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LORD, GRANT US THE STRENGTH OF FAITH AND CHARITY OF THE SAINTS

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the hearts of thy Saints lightest up the flame of thy love; grant us the same strength of faith and charity which thou gavest them; that we may not only honour their festivals in name, but also follow their holiness in deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

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Posted by on August 13, 2015 in Prayers for Today

 

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PRIDE, AVARICE, STUBBORNNESS, ANGER – THE MEANING OF THE WORD “ROOF” IN THE BIBLE

They stripped the roof and lowered the stretcher with the man sick of the palsy in front of Jesus, who was in the house.

* * * * * * * * *

“YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN”

‘And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And, when they could not offer him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof, where he was: and opening it they let down the bed whereon the man sick of the palsy lay’ [Mk 2:3-4].

Humility and poverty, patience and obedience, are the four who bring the soul to Jesus, as it lies helpless in carnal pleasure.

And because they cannot bring it because of the crowd of pressing desires of the flesh, they strip the roof and open it, and let down the bed with the palsied man in front of Jesus. The roof is a fourfold one: of pride, avarice, stubbornness and anger, the leaky roof spoken of by Ecclesiasticus [cf. Proverbs 19:13], blinding the eye of reason.

Isaiah says: ‘What aileth thee also, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?’ [Is 22:1];

and David: ‘Let them be as grass upon the tops of houses’, etc. [Ps 128:6].

This roof, covering and obscuring the face of the soul so that it cannot see the light of justice, the four virtues mentioned strip by contrition of heart, and open in oral confession; thus they let down before Jesus, trusting in Jesus’ mercy, both soul and body in the satisfaction of penance.

No-one can come to Jesus, unless he is carried by these four virtues. As the Gloss says, ‘He is carried by four, who is lifted to God by four virtues, with a trusting mind.

The Book of Wisdom says: ‘She teaches sobriety and wisdom and justice and virtue’ [cf. Wisd. 8:7], (which others call prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice).

ON FAITH: JESUS SEEING HIS FAITH.

‘And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son. Thy sins are forgiven thee.’

The Gloss says: ‘His own faith is strengthened by God, where only that of others had been strong; so that being healed within and without, the man arose, and his errors were forgiven him by the merits of others.

What wonderful humility!

Despised by men, helpless in all his limbs, he is called ‘son’, at any rate, he is certainly such because his sins are forgiven.’

Note these three points: seeing their faith, ‘Be of good heart, son’, and ‘Thy sins are forgiven’.

Faith without love is empty; a Christian’s faith is with love.

Take note: it is one thing to ‘believe God’, another to ‘believe that’ there is a God, and another to ‘believe in’ God.

To ‘believe God’ is to believe that what he says is true, which bad people may do; and we may believe a man, without believing in him. To ‘believe’ in the second sense is to believe in his existence, that he is God; and the devils do this.

To ‘believe in’ God is by believing to love him, to go to him, to adhere to him and be incorporated into his members [the Church, His body].

By this faith, the wicked man is justified. Where there is this sort of faith, there is trust in God’s mercy and remission of sin.‘And, behold, some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth’ [Mt 9:3].

Because they do not believe Jesus to be true God, they say he blasphemes by forgiving sins. ‘And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ [Mt 9:4].

The word is ‘cogitating’, a deliberate recalling to mind. Jesus sees their thoughts; as Hebrews says:

‘All things are naked and open to his eyes’ [Heb 4:13];

and Ecclesiasticus:‘The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun,beholding round about all the ways of men,and the bottom of the deep,and looking into the hearts,into the most hidden parts.For all things were known to the Lord God before they were created:so also after they were perfected he beholdeth all things’ [Ecclus 23:28-29].

So, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ The prophet Micah called down woe on those who pondered evil in their beds, and performed it at morning light [cf. Mic 2:1].

When we dwell with mental pleasure, and consent to evil, in our ‘beds’ (our hearts), we perform that evil in the morning light, before the Lord’s eyes, even if we do not in fact carry it out. He who looks on a woman to lust after her (that is, who looks on her in such a way that he lusts for her) has already committed adultery with her in his heart [cf. Mt 5:28].

The scribes could have known that he was God, from the very fact that he saw their thoughts. ‘Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?’ [Mt 9:5].

