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HOW, IN THE ROSARY, WE ARE FORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS

HOW, IN THE ROSARY, WE ARE FORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS

(To learn how to pray the Holy Rosary, please click here: How to meditate on Our Lord Jesus’_life / the Gospels with the Rosary  )

To know, love and imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ – such is the principle of Christian life, the secret of perfection. True perfection consists formally in the love which unites us to Jesus, but as one cannot love without acquaintance, and affectionate acquaintance engenders imitation – one is anxious to resemble those whom one loves – it follows that the imitation, as well as the knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ, form, as it were, the integral parts of that perfection, the essence of which is love.

The Rosary is the school where Mary trains us daily in the Christian life. There, not only does this divine Mother fill our understanding with the knowledge of Jesus and our hearts with love of Him, but she completes her work by imprinting on us, by imitation, the image of Him who is the First-born of all the elect. To this last point I would particularly direct your attention.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the First-born of all the elect.

Created as we are to the image of God, we feel the need of perfecting with us this divine image, of drawing out all its splendour, by imitating more and more closely our sovereign model. In the beginning, the angel and the man, intoxicated with foolish pride, wished to push the divine resemblance beyond all limits, even to the extent of absolute independence, which is the attribute of God alone. Avenging His slighted rights, God struck down Lucifer, and severely punished the first man. The punishment of the latter, however, was not untempered with mercy. God raised Adam and Eve anew, and once more showing Heaven to them, revealed to their eyes through the distance of ages One whose imperfect image they were henceforth to bear, till they at length resumed His glory.

Jesus Christ, the perfect image of God the Father, appears at the centre of the new creation as the finished model which we all must copy, which we must all resemble if we are to be counted among the children of God. To the Blessed Virgin, who formed this divine exemplar, is allotted the task of reproducing His likeness in each one of the elect. The Rosary is the mould into which she casts souls, to form them to the divine image; or let us say, rather, that with the Rosary, as with a chosen instrument, this admirable artist sculptures, paints, and imprints the image of her Son. She sculptures it in the neophytes, paints it in souls more advanced, and imprints it in hearts which are responsive to the lightest touch of grace.

The purgative, illuminative and unitive life 

Spiritual authors tell us that in the work of perfecting us, and forming us in the likeness of Jesus Christ, it is necessary, first, to take away, like the sculptors, then to add, like the painters, and finally to apply and unite closely, like the printers.

The purgative life

In the purgative life, in which the soul divests itself of its vices and bad habits, it is necessary above all to cut away. In the Rosary, therefore, Mary sculptures certain souls, refining them by the practice of poverty, of mortification, of ever increasing detachment. In the joyful mysteries, she takes from us the love of earthly treasures by showing us Jesus poor and shelterless; in the sorrowful, she destroys our love of ease, our desire for pleasure, by opposing to our sensuality the terrible sufferings of our Saviour; in the glorious mysteries, she severs the last ties which bind us to earth, elevating our hearts by the spectacle of Jesus ascending into heaven.

As the sculptor first rounds off a block of marble, then gradually outlines the statue, and finally completes it with little touches of the chisel, so the Blessed Virgin, after the sinful habits, removes the small defects, even to the last lingering imperfections of a soul which generously penitent abandons itself entirely to her.

The illuminative life

In the illuminative life, in which the soul devotes itself particularly to progress in virtue, Mary resembles the painter who adds colour to colour, mixing and blending them suitably, in order to produce an accurate and life-like portrait. When the soul, purified of its faults, presents, as it were, a spotless surface, the immaculate Virgin complacently deposits on this stainless background the colours of all the virtues, spreading perpetually a new layer of grace; and the Rosary is the rich palette from which she draws the tints which contribute to the perfection of the image, which she wishes to produce. Under the brush of this incomparable artist the dazzling whiteness of faith, the celestial radiations of hope, the soft crimson of charity, the shades and reflections of all the virtues mingle on the countenance of the soul, formerly gloomy and darkened, and stamp upon it the supernatural expression which distinguishes the children of God.

