Praying the rosary today I marveled once again at the Fatima prayer, which is recited at the end of each decade:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy!
I have often wondered how God reacts to a prayer like this. I am awed by the power of this simple prayer, even if said in a distracted way. God is surely pleased that we ask for the salvation of souls and that we have in mind especially those who are most in need, most lost, most wayward.
How many times have we prayed this in the rosary and what have been its effects?It is astonishing and humbling to consider this. Perhaps in Heaven we will be greeted by grateful souls who will tell us that at a certain time on a particular date God heard our prayer for lost souls and applied it to them! We, too, will come to know what a difference the prayers of others made for us.
In recent years during confessions, I often ask the penitent to offer an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” for that soul (known only to God) who is now most in need of His grace and mercy. God knows not only who is in most need of His mercy but also who is opento receiving that mercy. It is a beautiful thought to engage the battle for that soul and to consider that our prayer may be the prove to be the tipping point. God knows how to coordinate all this; we do not. But He asks us to join Him in this work and to pray for the conversion of sinners and the consolation of suffering. In so doing we engage the battle for souls, including our own.
Just a brief consideration of the value of one small prayer that reaches someone in most need of God’s mercy.
As a young child I was very close to God. I spoke to Him in a very natural way and He spoke plainly to me. Although I have very few memories of my early childhood, I vividly remember how close I was to God. When early puberty approached, though, I began to slip away, drifting into the rebellious and angry years of my teens. As the flesh came more alive, my spirit submerged.
The culture of the time didn’t help, either. It was the late 1960s and early 1970s and rebelliousness and the flesh were celebrated as “virtues.” Somehow we thought ourselves more mature than our pathetic forebears, who were hopelessly “repressed.” There was the attitude among the young that we had come of age somehow. We collectively deluded ourselves, aided by the messages of rock music and the haze of drug use, that we were somehow “better.”
So it was the winter of my soul. The vivid faith of my childhood gave way to a kind of indifferent agnosticism. Though I never formally left Church (my mother would never had permitted that as long as I lived in under my parents’ roof), I no longer heard God or spoke to Him. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that when I was in high school I joined the youth choir of my parish church. This was not precipitated by a religious passion, but rather by a passion of another kind: there were pretty girls in the choir and I “sought their company,” shall we say. But God has a way of using beauty to draw us to the truth. Week after week, year after year, as we sang those old religious classics a buried faith began to awaken within me.
But what to do? How to pray? I heard that I was supposed to pray. But how? As a child it had been natural to talk with God. But now He seemed distant, aloof, and likely angry with me. And I’ll admit it, prayer seemed a little “goofy” to me, a high school senior still struggling to be “cool” in his own eyes and in the eyes of his friends. Not only that, but prayer was “boring.” It seemed an unfocused, unstructured, and “goofy” thing.
But I knew someone who did pray. My paternal grandmother, “Nana,” was a real prayer warrior. Every day she took out her beads and sat by the window to pray. I had seen my mother pray now and again, but she was more private about it. But Nana, who lived with us off and on in her last years, knew how to pray and you could see it every day.
Rosary Redivivus – In my parish church of the 1970s, the rosary was non-existent. Devotions and adoration were on the outs during that sterile time. Even the Crucifix was gone. But Nana had that “old-time religion” and I learned to appreciate it through her.
Ad Jesum per Mariam – There are some, non-Catholics especially, who think that talking of Mary or focusing on her in any way takes away from Christ. It is as though they consider it a zero-sum game, in which our hearts cannot love both Mary and Jesus. But my own experience was that Mary led me to Christ. I had struggled to know and worship Christ, but somehow a mother’s love felt more natural, safer, and more accessible to me. So I began there, where I could. Simply pole-vaulting right into a mature faith from where I was did not seem possible. So I began, as a little child again, holding my Mother’s hand. And gently, Mother Mary led me to Christ, her son. Through the rosary, that “Gospel on a string,” I became reacquainted with the basic gospel story.