The Gloss says, ‘Because you would not believe this spiritual truth, it is proved by a visible sign of no less power; that you might know the hidden power and majesty in the Son of man, in as much as he can forgive sins like God.’The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause:

‘Putting away lying, speak ye the truth, every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil’ [Eph 4:25-27].

We said just now that there are four virtues that carry the paralysed soul to Jesus, humility, poverty, patience and obedience; by which we put away the four things spoken of by the Apostle.

By humility, we put away the lying of pride or vainglory, which lies by claiming to be something, whereas it is nothing. Lying is deceiving another’s mind.

‘Speak ye the truth’, by love of poverty. Why is it that nowadays almost everyone speaks falsely to his neighbour, if not from avarice? This is what divides from one another those who should be members of Christ.

‘Be angry’ with yourselves, by repentance, ‘and sin not’. The angry man thinks evil, and so the devil gets into him, to perform evil deeds. Patience is necessary, to drive out anger. Alternatively, ‘Be angry’ means, show such vehement indignation towards yourselves that you desist from sin. Let not the sun which is Christ set, by deserting your mind. He is obscured from us by anger, as by a mountain standing in the way.

Here, then, is why the Apostle invites us to have patience. He also invites us to obedience, saying ‘Give not place to the devil’. When the first man fell into disobedience, he gave place to the devil. You must obey, because obedience shuts out the devil, and he cannot get into the soul.

We ask you, then, Lord Jesus Christ, to put away the lying of our pride; to drive out our avarice by poverty; to break our anger with patience; and to crush our disobedience by the obedience of your Passion. By this, may we be presented to you, and receive the forgiveness of our sins; and be made fit to rejoice with you for ever. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen. (by St Anthony of Padua)

 
 

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HOW DO WE JOIN THE CHOIRS OF ANGELS DURING OUR EARTHLY LIFE? – “ON THE NINE ORDERS OF ANGELS AND THEIR MEANING” – BY ST ANTHONY OF PADUA

“WHOEVER, THEN REPRESENTS IN HIMSELF THESE NINE ORDERS…AND FROM THEM ORDERS AND SHAPES THE LIFE OF HIS BODY, CAN BE TRULY CALLED A ‘RULER’, OF WHOM IS SAID, ‘A CERTAIN RULER.'”

“Let us say, then: ‘There was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum.’ Let us see what these four: the ruler, his son and his sickness, and Capharnaum, mean; and say a little about each. Any faithful person is called a ‘ruler’, after the King of kings of all creation, the Lord Jesus Christ, who rules angels in heaven and men on earth; because he has within himself a kind of representation of the heavenly orders, and consists of the four elements from which all creation is made. There are nine orders, which we will arrange in three orders of three.

In the first order are Angels, Archangels and Virtues; the Angels representing obedience to the commandments, the Archangels the keeping of the counsels, and the Virtues the miracles of a holy life. You belong to the angelic order when you obey the Lord’s command; thus the prophet Malachi says:

‘The lips of a priest shall keep knowledge’, etc. [Mal 2:7]

Regarding this, see the Gospel, ‘A blind man sat by the way’ [Quinquagesima]. You belong to the order of Archangels when you strive to fulfil not only the commandments, but also the counsels of Jesus Christ. Whence Isaiah counsels you:

‘Take counsel, gather a council.’ [Is 16:3]

You belong to the choir of Virtues when you shine with the wonders of a holy life. Whence it says in John:

‘He that believeth in me, the works that I do he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.’ [Jn 14:12]

The Gloss says, ‘What the Lord does in us with our co-operation is greater than everything he does without us; that a just man is made from a wicked one is greater than all heaven and earth and the rest. Those things pass away, but this remains; and in them there is only God’s work, but in this there is also his image. And though he created the angels, it seems a greater thing to justify sinners than to create just men; for though each manifests an equal power, this shows a greater mercy.’

‘I SAW AN ANGEL COMING DOWN.’

