Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé No. 31: May 2019

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 31: May 2019

St Vincent Ferrer

2019: Year of St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer: 1350-1419

The apostolate of St. Vincent Ferrer was as international as the Dominican Order itself. Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Switzerland (some even say England, but proof is lacking)… received his visit, and all of Europe felt the power of his message.

He traveled on foot – or, at the end of his life, riding on a donkey – accompanied by a group of confessors and a flock of penitents who would follow for a time the preacher that converted them. Arriving in town, he would kneel down on the ground, not wanting to penetrate any further into the city without imploring for it the divine blessing. After which, the mission commenced.

He himself would rise each morning at 2 o’clock, in order to recite the Breviary and say his private prayers. A few hours later, the mission would start with a Solemn High Mass, celebrated by St. Vincent, with deacon, sub-deacon, and a highly-trained schola — with musical instruments! The saint placed great importance on the beauty of the liturgy, which for him was the first way to preach.

The Mass was generally celebrated outdoors, as no church could contain the crowds of faithful. Next came the sermon, which easily lasted three hours (sometimes longer), the blessing of the sick (and the resulting miracles), and the reconciliation of enemies.

The Angel of the Last Judgment

In the eyes of the faithful, Saint Vincent Ferrer was above all — as he said himself — the “Angel of the Last Judgment”, he who came to cry out to the world: “Fear God, and give Him glory, for the hour of His judgment is come” (Apoc. 14:7). Born in 1350, two years after the start of the terrible bubonic plague that decimated Europe, he preached to a Christendom ravaged by the Hundred Years War, natural catastrophes (such as the earthquakes shaking even St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s), and the Great Western Schism. If that wasn’t the end of the world, it was at least a striking prefiguration. Throughout Church history, just as there have regularly been precursors of the Antichrist, God has sent precursors of the intrepid preachers who will be his direct adversaries at the end of the world.

A hundred years ago, the review La Vie spirituelle underlined the significance of St. Vincent’s mission, for his epoch and ours:

God gave him the mission to speak to all the people of Europe, to repeat during 30 years, without tiring, the importance of salvation, the blinding light of the final judgment, the eternity of Hell. […] The whole of St. Vincent’s preaching consists in boldly confronting his listeners with the most frightening and the most certain of all realities: Hell is the punishment for sin. Unless you convert, you will all perish.

The Angel of the Judgment is thus [always] a “Saint for today”.

The Problem of Evil

If God exists, where does evil come from? This is a common objection, but which actually turns against atheism and leads to religion.

And yet, evil exists, doesn’t it? Evil (for example, deafness, blindness…) does not have its own proper existence: it’s an absence, a lack, a disorder, that doesn’t exist all by itself, but only in something else that it damages. Evil is a privation of being — a privation of the normal order.

What does that prove? A privation does not have a proper cause. The shadow of a tree (privation of light) is not positively produced by the tree (which only limits the action of the Sun), and much less by the Sun itself! In a way, one could say that evil is to God what shadows are to the Sun.

But if God is all-powerful, what could limit His action? God, being all-powerful, is free to manifest His goodness as He wishes. Instead of an egalitarian universe (with millions of identical beings), His wisdom preferred a diversified creation, reflecting His goodness in a multiple fashion (in varying degrees). In this hierarchy, certain beings cast shadows on others: animals eat other animals, which eat plants, which assimilate minerals, etc. Each creature, with its limits, contributes to the general order of things.

Doesn’t the presence of evil inside humanity itself (wars, crimes, injustice…) argue against the existence of God? False notes in a concert do not in any way rule out the existence of the symphony, nor the existence of a composer. It’s actually the opposite which is true: it would be impossible to discern the false notes if the melody and harmony of the whole did not exist. Similarly, the presence of evil in the world does not in any way raise doubts as to the existence of God: to the contrary, we could not discern what is evil without having first recognized a general order of the universe.

Evil remains a scandal! Evil is a scandal for those who are more or less pantheistic (thinking that the universe itself is God), or who adore Mankind. The imperfections of our world prove first and foremost that the world is not God; it is not the Supreme Being, and so we must therefore search for something higher. Every man has a thirst for happiness which cannot be completely satisfied by things here below. This is just one more proof of the existence of God: true happiness is over and above this world!

But if God is good, couldn’t he eliminate all evil? Evil will always be a mystery for our limited human reason. We can understand that evil is permitted by God for a greater good, but it remains difficult to discern what this greater good actually is. The mystery of evil calls upon other mysteries which alone can shed light upon it: the mystery of eternal life (our life on earth is only a temporary trial, before our real life), the mystery of final judgment (one day, everyone must render an account of their actions), the mystery of original sin (man used his liberty to “thwart” God’s plan), and the mystery of Jesus Christ, who made reparation for sin in a manner even more beautiful than if sin had never existed (God’s goodness is revealed better by Jesus taking on human nature in order to make reparation and suffer in our place). To all those who suffer and are tempted to revolt, only Jesus (who suffered even more, but who leads us to happiness), provides the true answer.

Community Chronicle

January 31st: Mrs. Miriam CARROLL (Sr. Claire Gambacorta t.o.p.) passed away in Kansas, fortified by the sacraments of the Church and assisted by her fellow tertiaries. According to the constitutions of the Third Order and her personal wishes, she was buried wearing the Dominican habit.

Mirriam Carroll (coffin)

February 1st: At Montagnac-la-Crempse (Périgord), Fathers Marie-Dominique and Angelico represent the community at the funeral services for Mother Marie-Emmanuel, the first Prioress of the contemplative Dominican sisters of Avrillé.

February 9th: Brothers Michel-Marie and Augustin-Marie receive the tonsure during a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Zendejas. Several seminarians receive the cassock, tonsure and minor orders on the same occasion.