The thing about Marian devotion is that it opens up a whole world. For with this devotion comes an open door into so many of the other traditions and devotions of the Church: Eucharistic adoration, litanies, traditional Marian hymns, lighting candles, modesty, pious demeanor, and so forth. So as Mary led me, she also reconnected me to many things that I only vaguely remembered. The suburban Catholicism of the 1970s had all but cast these things aside, and I had lost them as well. Now in my late teens, I was going up into the Church “attic” and bringing things down. Thus, little by little, Mother Mary was helping me to put things back in place. I remember my own mother being pleased to discover that I had taken some old religious statues, stashed away in a drawer in my room, and placed them out on my dresser once again. I also took down the crazy rock-and-roll posters, one by one, and replaced them with traditional art, including a picture of Mary.
Over time, praying the Rosary and talking to Mary began to feel natural. And, sure enough, little by little, I began to speak with God. It was when I was in the middle of college that I began to sense the call to the priesthood. I had become the choir director by that time and took a new job in a city parish: you guessed it, “St. Mary’s.” There, the sterility of suburban Catholicism had never taken hold. The candles burned brightly at the side altars. The beautiful windows, marble altars, statues, and traditional novenas were all on display in Mother Mary’s parish. The rest is history. Mary cemented the deal between me and her Son, Jesus. I became His priest and now I can’t stop talking about Him! He is my hero, my savior and Lord. And praying again to God has become more natural and more deeply spiritual for me.
It all began one day when I took Mary’s hand and let her lead me to Christ. And hasn’t that always been her role? She, by God’s grace, brought Christ to us, showed Him to us at Bethlehem, presented Him in the Temple, and ushered in His first miracle (even despite His reluctance). She said to the stewards that day at Cana, and to us now, “Do whatever he tells you.” The Gospel of John says, Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him (John 2:11). And so Mary’s intercession strengthened the faith of others in her Son. That has always been her role: to take us by the hand and lead us to Christ. Her rosary has been called the “Gospel on a string” because she bids us to reflect on the central mysteries of the Scripture as we pray.
In recent years Pope John Paul II added, very profitably I think, the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary as a way of extending our meditation on the Gospel as the rosary is prayed.
Some one well termed the Rosary, “The Gospel on a string.” For the faithful who pray it regularly, there is indeed the specific recollection of most of the basic truths of the Gospel: from the infancy and childhood of Jesus (joyful mysteries), through his public ministry of proclaiming the Kingdom (Luminous mysteries), through his Passion and death (Sorrowful mysteries) to his Resurrection and the extending of his glory upward and outward (the Glorious mysteries).
And I wonder if we are finished as the Church in the assembling of the mysteries. I say this for two reasons.
First having four mysteries spread over a seven day week is a bit clumsy. Four into seven goes (as we used to say in the day of long division) is “1, remainder three”. Or as we say in the age of the calculator: 1.75. In other words, it’s not an even fit. I suppose it would be optimal to have seven sets of mysteries, one for each day. But even if we had five mysteries, one for each weekday, that would be a start. The weekend could then feature the Joyful and Glorious mysteries again.
A second reason it would be nice to have at least one more set of mysteries is that it helps fulfill even more the notion of the Rosary as the Gospel on a string. The more events we can commit to memory and pray over the fuller will this notion become.
Now surely I do not want to get ahead of the Church in a matter like this and would not recommend in any way that the People of God simply start making another round of mysteries up.
Yet still I wonder about a fifth set of mysteries. Has any thought been given to this? Since I have no idea where the luminous mysteries came from (did JP II make them of his own accord, or did others introduce him to the concept – I have not read anywhere of their origin).
But if, per chance, other mysteries where to be introduced, what would they be? Personally I like to mediate a lot on the healing power of the Lord. So many come to me, and come to the Church seeking healing. And healing was at the heart of Christ’s ministry. Furthermore, the many physical cures worked by Christ also have spiritual dimensions and thus a double meaning. For example blindness is not simply a problem with the eyes, but our souls too can be blinded and in need of illumination).
