Monthly Archives: May 2010

Devotion to Mary is not about “Works” but Relationship with Mary–St. Louis de Montfort

From St. Louis de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary:

Whatever you do, do not be like a certain pious but self-willed lady in Rome, so often referred to by speakers on the Rosary. She was so devout and fervent that she put to shame by her holy life even the strictest religious in the church.

Having decided to ask St. Dominic’s advice about her spiritual life, she made her confession to him. For penance he gave her one Rosary to say and advised her to say it every day. She excused herself, saying that she had her regular exercises, that she made the Stations of Rome every day, that she wore sackcloth as well as a hair-shirt, that she gave herself the discipline several times a week, that she often fasted and did other penances. Saint Dominic urged her over and over again to take his advice and say the Rosary, but she would not hear of it. She left the confessional, horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who had tried so hard to persuade her to take up a devotion for which she had no taste.

Later on, when she was at prayer she fell into ecstasy and had a vision of her soul appearing before the Supreme Judge. Saint Michael put all her penances and to her prayers on one side of the scale and all her sins and imperfections on the other. The tray of her good works were greatly outweighed by that of her sins and imperfections.

Filled with alarm, she cried out for mercy, imploring the help of the Blessed Virgin, her gracious advocate, who took the one and only Rosary she had said for her penance and dropped it on the tray of her good works. This one Rosary was so heavy that it weighed more than all her sins as well as her good works. Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her servant Dominic and for not saying the Rosary every day.

As soon as she came to herself she rushed and threw herself at the feet of Saint Dominic and told him all that had happened, begged his forgiveness and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she rose to Christian perfection and finally to the glory of everlasting life.

You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.

Few saints have reached the same heights of prayer as Saint Mary Magdalen, who was lifted up to heaven by angels each day, and who had the privilege of learning at the feet of Jesus and his holy Mother. Yet one day, when she asked God to show her a sure way of advancing in his love and arriving at the heights of perfect, he sent the archangel St. Michael to tell her, on his behalf, that there was no other way to reach perfection than to meditate on our Lord’s passion. So he placed a cross in the front of her cave and told her to pray before it, contemplating the sorrowful mysteries which she had seen take place with her own eyes.

The example of Saint Francis de Sales, the great spiritual director of his time, should spur you on to join the holy confraternity of the Rosary, since, great saint though he was, he bound himself by vow to say the whole Rosary every day as long as he lived.

Saint Charles Borromeo also said it every day and strongly recommended this devotion to his priests and clerics in seminaries and to all his people.

Blessed Pius V, one of the greatest popes who have ever ruled the Church, used to say the Rosary every day. Saint Thomas of Villanova, Archbishop of Valencia, Saint Ignatius, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Teresa, and Saint Philip Neri, as well as many other great men whom I do not mention, were greatly devoted to the Rosary.

Follow their example; your spiritual directors will be very pleased, and if they are aware of the benefits which you can derive from this devotion, they will be the first to urge you to adopt it.

Order The Secret of the Rosary from the Rosary Center

Thirty Days’ Prayer to Mary

Ever glorious and blessed Mary,
Queen of Virgins,
Mother of Mercy,
hope and comfort of dejected and desolate souls,
through that sword of sorrow
which pierced thy tender heart
whilst thine only Son,
Christ Jesus, our Lord,
suffered death and ignominy on the cross;
through that filial tenderness
and pure love He had for thee,
grieving in thy grief,
whilst from His cross He recommended thee
to the care and protection
of His beloved disciple, St. John,
take pity,  I beseech thee,
on my poverty and necessities;
have compassion on my anxieties and cares;
assist and comfort me
in all my infirmities and miseries,
of what kind soever.

Thou art the Mother of Mercies,
the sweet comforter
and only refuge of the needy and the orphan,
of the desolate and afflicted.
Cast, therefore,
an eye of pity on a miserable,
forlorn child of Eve,
and hear my prayer;
for since,
in just punishment of my sins,
I find myself encompassed by a multitude of evils,
and oppressed with much anguish of spirit,
wither can I fly for more secure shelter,
O amiable Mother of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
than under the wings of thy maternal protection?

Attend, therefore,
I beseech thee,
with an ear of pity and compassion,
to my humble and earnest request.

I ask it,
through the bowels of mercy of thy dear Son;
Through that love and condescension wherewith
He embraced our nature, when,
in compliance with the divine Will,
thou gavest thy consent, and whom,
after the expiration of nine months
thou didst bring forth
from the chaste enclosure of thy womb,
to visit the world,
and bless it with His presence.

I ask it,
through that anguish of mind
wherewith thy beloved Son,
our dear Saviour,
was overwhelmed on the Mount of Olives,
when He besought His eternal Father
to remove from Him, if possible,
the bitter chalice of His future passion.

