Concerning Universal Practices
Once upon a time or so I have heard, it was common practice to give children the Brown Scapular upon their first Holy Communion as a help on the difficult way to Heaven.
I term pious practices like wearing the Brown Scapular “universal” because they may be recommended without hesitation to people in the most diverse situations. They are not especially demanding and if done with good dispositions, God rewards them. The omission of these “universal” practices is not sinful, but is incomprehensible. What prevents any man from saying short prayers throughout the day, like “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”? What stops him from abstaining from meat on most Fridays outside of Lent? By the grace of God, these works are assuredly within his reach and salutary, and should be encouraged unreservedly.
The Rosary and its Confraternity: Jointly Universal
Of the optional, universally advisable practices, few compare to the daily recitation of the Rosary. It has been promoted consistently with zeal by so many popes and saints. The faithful recite it devoutly in our churches, and for countless families it obtains unity, nourishment, and defense. Our Lady herself recommends it, for pious tradition holds that she gave it to St. Dominic and revelations have borne the message: Pray the Rosary. The graces attached to the Rosary are nearly without parallel. Countless have been saved by saying the beads. Miracles abound. Consolation, guidance, and strength immeasurable are the answer to our entreaties. When His Mother is offered this bouquet, God is well pleased, and who truly has no time to offer it? The humble Rosary has a remarkable claim to universal use.
And God be praised, countless people pray the Rosary regularly. But why aren’t all of them enrolled in the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary?
There is no good answer, for there is a universally valid reason to enroll in this union of prayer, and active membership is amenable to all states of life. Formal enrollment is required, and those who enroll agree to say one full, fifteen-decade Rosary per week, either at once or in groups of five or ten decades, while meditating upon the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries, for the intentions of all the members of the Confraternity both living and dead. This is a minimum, not a limit, and the intention may be a general one for every Rosary said.
This sole undertaking does not bind under pain of sin in itself, so there is no penalty for failure to pray.
Everybody can say a five-decade Rosary daily, so of course they can say it three times per week. For those who already do, all that is required is enrollment and an additional intention, which is no burden.
The Bountiful Confraternity
There is no real reason to refuse to enroll, but there also must be reasons to enroll at all. The primary one is obvious: every member of the Confraternity, which has existed in local forms since the 1470s and has flourished over the centuries, across the globe says at least three Rosaries a week for your intentions. If there was mass enrollment, this would equal hundreds of millions of Rosaries said for one’s intentions.
Imagine the members of your parish who pray the Rosary daily—the priests in Orders, the elders past their days of rebellion, full of merit, and the uncorrupted children—saying it seven times each week for your intentions. Would you forfeit without cause hundreds of Rosaries at least bearing your petitions? Would you abandon your neighbors and not add in your three, or four, or seven? What have you to lose by joining the Confraternity? What has your whole parish to lose by joining altogether?
Remember that it is not only by their merits that you will be helped, but by the merits of the most powerful Virgin Mary, and what she obtains is increased a hundredfold by the mercy of God, who grants more than any deserve.
As Pope Leo XIII said in Ubi Primum:
The result is, that while each one contributes a little towards the common treasure, all receive a great deal from it. For whenever a person fulfills his obligation of reciting the Rosary according to the rules of the Confraternity, he includes in his intention all its members, and they in turn render to him the same service many times over.Pope Leo XIII, October 2, 1898, Apostolic Constitution Ubi Priumum on the Laws, Rights, and Privileges of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.
Why would those seeking holiness neglect this wellspring of grace and refuse to join? It baffles.
Though this mutual and most efficacious prayer is enough reason for all men and women to enroll and pray, there are still more benefits to joining this holy Confraternity.
Above all else, the special patronage of the Mother of God, Sweet Mary, is granted to its members. Who could doubt her loving concern for those who bind themselves to this wonderful duty? Of Mary one can never say enough, nor can one implore her enough.
Further, not only the Rosary, but also all other meritorious works and prayers are shared by the members of the Confraternity, and this does not cease at the grave. The souls in Purgatory continue to benefit from them, and members in Heaven continue to pray for the ones below. These holy dead are uncountable, and their intercession should be dearly sought.
Members also share in the Masses, prayers, and works of the whole Order of Preachers, including of the holy women. This Order, preserved from so much wickedness by the constant patronage of Mary secured by Holy Dominic, who was so remarkably concerned for the salvation of sinners, has many fine priests and sisters. To be supported by them is as much an honor as a help. To gain the constant advocacy and merits of this ornament of the Church is assuredly one of the smartest things you can do.