WIth that in mind, if there were to be some new mysteries I would like to see “The Healing Mysteries.” And perhaps they would be these:
I. The First Healing Mystery, Jesus give sight to the Blind – There are several scriptures that could be used, but the best is probably the healing of the man born blind in John’s Gospel:
As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth….[And Jesus said to his disciples, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said this, he made some mud with his saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (Jn 9:1-7 selected verses).
In this mystery we meditate not only on the healing from physical blindness but also the spiritual blindness of which so many of us suffer. Our minds are darkened and we cannot see God’s glory, or the meaning and purpose of our life. And how we struggle to understand and make sense of things.
The passage also links the recovery of our spiritual vision to baptism: the man went, washed, and came back able to see. It is no surprise that the Eastern Church refers to baptism as illumination.
By this first healing mystery we begin to see, our darkened minds are illumined and we move from darkness to light, from confusion and dark despair to clarity and bright hope.
II. The Second Healing Mystery – Jesus opens the ears of the deaf – Here the Scripture would be:
And they brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd and put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. (Mark 7:32-35).
And here too we do not simply think of physical deafness and muteness, but also of their spiritual counterparts.
For it happens that we are often deaf to the good news that God wants us to hear. Many things block our hearing. Perhaps it is hurts of the past, or lack of self worth, perhaps it is worldliness, stubbornness, prejudice, or ignorance. Perhaps it is the poor witness of parents or others who should have proclaimed the Word to us, but did not.
What ever it is Jesus can heal and remove the things that block us from hearing that we are loved and that a saving and transforming grace can change our life.
And, having our hearing improved, we can begin to speak properly. Touching our tongue, Jesus puts his words in our mouth and gives us courage to speak, speak a word that helps others and also helps us.
III. The Third Healing Mystery – Jesus heals the lame and paralyzed – Here too there are several passages that come to mind. But John’s version is richest:
Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (Jn 5:1-11)
Here too we think not only of physical paralysis, but also of spiritual lameness. For many of us, on account of our sin and weakness, have trouble walking uprightly. And we lack strength for the journey to the promised land.
Perhaps too we are paralyzed by fear or weighed down with sorrow. It may also be that we are too encumbered by worldly things, and the Lord needs to help us let go of unnecessary things, baggage, or addictions.
By the Lord’s healing power we can be freed and strengthened to walk again and the path before us to the promised land can be reopened.
IV. The Fourth Healing Mystery – Jesus heals of Leprosy –
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12-13).
Leprosy is a disease that disfigures us and leads to death. So is sin. And from all our sins which disfigure us and have often made us outcasts, the Lord grants a healing touch.
The Leper in this Gospel is humbled and desperate. He cannot overcome his condition. And very often we experience this with our sin, that we are powerless and incapable of simply overcoming it. Only Jesus can change this leper’s terrible state.
In addition, Lepers could not live in close relation with others, they had to live on the fringes of town. And so too does sin harm our human relationships and cause hurts and divisions that are often difficult to overcome.
In all our struggles, the healing touch of Jesus can restore, forgive and heal, not only the individual, but also broken relationships.
V. The Fifth Healing Mystery – Jesus Casts out demons.
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned….When [the townsfolk] came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; (Luke 8:26-33)
We all have demons, and the man in this story had many. They had varying effects on him, he was naked (sexual issues?), and could not live in a house (no family, no roots, no commitments, no love), and he lived among the tombs (he had many death directed drives). Further no one could control him, no one prevail upon him. The demon caused him to brake free from every limit, and to reject community with others. He preferred solitary places.
What are your demons? Sensuality, greed, rebellion, fear, anger, lust, sloth, envy, addiction, gluttony, or one of hundreds, thousands, “legions” of others? We need Jesus to drive these demons out, one by one.
I am a witness, he can and does drive these sorts of demons away. He can give us peace and restore us to our right mind. I am a witness, are you?
OK, Five healing mysteries.
One weakness to my list is that it involves all men. Perhaps then, the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage can be substituted for the paralyzed man.
