The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden (By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.)

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden

By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

Then Jesus came with His disciples into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and said to them: Sit you here till I go yonder and pray; and taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.  Then He said to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch with Me.—Matt, xxvii. 36.

WE NOW COME TO THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED.  We come now to study in the book of His sacred Passion.  It was in this blessed book that God’s greatest servants learned their most salutary lessons; for here they found the most saving truths, the most sublime wisdom. In this school, for nearly two thousand years, heroic souls have been trained to fight on the world’s great battlefield in the cause of the Master:

— Here, weak women and tender virgins have become strong and brave: and triumphing gloriously over their enemies, have won for themselves imperishable crowns.

— Here have been formed valiant soldiers, noble generals, leaders in the army of God.

— Here theologians have acquired their profoundest knowledge of Christian mysteries: and have drunk, as from an unfailing fountain, the greatest truths of mystical theology.  The Teacher is our Lord Jesus Christ, and He gives us His first lesson in the Garden of Gethsemani.

It is the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary.

St. Alphonsus Liguori asks: “Who can deny that, of all devotions, the devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ is the most useful, the most tender, and the most pleasing to God?  It affords the greatest consolation to sinners, and is the most powerful means of enkindling in the heart an ardent love for God.”

From the Passion and death of Our Lord, all graces and blessings have come to us.  Through its serious and prayerful consideration we are brought face to face with the manifestation of God’s infinite love for us.  We behold in His mangled body the indisputable proof of that love, as well as the evidence of the enormity of our sins, which required so great an atonement.  At the foot of the cross, the worst of sinners can find mercy.  There they can obtain the grace of true contrition, without which reconciliation with God were impossible.  There they are strengthened in their resolutions to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than again crucify the Son of God by returning to their sins.  The cross of their Redeemer is their shelter, their protection, their chief ground of confidence, their glory.  St. Paul, that ardent lover of Jesus Christ, cried out: “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

In the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, on the night before His Passion, Our Lord gave us the final and most tender proof of His love.  Then it was that He raised His beloved disciples to the sublime dignity of the priesthood, and commanded them to offer the adorable sacrifice of the Mass.  Then it was that He fed them with the Bread of Heaven, to support them through the trial which awaited them.

After the conclusion of that solemn and touching ceremony, He went forth from the supper chamber with His disciples, and passing over the Valley of Josaphat, and the brook Cedron, ascended the mountainside leading to the Garden of Gethsemani.

Bidding the rest of the disciples to wait, He took with Him Peter, James, and John, and entered the depths of Gethsemani, there to prepare Himself for the sacrifice.  And presently, fear and sadness came upon Him, and He began to be exceedingly sorrowful.  Withdrawing even from the three whom He had chosen, He went a little farther into the shadow of the garden, and falling upon His face, prayed: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Mt 26, 39).

There is a mystery in this abyss of agonizing grief so deep that God alone can fathom it.  From eternity Christ knew, as God, all that would happen in time; and as man He had seen clearly from the moment of His Incarnation the price He would pay for our Redemption; and yet, notwithstanding this clear prevision of His suffering, it was only in the Garden of Gethsemani that, by an act of His divine will, the floodgates of fear and sorrow opened and overwhelmed His soul.

As God, He was able to lay down His life and take it up again.

As man, He was prepared to take upon Himself the crimes of a sinful world, and, so laden, to offer Himself as an atoning Victim to the inexorable justice of His heavenly Father.  This is what was meant by the chalice which was prepared for Him, and which He was to drink to its very dregs.  And what a bitter, revolting chalice this was!  It contained the sins of the whole human race, from the beginning until the end of time—all the murders, all the impurities, the sacrileges, the blasphemies, all the idolatries and outrages that ever had been offered, all that ever would be offered to His eternal Father! And for all, He, the innocent Lamb of God, must make atonement!  He was to assume the sins of all humanity—to suffer as if He alone were guilty!  As St. Paul says: “He put on iniquity as a garment,” since He, who is Infinite Sanctity, saw Himself enveloped, defiled, as it were, with the corruption of the whole human race.  Thus covered with our crimes, He presented Himself in fear and trembling before the justice of His heavenly Father.  No wonder that His soul was sorrowful even unto death!  No wonder that He fell into an agony so frightful that the precious Blood oozed from every pore of His body, and ran in great drops to the ground!

Christ’s virginal human nature endured in anticipation all the shame and suffering of His Passion—the betrayal by Judas, the blows, the insults, the abandonment by His trusted disciples, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the reviling and rejection by His ungrateful people, the painful journey to Calvary, the cruel crucifixion, with its prolonged and unspeakable torments-all were present to Him.

In those hours of agonizing prevision were condensed all the sufferings of His many martyrs and confessors, including the dolors of His Blessed Mother, all the heartfelt contrition ever felt by poor penitents for their sins.

Added to this was the torturing knowledge that countless souls would be lost, notwithstanding all the excruciating anguish that He was about to endure for their salvation.  His soul was torn with unspeakable grief: and a conflict raged between His higher and His lower nature, the one urging Him to accomplish the will of His Father, the other “rebelling” against the extremity of complete satisfaction demanded by the divine justice.  This conflict enables us to understand that agonizing, oft-repeated prayer: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”  But the bitter cup was not destined to pass; both Father and Son had willed that it should be drained to the dregs.  Perhaps the most grievous element in that draught, and the one which weighed most heavily upon the desolate heart of Our Lord, was the withdrawal of all the supporting consolations of the Godhead.  Apparently deserted by His Father, His afflicted humanity was left to struggle unaided with the besetting powers of darkness. […]

It was then, in Gethsemani’s hour of desolation and abandonment, that Jesus sought consolation from His disciples.  He, the Comforter of the afflicted, sought the help of His creatures! His lonely, overburdened heart yearned for their sympathy.

But He found them asleep, unmindful of all that He had done for them, and of what He was then enduring for the love of them.  Alas, how little can we rely upon human comfort in the hour of affliction!  Finding the chosen three asleep (“for their eyes were heavy” says the text), Our Lord returned again to His solitary prayer; thus teaching us that when our souls are plunged in an abyss of sorrow and suffering, we must look to God alone for relief and strength.

The Evangelist tells us that an angel now descended from Heaven to comfort our desolate Lord; and that, through that heavenly visitation, His sacred humanity was invigorated and His courage renewed to continue the dreadful conflict.  Ascetic writers still further inform us that:

— the angel represented to the Redeemer the infinite glory which would be given to the Father by His sufferings and death.  He placed before Him the countless multitudes who would glorify His mercy forever in heaven;

— he reminded Him that even the lost would be forced to glorify the divine justice throughout all eternity.

Let us in like manner, when we stand face to face with some supreme trial, remember the words of saint Paul: “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.”

It was through suffering that God’s most illustrious servants attained their highest perfection.  The Way of the Cross is the way of salvation, and the humble resignation of our souls into the hands of God in the time of affliction will not only obtain for us strength to drink the chalice even to its dregs, but increase our merits in the kingdom of Heaven.  Let us learn from Our Lord submissively to accept whatever our heavenly Father may send us, whether it be mental suffering, physical pain, loss of property, the betrayal of friends, the tarnishing of our good name through the breath of calumny,— whatever it be, let us cry, ” Lord, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me”; but let us also add, after the example of Our Lord, in meek resignation, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”  God knows what is best for our purification and sanctification.  He will lead us to everlasting life, if we but follow Him in confidence and holy patience.

There is one lesson especially that Our Lord would teach us by His prayer in the Garden.  It is humble perseverance in the same petition.  Here we have divine warrant for repeating so often the “Hail Mary” and the “Holy Mary” in the Rosary.  The Evangelist tells us that Our Lord repeated the selfsame words, again and again: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”  Let us then persevere in our petitions, continually making known our needs, whether temporal or spiritual, to our heavenly Father.  It is His wish that we should continue to importune Him, not that He may know our wants, but that we may pay Him the homage of prayer which is His due, and acknowledge that all blessings must come to us through His adorable hands.

There are many instances of the reward of perseverance in prayer:

* The following was told the author by a priest who (for several years) had been his companion on the missions.  “My mother,” he said, “was a Catholic, but was unfortunately married out of the Church. My father was a bigoted Protestant, and soon after her marriage he forbade her the practice of her religion.  She consulted her confessor, and he enjoined on her as a penance to recite every day a third part of the Rosary for her husband’s conversion.  Further, he counseled her to bear patiently with her trials, and faithfully persevere in practicing her religion, no matter what she might have to suffer for it.”  Years passed on with this worthy woman, and as her children were born to her, she carried them by stealth to her saintly pastor and had them baptized.  As soon as they were able to lisp the “Hail Mary,” she had them unite with her in saying the Rosary for their father.  After five years, she doubled her penance; and after five years more, she offered up daily the fifteen mysteries for that husband’s conversion.  The change came unexpectedly in the end, as the priest had foretold.  The husband became a convert, and lived and died a fervent Catholic and an ardent lover of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The mother had the happiness of seeing her son a priest, and her daughter consecrated to the service of God among the Sisters of Loretto.

