Friday, February 17, 2012

Seventeenth Rose: The Hail Mary ----- Fruits

BLESSED ALAN DE LA ROCHE who was so deeply devoted to the Blessed Virgin had many revelations from her and we know that he confirmed the truth of these revelations by a solemn oath. Three of them stand out with special emphasis: the first, that if people fail to say the Hail Mary (the Angelic Salutation which has saved the world) out of carelessness, or because they are lukewarm, or because they hate it, this is a sign that they will probably and indeed shortly be condemned to eternal punishment.

The second truth is that those who love this Divine salutation bear the very special stamp of predestination.

The third is that those to whom God has given the signal grace of loving Our Lady and of serving her out of love must take very great care to continue to love and serve her until the time when she shall have had them placed in heaven by her divine Son in the degree of glory which they have earned. (Blessed Alan, chapter XI, paragraph 2)

The heretics, all of whom are children of the devil and clearly bear the sign of God's reprobation, have a horror of the Hail Mary. They still say the Our Father but never the Hail Mary; they would rather wear a poisonous snake around their necks than wear a scapular or carry a rosary.

Among Catholics those who bear the mark of God's reprobation think but little of the rosary (whether that of five decades of fifteen). They either fail to say it or only say it very quickly and in a lukewarm manner.

Even if I did not believe that which has been revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche, even then my own experience would be enough to convince me of this terrible but consoling truth. I do not know, nor do I see clearly, how it can be that a devotion which seems to be so small can be the infallible sign of eternal salvation and how its absence can be the sign of God's eternal displeasure; nevertheless, nothing could possibly be more true. [Emphasis added.]

In our own day we see that people who hold new doctrines that have been condemned by Holy Mother Church may have quite a bit of surface piety, but they scorn the Rosary, and often dissuade their acquaintances from saying it, by destroying their love of it and their faith in it. In doing this they make elaborate excuses which are plausible in the eyes of the world. They are very careful not to condemn the Rosary and the Scapular as the Calvinists do----but the way they set about attacking them is all the more deadly because it is the more cunning. I shall refer to it again later on.

My Hail Mary, my Rosary of fifteen or of five decades, is the prayer and the infallible touchstone by which I can tell those who are led by the Spirit of God from those who are deceived by the devil. I have known souls who seemed to soar like eagles to the heights by their sublime contemplation and who yet were pitifully led astray by the devil. I only found out how wrong they were when I learned that they scorned the Hail Mary and the Rosary which they considered as being far beneath them. [Ibid.]

The Hail Mary is a blessed dew that falls from Heaven upon the souls of the predestinate. It gives them a marvelous spiritual fertility so that they can grow in all virtues. The more the garden of the soul is watered by this prayer the more enlightened one's intellect becomes, the more zealous his heart, and the stronger his armor against his spiritual enemies.

The Hail Mary is a sharp and flaming shaft which, joined to the Word of God, gives the preacher the strength to pierce, move and convert the most hardened hearts even if he has little or no natural gift for preaching. [Ibid.]

As I have already said, this was the great secret that Our Lady taught Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan so that they might convert heretics and sinners.

Saint Antoninus tells us that this is why many priests got into the habit of saying a Hail Mary at the beginning of their sermons.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Sixteenth Rose: The Hail Mary----Beauty

EVEN THOUGH THERE IS nothing so great as the majesty of God and nothing so low as man insofar as he is a sinner, Almighty God does not despise our poor prayers. On the contrary, He is pleased when we sing His praises.

Saint Gabriel's greeting to Our Lady is one of the most beautiful hymns which we can possibly sing to the glory of the Most High. "I will sing a new song to you." [1] This new hymn which David foretold was to be sung at the coming of the Messias is none other than the Angelic Salutation.

There is an old hymn and a new hymn: the first is that which the Jews sang out of gratitude to God for creating them and maintaining them in existence----for delivering them from captivity and leading them safely through the Red Sea----for giving them manna to eat and for all His other blessings.

The new hymn is that which Christians sing in thanksgiving for the graces of the Incarnation and the Redemption. As these marvels were brought about by the Angelic Salutation, so also do we repeat the same salutation to thank the Most Blessed Trinity for His immeasurable goodness to us.

We praise God the Father because He so loved the world that He gave us His only Son as our Savior. We bless the Son because He deigned to leave Heaven and came down upon earth----because HE WAS MADE MAN and redeemed us. We glorify the Holy Spirit because He formed Our Lord's pure, Body in Our Lady's Womb----this Body which was the Victim of our sins. In this spirit of deep thankfulness should we, then, always say the Hail Mary, making acts of faith, hope, love and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of salvation.

Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, nevertheless it greatly glorifies the Most Blessed Trinity because any homage that we pay Our Lady returns inevitably to God Who is the cause of all her virtues and perfections. When we honor Our Lady: God the Father is glorified because we are honoring the most perfect of His creatures; God the Son is glorified because we are praising His most pure Mother, and God the Holy Spirit is glorified because we are lost in admiration at the graces with which He has filled His Spouse.

When we praise and bless Our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation she always passes on these praises to Almighty God in the same way as she did when she was praised by Saint Elizabeth. The latter blessed her in her most elevated dignity as Mother of God and Our Lady immediately returned these praises to God by her beautiful Magnificat.

Just as the Angelic Salutation gives glory to the Blessed Trinity, it is also the very highest praise that we can give Our Lady.

One day when Saint Mechtilde was praying and was trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Mother better than she had done before, she fell into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation in flaming letters of gold upon her bosom and said to her: "My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the salutation which the Most Adorable Trinity sent to me and by which He raised me to the dignity of Mother of God.

"By the word Ave (which is the name Eve, Eva), I learned that in His infinite power God had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to.

"The name Mary which means 'lady of light' shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up Heaven and earth.

"The words full of grace remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through me as Mediatrix.

"When people say The Lord is with thee they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the Eternal Word became incarnate in my womb.

"When you say to me blessed art thou among women I praise Almighty God's Divine mercy which lifted me to this exalted plane of happiness.

"And at the words blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of Heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus Christ adored and glorified for having saved mankind."


Monday, January 30, 2012

Fifteenth Rose: The Hail Mary

THE ANGELIC SALUTATION is so heavenly and so beyond us in its depth of meaning that Blessed Alan de la Roche held that no mere creature could ever possibly understand it, and that only Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary can really explain it.

Its enormous value is due first of all to Our Lady to whom it was addressed, to the purpose of the Incarnation of the Word for which reason this prayer was brought from Heaven, and also to the Archangel Gabriel who was the first ever to say it.

The Angelic Salutation is a most concise summary of all that Catholic theology teaches about the Blessed Virgin. It is divided into two parts, that of praise and petition: the first shows all that goes to make up Mary's greatness and the second all that we need to ask her for and all that we may expect to receive through her goodness.

The Most Blessed Trinity revealed the first part of it to us and the latter part was added by Saint Elizabeth who was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Holy Mother Church gave us the conclusion in the year 430 when she condemned the Nestorian heresy at the council of Ephesus and defined that the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God. At this time she ordered us to pray to Our Lady under this glorious title by saying:

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death."

The greatest event in the whole history of the world was the Incarnation of the Eternal Word by Whom the world was redeemed and peace was restored between God and men. Our Lady was chosen as His instrument for this tremendous event and it was put into effect when she was greeted with the Angelic Salutation. The Archangel Gabriel, one of the leading princes of the heavenly court, was chosen as ambassador to bear these glad tidings.

In the Angelic Salutation can be seen the faith and hope of the patriarchs, the prophets and the Apostles. Furthermore it gives to Martyrs their unswerving constancy and strength, it is the wisdom of the doctors of the Church, the perseverance of holy confessors and the life of all religious. (Blessed Alan de la Roche) It is also the new hymn of the law of grace, the joy of Angels and men, and the hymn which terrifies devils and puts them to shame.

By the Angelic Salutation God became man, a virgin became the Mother of God, the souls of the just were delivered from Limbo, the empty thrones in Heaven filled. In addition sin was forgiven, grace was given to us, sick people were made well, the dead were brought back to life, exiles were brought home, and the anger of the Most Blessed Trinity was appeased and men obtained eternal life.

Finally, the Angelic Salutation is a rainbow in the heavens, a sign of the mercy and grace which God has given to the world. (Blessed Alan da la Roche)


Monday, January 16, 2012

Fourteenth Rose: The Our Father, Part 3

WE MAKE as many acts of the noblest Christian virtues as we pronounce words, when we recite attentively this Divine Prayer.

In saying "Our Father Who art in Heaven," we make acts of faith, adoration and humility. When we ask that His name be hallowed and glorified we show a burning zeal for His glory, and when we ask for the spread of His Kingdom we make an act of hope; by the wish that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, we show a spirit of perfect obedience.

