• Ante & Roberta Skoko

Our Weapon of Choice

Updated: Feb 19

2013 marked the end of a four-year relationship I had been in. Most people in my life had guessed that it wouldn’t work out; he was and is Protestant and I was becoming an increasingly serious Catholic, thanks to him, ironically. He was adamant about marrying a woman of his same faith denomination, and in hindsight, he could not have been more right. Anticipating the end, my family and closest friends expected an “all hands on deck” situation to comfort me in my impending devastation. The devastation never came.


I remember going to Mass that next day after a sleepless night, quite numb to it all; the reality had not yet set in. Coming home, I decided to try and get some sleep, but the second I laid down I could feel my heart attempting to burst from my chest. Beside me on my desk was a Rosary; I owned a few Rosaries but had not once prayed with one. Already knowing that Mary’s role as intercessor and Mediatrix brings us closer to her Son (with the Rosary being a tool of repetition of Scripture-based prayers as we meditate on the life of Jesus), I was convinced that devotion to the Rosary was not only good, but a tool for spiritual development, discipline, and God’s Grace. Regardless of what I knew to be good and true, the entire thing would take at least 18 minutes to pray, and that seemed like an eternity to me, so I avoided the Rosary. On this particular day, though, I didn’t know what else to do… I grabbed the beads and a pamphlet on How to Pray the Rosary and began praying. During the second decade, I fell into a peaceful, 4-hour sleep, waking up rested, heartbeat normalized. As my loved ones were waiting for me to fall apart, I remained calm with an unexpected and indescribable faith that all things would work out as they should; I felt for the first time that God’s Will is simply superior to mine. This sparked my devotion to the Holy Rosary.


Ante's sister, Kristina, opening her bridesmaid's gift on our wedding day.

In the next 3 years, I would pray three 54-Day Rosary Novenas for God’s guidance and the path to my future husband. In late August of 2016, it seemed time to pray my fourth, but I decided against it; I was in the middle of moving to the GTA and wasn’t feeling particularly “called” to pray the novena. My future husband would have to wait.


I met Ante on September 2nd, just under 2 weeks later. He mentioned that he was on Day 17 of the 54-Day Rosary Novena, and I couldn’t help but look at this virtual stranger and think, “I finally don’t have to carry the weight of the spiritual world on my shoulders.” Here was a man who knew the power of prayer.


Later that evening Ante asked me to pray the Rosary with him. I had never done that with a man, let alone a man I hardly knew, but I thought, “What’s the harm?” Imagine us on the candlelit balcony, rosaries in hand, with Ante’s concluding words, “I started praying this for my future wife.”


No, I did not feel the need to jump from the balcony… Haha, I felt peace. I looked at him and thought, “I didn’t see you coming, but here you are…” Lord, what have you gotten me into?


It turns out the first week of the novena prompted Ante to put the final end to a rocky 5-year long-distance relationship he had been in. While he didn’t expect to meet me at that time, he says that he knew immediately that I was the person all other roads led to.

Amen.


“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” --St. Josemaria Escriva

Ante and I have quite a strong devotion to the Rosary. When we stop praying it each day, we know that we have to restructure our priorities; the only one celebrating our lack of commitment is the devil. One exorcist reports the devil saying, “Every Hail Mary is like a blow on my head. If Christians knew how powerful the Rosary was, it would be my end.”


In times of emotional, mental, or physical turmoil, the Rosary has grounded me, very noticeably protecting me from the attacks that the devil uses to drive a wedge between my husband and me, or myself and God’s peace.


I often think of the true story of the Jesuit priests who survived the nuclear attack on Hiroshima that killed thousands of people:


“The Hiroshima attack killed around 80,000 people instantly and may have caused about 130,000 deaths, mostly civilians.

Four Jesuits were nearby the hypocenter of the attack on Hiroshima, but they survived the catastrophe, and the radiation that killed thousands in the months following had no effect on them.

Father Cieslik wrote in his diary that they only sustained minor injuries from the broken windows – but nothing resulting from the atomic energy that was unleashed.

The doctors who took care of them afterward warned them that the radiation they received would produce serious lesions, as well as illness and premature death.

The diagnosis never materialized. No disorders ever developed, and in 1976 Father Schiffer attended the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia and told his story. He confirmed that the other Jesuits were still alive and without any ailments. They were examined by dozens of doctors some 200 times over the course of the following years, without any trace of the radiation being found in their bodies.

The four religious never doubted that they had been blessed with protection by God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. “We were living the message of Fatima and we prayed the Rosary every day,” they explained. ” (Catholic News Agency, 2015).


Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima writes, “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”


I urge you to devote yourself to the daily praying of the Holy Rosary for protection and spiritual gain, asking whatever it is you pray to receive, trusting God’s perfect timing in all things. I know 18 minutes can seem long to someone who is not accustomed to the devotion, but we also know that as Catholics we are called to offer up our discomfort for our redemption and that of the world. You will undoubtedly see the graces which spring forth from the recitation of the Rosary…


May God guide and bless you!


Roberta


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