But you get the point. One more set of mysteries to round out the five weekdays. Are there other sets of mysteries you know of or might suggest?
Let us recall that we ought not get ahead of the Church or go in different directions without remembering the communal nature of the rosary. Nevertheless, it is worth discussing. For if the five luminous mysteries could be added, perhaps others as well. And the Gospel on a string grows just a bit more.
Let me know your ideas, If not these five, are there other sets of five? Remember, its all just for discussion.
A reader alerted me to an interesting and insightful analysis by Pope Leo XIII of three trends that both alarmed him and pointed to future problems. He wrote of these three concerns in 1893 in the Encyclical on the Holy Rosary entitled Laetitiae Sanctae (Of Holy Joy). The Pope enunciates these three areas of concern and then offers the mysteries of the Rosary as a necessary remedy. Lets look at how the Pope describes the problems and then consider too what he sees as a solution. His teaching is in bold, italic, black. My remarks are in plain text, red.
There are three influences which appear to Us to have the chief place in effecting this downgrade movement of society. These are–first, the distaste for a simple and laborious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life. (# 4)
Problem 1 – The distaste for a simple and laborious life– We deplore….the growing contempt of those homely duties and virtues which make up the beauty of humble life. To this cause we may trace in the home, the readiness of children to withdraw themselves from the natural obligation of obedience to the parents, and their impatience of any form of treatment which is not of the indulgent and effeminate kind. In the workman, it evinces itself in a tendency to desert his trade, to shrink from toil, to become discontented with his lot, to fix his gaze on things that are above him, and to look forward with unthinking hopefulness to some future equalization of property. We may observe the same temper permeating the masses in the eagerness to exchange the life of the rural districts for the excitements and pleasures of the town….(#5)
One of the truths that sets us free is to simply realize and come to accept that life is hard. It involves trials, arduous work, and setbacks, along with some of the progress we can and do experience. Very few things of true values come to us without a significant cost. Simply put, life is hard. But, coming to accept this is a freeing thing for many of our resentments are minimized or removed by this acceptance. The fact is, many today expect that life should be peachy. And when it is not, there is resentment, anger, even threats of lawsuits. Many today think of happiness as a God-given right. Our Founding Fathers recognized the pursuit of happiness as a goal. But today many expect that happiness to be the norm and to be a sort of right. When it does not exist for them, there has been a failure of the system somehow. Many today expect to live lives where there is little danger, and where things come easily. This has been one of the factors that influenced the growth of government. For as insistence on a comfortable life grows and hard work seems unreasonable, we expect government to ease our burdens and provide increasing levels of comfort and happiness, and we are less willing to work hard for these things. Rather we see happiness and comfort as things to which we are entitled.
But unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments. And so, with often unrealistic expectations, people quickly grow resentful and even pout. It would seem that our ancestors who lived even as recently as 150 years ago had different notions. They looked for happiness alright, but largely expected to find that in heaven. Many of the old Catholic prayers bespeak a vision that this world was a place of travail, of exile, a valley of tears, where we sighed and longed to be with God. Most Catholics of those earlier times lived lives that were brutal and short. Most were peasants, and lived with far less creature comforts than we. There was no central air, electricity, running water, and medicines were few and far less effective. Entertainment was limited, houses were smaller, even tiny and transportation was far more limited.
We live so well compared to them. And though we are more comfortable, there is little evidence that we are happier. Indeed, we seem more resentful, because we expect more, a lot more. As the Pope notes, young people resent discipline and expect to be spoiled. The majority of parents seem willing to indulge them and shun giving correction since it raises tensions and causes difficulties.
The value of hard work and the satisfaction that comes from it seems lost on many today. Cardinal McCarrick used to counsel us priests that if we did not go to bed tired, something was wrong. We all need some rest and relaxation, sure, but hard work actually brings greater satisfaction to times of rest.
