s going to determine what you’re in heaven in heaven it’s not going to be the type of thing that God’s going to say you know you weren’t submissive to your husband and that’s a good thing so you get a higher place in heaven he’s not going to say that. Because the lack of submissiveness is a lack of self-denial.

Now on the other hand the man himself has to sacrifice himself continually for his wife and then she’ll be more likely to do his bidding. It teaches children to be two children of their parents for who can meditate on Christ’s submission when He when he was lost in the temple to St. Joseph and Our Lady and not recognized obligations we have towards our parents it’s good enough for God it’s good enough for you. If Christ was God and He submitted to his parents, no child has an excuse to not being perfectly obedient and loving to his parents, provided the parents are not telling him to commit sin. The Rosary is a strong weapon against the temptation of worldliness which often besets children and so the family that prays the Rosary regularly at night can be assured of the defense that Our Lady will provide for the children as they grow older. The world is full of all sorts of alluring and delightful things which drape people into sin very often but unfortunately it’s very easy to be worldly today especially when you know we have such a comfortable life.

It is a fortress the Rosary is a fortress against the evil that is in the world and the constant imitation to get sucked into that evil. It is a great weapon against impurity. Every priest will tell you that impurity is causing the destruction of so many lives. The tearing down of so many marriages. The wounding of so many souls. Let me back up just a bit when I was first ordained a priest the pornography was not that available on the internet you just didn’t see it that often. I mean it was there but usually yet have a kind of a tech-savvy guy or some guy was kind of into that to pay much attention. Most guys that would confess and had to go down to the to the store and buy it and yes it’s primarily a problem with men more so than women although that’s starting to change too by the way. There’s a shift that’s starting to occur. So you barely hear of it. Some guy he’s shameless and he go down and get it. But now that pornography is so easy you just sit on your computer and click it’s right there, it’s off the charts. And so what’s happening is is that I’m saying is it’s destroying marriages because pornography is is infidelity in the heart and a woman knows that as soon she finds out her husband’s been unfaithful or vice versa in relationship that speck it destroys their trust it destroys how they view him, it lowers their estimation of him, it’s going to make it extremely hard for her be submissive to you and so it’s causing tremendous damage.

It’s wounding so many different souls. Now wound is something that receives – it hurts it’s painful but it also makes us weak. And every time a person sins they weaken themselves and so this is one of the reasons people come to me so you know father I keep asking the Lord to give me chastity and I’m going to confession regularly I’m try to do everything I can but I keep getting temptations. Exactly. Because the way you grow strong is by saying no to it. And you have to keep doing that and then by that you get the habit of saying no and then you have chastity. That’s just part of it. But what happens is is that it wounds people. Sins against chastity and purity are particularly weakening to people and you see this especially with women who end up falling into impurities when they’re younger and then they get older and they’re just devastated from what it’s done to their lives. So very often it takes a long healing process to overcome that. It also renders people, the impurity renders people not just weak but struggling and in pain and unhappy. I know of no woman or man who has said the Rosary every day from the time of adolescence that has not been able to maintain purity. You’ve got to get your children saying it every day and that means you have to say it. If you can get your children if you can get your kids before they’re 18 saying a daily Rosary if they maintain it I guarantee you they will remain in the graces and arms of the Church until the end of their life. We’re all born into this spiritual battle – all of this is all it’s all a battle. And the battleground is our own flesh this is one of the reasons why we have to, as St. Paul says, rendered into subjection, we’ve got to subdue it. So this is a spiritual battle we have a choice we don’t have no choice of that we have no choice we were just all thrown into this spiritual warfare. The question is is will we take up the arms which God has provided, will we fight the battle. It’s hard, it’s going to be difficult. But if we do and we do fight it, God has provided the weapons for it – the sacraments, the Church but also the Rosary. And if a person does take up the battle no warrior will be found without the Rosary in his spiritual armament – you just simply won’t find one that doesn’t say the Rosary daily if he’s waging the war well.”

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