* We have another beautiful example of the power of prayer, accompanied by resignation to the will of God, in the life of the pious wife of King Louis XV of France, Maria Leckzinska of Poland.  The court of Louis was most corrupt; but the pious Queen did all in her power to save her children from its evil influences.  Her care was especially centered upon her son, the Dauphin, over whom she watched with unceasing vigilance.  On one occasion, she learned that certain vile young men had determined to destroy the innocence of the young Prince, and for that purpose had laid a snare to entrap him.  This news was as a dagger to the heart of the pious mother.  She hastened to her oratory, and closing the door, prostrated herself before the image of the Blessed Mother, imploring her to save her son from the danger that threatened him.  “It is to you, O Queen of Heaven,” she prayed, “that after God, I owe my son!  From his youth you have protected him.  I conjure you now to obtain from your divine Son his deliverance from his enemies; and, if it be necessary for me to weep for him, beg Our Lord that I may weep over his death, rather than over the loss of his innocence!”  Noble sacrifice of the Queen mother, worthy to be recorded with the sacrifice of Abraham!  In the midst of her ardent prayers and tears, an anonymous note was handed to her, containing these words: “Madame, be in peace.  Your petitions for the Dauphin are heard.”  She never discovered the writer of the note.  The young Prince almost miraculously escaped the snares so maliciously laid for him, and remained faithful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  But that grace was purchased for him by his mother’s sacrifice.  Shortly afterwards the Prince became dangerously ill, and at the same time another anonymous letter was received by the Queen, which read as follows: “Remember, Madame, the request you made, and adore the mercy of God in behalf of your son.”  Recognizing in the sickness of the Prince the answer to her prayer, the mother accepted the decree with true Christian resignation and prepared for the worst.  When she saw her son expire, she had the inexpressible consolation of knowing that he had been received undefiled into the arms of his God.  Addressing her family, she said: “Oh, my children, seek no longer to know the cause of your brother’s death.  I prayed that he might die sooner than commit sin, and God has heard my prayer.”

What noble incentives to perseverance in prayer are thus given us in the life of our Saviour and His saints!  Should we, too, not pray without ceasing in all our difficulties and trials, and under the pressure of the cross humbly resign ourselves continually to God’s holy will?  Let us ever present our petitions through the hands of our immaculate Mother Mary.  O Virgin Mother of God! teach us to repeat again and again that sublime prayer, the “Hail Mary!”  Obtain for us the grace to persevere in prayer during our lives, that, at the hour of our death, we may be worthy to behold the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus!

(From The Treasures of the Rosary, by Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P., written 1835; edited by P.J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.)

The Assumption

The Assumption

By Fr. McKenna O.P.

(extracts)

“Behold! My Beloved speaketh to me; arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come, the winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.” — Canticle of Canticles 2, 10.

The two closing mysteries of the Holy Rosary deal especially with the celestial joys and rewards of our Blessed Lady.  They set forth before us her glorious Assumption into heaven, and her Coronation by the Triune Deity as Queen of heaven and earth.  The Assumption is one of the greatest of the Divine Mother’s festivals.  Our Catholic forefathers called it “Great Lady Day,” as they considered it the most beautiful and most solemn of her feasts.  The end of her long and weary pilgrimage had come; her yearning soul was, at last, drawn up to be united with her Beloved, never again to be separated from Him.  In the Introit of the Mass of the day, the Church calls upon us to rejoice in the Lord in celebrating the festival of the Assumption, in whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and together praise the Son of God.

It is generally believed that the death of our Blessed Mother occurred fifteen years after the Ascension of her adorable Son.  She was then in her sixty-third year, and having left Ephesus, where she had lived several years in the house of St. John, the Beloved Disciple, she had come with him to Jerusalem.  She knew that the end of her pilgrimage was at hand, and she desired to be near that city and its precincts which had been sanctified by the footprints and blood of the world’s Redeemer.  She made all the preparations for her last moments; and we are told that, by a special Providence of God, the disciples of her Son were gathered in Jerusalem from their several missions, in order to assist at her deathbed and receive her last blessing.  It might be asked why Mary, who had never been defiled by sin, should be forced to submit to death, which was the punishment of Adam’s sin.  But even if the immaculate Virgin, having closely imitated her Divine Son in every detail of His earthly life, had not desired to imitate Him also in paying the debt of nature, the Angel of the Schools teaches that death and the miseries which we experience, such as hunger, thirst, and all mundane maladies, arise from the constitutive principle of our nature.  Before the sin of Adam these miseries were unknown, for God had elevated Adam to a supernatural state; but human nature, having been despoiled, by the justice of God, of these immunities—which He had conferred as a special grace—lost through sin its integrity and those privileges so liberally given it, and which are not restored in Baptism (St. Thos. Sum. I. p. q. 69, a. 3.). […]

In the Old Law,” said St. Thomas Aquinas,” there were two events which filled all Israel with joy:

* One was the bearing of the Ark of the Covenant into the house of David, which was a source of great rejoicing to David and all his people;

* The other was when the Ark was brought, amid the chanting of choirs, and the sound of timbrels and harps, into the beautiful new Temple which Solomon had just completed for its reception.

There were also two great events in Heaven:

* One was when our humanity, united with the divinity—the Living Ark, which enclosed all the wisdom and knowledge of God1, —entered Heaven, accompanied by all the ransomed souls from Limbo;

* The other was when our dear Mother, the most perfect of all human beings, entered, leaning on her adorable Son, to take possession of that throne and that glory prepared for her from eternity.”

In the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, we behold our human nature exalted and honored above the most resplendent angels in heaven, and placed at the right hand of her adorable Son.  If all Israel united with Solomon in celebrating with song and timbre and harp the coming of the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple prepared for it, how much more did the saints and angels rejoice in seeing the Ark of the New Covenant, the pure and spotless Virgin, conducted on this day into the joys of paradise!  How those blessed spirits of God must have exulted, and burst into paeans of welcome, beholding with wonder and delight their glorious Queen coming in all regal splendor to take possession of the throne prepared for her before the foundation of the world!  We can picture to ourselves the patriarchs and prophets approaching to greet that glorious Daughter of Israel and thank her for all that she had done and suffered in the work of the world’s redemption.  What must have been the unspeakable rapture of Joachim and Anna, of Joseph, her faithful spouse, of the Baptist, and John, her adopted son, of Elizabeth, Zachary, Magdalen, and of so many other chosen souls who had known her during their lives on earth!

How blissful, also, to us, dear fellow Rosarians, is the consideration of our Lady’s Assumption, for, although we are still far removed from our blessed home in Heaven, yet, in telling the beads of the Fourth Glorious Mystery, we commemorate the elevation of the body and soul of one of our fellow beings to the most sublime heights of Heaven.  We see our poor humanity, apart from the divinity, thus exalted, thus glorified, in God’s eternal kingdom.  Never would poor human nature, have been so elevated, had it not been for that felix culpa—that happy fault—the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

In Mary’s Assumption we have reason not only to thank Almighty God for the favor bestowed on our race in the honor conferred on this glorious daughter of Eve, but we are filled with unbounded confidence in the goodness of God, who has thus elevated this Woman of women to be our Mother and our powerful advocate before the throne of His Mercy.  We acknowledge that we are sinners, but behold! in the bright realms above we have the Advocate of Sinners who, on account of our fall, was raised to such an eminent dignity on earth, and is now enthroned as our refuge and mediatrix in heaven.  Like Queen Esther, standing close to the King in a vesture of gold, she pleads incessantly for the people of her race, and is ever ready to aid all the children of Adam by her powerful intercession.

O Blessed Mother of God! it is with reason that all your true children rejoice in your glorious Assumption, for they see in you their irresistible advocate with your adorable Son.  We know well that Jesus-Christ is the advocate of redemption, that without the merits of His blood no man can be saved; but we know too that He is a God “who loveth justice and hateth iniquity,” and therefore must hate sin with an eternal hatred, and punish it wherever it is found.  But, praise to His holy Name!  He delights in showing mercy; and He has given to His saints, and especially to you, His Blessed Mother, the office of mercy, that through your merits and your powerful pleadings with Him we sinners may obtain pity and pardon, when we deserve nothing but justice and condign punishment.

It is this hope that has ever filled the Catholic heart with confidence in the powerful intercession of the Mother of God.  When we read the lives of God’s illustrious saints, we find that they were all inspired with this humble and unwavering confidence.  The child, who has angered his father by disobedience, will run and hide in the arms of his loving mother, imploring her protection from the just punishment, which he deserves.  Even so, poor, repentant sinners run to Mary, knowing well how grievously they have offended God, but firmly believing that she, who found favor with the Almighty even before the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished, will much more find favor now with her adorable Son, who is the judge of the living and the dead.  Hence, the prayer of that bright light in the Middle Ages, St. Bernard: “Remember, O most spotless Mother, that never was any one known who sought your help or implored your aid and did not receive powerful assistance!”  How many, indeed, O Blessed Mother, have experienced your render pity and compassion, and your efficacious intercession with your adorable Son!

Bourdaloue2 tells us in his sermon on Our Lady’s Assumption: “Her death was precious in the sight of the Lord because her life was spent in His service.  She was ever faithful to grace; her will was ever conformed to His adorable will; her heart was never attached to the pleasures or vanities of this life.”

The death of all God’s saints, according to David, is precious in His sight; but: just as we cooperate with God’s grace, and labor to promote His glory and our own perfection, in the same proportion will our death be precious before Him and our reward great in Heaven.

Is it not sad, then, dear Rosarians, to consider that, whilst we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and know that our reward or punishment, must be according to our work (for He will render to every man according to his works), that we are so slothful in doing good, and so prone to add sin to sin?  Alas, how many there are who live in mortal sin, and are thus unable to merit any supernatural reward!  Is it not of faith that mortal sin makes us enemies of God, and that from an enemy He will accept nothing?  What can be sadder than that men, destined for heaven, and having all the means for attaining it within their reach, think little of its unspeakable delights, but prostitute their hearts to sensual gratifications and sacrifice their souls for filthy, fleeting pleasures?  Alas, how many are the daughters of Mary who, instead of seeking to please God and their immaculate Mother, place the affections of their heart on vanity and fashion, and cling to sinful fellow-creatures who seek their eternal destruction!  O God! that all would be wise in time, and labor not for that which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life; that all would lay up treasures for heaven, and so live as to be always prepared to die!

