Guns and Rosaries

08-28-2022Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s de rigueur, right around the time of any major Christian holy day, to read stories in the Media that are anti-Christian, anti-God and especially ones that attack organized religions (never Islam but the rest are considered fair game).

So around Easter for instance, someone usually claims to have found the remains of Jesus in some tomb or urn, or that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were secret lovers. Often the headlines are more sensational: “Lost Gospel of Thomas or Judas Suppressed by the Church for centuries has been found”. And on it goes. We are used to it. The claims are easily refuted and if editors did their job, they would be embarrassed to publish such bunk.

Still, now and then a new twist on an old familiar theme does appear. This one right as Catholics celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Headline read: How the Rosary became an Extremist Symbol. Published in the once respectable Atlantic Magazine. The writer, obviously religiously illiterate, takes issue with the Rosary being called a “weapon”. I think we all know the Rosary is not an AR-15 but a spiritual weapon that defeats evil, lights up the darkness and gives courage to the believer. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t remember anyone being killed by a Rosary.

However, after lots of blow-back, the Atlantic amended the headline to read: How Extremist Gun Culture Co-opted the Rosary. Apparently, the writer found a picture of a Rosary draped over a rifle. The photo was not meant to be taken literally but as a metaphor. That went right over the writer’s head. For some reason, the author seemed to think the image crossed over from the metaphorical to the literal. I suppose there may be some people who mix guns and rosaries but that is certainly far from the norm.

The Atlantic, sticking to its guns, amended the headline once again, to read: How Extremist Gun Culture is trying to Co-opt the Rosary. The writer is trying to raise the alarm that Catholics, who pray the Rosary, often use military metaphors to describe the struggle against evil and that some of them own firearms. Which, for the writer, proves, that these people are a danger to society. Somehow, for the writer, rosary culture and gun culture, when they meet spell doom. He doesn’t present any evidence of any progeny of such an evil marriage, but he is sure convinced of the threat.

We can write this one off as the usual anti-Catholic hyperbole, but there is something more sinister to the article. By publishing this hysterical propaganda, what the Atlantic is doing is sending the message that those Rosary clutching Catholics need to be watched closely. So, when you see a person with a Rosary, you should beware, they may be a potential extremist.

But all in all, I will take the article as an affirmation of the power of praying the Rosary. The Enemy knows what’s what and fears the power of the Rosary. So, pray it. Pray it to strengthen yourself against the forces of sin and darkness in the spiritual battle that rages around us and to grow closer to Jesus.

A couple I knew were given a matching set of silver rosaries when they were married. Later, he was sent to fight in the Korean War, where he became a Prisoner of War. Eventually, the military told his wife that he was presumed dead. She would not accept that and prayed the rosary for her husband. Somehow, he managed to hold on to his rosary in the POW Camp. Eventually they were reunited. Across continents and separated by war, the rosary held them together, gave them courage and strength. Those matching rosaries were a weapon more powerful than the weapons of war.

You may recall, Stalin’s famous words to Churchill, when he cautioned him to consider the views of the Vatican; Stalin quipped, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” The prayers of the Saints proved to be more powerful than Stalin’s divisions.


Fr. John B.