February 10th: The Third Order Fraternity of “Saint Dominic and Saint Francis” (which gathered together all our tertiaries of Southeastern France) having become too big, Fathers Angelico and Marie-Laurent preside the erection of a new Fraternity for our tertiaries of Auvergne: the Fraternity “Saint Vincent Ferrer.” The fledgling Fraternity will be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on May 5th, feast of St. Pius V.

February 17th: Third Order meeting for Fathers Marie-Dominique and Hyacinthe-Marie at “Saint Joseph’s Domain” (Convent of the Sisters of Mary Coredemptrix, near Rennes, Brittany).

March 9th/10th: Weekend recollection for the faithful near Bordeaux, with Fathers Marie-Laurent and Hyacinthe-Marie.

March 17th: Annual pilgrimage in honor of St. Joseph for the families of St. Philomena School, with Fathers François-Marie and Angelico. Fathers Marie-Dominique and Hyacinthe-Marie are in Chartres for a conference, then to Paris for the Third Order.

March 30th/31st: For the 600th anniversary of St. Vincent Ferrer’s entry into Heaven, Father Louis-Marie leads a group of tertiaries on a pilgrimage to his tomb in Vannes (Brittany).

March 24th: Arrival of Bishop Thomas Aquinas, who will stay several weeks in France.

March 28th: Father Prior is in Rennes (Brittany), where Bishop Thomas Aquinas presides over the ceremony of the final vows of Sr. Marie-Liesse, and the temporary vows of Sister Marie-Joseph (Sisters of Mary Coredemptrix).

March 30th-April 6th: Annual pilgrimage to Rome for the graduating class of St. Thomas Aquinas Boys’ School, accompanied by Fr. Marie-Dominique.

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Death of St. Vincent at Vannes (Brittany)

News from our worksites

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In order to have a spotless church in time for Holy Week and Easter, a 5-day cleaning operation, under the di­rection of our Br. An­dré-Joseph, was ac­complished in late Feb­ruary. The height of the vaulted ceiling and the fragility of the murals (dating from the 14th century) made it neces­sary to rent a crane for the delicate procedure.

church cleaning 2

The construction permit for the future Parish Hall was rejected due to a change in zoning laws… The architect is now revising the blue prints in conformity with the new requirements, and we’re hoping to get the project under way in 2020. We’re also counting on your prayers to remove all the administrative and financial obstacles!

Crisis in the Church

February 4th, 2019: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom.” (Declaration on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.)

March 30th, 2019: Rabat, Morocco: the Pope visits the “Mohamed IV Institute for the Formation of Muslim Preachers,” thereby giving formal encouragement to spread a false religion fiercely opposed to Our Lord!

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Sister Lucy of Fatima and the Rosary

Sister Lucy of Fatima and the Rosary

“Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace in the world, and the end of the war.”

Our Lady of Fatima 13 May 1917

All souls of good will can and should pray the Rosary every day. They can recite it in a church whether the Most Holy Sacrament is exposed or residing in the tabernacle. They can pray it as a family as well as individually, while out and about or travelling. The Rosary is the most accessible prayer for everyone, both rich and poor, learned or uneducated. It should be like spiritual bread for everyone. By means of the mysteries which we recall in each decade, it nourishes and increases in our souls faith, hope and charity.

“I want … you to pray the rosary every day.”

13 June 1917

We should pray the Rosary every day for we all need to pray, and have a duty to do so. If we do not save ourselves through innocence, then we must save ourselves through penance. For this, let the small daily sacrifice of reciting the Rosary, which we offer to God, be united to this prayer of supplication:

‘Our Father Who art in Heaven… Forgive us as we forgive those who have offended us. ’     ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death.’

“I want … you to continue praying the Rosary every day.“

13 July 1917

Our Lady stresses this and asks us to persevere in prayer.

It is not enough to pray for a day. We need to pray always, every day, with faith, trustingly, since every day we commit faults, and every day we need to turn to God asking Him to forgive us and help us.

“I want … you to continue to pray the rosary every day.”

19 August 1917

Our Lady is insistent because she knows our inconstancy in doing good, our fragility and our spiritual poverty, and like a Mother, she comes to meet us, to hold us by the hand and support us in our weakness along the path which we must follow to be saved. This path is that of prayer. It’s there that we shall meet with God. That’s why she has asked us to say, at the end of each decade, ‘ O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.’ That is, those who find themselves in danger of damnation.

“Continue to pray the rosary to obtain the end of the war.”

13 September 1917

By this insistence, Our Lady is showing us how we very much need to pray in order to obtain the grace of peace between nations, among peoples, in families, homes, consciences, and between God and souls.

It is only when the light, power and grace of God penetrate our hearts and souls that we will come to truly and mutually understand each other, forgive each other, and help each other. That is the only way to arrive at a true and just peace. But in order to obtain it, we need to pray!

“I want … you all to continue to pray the rosary every day.”

13 October 1917

Truly, the Rosary is the prayer that should bring us daily closer to God. It is not an exclusively Marian prayer; it is even more a biblical and Eucharistic prayer addressed to the most Holy Trinity. With each decade we pray the ‘Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost’ , and the ‘Our Father’ which Christ taught us to pray so that we could address the Father with confidence.

And we recite the ‘Ave Maria’ which is also praise and supplication to God through Our Lady’s intercession. ‘Ave Maria, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst all women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.’

In this way we greet Mary in the mystery of our redemption, the mystery that God brought about in her, and through which Mary was appointed to be the Mother of God, Mother of the Church and Mother of men. This is why Mary was the first tabernacle in which the Father enclosed his Word, the first monstrance, and the first altar, where Our Lord has remained forever exposed to our adoration and our love.

Sister Lucy

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

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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

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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

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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)