St. Alphonsus, speaking of the glorious death and Assumption of our Blessed Lady, closes his discourse in these words:

We have contemplated, brethren, the death of our Blessed Lady and her glorious Assumption. We have followed her in spirit into the joys of Heaven; we have seen her surrounded by patriarchs and prophets, by saints and angels; we have seen her adorned by her adorable Son at His right hand.  Let us unite with heaven and earth in praising and blessing our glorious Queen.  Let us con­gratulate her on her happiness and on the power which Our Lord has given her, and let us implore her by that power and glory which she now enjoys to look down with compassion on her poor children.  Let us beseech her to watch over us during life, and when death comes, to bring us to share with her in the glory of heaven, where, with all the saints, we shall see God face to face and praise and bless Him and His Virgin Mother for all eternity. Amen.”

(From the book of Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.,The Treasures of the Rosary, New York, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1917 )

(written 1835)


Meditation for Easter time

Meditation for Easter time

The Resurrection of Our Lord

By Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

He is risen; He is not here! (Mark 16, 6)

image

What transports of unalloyed joy arise within the devout Christian soul when contemplating the glorious mystery of Our Lord’s Resurrection!  How intense the spiritual delight of the faithful members of the Rosary Confraternity in meditating on the beauty, power and majesty of their risen Redeemer:

— They have followed Him in spirit from the moment of His descent from Heaven into the Virgin’s womb, on the morning of the Incarnation.  They have gazed in admiring rapture on the beauty of the human soul of Our Lord, the most perfect work of the Adorable Trinity. They beheld that peerless soul united with the most pure and perfect body formed by the Holy Ghost, not of the slime of the earth, not of the sin-corrupted flesh of Adam, but of the most pure blood of the immaculate heart of Mary. They saw how in that instant the heavens bowed down to the earth, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; the Son of God became the true Son of a Virgin Mother.

— Our dear Rosarians have prayerfully followed Our Lord through each mystery of His sacred life, from the poverty and sufferings of the manger of Bethlehem to the agony and ignominy of His death on Calvary. They have gazed in bitter sorrow of spirit upon the livid face of the Divine Victim, when His beautiful soul separated itself from His mangled body; and they have wept with Mary and the disciples when that adorable body was laid in the silent tomb.  But they well know that His mighty soul yet lives; they firmly believe that both body and soul are still united with the Divinity, and that the seed of immortal life is there, soon to burst forth from the sepulchre in the glory of the Resurrection.

Before proceeding further to meditate upon the details of this marvelous miracle, let us pause to consider for a few moments the joy of our Mother, the Church, on this glorious festival.

How supreme the change that has taken place since the dolor and darkness of Good Friday! Then, the agonized Spouse of Christ was submerged in an ocean of bitter sorrow. Her altars were denuded; her ministers were clothed in the sable garments of mourning; a wail of grief went forth from her bosom, piercing the highest heaven.

Behold the glorious transformation of Easter Sunday! Our weeping Mother has dried her tears and hushed her sighs of grief. Her priests appear in vestments of white and gold; her altars are decked with lovely flowers and flaming lights; her organs peal forth exultant paeans, and, in a very rapture of gladness, she calls upon heaven and earth to join in her song of triumph, repeating again and again her thrilling “Alleluias.”

Nor is the Mater Dolorosa forgotten in those joyful canticles of Easter. Tenderly mindful of the sorrows of Mary, the Church cries to her to rejoice in the golden dawn of the Resurrection: “Regina cœli, lætare,” (she chants), “O Queen of Heaven! rejoice, because He whom thou didst merit to bear, hath risen, as He said. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary! because He is truly risen from the dead!” Yes, Blessed Mother, rejoice and be glad! No longer have hell and Satan power over your adorable Son. He lives and reigns forever, the immortal Conquerer of sin and death, and one day, when your grand work for God and His Church is completed, you shall share everlastingly in the joys of His kingdom!

O sweet and gentle Mother! recalling your profound emotions immediately after the death of your Divine Son, assist us to dwell awhile with you on the action of His adorable soul after its separation from the flesh upon Calvary’s cross. You remember the promise the dying Redeemer made to the poor penitent thief that he would be with Him that day in Paradise (Luke 23. 43). That pledge was faithfully fulfilled.

For lo! the moment the soul of Our Lord passed from its blessed body, it descended into hell, as the Apostles’ Creed puts it; that is, it descended not into the hell of the damned, but into Limbo, the prison of the patriarchs, where all the just were confined who had died during 4000 years. What a vast multitude of elect souls was there, waiting, watching, praying for the long-desired moment that had at last arrived! O what joy to those poor captives to behold the glory and beauty of the soul of their Redeemer, which transformed their prison into a paradise of delights ! How fervently they praised and thanked Him for all He had done and suffered in order to give them release from their place of proba­tion!

But the hour draws near when that glorified soul of Our Lord must return to the sepulchre in the Garden, and awaking His adorable body, give it to share in the glory of the Resurrection.  What tongue or pen of men or angels can describe the rapturous reunion of the body and soul of Our Lord on that blissful Easter morn! Lord Jesus, may our bodies and souls experience a measure of that unutterable joy when they meet again on the last day, the day of our resurrection!  Grant, dear Lord, that then there may be no terrible recrimination between flesh and spirit, each accusing the other of its eternal ruin; but rather a mutual joyous congratulation that soul and body united during life in accomplishing the glorious work of their salvation.

On that first Easter Day, the moment the soul of Our Lord returned to the body, it awakened it from the sleep of death and at once filled it with the infinite happiness of the Beatific Vision, giving it all the properties of glorified bodies in the most exalted and perfect degree. Resplendent to behold in its clarity and incorruptibility, invested with subtility and agility, the glorified body of Our Lord passed swiftly through the granite of the sealed tomb.  He did not need to await the rolling back of the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, which occurred later, to convince the guards of the divinity of the crucified Lord, and to acquaint the devout women and His disciples with the fact that He was no longer there, inasmuch as they could behold the place where they had laid Him.

Our Lord appeared to His Blessed Mother just after His Resurrection, changing her sorrow into intense joy, and giving her in anticipation a share of the glory and happiness that awaited her in Heaven. How sweet and consoling must have been the converse of Our Lord with His Blessed Mother! How she must have thanked and congratulated Him for choosing her to be His companion in the sublime work of the world’s redemption — and for having vouchsafed her a share in His manifold sufferings and sorrows! And how Jesus, in turn, must have thanked His Blessed Mother, and praised and blessed her for all she did and suffered for Him from the moment of His Incarnation to His expiration on the cross! Let us try to picture to ourselves the overflowing rapture of Mary’s immaculate Heart when she beheld the glorified body of her divine Son. She did not go with the devout women when (as the Evangelist tells us) they went very early in the morning to anoint the body of Christ. She well knew that it had no need of the embalming spices or unguents, since it was not destined to molder in the grave. She did not go to visit the tomb on Easter morn with the weeping Magdalen, for she was well aware that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was vacant of its divine Tenant. Already her adorable Son had visited and consoled her. And with what ecstatic joy must she have gazed on those hands and feet, lately so livid and lacerated, now shining as if adorned with dazzling jewels; on that glorified body, so horribly torn by the scourges, now resplendently arrayed with heavenly vesture; on that sacred face, once clouded by blood and bruises, now more brilliant than ten thousand suns, thence diffusing the light of the Lamb, which shall fill the New Jerusalem with ineffable delight, from everlasting to everlasting!

Later on, in that first most wonderful Paschal time, when Our Lord appeared to Magdalen, to the other devout women, to Peter, and to the rest of the disciples, and when He saw that they feared and wavered, He said to them: “Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My hands and feet — realize that it is I, Myself. Handle and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have.” He permitted that Thomas should doubt, in order that a more convincing proof of His resurrection might be given, by permitting the incredulous disciple to put his hand in the marks of the wounds still existing in His glorified body. When the disciples saw that it was indeed the Lord, their sorrow was changed into unspeakable joy. They hailed with delight their well-beloved Master, who, having triumphed over death and hell, appears once more among them to console and comfort them, and lovingly to pardon their past defections.

After conversing with them for forty days, He ascended gloriously into Heaven, taking with Him the trophies of His victory — the vast multitude of ransomed souls who were to share through Him and with Him in the glory of His eternal kingdom.

We have spoken to you, dear Rosarians, of the body and soul of our risen Redeemer. But shall we venture to dwell upon the awful subject of His divinity? We know that the adorable Son of God was with the Father from all eternity; and we firmly believe that He did not leave the Father when He descended upon the earth, but that clothing Himself with our humanity, He rendered all its actions of infinite value. He concealed Himself from the eyes of the world in the lowliness and poverty of the manger; but, occasionally, during His mortal career He permitted His divinity to shine forth in His stupendous works. He gave a glimpse of it, though still partially veiled, to His chosen disciples on Mount Thabor. He concealed it during the tragedy of Calvary, for there, for our instruction and example, His poor suffering humanity was forced to cry out in bitter anguish: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” But now, at last, all is consummated. The work He came to do is accomplished. He has completed the work His Father gave Him to do. Man has been redeemed; death and hell are conquered, and Jesus seems to say to us to-day, as He said to the disciples in Emmaus: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so enter into His glory?”