In asking for our daily bread we practise poverty of spirit and detachment from worldly goods. When we beg Him to forgive us our sins we make an act of sorrow for them. By forgiving those who have trespassed against us we give proof of the virtue of mercy in its highest degree.

Through asking God's help in all our temptations, we make acts of humility, prudence and fortitude. As we wait for Him to deliver us from evil we exercise the virtue of patience.

Finally, while asking for all these things----not for ourselves alone but also for our neighbor and for all members of the Church----we are carrying out our duty as true children of God, we are imitating Him in His love which embraces all men and we are keeping the Commandment of love of neighbor.

If we mean in our hearts what we say with our lips and if our intentions are not at variance with those expressed in the Lord's Prayer, then, by reciting this prayer, we hate all sin and we observe all of God's laws. For whenever we think that God is in Heaven----infinitely removed from us by the greatness of His majesty----as we place ourselves in His presence we should be filled with overwhelming reverence. Then the fear of the Lord will chase away all pride and we will bow down before God in our utter nothingness.

When we say the name Father and remember that we owe our existence to God by the means of our parents and even our knowledge to our teachers who hold the place and are the living images of God, then we cannot help paying them honor and respect, or, to be more exact, honoring God in them. Nothing then, too, would be farther from our thoughts than to be disrespectful to them or hurt them.

We are never farther from blaspheming than when we pray that the Holy Name of God may be glorified. If we really look upon the Kingdom of God as our heritage we cannot possibly be attached to the things of this world.

If we sincerely ask God that our neighbor may have the very same blessings that we ourselves stand in need of, it goes without saying that we will give up all hatred, quarreling and jealousy. And of course if we ask God each day for our daily bread we shall learn to hate gluttony and lasciviousness which thrive in rich surroundings.

While sincerely asking God to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us we no longer give way to anger and thoughts of getting even----we return good for evil and really love our enemies.

To ask God to save us from falling into sin when we are tempted is to give proof that we are fighting laziness and that we are genuinely seeking means to root out vicious habits and to work out our salvation.

To pray God to deliver us from evil is to fear His justice and this will give us true happiness. For since the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, it is through the virtue of the fear of God that men avoid sin.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thirteenth Rose: The Our Father, Part 2

EACH WORD of the Lord's Prayer is a tribute we pay to the perfections of God. We honor His fertility by the name of Father:

Who throughout eternity 
Dost beget a Son 
Who is God like Thee---- 
Eternal, consubstantial with Thee 
WHO Is the very same essence As Thee; 
And is of like power 
And goodness 
And wisdom 
As Thou art . . . 
Father and Son 
Who from Thy mutual love 
Produce the Holy Spirit 
Who is God like unto Thee; 
Three Persons But one GOD. 

Our Father----this means that He is the Father of mankind because He has created us and continues to sustain us, and because He has redeemed us. He is also the merciful Father of sinners, the Father Who is the friend of the just and the glorious Father of the blessed in Heaven.

When we say Who art, by these words we pay tribute to the infinity and immensity and fullness of God's essence. God is rightly called "He Who is'' [1]; that is to say, He exists of necessity, essentially, and eternally, because He is the Being of beings and the cause of all beings. He possesses within Himself, in a supereminent degree, the perfections of all beings and He is in all of them by His essence, by His presence and by His power, but without being bounded by their limitations. We honor His sublimity and His glory and His majesty by the words Who art in Heaven, that is to say, "Who is seated as on a throne, holding sway over all men by Thy justice."

When we say hallowed be Thy name we worship God's holiness; and we make obeisance to His Kingship and bow to the justice of His laws by the words Thy Kingdom come, praying that men will obey Him on earth as the Angels do in Heaven.

We show our trust in His Providence by asking for our daily bread, and we appeal to His mercy when we ask for the forgiveness of our sins.

We look to His great power when we beg Him not to lead us into temptation, and we show our faith in His goodness by our hope that He will deliver us from evil.

The Son of God has always glorified His Father by His works and He came into the world to teach men to give glory to Him. He showed men how to praise Him by this prayer which He taught us with His Own lips. It is our duty, therefore, to say it often----we should say it reverently and attentively and in the spirit in which Our Lord taught it.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelfth Rose: The Our Father, Part 1

THE OUR FATHER or the Lord's Prayer has great value----above all because of its Author Who is neither a man nor an Angel, but the King of Angels and men, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Saint Cyprian says that it was fitting that our Savior by Whom we were reborn into the life of grace should also be our heavenly Master and should teach us how to pray.