A plenary indulgence is also offered to members on their day of enrollment, on Christmas, Easter, and the feasts of the Annunciation, the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception, the Presentation of Our Lord, and Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th. The Church mercifully opens the treasury of Heaven itself to pay our debts. We, who pitifully spend our days accruing evermore, should eagerly accept her offers of relief.
Finally, we receive the intercession of the whole Heavenly Court. Considering that the slightest piece of the love that the saints and Angels have for the most wretched of men is so grand and so pure that none of us have shown an even comparable love to our own mothers, why should we doubt that they intercede for those who enroll in such a splendid organization, hoping to join the Court themselves. A widow forgotten by her neighbors can obtain the intercession of them all by simply praying, “All ye holy Angels and saints, pray for us,” so we should not be incredulous when the Dominicans speak of this pan-celestial advocacy. (Dominicans of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, “The Rosary Confraternity’s Obligations, Benefits, and Promises.” Similar information is found on other Provincial websites, and in the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIII, pg. 189, “Rosary.”)
We should recall that the saintly dead of the Confraternity are members of the Heavenly Court. This is very good. Ask a man on Earth for something twice, and he will upbraid you for nagging. Ask the same man after he gets to Heaven for a second time, and he will give again three times over.
A Call to be Answered Promptly
We tell other Catholics, “pray for me,” but for no burden beyond the prayers we already say, we can have assurance of the prayers of a legion of advocates living and dead, of all the Angels and the Virgin Mary, obtaining so much Precious Blood from the Lamb that it would be more difficult to remain dirty than to be washed clean. Stop not at asking a neighbor for prayers. Join the Confraternity and ask millions.
Pastors, please preach it and help your flocks enroll!
As Catholics, we profess that prayers, going up like incense, receive a response. It is not some psychological mumbo jumbo, but an act which prompts another to act. Faithful prayer, therefore, leads to enormous, objective consequences.
And Jesus answering, saith to them: Have the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he saith shall be done; it shall be done unto him. Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you.Mark 11:22-24 [DV]
We believe, so let us act like it. Enroll now in your province of the Order of Preachers and pray. The enrollment links for some provinces are listed at the bottom of the page. Provincial websites or enrollment pages for the Confraternity can be hard to find or do not exist. There is need for a centralized website. More links or contact information will be appreciated, but if you live elsewhere, simply ask a priest. But even in the provinces below there are millions who can be enrolled easily, and so I am full of joy and hope.
A Note on Non-Catholics and the Confraternity
Finally, I will add that the Confraternity is open to non-Catholics, per the answer of Fr. Chris Eggleton, OP on March 28, 2019:
If someone desires to become a part of a Rosary Confraternity and is of a different faith, yet is known to be one who believes and would like to practice the prayer of the Holy Rosary, for my viewing of the ancient and current statutes, I cannot find anything which would prohibit such a good thing as someone desiring to join. Moreover, such openness can be inspired by the Holy Spirit to such a one in bringing his/her life mysteries to be conformed to the Incarnational mysteries of the living Christ, particularly in the context of the prayer in living the mysteries of Jesus Christ. Such a journey can only lead to good. Directed by others in the community and by Saint Dominic, Our Blessed Mother, Nuestra Senora del Rosario, and our all-loving God, such a one can be a blessing to the group and to many others…
I do hereby recommend as Promoter General of the Rosary that such a person who is not a Catholic at present be accepted as a candidate for membership in the Rosary Confraternity. I reference the life of St. Ambrose and a host of others.Fr. Chris Eggleton, OP, Answer, March 28, 2019 quoted in Dominicans of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, “Enroll in the Confraternity.”
As Jesus says, he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened (Matt. 7:8 [DV]).
Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria. Amen.
Too Good to be True, but Thank God that it is True: All that is Required for Enrollment is to Click the Link for Your Province Below, and Fill Out a Tiny Form
Province of St. Albert the Great (Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming): https://www.maryscrown.org/enrolling
Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Washington): https://www.rosarycenter.org/homepage-2/the-rosary-confraternity/enroll-in-the-confraternity/
Province of St. Martin de Porres (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas): https://www.dominicanconfraternity.org/enroll
Province of St. Joseph (Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island & Providence Plantations, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia): https://rosaryconfraternity.org/the-confraternity/enroll-in-the-confraternity/
Province of England (England, Scotland, & Wales): https://www.english.op.org/about-us/the-dominican-family/rosary-confraternity.htm
Province of the Assumption (Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea) https://www.op.org.au/about-the-dominicans/the-dominican-family/the-confraternity-of-the-most-holy-rosary