Ah! could we, by a life of piety and habitual recollection, by frequent meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, keep our soul always ready, spread forth to its utmost limit, like a precious canvas, on which Mary might exercise her divine art by completing in us the image of her Son!

The unitive life

In all cases there is no better way to obtain a perfect resemblance in a short time than to reproduce the model itself by applying it to the surface on which it is to be represented. The image shows itself immediately, distinguished by an accuracy far greater than could be obtained by endless touches of the brush.

When a soul has arrived at the punitive life, that is, at such a degree of love for God as excludes all return to self, and justifies the words of the great apostle: “It is no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ who lives in me” – then Mary imprints Jesus in this soul, as on soft, pure wax. In a moment the celestial image appears, no longer merely in outline; it is reflected each day more faithfully in the affections, in the desires, in every act. Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum, ut signaculum super brachium tuum. Jesus is set like a seal on the heart and on the arm, in the intention and in the deed.

The contemplative soul, closely united to God by love, receives, in passing through the mysteries of the Rosary, the impression of this divine seal. Mary herself applies it, and, according to the mystery, she reproduces Jesus humble, gentle, obedient, Jesus in His wisdom, power, goodness and infinite grace; or again, as in those modern portraits which light produces with such exactitude, Mary, admirable light emanating from the Sun of Justice, transmits in perfection the features of the divine model, imprinting them with the utmost fidelity to the depths of the heart.

An imperishable resemblance to the Father who is in heaven

Who then, faithful to this Rosary, would not allow himself to be worked upon by Her who knows so well how to mould a soul, how to paint and imprint Jesus on it? Let us dispose ourselves daily by a life of mortification, of recollection and intimate union with God, to aid Mary in her admirable work, unquestionably more admirable than all the works of nature, for the material creation even in its most beautiful manifestations, offers only a distant reflection of God, while the soul devoted to the Rosary, closely united to Christ, bears an imperishable resemblance to the Father who is in Heaven.

– Laverty & Sons, 1905

 

 

 

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THE JOYFUL EXPECTATION OF OUR HEAVENLY HOMELAND IN THE MIDST OF THE ADVERSITIES OF OUR PRESENT EXILE

“[The words], ‘If you love me, keep my commandments, and ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete’, were brought to fulfilment in the disciples themselves.

They were proven truly to have loved him, truly to have obeyed in his commandments, on that day when all at once the Holy Spirit appeared to them in [tongues of] fire as they were praying in the upper room, and taught them, [putting] in mouths a diversity of languages, and made them strong in heart with the consolation of his love.

Earlier, however, they possessed the Paraclete himself, namely, our Lord sojourning with them in the flesh. By the sweetness of his miracles and the wealth of his preaching they were wont to be raised up and strengthened, so that they could not be scandalised at persecution by unbelievers.

But since by ascending into heaven after his Resurrection he had deserted them bodily, although the presence of his divine majesty was never absent from them, he rightly added concerning this Paraclete, that is, the Holy Spirit: ‘to abide with you forever’. He abides eternally with the saints, always illuminating inwardly and invisibly in this life, and introducing them to the everlasting contemplation of the sight of his majesty in the future.

If we too, dearly beloved brothers, love Christ perfectly in such a way that we prove the genuineness of this love by our observance of his commandments, he will ask the Father on our behalf, and the Father will give us another Paraclete. He will ask the Father through his humanity, and will give [us another Paraclete] with the Father through his divinity…

If we commit ourselves with all care to hearing, reading, conferring with one another, and preserving these [deeds and teachings] in heart and body, it is sure that we will easily overcome the hardships of this age – as if the Lord were sojourning with us forever and consoling us. If we love this Paraclete and keep his commandments, he will ask the Father, and he will give us another Paraclete – that is, he will in his clemency pour forth the grace of his Spirit into our hearts, and it will gladden us in the expectation of our heavenly homeland in the midst of the adversities of our present exile.”