The beautiful order, the tender forcefulness and the clarity of this Divine Prayer pay tribute to our Divine Master's wisdom. It is a short prayer but can teach us so very much and it is well within the grasp of uneducated people, while scholars find it a continual source of meditation on the mysteries of our Faith.

The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs. Tertullian says that the Our Father is a summary of the New Testament. Thomas à Kempis says that it surpasses all the desires of all the Saints; that it is a condensation of all the beautiful sayings of all the Psalms and Canticles; that in it we ask God for everything that we need; that by it we praise Him in the very best way; that by it we lift up our souls from earth to Heaven and unite them with God.

Saint John Chrysostom says that we cannot be our Master's disciples unless we pray as He did and in the way that He showed us. Moreover God the Father listens more willingly to the Prayer that we have learned from His Son rather than those of our own making which have all our human limitations.

We should say the Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear it because it is the prayer of His Son Whom He always hears and we are His members. God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord's Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worthy a Son, reinforced by His merits, and made at His behest.

Saint Augustine says that whenever we say the Our Father devoutly our venial sins are forgiven. The just man faIls seven times a day, but in the Lord's Prayer he will find seven petitions which will both help him to avoid downfalls and will protect him from his spiritual enemies. Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we get into, made His Prayer short and easy to say, so that if we say it devoutly and often we can be sure that Almighty God will quickly come to our aid.

I have a word for you, devout souls, who pay little attention to the prayer that the Son of God gave us Himself and asked us all to say: It is high time for you to change your way of thinking. You only like prayers that men have written----as though anybody, even the most inspired man in the whole world, could possibly know more about how we ought to pray than Jesus Christ Himself! You look for prayers in books written by other men almost as though you were ashamed of saying the Prayer that Our Lord told us to say.

You have managed to convince yourself that the prayers in these books are for scholars and for rich people of the upper classes and that the Rosary is only for women and children and the lower classes. As if the prayers and praises which you have been reading were more beautiful and more pleasing to God than those which are to be found in the Lord's Prayer! It is a very dangerous temptation to lose interest in the Prayer that Our Lord gave us and to take up prayers that men have written instead.

Not that I disapprove of prayers that the Saints have written so as to encourage the faithful to praise God, but it is not to be endured that they should prefer the latter to the Prayer which was uttered by Wisdom Incarnate. If they ignore this Prayer it is just as though they pass up the spring to go after the brook and refusing the clear water, drink dirty water instead. Because the Rosary made up of the Lord's Prayer and the Angelic Salutation, is this clear and ever flowing water which comes from the Fountain of Grace, whereas other prayers which they look for in books are nothing but tiny streams which spring from this fountain.

People who say Our Lord's Prayer carefully, weighing every word and meditating upon it, may indeed call themselves blessed for they find therein everything that they need or can wish for.
When we say this wonderful prayer we touch God's heart at----the very outset by calling Him by the sweet name of Father----Our Father. He is the dearest of fathers: all-powerful in His creation, wonderful in the way He maintains the world, completely lovable in His Divine Providence,----always good and infinitely so in the Redemption. We have God for our Father, so we are all brothers----and Heaven is our homeland and our heritage. This should be more than enough to teach us to love God and our neighbor and to be detached from the things of this world.

So we ought to love our Heavenly Father and should say to Him over and over again:

Our Father Who art in Heaven, 
Thou Who dost fill Heaven and earth 
With the immensity of Thy Being, 
Thou Who art present everywhere----
Thou Who art in the Saints By Thy glory, 
In the damned By Thy Justice, 
In the good By Thy grace---- 
And even in sinners 
By the patience 
With which Thou dost tolerate them----
Grant we beseech Thee 
That we may always remember 
That we come from Thee; 
Grant that we may live 
As Thy true children ought to live----
Grant that we may set our course 
Towards Thee 
And never swerve---- 
Grant that we may use 
Our every power, 
Our hearts and souls and strength 
To tend towards Thee And THEE ALONE. 

Hallowed be Thy name:

King David, the prophet, said that the name of the Lord is holy and awe-inspiring, and Isaias that Heaven is always echoing with the praises of the Seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord God of Hosts.

We ask here that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God Who is so great and so holy. We ask that He may be known, loved and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians and by all infidels----that all men may serve and glorify Him by a living faith, a staunch hope, a burning charity and by renouncing all erroneous beliefs. This all adds up to say that we pray that all men may be holy, because our God Himself is all-holy.