The fact is, high expectations of this world like we have today, breed discontent and resentments. For by it these unrealistic and high expectations, we really insist on living in a fantasy that this world is, or can be paradise. It cannot. A better strategy is to accept that life is difficult and, though it has its joys, it presents arduous difficulties to us that must be met with courage and acceptance. Though this is a hard truth it brings peace when it is accepted.
To the first error Pope Leo commend to our attention the Joyful mysteries and particularly a meditation on the implicit lessons of the home at Nazareth:
Let us take our stand in front of that earthly and divine home of holiness, the House of Nazareth. How much we have to learn from the daily life which was led within its walls! What an all-perfect model of domestic society! Here we behold simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love….devotedness of service. Here is the patient industry which provides what is required for food and raiment; which does so “in the sweat of the brow,” which is contented with little….These are precious examples of goodness, of modesty, of humility, of hard-working endurance, of kindness to others, of diligence in the small duties of daily life, and of other virtues…., Then will each one begin to feel his work to be no longer lowly and irksome, but grateful and lightsome, and clothed with a certain joyousness by his sense of duty in discharging it conscientiously….home-life…loved and esteemed….(# 6).
Problem 2 – Repugnance to suffering of any kind– A second evil…. is to be found in repugnance to suffering and eagerness to escape whatever is hard or painful to endure. The greater number are thus robbed of that peace and freedom of mind which remains the reward of those who do what is right undismayed by the perils or troubles to be met with in doing so….By this passionate and unbridled desire of living a life of pleasure, the minds of men are weakened, and if they do not entirely succumb, they become demoralized and miserably cower and sink under the hardships of the battle of life. (# 7)
Yes, today more than ever, there is almost a complete intolerance to any sort of suffering. This has been fueled by the fact that we have been successful in eliminating a lot of suffering.
As noted, we have many creature comforts that protect us from the elements, medicines that alleviate physical pain and bodily discomforts, appliances and technology that provide unprecedented convenience and make a lot of manual labor all but unnecessary.
This, as we have also noted, leads to expectations which are ultimately unrealistic. Namely, that all suffering should be eliminated. There is almost an indignity expressed when one suggests that perhaps some things should be endured or that it is unreasonable to expect government, or doctors, or science to eliminate every evil or form of suffering.
Further, we seem to refuse the notion that accidents sometimes happen or that unfortunate circumstances will just occur. Instead we demand more laws that are often intrusive and oppressive, and we undertake huge lawsuits that often discourage the very risk taking that makes new inventions, medicines and medical techniques possible.
We often hold people responsible for things they can do little about. Sometimes economies just have cycles, climates too. Governments, laws and politicians cannot be expected to solve every problem or alleviate every burden. Sometimes accidents just happen.
Not a Padded room – While we can and should undertake to fix unnecessary hazards and seek to ease one another’s burdens, life isn’t a padded room. Suffering, sorrows, accidents, burdens and difficulties are part of life in this valley of tears. Acceptance of this truth leads to a kind of paradoxical serenity. Rejection of it and indulgence in unrealistic notions that all suffering is unreasonable leads to resentments and further unhappiness.
Here too, Pope Leo commend to us the rosary, in particular the sorrowful mysteries:
…If from our earliest years our minds have been trained to dwell upon the sorrowful mysteries of Our Lord’s life…we [may] see written in His example all the lessons that He Himself had taught us for the bearing of our burden of labor– and sorrow, and mark how the sufferings…He embraced with the greatest measure of generosity and good will. We behold Him overwhelmed with sadness, so that drops of blood ooze like sweat from His veins. We see Him bound like a malefactor, subjected to the judgment of the unrighteous, laden with insults, covered with shame, assailed with false accusations, torn with scourges, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross, accounted unworthy to live….Here, too, we contemplate the grief of the most Holy Mother…”pierced” by the sword of sorrow…. (# 8 )
Then, be it that the “earth is accursed” and brings forth “thistles and thorns,”–be it that the soul is saddened with grief and the body with sickness; even so, there will be no evil which the envy of man or the rage of devils can invent, nor calamity which can fall upon the individual or the community, over which we shall not triumph by the patience of suffering….But by this patience, We do not mean that empty stoicism in the enduring of pain which was the ideal of some of the philosophers of old, but rather….It is the patience which is obtained by the help of His grace; which shirks not a trial because it is painful, but which accepts it and esteems it as a gain, however hard it may be to undergo. [Men and women of faith] re- echo, not with their lips, but with their life, the words of [the Apostle] St. Thomas: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John xi., 16). (# 9)
Yes, indeed, the cross is part of this life. But Christ has made it clear that the cross yields ultimately to glory if we carry it willingly and with faith.
