Saturday, February 26, 2011

Twenty-Fifth Rose: The Wealth of Sanctification

Excerpt from the Book "Secret of the Rosary"

Twenty-Fifth Rose: The Wealth of Sanctification

NEVER WILL ANYONE really be able to understand the marvelous riches of sanctification which are contained in the prayers and mysteries of the Holy Rosary. This meditation on the mysteries of the life and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the source of the most wonderful fruits for those who use it. 

Today people want things that strike and move and that leave deep impressions on the soul. Nor has there ever been anything in the whole history of the world more moving than the wonderful story of the life, death and glory of Our Savior which is contained in the Holy Rosary. In the fifteen tableaux the chief scenes or mysteries of His life unfold before our eyes. How could there ever be any prayers more wonderful and sublime than the Lord's Prayer and the Salutation of the Angel? All our desires and all our needs are found expressed in these two prayers. 

The meditation on the mysteries and the prayers of the Rosary is the easiest of all prayers, because the diversity of the virtues of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the different stages of His life which we study refresh and fortify our mind in a wonderful way and help us to avoid distractions. 

For learned people these mysteries are the source of the most profound doctrine but simple people find in them a means of instruction well within their reach.

We must learn this easy form of meditation before progressing to the highest state of contemplation. This is the view of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the advice that he gives when he says that first of all one must practise on a battlefield, as it were, by acquiring all the virtues which the Holy Rosary gives us to imitate. The learned Cajetan says that this is the way that we reach a really intimate union with God----for without this union contemplation is nothing other than a dangerous illusion which can lead souls astray. 

If only the Illuminists or the Quietists [1] of today had followed
this piece of advice they would never have fallen so low nor would they have caused such scandals and upset the devotions of good people. To think that it is possible to say prayers that are finer and more beautiful than the Our Father and the Hail Mary is to fall prey to a strange illusion of the devil.

These heavenly prayers are the support, the strength and the safeguard of our souls----but I must admit that it is not always necessary to say them as vocal prayers. It is quite true that, in a sense, mental prayer is more perfect than vocal prayer, but, believe me, it is really dangerous, not to say fatal, to give up saying the Rosary of your own accord under the excuse of seeking a more perfect union with God.

Sometimes a soul that is proud in a subtle way and who may have done everything that he can do interiorly to rise to the sublime heights of contemplation that the Saints have reached, may be deluded by the noon-day devil into giving up his former devotions because he thinks that he has found a greater good. He then looks upon his erstwhile practices as inferior and only fit for ordinary and mediocre souls.

But this kind of soul has deliberately turned a deaf ear to the prayers and salutation taught us by an Archangel and even to the Prayer which God made and taught us and which He said Himself. "Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father . . . " [2] Having reached this point such a soul drifts from its first illusion into still greater ones and falls from precipice to precipice. 

Believe me, dear brothers of the Rosary Confraternity, if you genuinely wish to reach a high level of prayer in all honesty and without falling into the traps that the devil sets for those who pray, say your whole Rosary every day, or at least five decades of it. 

If, by the grace of God, you have already reached a high level of prayer, keep up the practice of saying the Holy Rosary if you wish to remain in that state and if you hope, through it, to grow in humility. For never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood. 

On the other hand if Almighty God in His infinite mercy draws you to Him as forcibly as He did some of the Saints while saying the Rosary, make yourself passive in His hands and let yourself be drawn towards Him. Let God work and pray in you and let Him say your Rosary in His way and this will be enough for the day. 

But if you are still in the state of active contemplation or the usual prayer of quietude, which is to say that of placing yourself in the presence of God and loving Him, you have every reason in the world not to give up saying your Rosary. Far from making you lose ground in mental prayer or stunting your spiritual growth, it will be the most tremendous help to you. You will find that it will be a real Jacob's ladder with fifteen rungs and by each one of these you will go from virtue to virtue and from light to light. Thus, without danger of being misled, you will easily come to the fullness of the age of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Twenty-Fourth Rose: Means of Perfection

Excerpt from the Book "Secret of the Rosary"

Twenty-Fourth Rose: Means of Perfection

THE SAINTS always made Our Lord's life the principal object of their study; they meditated on His virtues and sufferings and in this way they arrived at Christian perfection. 