But apart from the joy given to Christians in the mystery of the Resurrection, there are other solid causes of rejoicing which we will now briefly consider:

— The Resurrection was the test miracle of the divinity of our Lord. He frequently adduced it in His public life as the strongest proof that He was God. When He drove the money-changers out of His Father’s house, the Jews wanted to know by what authority He did it. He answered: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I shall raise it up again. Put Me to death, and in three days I shall rise again.” Repeatedly He said to His disciples: “Behold! we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of His enemies. They will scourge Him and put Him to death, and the third day He shall rise again.” When that obdurate people asked of Him a sign, a proof that He was the Son of God, He said, ” An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign, and no sign shall be given it, except the sign of Jonas the prophet; for as Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so shall it be with the Son of Man. He shall be in the bowels of the earth three days and three nights.”

The Jews well knew of His repeated prophecy, and therefore they did all in their power to defeat its accomplishment. Hence, the Resurrection of the crucified Saviour is the strongest proof of the divinity of our Faith, as well as the divinity of Jesus Christ. “If Christ be not risen, our Faith is in vain,” says St. Paul. And even as from the sleeping Adam his virgin spouse was formed, and given to him for a companion, so, say the Fathers, from the sleeping Christ and from the empty tomb the Church came forth in all her virginal beauty, to be forevermore the Spouse of Jesus-Christ. It was in this faith of the Resurrection that St. Peter performed his first miracle. “Know this,” he said, “that it is in the name of Jesus Christ whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in His name this man stands before you whole!” It was in the name of the crucified and risen Saviour that all the miracles wrought by the Apostles were performed. In the faith of the Resurrection they went forth joyously to labor, to suffer and to die. Seventeen millions of martyrs attested by their blood their faith in the Resurrection. And all that has been done by Christianity for the civilization of the world, for the conversion of nations, for the liberation of slaves, for the elevation of woman, has been accomplished through the faith in the Resurrection.

Besides these general motives for rejoicing in the Resurrection, dear Rosarians, we have each a special one to gladden us. Christ’s Resurrection is the model and the pledge of your resurrection and mine, provided we be found at the last day faithful to our Master. Among all the nations of the earth there has ever existed some sort of belief in a future state. Hence their care for the dead. Hence the Indians’ devotion to the remains of their departed, and their belief in the happy hunting-ground. Hence the funeral pyre, the cremating of the dead, and the gathering of their ashes into urns by the Greeks and Romans. Hence the embalming of bodies among the Egyptians, and the erection of the Pyramids, as the enduring monuments of their kings. In the Old Law, we read of the care of Abraham for the grave of Sarah, the desires of Jacob and Joseph to be interred with their Fathers — all in the hope of a glorious resurrection. Holy Job said: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God, Whom I shall myself see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. This, my hope, is laid up in my bosom.” 4Behold, you who moulder in the dust,” said Isaiah, addressing the dead, “you shall be born again, for the dew which falls on you is vivifying dew.” In a sublime allegory, Ezechiel contemplates a vast plain filled with the dried bones of the dead, which at the preaching of the prophet gradually reentered their mortal bodies, and, beginning to move, being covered with flesh and skin, at last arose, a mighty army of the Lord. Then cried the Almighty through the prophet: ” When ye shall see these things come to pass, know that I am the Lord! ” (Ezechiel 30, 1).

Daniel speaks of the vast multitude who sleep in the earth. All will arise, he says, “some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always. But they that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament” (Daniel 12, 2-3). “Behold,” says St. Paul, “I tell you a great mystery; we shall all rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible, and this mortal shall put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15, 51).

It is a dogma of our Faith that all shall arise again. Our Apostles’ Creed declares: “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” But, alas, Faith does not promise to all a glorious resurrection. Those who persevere in a life of sin, who persistently despise here below the Church and her teachings, can never hope for a blessed immortality. “Be not deceived,” says St. Paul to the Galatians, “God is not mocked; for what things a man sow, the same shall he reap; for he that soweth in the flesh, of the flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6, 7). Again, he says: “They that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh, with Its vices and concupiscences.”  In another place he declares: “Brethren, we are debtors, not to live according to the flesh, for if we live according to the flesh we shall die; but if, by the spirit, we mortify the deeds of the flesh we shall live” (Rom. 8, 13).  Divine Faith, therefore, teaches us that they who continue obstinate enemies of God until the end, will remain His enemies for all eternity. To them we can promise no Easter joy, no glorious resurrection of the body.

You are aware that it is the ardent desire of the Church that all her children who have come to the use of reason should approach the Sacraments during this holy season.  For this, her Lenten service, for this, her sermons and instructions.  She not only desires this, but with all her divine authority she commands it, threatening with awful punishment those who will not comply with her precept.  She declares that they are cut off from the body of the Faithful even as the branch is cut off from the vine.  And Jesus tells us Himself that the fruitless branch cut from the vine is dead, and only fit to be cast into the fire.  Have you all proved your obedience to Jesus Christ by obeying His Church, and approaching the Sacraments with proper dispositions during the Paschal time which she appoints1?   We know the words of Jesus Christ: “He who will not hear the Church, let him be considered as the heathen and the publican.”   And, again, he declares: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you (John 6, 54).

That Is to say, you may have mere animal life, the life of the beast, the life of the infidel, the life of the lost soul (for the soul must live forever), but you will not have that spiritual, that divine life, which alone comes from our union with God.  In the same chapter, Jesus says:  “I am the living Bread that comes down from heaven, that if any man eat of this Bread he may not die, but live forever, and the Bread that I will give you is my flesh for the life of the world. Except you eat of this Bread, you shall not have life in you.”

How sad it is to realize that, notwithstanding all that Jesus has done and suffered to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion, there are Catholics who, refusing the life-giving Sacraments, continue to the end His mortal enemies!  Let us beg our risen Lord to pity these ungrateful souls and draw them to His Sacred Heart.  And, still more, let me implore all the members of the Rosary to be faithful in their compliance with the important precept of the Easter duty.

And, now, a word in conclusion to those who have truly arisen with Our Lord and Saviour by having made a good confession and Communion.

Father Chevassu tells us that there are three typical resurrections mentioned in Holy Writ:  The resurrection of Samuel, of Lazarus, and of Our Lord.

* Samuel rose but for a moment, and sank down again, questioning Saul and the witch of Endor why they had disturbed him.  His was not the real resurrection.  It was a phantom resurrection.

* Lazarus truly rose from the dead, but he came out of the sepulchre in the same sluggish flesh that had already generated the seeds of corruption: and hence death claimed him a second time.

* Jesus Christ died but once, and “death,” says St. Paul, “had no longer dominion over Him (Rom 6, 9).  He rose to live the divine life of immortality.  Behold, here, the model of our spiritual resurrection!  Some Catholics rise out of their sins for a moment only, and this generally at Easter, but, like Samuel, they soon sink back again into their deadly slumber. O thers remain firm for a time, but gradually yield.  Let us, at least, beloved Rosarians, strive to imitate our Blessed Master.  He rose from the dead never to die again.  He was never seen in the company of His enemies after His Resurrection.  As He shunned them in those blessed days, and appeared only to His disciples, so we, having arisen from the grave of sin, should avoid all evil associations and consort only with the friends of God.

This is the sublime lesson which we should learn from this glorious festival . Like our risen Lord, let us, as St. Paul tells us, walk in the newness of life, that when Christ appears we may also appear with Him in glory.  Fleeing resolutely from the occasions of sin as from the face of the serpent, fortified by fervent prayer and the holy Sacraments, let us also gain a glorious victory for God over His enemies and ours.  Let us persevere to the end in divine grace; and, following, like true disciples, in the footprints of Our Lord, we may confidently hope to rise with Him to a new life and rejoice with Him and His Blessed Mother in the abode of the saints for a happy eternity.

(From the book of Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna, The Treasures of the Rosary, written 1835 ; edited by New-York, P.J. Kenedy and sons, 1917).


Meditation for Holy Week

Meditation for Holy Week

The Crucifixion and death of Our Lord

By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

We now come to consider the last of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, and one of the greatest events in the history of our sad and sinful old world.

This mystery, said Bishop Martin of Paderborn, contains, accentuates and consummates the other four Sorrowful Mysteries. It renews the Agony in the garden, reopens the wounds of the flagellation; the crown of thorns is replaced on the head of our Redeemer; the Cross now bears Him who was forced to drag it to Calvary”1

As soon as the doleful procession of that first Good Friday attained the summit of the mountain, Our Lord, faint and weary, was given to drink wine mingled with myrrh and gall.   “But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.”

Then, laying violent hands upon Jesus, His tormentors roughly tore off His garments, to which the flesh of His lacerated body had adhered, thereby reopening all His wounds and causing the blood to flow afresh.  What must have been the confusion of our modest Lord, He who is incarnate purity, to be shamelessly exposed for the second time to the derision of that vast multitude!  Ah, to what profound depths of humiliation did He not descend for our sakes!

Despoiled of His raiment, He was then rudely thrown upon the cross, and four of His inhuman executioners began the work of nailing Him to it.  First, His right hand was fastened to the wood with a rude spike — not a sharp nail, but one blunt and rough, which would mangle and tear the sensitive nerves of the palm of the hand and cause indescribable agony.  The left hand was next seized.  His sacred feet were then nailed to the cross in the same inhuman fashion — and the bloody work of the crucifixion was completed!