In the second order are Principalities, Powers and Dominions. Note that there are three things in us which we should control, if not as kings then at least as rulers. These are our thoughts, our eyes and our tongue. Principalities subdue the evil spirits, and we should subdue evil thoughts, which are set alight by evil. Whence John says in the Apocalypse:

‘I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand; and he laid hold of the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.’ [Apoc 20:1-2]

Moral interpretation: The angel is the just man, who comes down from heaven when he strives to shape his way of life, as he lives on earth, according to the purity of heaven. The key is discretion, with which the just man closes and opens the abyss of thought. He ‘closes’ when he restrains them, he ‘opens’ them when he judges them. The chain in his hand is penance in his works. A chain holds fast, and holds by means of many links. When contrition is linked to confession, confession to satisfaction, and satisfaction to love of neighbour, there is made a great chain with which the just man can bind the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan. ‘Dragon’ denotes the spirit of pride, ‘serpent’ the thoughts of poisonous lust, ‘devil’ (‘the one cast down to his ruin’, in Hebrew) avarice, and Satan, the adversary, the malice of discord. The just man binds all these with a chain for a thousand years; subduing the dragon of pride by contrition of heart, the serpent of lust by confession, the devil of avarice by satisfaction and almsdeeds, and the Satan of discord by love of neighbour. This ‘for a thousand years’, the perfect number, meaning by final perseverance.

Again, we ought to have power over our eyes, which are like ‘the robbers who had stolen a little maid out of the land of Israel’ [cf 4(2) Kg 5:2], that is, modesty from the mind of the just man. We should say with Job: ‘I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin’ [Job 31:1]. In Genesis, the Lord says to Cain:

‘If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? But if ill, shalt not sin henceforth be present at the door? But the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.’ [Gen 4:7]

Sin at the door is the concupiscence of the flesh in the eyes. If we exercise power over them, our carnal appetite will be under us, being subject to the yoke of reason.

Again, we should have dominion over our tongue, which is like a harlot,

‘talkative and wandering… not bearing to be quiet, not able to abide still at home; now abroad, now in the streets, now lying in wait at the corners.’ [Prov 7:11-12]

Otherwise, as James says,

‘it defileth the whole body and inflameth the wheel of our nativity, and kindleth a great wood.’ [Jas 3:6,5]

If we abide in this threefold order of Principalities, Powers and Dominions, we shall truly be rulers.

ON THE THREEFOLD CHARITY: ‘ONE CHERUB STRETCHED OUT HIS ARM.’

In the third order are Thrones, Chreubim and Seraphim. We are Thrones when we humble ourselves within ourselves, and judge ourselves. Whence it says in the Psalm:

Give to the king thy judgement, O God. [Ps 71:2]

God gives his judgement to the king (that is, to the just man) that he may judge himself, so that God may not find anything to condemn him. The Apostle says,

‘If we should judge ourselves, we should not be judged.’ [1Cor 11:31]

O God, give me your judgement, that I may make your judgement my owwn, and in making my own judgement, I may escape yours!

‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. [Heb 10:31]

Again, Cherubim represent the fullness of knowledge, which is charity. Whoever has this is full, and knows how he should walk. We are Cherubim, then, when we do good with charity. Whence it says in Ezekiel:

One Cherub stretched out his arm from the midst of the cherubims to the fire that was between the cherubims; and he took and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen. [Ezek 10:7]

Note that in this text cherubim are referred to once in the singular and twice in the plural, because charity is threefold: to yourself, to God and to your neighbour. You who are a cherub as to yourself, then, should stretch out the hand of holy working from the midst of the cherubim (the charity of God) towards the fire of a holy life, which is between the cherubim (holy and charitable men), and of that fire (the example of a holy life) give to the man clothed in linen (any faithful Christian, clad in the faith of the Lord’s Incarnation). As the Apostle says,

As many of you as have been baptised in Christ have put on Christ. [Gal 3:27]

Unless you are first a cherub in yourself, you cannot stretch out your hand from the midst of the cherubim to the fire which is between the cherubim; so begin with your own charity first, and then you can have charity for others.

Again, Seraphim means ‘burning’. We are Seraphim when we are on fire with compunction, overflowing with tears for ‘the upper and the nether watery ground’ [cf. Jg 1:14-15].

I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I, but that it be kindled? [Lk 12:49]

says the Lord: that it may melt what is frozen. Whence the Bride says in Canticles:

My soul melted when my beloved spoke. [Canticles 5:6]

Whoever, then, represents in himself theses nine orders, as we have explained them, and from them orders and shapes the life of his body, made up of the four elements, can be truly called a ‘ruler’, of whom is said, ‘A certain ruler.’