– St Bede the Venerable

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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HOW THE CRUCIFIED SOUL SHOULD IMITATE THE SAVIOUR

“Fiat! [Thy will be done] always ‘fiat’! Let this be our unceasing canticle, let it resound in all parts of our interior being, as well as in its material envelope, our body!

The divine wisdom which deigned to undertake our guidance, and which, since that happy moment, has never ceased to direct our poor bark, even in the most violent tempests, knows well the day which will end our tribulations and distress. Nevertheless, it is not God’s pleasure to reveal it to us yet. Let us remember, however, the words of our good Saviour on the Cross, towards the close of His agony: Lord, I commend to You, with the fullest confidence, My desolate soul, seemingly abandoned by You. I place it entirely in Your hands. And, in token of His complete and eternal fidelity, He bowed His adorable Head, breathing forth His last sigh, and with it His pure Soul.

Now, what the Lord does, the children should do, in a manner, if not identical, at least similar. Such is our part, our glorious part. Let us not allow others to take it from us, let us watch jealously, lest we lose even the smallest fragment of it.”
– Barrelle

 
 

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ADVENT – REFLECTING ON THE NEED I HAVE FOR CHRIST TO COMPLETE IN ME THE WORK BEGUN LONG AGO

A “CHRISTMAS” WHICH IS BEING CELEBRATED FROM NOVEMBER ONWARDS HAS CEASED TO BE CHRISTMAS

“… The beauty of Christmas unlike, say, Thanksgiving, is not grounded in a celebration of human achievement successfully concluded. It does not stem from the beauty of human nature. It is, rather, a reminder that human beauty and virtues have their origins in the divinity of the Incarnate Christ. We are celebrating not simply the fact that Christ aspired to become a man like us; we are celebrating the fact that in becoming Man Christ wished to raise our humanity to his immortal nature. The perfection and beauty of the Christ Child is that of God-with-Us, not of some idealised version of what I was in childhood.

THE PREPARATION FOR A MORE INTENSE ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST

To want to celebrate Christ’s birth then, for the Christian should theoretically be inseparable from a period of preparation in which I reflect on the need I have for Christ to come now, and to complete in me the work begun long ago – not just when he was born, but before time itself existed, when I was chosen in him, when his ‘Incarnate form’ became the possibility of my existence, the pattern of my humanity and the promise of my happiness. I need to become aware of the ever increasing urgency of the task of modelling my own life, my own sense of what makes for happiness on his own, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The preparation cannot be just for a season of mirth; it must be for a more intense encounter with Christ through the medium of his historical Incarnation, which is an outward, visible sign of a divine reality which is the real reason for celebration. Without an explicit awareness of this Christological heart, as suggested by the very name Christmas, the outward, visible signs of celebration are Pagan and hollow.

ACKNOWLEDGING HIS ETERNAL DESIRE TO BECOME GOD-WITH-US

It is the Church as the Bride of Christ, who shows us how to share in such intimacy with Christ that the Spirit will be able to act in the depths of our souls to reproduce the pattern of Christ’s humanity in us. This presence of Christ, she reminds us, is dynamic. We should be celebrating it not merely as the recollection of a past occurrence, but as the possibility of Christ being born in our own time and milieu, in our own heart through faith, in prayer and sacrament, as we acknowledge his eternal desire to become God-With-Us. To bring us into this intimacy of likeness to Christ, the Church has given us Advent, not an anticipated Christmas.

A MAJOR MYSTERY OF FAITH

Not until December 17 does the liturgy focus on the birthday of the Child. If we do so, we are neglecting a major mystery of our faith, the truth that Christ will come again, that Christ will return in majesty to take us fully to himself. He has told us in no uncertain terms that he expects to find us watching, not just keeping up appearances.”
– From “Diary of a City Priest” by Pstor Iuventus, available from Amazon. This excerpt was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue December 6 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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