Once Saint Bernard began this meditation he always continued it. 

"At the very beginning of my conversion," he said, "I made a bouquet of myrrh made up of the sorrows of my Savior. I placed this bouquet upon my heart, thinking of the stripes, the thorns and the nails of His passion. I used all my mental strength to meditate on these mysteries every day." 

This was a practice of the Holy Martyrs too; we know how admirably they triumphed over the most cruel sufferings. Saint Bernard says that the Martyrs' wonderful constancy could have only sprung from one source: their constant meditation on the wounds of Jesus Christ. The Martyrs were Christ's athletes, His champions; while their blood gushed forth and their bodies were wracked with cruel torments, their generous souls were hidden in the wounds of Our Lord. These wounds made them invincible. 

During her whole life the Blessed Mother's chief concern was meditation on the virtues and sufferings of her Son. When she heard the Angels sing their hymns of joy at His birth and when she saw the shepherds adore Him in the stable, her heart and mind were filled with wonder and she meditated upon all these marvels. 

She compared the greatness of the Word Incarnate to His deep humility and the way He lowered Himself; she thought of Him in His manger filled with straw and then on His Throne in Heaven and in the bosom of His Eternal Father. She compared the might of God to the weakness of a Baby----and His wisdom to His simplicity. 

One day Our Lady said to Saint Bridget: "Whenever I meditated on the beauty, modesty and wisdom of my Son, my heart was filled with joy: and whenever I thought of His hands and feet which would be pierced with cruel nails, I wept bitterly and my heart was rent with sorrow and pain." 

After Our Lord's ascension Our Blessed Lady spent the rest of her life in visiting the places that had been hallowed by His presence and sufferings. When she was in those places she used to meditate upon His boundless love and upon His terrible passion. 

Saint Mary Magdalene did nothing other than religious exercises of this kind during the last thirty years of her life when she lived in the prayerful seclusion of Sainte Baume. [1] 

Saint Jerome says that devotion to the Holy Places was widespread among the faithful in the early centuries of the Church. They came to the Holy Land from all corners of Christendom so as to impress a great love and remembrance of their Savior more deeply upon their hearts by seeing the places and things He had made holy by His birth, by His work, by His sufferings and by His death. 

All Christians [Note] have but one Faith and adore one and the same God, all hoping for the same happiness in Heaven. They have one Mediator Who is Jesus Christ and therefore they must all imitate their Divine Model and in order to do this they must meditate on the mysteries of His life, His virtues and of His glory.

It is a great mistake to think that only priests and religious and those who have withdrawn from the turmoil of the world are supposed to meditate upon the truths of our Faith and the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation, then, is just as much incumbent upon the laity----because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might make them lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues and sufferings of Our Blessed Lord----which are so beautifully contained in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Twenty-Third Rose: A Memorial

Excerpt from the Book "Secret of the Rosary"

JESUS CHRIST, the Divine Spouse of our souls and our very dear Friend wishes us to remember His goodness to us and all His gifts and wants us to prize them above all else. Whenever we meditate devoutly and lovingly upon the sacred mysteries of the Rosary, Our Lord has an accidental joy and so has Our Lady and all the Saints in Heaven. 

These mysteries are the most signal results of Our Lord's love for us and the greatest presents that He could possibly give us, because it is by virtue of such presents that the Blessed Virgin Herself and all the Saints are in their glory in Heaven. 

One day Blessed Angela of Foligno begged Our Lord to let her know by which religious exercise she could honor Him best. He appeared to her nailed to His Cross and said: "My daughter, look at My wounds." She then realized that nothing pleases Our dear Lord more than meditation upon His sufferings. Then He showed her the wounds on His head and revealed still other sufferings to her and said: "I have suffered all this for your salvation. What can you ever do to return My love for you?" 