The soldiers then gathered around our Blessed Lord to place the cross in position.  Carrying it to the spot which they dug for it in the rock, instead of lowering it gently, they roughly dropped it into the hole, thereby jarring most painfully the whole sacred body, enlarging the wounds in the blessed hands and feet, and causing the precious blood to flow in streams.  His malicious enemies now behold their helpless Victim uplifted in His agony.

Is there no heart among them to regret or condemn this terrible immolation of the sinless Lamb of God?  Ah, no!  Far from being moved to pity for the Just One in His extremity of anguish, the hearts of the spectators seem to grow fiercer and more obdurate, if that be possible.  No word of compassion falls from their lips, but priests and soldiers, alike, vie with one another in mocking and blaspheming Him.

Draw near now, faithful souls, to the foot of the cross, and gazing upon this hideous spectacle of your dying Redeemer, learn the malice of sin, as well as the inexorable justice of God, which exacts for it so tremendous an expiation.  It was our sins rather than the nails which fastened Him to the rough wood of the cross; it was for the secret sins of the world, especially, that He was thus exposed, naked, to the profane gaze of a rude, reviling rabble.

Let us approach still nearer, and catch the faint words which fall from the livid lips of our Blessed Lord in His last agony.  Does He, like other victims of injustice, proclaim His innocence, and call down the maledictions of Heaven upon His persecutors?  Ah, no, very different are the sentiments of the meek and forgiving Son of God!  He becomes, instead, the advocate of His cruel crucifiers before His heavenly Father.  He utters that sublime sentence which should ever find an echo in our hearts and influence our conduct toward those who have done evil to us:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”

Of the two robbers who were crucified with Him, one was touched by this evidence of divine patience and gentleness, by this tender prayer for mercy for His enemies; and, already believing in Christ’s innocence, by a special grace Dismas, the thief, received faith to believe also in His divinity.  Upbraiding his guilty companion for blaspheming Jesus, he turned to the Master and begged Him to be mindful of him in His kingdom.  In return for this dying act of faith he had the ineffable happiness of hearing from Our Lord’s lips these consoling words:  “This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

In this merciful promise there are grounds of hope for the greatest sinners of the world.  The penitent thief, after a life of sin, finds mercy in his dying moments; yet even here we behold a contrast, a presentation of eternal issues calculated to strike the sinner with fear and trembling.  Of two criminals in like danger of death and damnation, only one was saved!  Reflect well upon this consideration.  Both men had the same Redeemer, dying for the world’s salvation, in their midst.  The precious Blood of Jesus was flowing close to them, ready to ransom their souls.  Both had before them the same example of divine patience; both were offered the grace of the Mediator to do penance — yet one is forever lost; the other saved for all eternity.  Have you not, then, O sinner of to-day! less reason to hope than to fear?  I exhort you, if you desire to secure yourself in so important an affair, hasten your conversion.  Do immediately what the good thief did in his extremity, lest his salvation, which was a miracle of grace, should prove the rock of your destruction, the ordinary chastisement of sinners who forget God during their lives2.

Up to this point, we have said little of the part our Blessed Mother took in Calvary’s tragedy.  Present, as she was, during the fearful fastening of her Son to the tree of shame3, she heard the sound of the hammer driving the rude nails into His sacred hands and feet.  Alas! those violent strokes were as so many cruel blows upon her immaculate heart.  She saw the soldiers raise the cross and drop it roughly into position; she heard the exultant shouts of the multitude as her Son was thus elevated above them the blasphemies that were then uttered by the High Priest and the rabble.  As soon as she saw the soldiers withdraw from the cross, she hastened with her companions to take her position at its foot.

With eyes streaming with tears, she gazes upon the agonized face of her dying Son, upon His brow drenched with blood from the thorny crown, upon His eyes dim with the excess of His pain, upon His pale lips, parched with the consuming thirst attendant on His great loss of blood.  She would give a thousand lives, did she possess them, for the privilege of putting to His lips a draught of cold water to relieve His fevered mouth and throat; but even this poor consolation is denied her.  Jesus knows full well the agonizing desires of her devoted heart; and from His cross He casts upon her a look of tender pity.  It is then that, commending her to the care of St. John, He leaves her as a precious legacy to all His followers until the end of time.  In that supreme moment she becomes, in truth, our Mother, our mediator, our intercessor with her Divine Son.

Soon after this, Our Lord gives expression to the bitterest anguish of His heart in that piteous cry: ” My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”  These appealing words reveal to us the secret of His intense agony in the Garden of Gethsemani, of His torments on the cross.  His keenest suffering is caused by His apparent abandonment by His beloved Father.  Unconsoled and unsupported, He is left alone to battle with the powers of earth and hell, at the mercy of the spirits of darkness, only such aid being rendered as is necessary to prolong His life until His sacrifice shall reach its supreme consummation in death.  This is that poignant anguish which draws forth the bitter cry: “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Now nature, less insensible than man, commences to manifest her horror at the spectacle of a God crucified by His creatures.  The sun begins to withdraw its light from the heavens; an awe-inspiring pall of darkness settles down upon that blood-stained city.  Violent convulsions of the earth are felt; Calvary’s rocks are rent; the veil of the Temple, which hides the Holy of Holies from the gaze of the people, is torn asunder, and the dead arise from their graves and appear to many.

The vast multitude on Calvary, who have gathered there to gloat over the death agony of their innocent Victim, hasten to leave that dreadful scene.  Hushed now are the blasphemies, the imprecations, the mockeries of the rabble!  In terror and confusion, they flee over the quaking ground through a darkness which has now grown intense and awful.  A horrible fear assails them.  May we not believe that they then began to realize the enormity of their crime, and feeling that they were indeed guilty of deicide, were moved to exclaim with Longinus: ” Indeed, this was the Son of God!” (Mark xv. 39.)

Only a few remained to witness the end of the great tragedy.  And now the afflicted Mother and her faithful attendants draw nearer to the cross whereon hangs the world’s Redeemer.  Again is heard the voice of the dying Saviour: “All is consummated.”  Having commended His soul to His heavenly Father, He yielded up His spirit.

A little later, the centurion pierced Our Lord’s dead body with a lance, and from the wound there issued forth water and blood, thus testifying that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the ever-flowing fountain of divine love and mercy, was opened to all mankind.

Still later, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took down His sacred body and placed it for a few moments in the arms of His afflicted Mother.  Poor Mother! with what looks of silent agony you gazed on the mangled body of your adorable Son!  Removing the cruel crown of thorns from His blessed brow, Mary placed it, with the sacred nails, in her heaving bosom, close to her immaculate heart.

Not long after, the dead Christ was removed by Joseph of Arimathea and laid “in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock.” (Matt, xxvii. 60.)  A great stone was rolled to the door of the sepulcher, and Joseph went his way, leaving Mary Magdalen and the other Mary sitting beside the tomb.

Thus ends the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery.  Here, at the door of Christ’s sepulcher, let us kneel with these holy women and ask of our crucified Lord the grace to bear our crosses unto death in meek resignation to His adorable will.  Let us resolve to be ever faithful to His teachings and commandments — to follow closely in His footsteps up the bloodstained mountain of self-sacrifice, and, having died with Him upon Golgotha, merit one day to rise with Him to a happy and glorious eternity.

(From The Treasures of the Rosary, by Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P., written 1835; edited by P.J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.)


The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of the Month

The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of the Month


“Father, the Blessed Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to her message, neither the good nor the bad.  The bad, because of their sins, do not see God’s chastisement already falling on them presently; they also continue on their path of badness, ignoring the message.  But, Father, you must believe me that God is going to punish the world and chastise it in a tremendous way.”

(Sister Lucy of Fatima, to Father Fuentes, 1957)

* If we listened to Our Lady, we could:

1.  Console Her, and pray for sinners

“Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns which ungrateful men place therein at every moment, while there is no one who does an act of reparation to withdraw them for her.”

(The Child Jesus to Sister Lucy, December 10, 1925, Pontevedra)

“So numerous are the souls which the justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I come to ask for reparation.  Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

(Our Lady to Sister Lucy, 1929)


2. Save our souls and other souls

“God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.  I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, June 13, 1917)

“If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, July 13, 1917)


3. Obtain peace in the world

“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, July13, 1917)

“Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven.” (Sister Lucy, March 19, 1939)

* So, shall we pay attention to that message?

The Child Jesus complains to Sister Lucy:

It is true, my daughter, that many souls begin, but few persevere to the very end, and those who persevere do it to receive the graces promised.  The souls who make the five first Saturdays with fervor and to make reparation to the Heart of your Heavenly Mother, please Me more than those who make fifteen, but are lukewarm and indifferent.”

(Pontevedra, February 15, 1925)


What are the requirements?

On the first Saturday of the month, five consecutive months:

— make a confession (the confession can be made within eight days before or after the first Saturday);

— receive Holy Communion (it may be received on the first Sunday when the priests, for a just cause, allows the faithful);    [ Note from a Dominican Father:  In case of impossibility to go to Confession and Mass (Communion), then at least make a perfect Act of Contrition with the firm will to go to Confession as soon as possible (because one must be in the state of grace to fulfill the devotion of the five First Saturdays).  ]

— make a spiritual communion.”

— pray five decades of the Rosary;

— meditate for fifteen minutes on one or several of the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation for the blasphemies and the offenses committed against Our Lady.