CAPHARNAUM

There follows, ‘Whose son was sick at Capharnaum’. The ruler’s son is the soul of anyone faithful to Jesus Christ; who lives unharmed as long as he lives in the order described. But when he dwells at Capharnaum, he becomes sick to death. Capharnaum means ‘field of fatness’ or ‘farm of consolation’… [pride, gluttony, lust, love of worldly prosperity etc.] All those who commit these abominations, like the ruler’s son at Capernaum, lie sick unto death with a sickness of the soul. Therefore the ruler is insistent in his prayer, that his son may be freed from sickness and restored to health. May he grant this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

 
 

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A SHORT EXTRACT OF ST ANTHONY’S PREACHING ON REASONS OF SOME ILLNESSES AND THE CALL FOR SANCTIFICATION TO THE SUFFERER AND/OR HIS LOVED ONES ON HIS BEHALF

“‘And, behold, they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son. Thy sins are forgiven thee’ (Mt 9:2).

As the Gloss says, sometimes illness is a result of sins, and so they must be forgiven first, so that health may be restored. Illnesses happen in five ways: first, so that the just may increase their merits by patience, like Job; or to preserve their virtue, lest pride tempt them, like Paul; or to correct their sins, as the leprosy to Mary, Moses’ sister, and like this paralytic; or for God’s glory, as with the man born blind, and Lazarus; or as a beginning of eternal punishment, as with Herod, that he might see here what would follow in hell. So Jeremiah says, ‘With a double destruction destroy them, Lord (Jer 17:18)… ‘Putting away lying, speak ye the truth, every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil’ (Eph 4:25-27).

[SPIRITUAL REMEDIES: VIRTUES]

…there are four virtues that carry the paralysed soul to Jesus, humility, poverty, patience and obedience; by which we put away the four things spoken of by the Apostle. By humility, we put away the lying of pride or vainglory, which lies by claiming to be something, whereas it is nothing. Lying is deceiving another’s mind. ‘Speak ye the truth’, by love of poverty. Why is it that nowadays almost everyone speaks falsely to his neighbour, if not from avarice? This is what divides from one another those who should be members of Christ. ‘Be angry’ with yourselves, by repentance, ‘and sin not’. The angry man [other than being angry with oneself alone] thinks evil, and so the devil gets into him, to perform evil deeds. Patience is necessary, to drive out anger. Alternatively, ‘Be angry’ means, show such vehement indignation towards yourselves that you desist from sin. Let not the sun which is Christ set, by deserting your mind. He is obscured from us by anger, as by a mountain standing in the way. Here, then, is why the Apostle invites us to have patience. He also invites us to obedience, saying, ‘Give not place to the devil’. When the first man [Adam] fell into disobedience, he gave place to the devil. You must obey, because obedience shuts out the devil, and he cannot get into the soul.

[PRAYER]

We ask you, then, Lord Jesus Christ, to put away the lying of our pride; to drive out our avarice by poverty; to break our anger with patience; and to crush our disobedience by the obedience of your Passion. By this, may we be presented to you, and receive the forgiveness of our sins; and be made fit to rejoice with you for ever. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.”

 

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CONTRADICTIONS ARE A HAIR-SHIRT – GEMS FOR SPIRITUAL LIFE AND DAILY ROUTINE BY MOTHER FRANCES CABRINI

SAFEGUARDING SPIRITUAL VALUES

“Quite truly it has been written of [St Frances Xavier Cabrini] that she…was a modern woman by nature and inclination. She was thoroughly in sympathy with what has become known as ‘the women’s movement,’ provided only that spiritual values were safeguarded…she was no obscurantist, and wasted no time in sighing after the days of her youth and lamenting the degeneracy of the rising generation. Nor did she adopt an attitude of wholesale, unintelligent destructive criticism towards every educational development, or even every Government requirement.