Thy Kingdom come:

Do Thou reign in our souls 
By Thy grace 
So that after death 
We may be found meet 
To reign with Thee 
In Thy Kingdom 
In perfect and unending bliss. 
Oh Lord we firmly believe In this happiness to come; 
We hope for and we expect it, 
Because God the Father Has promised it 
In His great goodness; 
It was purchased for us 
By the merits of God the Son 
And God the Holy Spirit 
He Who is the Light 
Has made it known to us.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven:

As Tertullian says, this sentence does not in the least mean that we are afraid of people thwarting God's designs because nothing whatsoever can happen without Divine Providence having foreseen it and having made it fit into His plans beforehand. No obstruction in the whole world can possibly prevent the will of God from being carried out.

Rather, when we say Thy will be done, we ask God to make us humbly resigned to all that He has seen fit to send us in this life. We also ask Him to help us to do, in all things and at all times, His Holy will, made known to us by the Commandments, promptly, lovingly and faithfully as the Saints and Angels do it in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread:

Our Lord taught us to ask God for everything that we need whether in the spiritual or temporal order. By asking for our daily bread we humbly admit our own poverty and insufficiency and pay tribute to our God, knowing that all temporal goods come from His Divine Providence.

When we say bread we ask for that which is just necessary to live; and, of course, this does not include luxuries.

We ask for this bread today this day which means that we are concerned only for the present, leaving the morrow in the hands of Providence.

And when we ask for our daily bread we recognize that we need God's help every day and that we are entirely dependent upon Him for His help and protection.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us:

Every sin, say Saint Augustine and Tertullian, is a debt which we contract towards Almighty God and His justice demands payment down to the very last farthing. Unfortunately we all have these sad debts.

No matter how many they may be we should go to God in all confidence and with true sorrow for our sins, saying "Our Father Who art in Heaven, forgive us our sins of thought and those of speech, forgive us our sins of commission and omission which make us infinitely guilty in the eyes of Thy Divine Justice.

"We dare to ask this because Thou art our loving and merciful Father and because we have forgotten those who have offended us, out of obedience to Thee and out of charity.

"Do not permit us, in spite of our infidelity to Thy graces, to give in to the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh."

But deliver us from evil:

The evil of sin and also of temporal punishment and everlasting punishment which we know that we have rightly deserved.

Amen (So be it).

This word at the end of Our Father is very consoling and Saint Jerome says that it is a sort of seal of approbation that Almighty God puts at the end of our petitions to assure us that He will grant our requests----very much as though He Himself were answering:

"Amen! May it be as you have asked, for verily you have obtained what you asked for." This is what is meant by the word "Amen."


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eleventh Rose: The Creed

THE CREED or the Symbol of the Apostles which is said on the Crucifix of the Rosary is a holy summary of all Christian truths. It is a prayer that has great merit because faith is the root, foundation and beginning of all Christian virtues, of all eternal virtues and also of all prayers that are pleasing to Almighty God. "He that cometh to God, must believe . . ." [1] Whosoever wishes to come to God must first of all believe and the greater his faith the more merit his prayer will have, the more powerful it will be, and the more it will glorify God.

I shall not take time here to explain the Creed word for word but I cannot resist saying that the first few words "I believe in God" are marvelously effective as a means of sanctifying our souls and of putting devils to rout, because these three words contain the acts of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

It was by saying I believe in God that the Saints overcame temptations, especially those against faith, hope or charity-----whether they came during their lifetime or at their death. They were also the last words of St. Peter, Martyr; [2] a heretic had cleft his head in two by a cruel blow of his sword and St. Peter was almost at his last gasp, but he somehow managed to trace these words in the sand with his finger before he died.

The Holy Rosary contains many mysteries of Jesus and Mary and since faith is the only key which opens up these mysteries for us we must begin the Rosary by saying the Creed very devoutly, and the stronger our faith the more merit our Rosary will have.

This faith must be lively and informed by charity; in other words, to recite properly the Rosary, it is necessary to be in God's grace, or at least in quest of it. This faith must be strong and constant, that is, one must not be looking for sensible devotion and spiritual consolation in the recitation of the Rosary; nor should one give it up because his mind is flooded with countless involuntary distractions or one experiences a strange distaste in the soul and an almost continual and oppressive fatigue in the body. Neither feeling, nor consolation, nor sighs, nor transports, nor the continual attention of the imagination are needed; faith and good intentions are quite enough. "Faith alone suffices."