A devotion that applies to our whole Christian life

Let us listen to Sister Lucy of Fatima:

“Over and over again during those precious hours in which I was in her company, she emphasized that it is the fulfillment of one’s daily duty, according to one’s state in life (and the sanctification of this effort in reparation for our sins and for the conversion of sinners) which is the primary condition for the turning back of the tide of evil which threatens today’s world, and which will also bring us the great favor of the conversion of Russia and an era of peace for mankind.  But she also stressed that the Rosary is indeed important, because it is one of Our Lady’s principal aids given to us to facilitate the sanctification of our daily duty.”

(Memoirs of John Haffert concerning the Blue Army, AMI International Press, Washington, NJ, 1982, p 18)

In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”

(Our Lady of Fatima; July 13, 1917)

(On this website www.dominicansavrille.us, read the article: Fatima, or the means chosen by God to redress the present situation.)

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus-Christ

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus-Christ

by Rev. Fr Charles-Hyacinth Mc Kenna O.P.

christ

During the holy season of Advent, the aim of the Church in her sermons and instructions is to prepare us for a worthy celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity.  She regards this feast as one of the most joyous in her calendar.  To manifest her gratitude for our Redemption, she decorates her altars with richest ornaments.  She clothes her ministers in the garments of joy, and urges them again and again to celebrate the adorable sacrifice of the Mass in thanksgiving for the coming of our Redeemer.

And knowing with St. James that “Every best gift and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Lights” (James 1, 17), she calls upon her children to raise their hearts to Heaven, and praise and bless our great Creator who, in the words of Our Lord to Nicodemus, “So loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (2 John 3, 16).  Hence, the great Apostle of the Gentiles said: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His exceeding charity, wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, by whose grace you are saved (Ephesians 2, 4).

Man, prostrated by sin, involved in the rebellion of our first parents, was unable to help himself.  God pitied our fallen state, and though we were His enemies by our transgression, in His infinite mercy He sent His adorable Son to take upon Himself the punishment of our guilt and become the ransom of our fallen race.  And here we should guard ourselves from an error of which many outside the Church are guilty.  They would have us believe that our heavenly Father, in a manner, forced His Son to undertake the painful work of our redemption.  This is absolutely false.  From eternity the adorable Son of God consented to make atonement for man’s transgression.  “He was offered,” said the Scripture, “because He willed it” (Isaias 53, 7), and David, in prophetic vision, thus speaks in the person of Christ: “Sacrifice and oblation Thou didst not desire; but Thou hast pierced ears for me.  Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou didst not require; then said I, Behold I come.  In the head of the book it is written of me that I should do Thy will; O my God, I have desired it, and Thy law in the midst of my heart” (Ps 39, 7).  And again the prophet said of Him: “He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way, His going out is from the end of Heaven” (Ps 18, 6).

We would naturally suppose that, on appearing among men, the world’s Redeemer should be surrounded by all the grandeur and wealth and human comforts which His tender condition would require.  But such was not the will of His heavenly Father, nor was it the will of Our Lord, who did not desire to be born in the dwelling of sinners, but chose to be alone with His immaculate Mother and the chaste Saint Joseph, and to be accompanied by the innocent beasts of the field.  Coming to redeem our sinful race, and to enlighten a world “seated in darkness and in the shadow of death,” as Saint John described it, He began His work of reformation by preaching His first sermon from the pulpit of the manger.  It was pride and sensuality that caused the fall of our race; and pride and avarice and sensuality were the great evils of His day, as they are also of the days in which we live. […]

Let us now, imitating the shepherds, visit in spirit the stable of Bethlehem and there behold our new-born Saviour in the lowly condition to which His love for us has reduced Him.

We thank Thee, O Lord, for thus humbling Thyself, and coming amongst us, and we beseech Thee to grant that one day we may behold Thy face in its unveiled glory in heaven.

Nor should we fail to be mindful of the part that Mary took in the world’s Redemption. […] We recognize thy dignity, sweet Mother — that thou hast been chosen from eternity for the sublime office of Mother of God — that thou didst willingly consent to cooperate in the work of our Redemption.  For this we thank thee: for this we praise thee, and call thee blessed among women, and beg of thee to obtain for us that we may never offend thy adorable Son by sin.

(From the book The treasures of the Rosary, by the very Rev. Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P., Preacher General of the Order of Preachers, New York, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, Printers of the Holy Apostolic See, 1917, p. 105-109.)

Ten aids to mental prayer

Ten aids to mental prayer

By Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

(1858-1935)

Abbot of the French Cistercian Monastery of Sept-Fons

This text is an appendix of the book “The soul of the Apostolate”, which was a favorite book of Pope Saint Pius X. The good Pope said he left this spiritual masterpiece by his night stand, so he could read it in his bed.

Mental prayer is the furnace in which we go to renew the custody of the heart.  By our fidelity to our mental prayer all the other exercises of piety will be rekindled.  The soul will gradually acquire vigilance and the spirit of prayer, that is, the habit of having recourse to God more and more frequently.

Union with God in mental prayer will produce an intimate union with Him, even amongst the most absorbing occupations.

The soul, living thus in union with our Lord, by its vigilance, will attract more and more the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the infused virtues, and perhaps God will call it to a higher degree of mental prayer.

That excellent volume, “The ways of Mental Prayer” by Dom Vital Lehodey (Lecoffre, Paris), gives an exact account of what is required for the ascension of the soul by the different degrees of mental prayer, and gives rules for discerning, whether higher mental prayer is truly a gift of God or the result of illusion.

Before discussing affective mental prayer (the first degree of the higher classes to which God as a rule calls only the souls that have reached the state of vigilance by meditation),  Fr. Rigoleuc, S.J., gives in his fine book (Œuvres Spirituelles, Avignon, 1843, page 1 ff.) ten ways of discoursing with God – when after a serious effort, one finds it a moral impossibility to meditate on a subject prepared the night before.

I sum up the pious author:

1st Way. – Take a spiritual book (New Testament or “Imitation of Christ”) – read a few lines at intervals – meditate a little on what has been read, try to fix the sense and impress it on your mind.    Draw from it some holy thought, love, penance etc., resolve to practice this virtue when opportunity offers.

Avoid reading or meditating too much.  Stop at each pause as long as the mind find agreeable and useful converse.

2nd Way. – Take some text of Scripture or some vocal prayer – Pater, Ave, Credo, for instance – repeat it, stopping after each word, drawing from it various sentiments of piety on which you dwell as long as it pleases you.

At the end, ask God for some grace or virtue, according to the subject meditated upon.

You are not to stop on any word if it wearies or tires you, but if you find nothing more to think on, pass on quietly to another.  When you are touched by some good thought, dwell on it as long as it lasts without troubling to go any further.   Nor is it necessary to make fresh acts always, it is sometimes enough to keep in God’s presence, reflecting in silence on the words already meditated or in enjoying the feelings they have already produced in your heart.

3rd Way. – When the prepared subject matter does not give you enough scope, or room for free action, make acts of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, hope, love, and so on, letting them range as wide and free as you please, pausing at each one to let it sink in.

4th Way. – When meditation is impossible, and you are too helpless and dried-up to produce a single affection, tell Our Lord that it is your intention to make an act, for example, of contrition, every time you draw breath, or pass a bead of the rosary between your fingers, or say, vocally, some short prayer.

Renew this assurance of your intention from time to time, and then if God suggests some other good thought, receive it with humility, and dwell upon it.

5th Way. – In time of trial or dryness, if you are completely barren and powerless to make any acts or to have any thoughts, abandon yourself generously to suffering, without anxiety, and without making any effort to avoid it, making no other acts except this self-abandonment into the hands of God to suffer this trial and all it may please Him to send.

Or else you may unite your prayer with Our Lord’s Agony in the garden of desolation upon the cross.   See yourself attached to the Cross with the Saviour and stir yourself up to follow His example, and remain there suffering without flinching, until death.

6th Way. – A survey of your own conscience. – Admit your defects, passions, weaknesses, infirmities, helplessness, misery, nothingness. – Adore God’s judgments with regard to the state in which you find yourself. – Submit to His holy will. – Bless Him both for His punishments and for the favors of His mercy. – Humble yourself before His sovereign Majesty. – Sincerely confess your sins and infidelities to Him and ask Him to forgive you. – Take back all your false judgments and errors. – Detest all the wrong you have done, and resolve to correct yourself in the future.

This kind of prayer is very free and unhampered, and admits of all kinds of affections.  It can be practiced at all times, especially in some unexpected trial, to submit to the punishments of God’s justice, or as a means of regaining recollection after a lot of activity and distracting affairs.

7th Way. – Conjure up a vivid picture of the Last Things.  Visualize yourself in agony, between time and eternity – between your past life and the judgment of God. – What would you wish to have done?  How would you want to have lived?  – Think of the pain you will feel then. – Call to mind your sins, your negligence, your abuse of grace. – How would you like to have acted in this or that situation?  – Make up your mind to adopt a real, practical means of remedying those defects which give you reason for anxiety.

Visualize yourself dead, buried, rotting, forgotten by all.  See yourself before the Judgment-seat of Christ: in purgatory—in hell.

The more vivid the picture, the better will be your meditation.

We all need this mystical death, to get the flesh off of our soul, and to rise again, that is, to get free from corruption and sin.  We need to get through this purgatory, in order to arrive at the enjoyment of God in this life.

8th Way. — Apply your mind to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Address yourself to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  With all the respect that His Real Presence demands, unite yourself to Him and to all His operations in the Eucharist, where He is ceaselessly adoring, praising, and loving His Father, in the name of all men, and in the condition of a victim.