WOMEN IN MODERN LIFE

Realising the increasing part woman was to play in public life, she envisaged her in the world of to-day as the Church herself does…She foresaw the part the cinema was to play in modern education; [regarding the students in her schools] she believed in plenty of healthy exercise and catered for all the sporting and athletic interests of the day. At the same time, her keen sense of the need of home-making in modern society led her to develop the teaching of domestic science along the most up-to-date lines, and also to preserve and encourage the traditional feminine arts and crafts. She rightly objected to the type of woman who, whilst proficient in higher mathematics, cannot use a needle or run her own home intelligently! …

PREVENTING PURE MATERIALISM IN NURSING

Another field of women’s labour with which she was greatly concerned was nursing. As she gained acquaintance with hospital conditions and medical circles in the [United] States, she was sadly impressed by the fact that so many doctors and nurses are free-thinkers. She saw how easily the young nurse, constantly occupied in tending bodily ailments and studying material science, can fall into a pure materialism. Hence she desired to have nurses’ homes attached to her hospitals, and these foundations to be thoroughly efficient and recognised as training centres for the State nursing certificates, so that girls who entered the profession as practising Catholics should not lose fervour and, perhaps, faith during their years of training. She readily admitted non-Catholics who were ready to conform to the regulations and the Cabrini nurses’ homes, as the Cabrini schools, are recognised as some of the best in the States. In the true sense, she was a Christian humanist and humanitarian.

MOTHER FRANCES AS A SUPERIOR

Turning to consider Frances Cabrini as a Superior and a nun… Among her rare personal notes we find this resolution: ‘I will study to maintain the union of holy charity among the Sisters. I will love them with a true mother’s love, yet striving to bear myself as the servant of all…seeing in each one the image of my beloved Bridegroom and of Mary most holy…’ Those who knew declared that she succeeded…

PENITENTIAL PRACTICES – DESTROYING THE IDOL OF SELF-LOVE

She prescribed no special corporal austerities, and rarely allowed any, but she made up for these in other ways. If lacking the ‘classic’ penitential practices, her institute is yet sufficiently severe. She required her religious to ‘mortify themselves a little in everything and destroy the idol of self-love.’ In 1895, she notes that Quito is ‘where Blessed Mariana lived in such austere penance, though this is rather to be admired than imitated.’ (Blessed Mariana Paredes, known as the ‘Lily of Quito’, is patron of that city. Born in 1618, she died in 1645, having lived the life of a religious in her own home, but never joining any congregation. She was beatified in 1854). From Lima, having alluded in a letter to the austerities practised by St Rose, she passes on to write of that saint’s ‘other crucifixions – those of the spirit – which are better; real crucifixions in the strictest sense, which serve so well to purify souls and unite them intimately to their Beloved.’

MORTIFICATION IN DAILY LIFE

She held that the special circumstances of their life provided her religious with mortifications enough, provided that these were rightly used and, it must be added, she ground fine.

NO GRUMBLING OR COMPLAINING

She would not tolerate the slightest grumbling or complaint, or the raising of difficulties over the daily trials of life, be these what they might. A sister who complained of the heat, when travelling in summer, was promptly silenced and reminded that all weather was God’s weather. Another, who asked permission to take a drink outside of meal-time, adding that she was very thirsty, received the reply: ‘Do not speak like that; it is unmortified. Say simply, ‘May I have a drink?’ without adding anything else.’ Yet another, travelling along the Ligurian coast, remarked, as she watched the bathers from the hot, stifling railway carriage, how she would love a plunge. ‘Do not talk like that; it is self-indulgence,’ was the foundress’ reply.

CHEERFULNESS, PATIENCE, SILENCE

Frances Cabrini’s daughters must take in silence, patiently and cheerfully, absolutely what each day might bring forth. ‘Contradictions,’ she once wrote, ‘there is a real, sharp hair-shirt! If you love penance, there is a penance that has made saints and which all can practise, even with the weakest health. It is a hair-shirt that you can wear not for an hour but all day long.’…

‘YOU MUST BE EMPTIED OF SELF’

Loved as she was, she was extremely reserved, and allowed no familiarities. The few who ventured upon such were severely snubbed. She treated everyone alike, showing an equal interest in all, so that it was impossible to say that one was loved more than another… ‘Do you want to love God? You must be emptied of self. You must enlarge your hearts, and that is done only by getting rid of self-love. Our self-will and self-love are what hinders the love of God from entering our souls. Get rid of these, and you will become fervent souls, true missionaries.’