Problem 3- Forgetfulness of the future life– The third evil for which a remedy is needed is one which is chiefly characteristic of the times in which we live. Men in former ages, although they loved the world, and loved it far too well, did not usually aggravate their sinful attachment to the things of earth by a contempt of the things of heaven. Even the right-thinking portion of the pagan world recognized that this life was not a home but a dwelling-place, not our destination, but a stage in the journey. But men of our day, albeit they have had the advantages of Christian instruction, pursue the false goods of this world in such wise that the thought of their true Fatherland of enduring happiness is not only set aside, but, to their shame be it said, banished and entirely erased from their memory, notwithstanding the warning of St. Paul, “We have not here a lasting city, but we seek one which is to come” (Heb. xiii., 4). (# 11)
I have become increasingly amazed at how little most modern people think of heaven. Even Church-going believers talk little of heaven, priest preach little on it. Our main preoccupation seems to be making this world a more comfortable and pleasant place. Even in our so-called spiritual life, our prayers bespeak a worldly preoccupation: Lord, fix my finances, fix my heath, get me a better job. Almost as though we were saying, “Make this world pleasant enough and I’ll just stay here.” It is not wrong to pray for better health etc. It is not wrong to work to make this world a better place. But in the end, our home is in heaven and we ought to be solicitous of it and eagerly seek its shores. It should be a frequent meditation, and to be with God forever, the deepest longing of our soul. Instead we fear getting “older” and hide death away in our culture. It ought to be that we can’t wait to see God. Sure, it would be nice to get a few things done that we’ve started, but as heaven and being with God draw closer, we ought to be happy that the years are ticking by faster. Each day is one day, closer to God!
Here too, our prosperity and creature comforts have mislead us into a love of this world that is unhealthy. A friend of the world is an enemy to God (James 4:4). We are distracted and too easily dismiss that this world is passing away. The fact is, we are going to die. Only a proper longing for heaven can correct the absurdity that an obsessional love for this world establishes in our soul.
Meditate on heaven often! Read the scriptures, such as Revelation 1, & 4-5, 20-21. Ask for a deeper longing from God.
Pope Leo commends the Glorious mysteries of the rosary to our attention as a medicine for this absurd attachment to this passing world and our forgetfulness of heaven:
These mysteries are the means by which, in the soul of a Christian, a most clear light is shed upon the good things, hidden to sense, but visible to faith, “which God has prepared for those who love Him.” From them we learn that death is not an annihilation which ends all things, but merely a migration and passage from life to life. By them we are taught that the path to Heaven lies open to all men, and as we behold Christ ascending thither, we recall the sweet words of His promise, “I go to prepare a place for you.” By them we are reminded that a time will come when “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes,” and that “neither mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any more,” and that “We shall be always with the Lord,” and “like to the Lord, for we shall see Him as He is,” and “drink of the torrent of His delight,” as “fellow-citizens of the saints,” in the blessed companionship of our glorious Queen and Mother. Dwelling upon such a prospect, our hearts are kindled with desire, and we exclaim, in the words of a great saint, “How vile grows the earth when I look up to heaven!” Then, too, shall we feel the solace of the assurance “that this momentary and light affliction produces for us an eternal weight of glory beyond measure, exceedingly ” (2 Cor. iv., 17).
Here then are three diagnoses, and three remedies. It is interesting to see that the roots of them were already evident in 1893 and how they have come further to press upon us more than 100 years later. It is helpful to have a Doctor of Souls to help us name the demons that afflict us. For having named a demon, we have more power over it and learn its moves:
Demon, your name is “laziness” and “distaste” for hard work. By the joyful mysteries of the Lord’s Life, be gone.