Realize His recollection, His hidden life, His utter privation of everything, obedience, humility, and so on. – Stir yourself up to imitate this, and resolve to do so according as the occasions arise.

Offer up Jesus to the Father, as the only Victim worthy of Him, and by whom we offer homage to Him.   Thank Him for His gifts, satisfy His justice, and oblige His mercy to help us.

Offer yourself to sacrifice your being, your life, your work.  Offer up to Him some act of virtue you propose to perform, some mortification upon which you have resolved, with a view to self-conquest, and offer this for the same ends for which Our Lord immolates Himself in the Holy Sacraments.  – Make this offering with an ardent desire to add as much as possible to the glory He gives to His Father in this august mystery.

End with a spiritual Communion.

This is an excellent form of prayer, especially for your visit to the Blessed Sacrament.  Get to know it well, because our happiness in this life depends on our union with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

9th Way. — This prayer is to be made in the name of Jesus Christ.  It will arouse our confidence in God, and help us to enter into the spirit and the sentiments of Our Lord.

Its foundation is the fact that we are united to the Son of God, and are His brothers, members of His Mystical Body; that He has made over to us all His merits, and left us the legacy of all the rewards owed Him by His Father for His labors and death.  And this is what makes us capable of honoring God with a worship worthy of Him, and gives us the right to treat with God, and, as it were, to exact His graces of Him as though by justice.  – As creatures, we have not this right, still less as sinners, for there is an infinite disproportion between God and creatures, and infinite opposition between God and sinners.  But because we are united to the Incarnate Word, and are His brothers, and His members, we are enabled to appear before God with confidence, and speak familiarly with Him and oblige Him to give us a favorable hearing, to grant our requests, and to grant us His graces, because of the alliance and union between us and His Son.

Hence, we are to appear before God either to adore, to praise, or to love Him, by Jesus Christ working in us as the Head in His members, lifting us up, by His spirit, to an entirely divine state, or else to ask some favor in virtue of the merits of His Son.  And for that purpose we should remind Him of all that His well beloved Son has done for Him, His life and death, and His sufferings, the reward for which belongs to us because of the deed of gift by which He has made it over to us.

And this is the spirit in which we should recite the Divine Office.

10th Way. – Simple attention to the presence of God, and meditation.

Before starting out to meditate on the prepared topic, put yourself in the presence of God without making any other distinct thought, or stirring up in yourself any other sentiment except the respect and love for God which His presence inspires.  – Be content to remain thus before God, in silence, in simple repose of the spirit as long as it satisfies you.  After that, go on with your meditation in the usual way.

It is a good thing to begin all your prayer in this way, and worth while to return to it after every point. – Relax in this simple awareness of God’s presence. – It is a way to gain real interior recollection. – You will develop the habit of centering your mind upon God and thus gradually pave the way for contemplation. – But do not remain this way out of pure laziness or just to avoid the trouble of making a meditation.

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Glorious Mysteries

image

The Resurrection by Fra Angelico

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Glorious Mysteries

The Rosary is an admirable means of personal sanctification, but it is also a powerful weapon again the enemies of God and His Church.  From the defeat of the Cathars at the battle of Muret to the great victories (without a shot being fired!) against communism in Austria and Brazil in the 20th Century, and passing through the victories of Lepanto and Vienna against the Turks, and those against the Protestants in La Rochelle, the Most Holy Virgin has never abandoned Catholics when they have turned to her through her holy Rosary.  However, this ancient struggle between the “lineage of the serpent and the lineage of the woman” is renewed with each generation.

This struggle is perhaps nowhere more manifest at this time than in the past.  Although it is not the objective of the Confraternity to convey prayer intentions to the members, how can we keep quiet in the face of the drama that is now unfolding for our Catholic brothers being persecuted in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, as well as in China, Nigeria, India and elsewhere?  Through the Rosary, let us pray for the conversion of the Muslims, Jews, Protestants, communists, freemasons, and all those who are behind these persecutions.  Let us especially pray that the persecuted Catholics keep the faith and publicly profess it, even, if need be, at the price of their life.   We can hope that a host of these chosen souls have received the grace of martyrdom, are already in heaven tasting the delights of paradise, and that we whom they have left behind in this valley of tears, can join with them by meditating on the Glorious Mysteries, after having considered the Joyous and Sorrowful Mysteries.

(Remember: read one sentence before each “Hail Mary.”)

THE RESURRECTION

1.  Upon His death, Jesus’ soul descends into limbo to the joy of the just of the Old Testament.

2.  His lifeless body remains in the tomb, always united to the divinity, without the least corruption.

3.  On Easter morning, Jesus’ soul reunites with His body, never to be separated from it again.

4.  His body, brilliant with light, imprints a mysterious image on the holy shroud.

5.  At the same time, the earth is shaken and an angel rolls away the great stone that closed the tomb.

6.  Jesus leaves the tomb in all His glory and appears to the Roman soldiers, who are terrified.

7.  Jesus goes to visit the Blessed Virgin to announce His Resurrection to her.

8.  The Blessed Virgin is filled with joy, but is by no means surprised, nor troubled; she had been waiting for this moment since Good Friday.

9.  Jesus appears to St. Mary Magdalene and tells her, “do not touch me” to test her too sentimental love.

10.  Jesus appears several times to the Apostles and the disciples, but some are slow to believe.

THE ASCENSION

1.  At Jesus’ resurrection, many of the dead leave their tombs and roam around the city of Jerusalem.

2.  During the forty days, they visit their families to proclaim to them that Jesus is the Messiah announced by the prophets.

3.  Jesus appears only to His Apostles and disciples.

4.  Jesus “opens the minds” of His Apostles so that, little by little, they come to understand Holy Scripture.

5.  A little before ascending to heaven, Jesus orders His Apostles to “teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

6.  The nations must render public honor to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all of society’s laws must be in harmony with His teachings.

7.  Jesus appears one last time in Jerusalem and eats with His Apostles.

8.  He promises to send them the Holy Ghost.

9.  He leads them to the Mount of Olives.

10.  Jesus raises His hands and blesses His Apostles, all while moving away from them up to heaven.

PENTECOST

1.  The Apostles are distraught.

2.  Everyone returns to the Cenacle to pray and wait for the Holy Ghost.

3.  The Apostles, the disciples and the holy women number about 120 persons.

4.  Matthias is elected to replace the traitor Judas.

5.  St. Peter says Mass each day. All receive communion and passes the day in prayer.

6.  During this time, an innumerable crowd of Jews from throughout the world is assembling in the city to celebrate the feast of the Jewish Pentecost.

7.  Suddenly, accompanied by the sound of trumpets, a violent wind opens the windows of the Cenacle.

8.  Tongues of fire descend upon the heads of the Apostles, and, in the blink of an eye, they understand all of Jesus’ teachings.

9.  Immediately they descend into the street to announce to the crowd the forgiveness of their sins, upon the condition of doing penance and being baptized.

10.  Around 3,000 people ask to be baptized.

THE ASSUMPTION

1.  Each day more and more people ask for baptism so as to be saved, but the jealous Jews try to exterminate the Christians.

2.  St. Stephen, St. James the Lesser and many others are killed in hatred of the faith.

3.  Mary supports the nascent Church through her prayers.

4.  St. Luke questions the Blessed Virgin on the details of Jesus’ infancy.

5.  The Blessed Virgin receives daily communion at St. John’s Masses.

6.  She appears to St. James the Greater in Spain to encourage him.

7.  She enlightens and encourages all those who come to see her at St. John’s home.

8.  She so ardently desires to be with her divine Son, that her body can no longer retain her soul.

9.  Her soul and her body separate, but her body suffers no trace of corruption.

10.  A little afterward, her body rejoins her soul and the Blessed Virgin is assumed entirely into heaven.

THE CORONATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

1.  At the moment of her Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin exceeded in grace all the angels and saints combined.

2.  During each moment of her existence, she made an act of love which multiplied in an extraordinary way the degree of grace in her soul.

3.  Thus, at the moment of her entry into heaven, the Blessed Virgin was raised in glory higher than one can imagine.

4.  Her glory is quasi-infinite; she touches the “confines of the divinity.”

5.  Our Lord places a mysterious crown on the head of His Blessed Mother.

6.  This crown symbolizes the total power with which the Blessed Virgin is invested from that point on.

7.  Jesus proclaims the Blessed Virgin, “Queen of Heaven and Earth.”

8.  All the angels and saints acclaim her as their queen and mistress.

9.  Jesus desires that all the graces that we receive pass through Mary’s hands.

10.  Mary now distributes all the graces that she has merited with and through Jesus at the foot of the Cross.

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Sorrowful Mysteries

image

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Sorrowful Mysteries

The Sorrowful Mysteries

The world around us is moving further away from Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Everywhere anti-Christian governments reject not only the laws of the Church, but even the laws of nature, because they are a constant reminder of the author of nature, our Creator and God.  How can we not see the realization of Psalm 2: “The princes of the earth are gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ”?   What can we do against these powers that seem to hold everything in their hands: money, the media, parliaments, armies?   Well, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil.4:13)!  It pleased God to topple Goliath with a humble shepherd like David.   Our “sling” is the Rosary, and the “five smooth stones taken from the river bed” (I Kings 17) are the five Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful or Glorious) upon which we meditate each day.   If we look, we’ll discover these mysteries hidden in the depths of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is nothing less than an impetuous torrent of love for God and man.

To restore the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth, we all have something to do, a duty to perform according to each one’s state.  However, there is a duty that we all have in common: the regular prayer of the Rosary.  Have courage! “There is no problem, no matter how difficult, that we cannot resolve by praying the Holy Rosary” (Sister Lucy of Fatima).