OBEDIENCE DISTINGUISHES TRUE FROM FALSE PIETY

DAILY LIFE OBEDIENCE AS SACRIFICE

The relations of subjects to their local Superiors had to be on the supernatural plane, always and absolutely. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Frances Cabrini here speaks but the authentic language of the classic ages of religious life.
‘You serve our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore, see Him in your Superior…if thoughts assail you against obedience, reject them as promptly as you would those against faith or chastity…never look at her personal qualities, her gifts, her manners; otherwise you will change supernatural obedience into that which is purely human.’ Again: ‘It is obedience that distinguishes true from false piety. It is the obedient religious who speaks victories… Obedience is a sacrifice immensely more pleasing to God than any sacrifice you might choose for yourselves.’

And all this in view not only of their own sanctification but that of others. ‘If you sacrifice yourselves, you will become saints and, after having sanctified yourselves, you will certainly be able to sanctify others. She who is not holy will never be able to make anyone else so; she who is will shed a fragrance of holiness around her and all who come into contact with her will breathe it.’

HUMILITY

ABANDONMENT TO GOD’S WILL

Her conception of humility… No refusal to recognise real gifts or good qualities in one’s self, no pious cliches, easy to utter but often meaning nothing; no posing. Humility meant perfect truth as regards oneself, and perfect ABANDON to the will of God; the soul simply counting upon His grace to fulfil whatever task be laid upon it as well as He means it to be fulfilled; referring to Him whatever measure of success may be achieved, and accepting apparent failure peacefully, even joyfully, should failure be His will.

Once she placed a Sister at the head of a school of several hundred pupils. Taken by surprise, the latter exclaimed: ‘Oh Mother, what a responsibility! So many innocent souls to train aright!’ In a flash came the retort: ‘Do you imagine that the welfare of these souls depends upon you, and not rather upon God working in you? Poor creatures we should be, indeed, if the fruit were to be looked for from our puny efforts! We must do our duty well, but in the utmost simplicity and without preoccupations, secure that our Lord will take thought for everything.’

She thus expressed the principle more at length: ‘The true Missionary Sister never thinks, ‘What office will be given me? Where shall I be sent?’ And she should never say, ‘I can’t carry out this or that; I am incapable.’ Whether she be made Superior-General, sent to teach a class of infants, or to sweep a staircase, she should carry it out serenely, in holy indifference…that is real love, practical love, stripped of all self-interest; the strong love you ought to have. You are immolated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; in this complete self-abnegation lies the very essence of sanctiity. So courage, perseverance! Live up to your vocation!'”
– From: “Frances Xavier Cabrini, By A Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey”, 1944

 

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MEDITATING ON THE SACRED MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY HELPS US TO BECOME MORE LIKE CHRIST

BY ST LOUIS DE MONTFORT

The chief concern of a Christian soul should be to tend to perfection. Saint Paul tells us “Be ye followers of God, as most dear children.” This obligation is included in the eternal decree of our predestination, as the one and only means prescribed by God to attain everlasting glory.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes a delightful comparison when he says that we are all artists and that our souls are blank canvasses which we have to fill in. The colours which we must use are the Christian virtues, and our Model is Jesus Christ, the perfect Living Image of God the Father. Just as a portrait painter who wants to do a good job places himself before his model and glances at him before making each stroke, so the Christian must always have the life and virtues of Jesus Christ before his eyes so that he may never say, think or do the least thing which is not in harmony with his Model.

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

Children copy their parents through watching them and talking to them and their learn their own language through hearing them speak. An apprentice learns his trade through watching his master at work; in the very same way the faithful members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary can become like their divine Master if they reverently study and imitate the virtues of Jesus Christ which are shown in the fifteen [now twenty] mysteries of His life. They can do this with the help of His grace and through the intercession of His Blessed Mother. Long ago Moses was inspired by God to command the Jewish people never to forget the graces which had been showered upon them.

The Son of God, then, has all the more reason to tell us to engrave the mysteries of His life, passion and death upon our hearts and to have them always before our eyes – because each mystery reminds of His goodness to us in some special way and it is by these mysteries that He has shown us His overwhelming love and desire for our salvation. Our Lord is saying to us: “Oh, all of you that pass by, pause a while and see if there has ever been sorrow unto the sorrow which I have undergone for love of you. Be mindful of My poverty and of My humiliation; think of the wine mingled with gaLl which I drank for you during my bitter passion.”

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

 

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