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass gives boundless honor to the Most Blessed Trinity because it represents the passion of Jesus Christ and because through the Mass we offer God the merits of Our Lord's obedience, of His sufferings and of His Precious Blood. The whole of the heavenly court also receives an accidental joy from the Mass. Several doctors of the Church----together with Saint Thomas Aquinas----tell us that, for the same reason, all the blessed in Heaven rejoice in the Communion of the faithful because the Blessed Sacrament is a memorial of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and that by means of it men share in its fruits and work out their salvation. 

Now, the Holy Rosary, recited together with meditation on the sacred mysteries is a sacrifice of praise to God to thank Him for the great grace of our redemption. It is also a holy reminder of the sufferings, death and glory of Jesus Christ. It is therefore true that the Rosary gives glory, gives an accidental joy to Our Lord, to Our Lady and to all the blessed because they cannot desire anything greater or more contributive to our eternal happiness than to see us engaged in a practice which is so glorious for Our Lord and so salutary for ourselves.
The Gospel teaches us that a sinner who is converted and who does penance gives joy to all the Angels. If the repentance and conversion of one sinner is enough to make the Angels rejoice, how great must be the happiness and jubilation of the whole heavenly court and what glory for Our Blessed Lord Himself to see us here on earth meditating devoutly and lovingly on His humiliations and torments and on His cruel and ignominious death! Could anything possibly touch our hearts more surely than this and be more calculated to inspire us to true and sincere repentance?
A Christian who does not meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary is very ungrateful to Our Lord and shows how little he cares for all that our Divine Savior has suffered to save the world. This attitude seems to show that he knows little or nothing of the life of Jesus Christ, and that he has never taken the trouble to find out about Him----what He did and what He went through in order to save us. 

A Christian of this kind ought to fear that having never known Jesus Christ or having put Him out of his mind and heart, He will disown him at the Day of Judgment and will say reproachfully: "Amen I say to you, I know you not." [1

Let us, then, meditate on the life and sufferings of Our Lord by means of the Holy Rosary; let us learn to know Him well and to be grateful for all His blessings so that, at the Day of Judgment, He may number us among His children and His friends.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Twenty-Second Rose: Likens to Christ

Excerpt from the book "Secret of the Rosary"

Twenty-Second Rose: Likens to Christ

THE CHIEF CONCERN of a Christian soul should be to tend to perfection. Saint Paul tells us "Be ye followers of God, as most dear children." [1] This obligation is included in the eternal decree of our predestination, as the one and only means prescribed by God to attain everlasting glory. 

Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes a delightful comparison when he says that we are all artists and that our souls are blank canvases which we have to fill in. The colors which we must use are the Christian virtues, and our Model is Jesus Christ, the perfect Living Image of God the Father.

 Just as a portrait painter who wants to do a good job places himself before his model and glances at him before making each stroke, so the Christian must always have the life and virtues of Jesus Christ before his eyes so that he may never say, think or do the least thing which is not in harmony with his Model. 

It was because Our Lady wanted to help us in the great task of working out our salvation that she ordered Saint Dominic to teach the faithful to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. She did this, not only that they might adore and glorify Him, but chiefly that they might pattern their lives and actions upon His virtues.

Children copy their parents through watching them and talking to them and they learn their own language through hearing them speak. An apprentice learns his trade through watching his master at work; in the very same way the faithful members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary can become like their divine Master if they reverently study and imitate the virtues of Jesus Christ which are shown in the fifteen mysteries of His life. They can do this with the help of His grace and through the intercession of His Blessed Mother. 

Long ago Moses was inspired by God to command the Jewish people never to forget the graces which had been showered upon them. The Son of God, then, has all the more reason to tell us to engrave the mysteries of His life, passion and death upon our hearts and to have them always before our eyes----because each mystery reminds us of His goodness to us in some special way and it is by these mysteries that He has shown us His overwhelming love and desire for our salvation. Our Lord is saying to us: "Oh, all of you that pass by, pause a while and see if there has ever been sorrow like unto the sorrow which I have undergone for love of you. Be mindful of My poverty and of My humiliations; think of the wine mingled with gall which I drank for you during My bitter passion." 

These words and many others which could be given here should be more than enough to convince us that we must not only say the Rosary with our lips in honor of Our Lord and Our Lady, but also meditate upon the sacred mysteries while we are saying it.