Many of you have told us that you have enjoyed the meditations on the Joyful Mysteries according to the method of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.  We continue here with the Sorrowful Mysteries, hoping that these examples will help you to compose meditations yourself using this method which is so practical and useful for dispelling distractions!   (Reminder: a sentence is read before each Hail Mary.)

THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN OF OLIVES

1:  On the eve of His Passion, Jesus celebrated the first Mass.

2:  Before leaving the world, He wanted to leave us a pledge of His love, by giving us the Eucharist.

3:  Jesus, troubled in spirit, said to the Apostles: “One of you shall betray Me.”

4:  St. Peter protested, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

5:  After the Last Supper, Jesus takes Saints Peter, James and John to pray on the Mount of Olives.

6: The Apostles are not able to watch even one hour with Jesus.

7:  Jesus sees all the sins for which He is going to atone through His passion; His sweat becomes as drops of blood.

8:  Judas arrives and betrays Jesus through a sign of friendship.

9:  The Apostles are afraid and flee in all directions.

10:  Saint Peter denies Jesus three times.

THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR

1: Jesus is taken before the High Priest, where He is falsely accused, slapped and insulted.

2: The Jews drag Him before Pilate, because Pilate alone can declare the death penalty.

3: The crowd demands the release of Barabbas, a murderer.

4. Pilate does not find Jesus guilty of any crime, but he orders Him to be flogged to appease the Jews.

5: The soldiers first use a whip with metal balls at the end of the strips.

6: When Jesus’ body is swollen and red, they then change to a whip topped with tiny bones that tear the skin.

7: Jesus is covered with blood from head to foot. His skin is in shreds.

8: In this way, Jesus has atoned for our sins of sensuality.

9: “Sins of the flesh send the most souls to hell.” (Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta)

10: Lord, give us the courage to do a little penance.

THE CROWNING WITH THORNS

1:  Pilate asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answers, “I am King, but My kingdom is not of this world.”

2:  Jesus’ Kingdom “did not come from this world,” but it extends over this world.

3:  Jesus is King of all creation and He has the right to be recognized as such by all men and by all governments.

4:  He is King by nature, because He is the Creator; and He is King by conquest, because He has redeemed us.

5:  The soldiers mock the royalty of Jesus by putting on Him a purple robe, a reed scepter, and a crown of thorns.

6:  They spit on Him and beat Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

7: Jesus keeps quiet and offers His suffering for the very people who despise Him.

8:  Pilate presents Jesus to the Jews: “Behold the man.”

9: The Jews shout, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

10:  The high priests say: “We have no king but Caesar.”

THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS

1:  Jesus is condemned to death.

2:  Jesus takes up His cross with love.

3:  Jesus falls the first time.

4:  Jesus meets His Blessed Mother.

5:  Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross.

6:  St. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

7:  Jesus falls the second time.

8:  Jesus consoles the women of Israel.

9:  Jesus falls the third time.

10:  Jesus is stripped of his garments.

THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS

1:  Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

2:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

3:  Jesus says to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he says to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother.”

4:  “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”

5:  “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

6:  “I thirst.”

7:  “It is consummated.”

8:  Jesus dies, saying: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

9:  Jesus is taken down from the Cross.

10:  Jesus is buried.

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions: The Joyful Mysteries

an

The Annunciation (Fra Angelico)

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions

 

— Preamble: warning of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the world

In conclusion, we will recall these words, spoken by Sister Lucy of Fatima to Father Fuentes in 1959 (Messagero del Cuore di Maria, nos. 8-9, August-September, 1961):

“ – She told me this three times:

“Firstly; she stated that the devil is engaged in the decisive battle, that is to say, the final battle, from which one will emerge the victor or the vanquished: either we are with God or we are with the devil.

“The second time, she repeated to me that the ultimate remedies given to the world are: the holy Rosary and devotion to the immaculate Heart of Mary. The ultimate signifies that there will be no others.

“The third time, she told me that the other means, scorned by men, having been exhausted, she gives us in trepidation the last anchor of salvation which is the Blessed Virgin in person. The Lady said again that if we do not listen and if we still offend, we will no more be forgiven.

“Father (Lucy said to me), we must urgently take heed of the terrible reality. We don’t want to frighten souls, but this is an urgent appeal to reality.  Since the Most Blessed Virgin has given so great a power to the Rosary, no problem exists, material or spiritual, national or international, which cannot be resolved by the Holy Rosary and by our sacrifices.  To recite the Rosary with love and devotion will allow us console Mary and wipe away the many, many tears of her Immaculate Heart.”

 

— A method to pray the Rosary without distractions

Have you ever heard this episode from the life of St. Francis de Sales?  The illustrious bishop of Geneva had promised his horse to a brave peasant, provided he could recite one Our Father without distraction. Having barely arrived at “give us this day our daily bread…” the poor man stopped to ask if the saddle and bridle were included!

Who can boast of never experiencing any distractions during prayer?  The Blessed Virgin, knowing the difficulties of her children, has given us through St. Dominic a very effective way to fight against dissipation in prayer.  The Rosary, with its beads linked together, gives us a tangible reminder that we are in the act of praying.  However, we must know how to use it.  One method of reciting the Rosary suggested by St. Louis Marie Grignon-de-Montfort (but coming from the Middle Ages) is to precede each Hail Mary with a different thought relating to the mystery.  This does not add much time to the recitation of the Rosary (contrary to what one might think), and it helps us to refocus our attention.

Here is an example of this method as applied to the Joyful Mysteries:

THE ANNUNCIATION

1. The Blessed Virgin withdraws to a corner of the house to meditate on the Scriptures.

2. She reads the passage from Isaiah (7:14), “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a child…” and she begs the Lord to send the Messiah.

3. The Angel Gabriel appears and greets her by saying, “Hail full of grace.”

4. “Full of grace means she was preserved from all sin from the first moment of her existence.

5. She was conceived without original sin and never committed the slightest fault, even venial, neither through weakness, nor through surprise, nor through negligence.

6. The Blessed Virgin, who understands the meanings of his words, is troubled.

7. She knows that she is sinless, but it would be unthinkable for her to glorify herself.

8. It would be unthinkable for her to be greeted by an angel; who is by nature superior to men.

9. The angel says to her, “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shall bring forth a son…And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

10. She understands that she has been chosen to be the Mother of God.

THE VISITATION

1. The Angel Gabriel announces that Elizabeth has also conceived a child.

2. The Blessed Virgin, not thinking of herself, thinks only of her aged cousin.

3. She begins the tiring journey under the watchful protection of St. Joseph.

4. On arrival, the Blessed Virgin greets her cousin.

5. At the sound of the Blessed Virgin’s voice, St. John the Baptist is cleansed of original sin, and he leaps in the womb.

6. St. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, exclaims: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…”

7. The Blessed Virgin gives all the glory to God.

8. “My soul magnifies the Lord….”

9. The more we glorify the Blessed Virgin, the more God is glorified.

10. The Blessed Virgin remains three months in humble service to her cousin.

THE BIRTH OF JESUS

1. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph travel to Bethlehem for the census.

2. Because the crowds come to be enrolled, there is no room in any inn.

3. Thinking back to his youth, St. Joseph remembers a cave away from the city.

4. He sweeps the ground a little and puts things in order, then he leaves to go search for firewood.

5. During his absence, the Blessed Virgin prays deeply, waiting for the great mystery about to happen.

6. She enters into a state of ecstasy.

7. She awakens and there in her arms she sees the most beautiful baby the world has ever seen.

8. She has experienced no pain. Her soul is filled with unspeakable joy.

9. She contemplates the radiant Child, and she recognizes there her own features.

10. St. Joseph returns; upon seeing the Child, he falls to his knees to adore Him.

 

PRESENTATION OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

1. Forty days after His birth, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph carry the Infant Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord.

2. They give five shekels of silver to “redeem” the Child. (Numbers 1 8:16).

3. They also bring a pair of turtledoves for the sacrifice prescribed to women after birth. (Leviticus 12: 1 et seq.)

4. The old man Simeon, moved by the Holy Ghost, goes to the Temple.

5. He sees the Holy Family and recognizes Jesus as the awaited Messiah.

6. “Now thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.”

7. Simeon blesses the Holy Family.

8. He prophesizes: “Behold this Child is set…for a sign which shall be contradicted,” that is to say, now every man will be either for Him or against Him.

9. To Our Lady he says, “A sword will pierce your soul.”

10. The Blessed Virgin keeps all these things in her heart.

 

RECOVERY OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

1. As Jesus is now twelve years old, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph have taken Him to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

2. They are part of a group of pilgrims from Nazareth.  Men and women and walk separately during the day.

3. During the return trip, St. Joseph thinks that Jesus is with the Blessed Virgin, and Our Lady thinks that Jesus is with St. Joseph.

4. In the evening, after having searched among all the pilgrims and not finding Jesus, they retrace their steps.

5. The Blessed Virgin knows that Jesus must suffer and die, but she does not know when.

6. This uncertainty is torture for her.

7. Jesus asks questions of the rabbis about the coming Messiah.

8. It was not to learn anything, but rather to show them that they themselves had misconceptions about the subject.

9. He quotes passages of Scripture that teach that the Messiah will have to die to save us from our sins, and not to assure world domination by the Jews.

10. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph find Jesus among the amazed and confused rabbis.

(To be continued with the sorrowful and glorious Mysteries)