Demon your name “refusal of any suffering” and an “resentment at the cross.” By the sorrowful mysteries of our Lord’s life, be gone.
Demon your name is “forgetfulness of heaven” and “obsession with the passing world.” By the glorious mysteries of Lord’s life and our Lady’s too, be gone.
When I was little, our family vacations always involved long car rides in our 8-passenger van. When the trip began we’d fight over who had to sit where, mid-trip we’d fight over someone not sharing their snacks, and by the end of the trip we’d fight…well, just ‘cuz.
At the height of this chaos, my mom would yell, “I think it’s about time we all said the rosary!” I don’t know if this tactic worked, but it certainly gave me an aversion to saying the rosary.
A couple of decades later, I’m finally working up to saying it voluntarily and with a sense of peace.
Recently, I was given a copy of Pope John Paul II’s “On the Most Holy Rosary” written in 2002. He wrote this apostolic letter during the twenty-fifth year of his papacy, as he added the luminous mysteries and declared October of 2002 to October of 2003 to be The Year of the Rosary.
First, John Paul II affirms that the rosary is a Christ-centered prayer. “Among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother.”
Next, he shows how, through meditating on the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries, we “encounter the sacred humanity of the Redeemer” in a personal way. As we approach Him, we are reminded to “cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:23)
Finally, John Paul II invites us to improve “the method” by which we say the rosary: placing ourselves in each mystery using our imagination; reading a Bible passage that corresponds to the mystery; pausing for a moment of silence to focus on the mystery; and appreciating the goal of each prayer we recite.
It’s a great read (and a short one!) which I highly recommend!
In an original CatholicTV mini-series, Archbishop Donald Wuerl discusses the Rosary, using the beautiful mosaics of America’s Catholic Church, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, to illustrate his point. His personal approach illuminates the topics, making them both prayerful and a learning experience.
The first program focuses on the Incarnation Dome located in the basilica. He discusses the annunication, the nativity, Jesus’ first miracle at Cana and the transfiguration.
The second program looks at the Redemption Dome. Archbishop Wuerl discusses the death and resurrection of Christ, the temptation in the desert, the crucifixion, Jesus’ descent into hell and His resurrection and closes with the Lord’s Prayer.
The final program focuses on the mysteries of light. The Archbishop discusses the Luminous Mysteries and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and baptism of Jesus. He also discusses the epiphanies, the proclamation of the kingdom, the transfiguration and the establishment of the Eucharist.
Here is a trailer introducing the series:
Find out more about the series Here: CATHOLIC TV
The First episode becomes available this Friday.
For the past three years, I’ve been blessed in that my daily commute has not involved driving on I-495, I-395, I-95, I-270 or I-66. However, last night I experienced the pleasure of having an hour commute from University Boulevard on I-495 to Falls Road on I-270 for Catecoffeeism. (The young adult communities of St. Raphael and St. Martin of Tours host this weekly book club which began with a reading and discussion of the United States Catechism for Adults, accompanied by a cup of café. The are now exploring Mere Christianity
While driving 10 miles per hour, I was able to observe the behaviors of the different drivers (a field day for my inner psychologist): Who was listening to the radio and who was talking on the phone? Who had their windows rolled down and who had their AC on? Who seemed grumpy and who seemed content? Who let me into their lane and who didn’t? Who gave me the Thank You Wave and who waved back when I gave them the wave? Who used their blinkers and who just cut in?
But one thing really caught my eye. I was surprised by how many rosaries were hanging from rear view mirrors! Washington is not particularly known for personal displays of religiosity. On the contrary, this is a town where separation of church and state often means that we feel the need to conceal our faith. Seeing these rosaries gave me hope and pride and made me feel part of something larger: our universal Church.
When I owned my last car, I too had a cross hanging from my rear view mirror…and I think I might put it back! “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” (Luke 8:16)