I ask it,
through the threefold repetition
of His prayers in the garden,
whence afterwards,
with dolorous steps and mournful tears,
thou didst accompany Him to the doleful theatre
of His death and sufferings.

I ask it,
through the welts and bruises of His virginal flesh,
occasioned by the cords and whips
wherewith He was bound and scourged,
when stripped of His seamless garment,
for which His executioners afterwards cast lots.

I ask it,
through the scoffs and ignominies
by which He was insulted;
the false accusations and unjust sentence
by which He was condemned to death,
and which He bore with heavenly patience. 

I ask it,
through His bitter tears and bloody sweat;
His silence and resignation;
His sadness and grief of heart.

I ask it,
through the blood which trickled
from His royal and Sacred Head,
when struck with the scepter of a reed
and pierced with His crown of thorns.

I ask it,
through the excruciating torments He suffered,
when His hands and feet were fastened
with gross nails to the tree of the cross.

I ask it,
through His vehement thirst,
and bitter potion of vinegar and gall.

I ask it,
through His dereliction on the cross
when He exclaimed,
“My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”

I ask it,
through His mercy extended to the good thief,
and through His recommending
His precious soul and spirit
into the hands of His eternal Father
before He expired, saying, “It is consummated.”

I ask it,
through the blood mixed with water,
which issued from His Sacred Side
when pierced with a lance,
and whence a flood of grace
and mercy has flowed to us.

I ask it,
through His immaculate life,
bitter passion and ignominious death on the cross,
at which nature itself was thrown into convulsions,
by the bursting of rocks,
rending of the veil of the Temple,
the earthquake,
and the darkness of the sun and moon. 

I ask it,
through His descent into hell,
where He confronted the Saints
of the old law with His presence,
and led the captivity captive.

I ask it,
through His glorious victory over death,
when He arose again to life on the third day,
and through the joy
which His appearance for forty days after gave thee,
His blessed Mother,
His Apostles,
and the rest of His Disciples;
when in thine and their presence
He miraculously ascended into heaven.

I ask it,
through the grace of the Holy Spirit,
infused into the hearts of His Disciples,
when

St. Louis de Montfort on the Rich Holiness of the Rosary

The Riches of Holiness Contained in the Prayers and Meditations of the Rosary

Never will anyone be able to understand the marvelous riches of sanctification which are contained in the prayers and mysteries of the Holy Rosary. This meditation on the meditation on the mysteries of the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ is the source of the most wonderful fruits for those who make use of it.

Today people want things that strike and move them, that leave deep impressions on the soul. Now has there ever been anything in the history of the world more moving than the wonderful story of the life, death, and glory of our Savior which is contained in the holy Rosary? In the fifteen tableaux, the principal scenes or mysteries of his life unfold before our eyes. How could there be any more prayers more wonderful and sublime than the Lord’s Prayer and the Ave of the angel? All our desires and all our needs are expressed in these two prayers.

The meditation on the mysteries and prayers of the Rosary is the easiest of all prayers, because the diversity of the virtues of our Lord and the different situations of his life which we study, refresh and fortify our mind in a wonderful way and help us to avoid distractions. For the learned, these mysteries are the source of the most profound doctrine, while simple people find them a means of instruction well within their reach.

We need to learn this easy form of meditation before progressing to the highest state of contemplation. This is the view of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the advice that he gives when he says that, first of all, one must practise on a battlefield, as it were, by acquiring all the virtues of which we have the perfect model in the mysteries of the Rosary; for, says the learned Cajetan, that is the way we arrive at a really intimate union with God, since without that union contemplation is nothing but an illusion which can lead souls astray.

If only the Illuminists or Quietists of these days had followed this piece of advice, they would never have fallen so low or caused such scandals among spiritual people. To think that it is possible to say prayers that are finer and more beautiful than the Our Father and the Hail Mary is to fall a prey to a strange illusion of the devil, for these heavenly prayers are the support, the strength and the safeguard of our souls.

I admit it is not always necessary to say them as vocal prayers and that interior prayer is, in a sense, more perfect than vocal. But believe me, it is really dangerous, not to say fatal, to give up saying the Rosary of your own accord under the pretext of seeking a more perfect union with God. Sometimes a soul that is proud in a subtle way and who may have done everything that he can do interiorly to rise to the sublime heights of contemplation that the saints have reached may be deluded by the noonday devil into giving up his former devotions which are good enough for ordinary souls. He turns a deaf ear to the prayers and the greeting of an angel and even to the prayer which God has composed, put into practice, and commanded: Thus all you pray: Our Father. Having reached this point, such a soul drifts from illusion to illusion, and falls from precipice to precipice.

Believe me, dear brother of the Rosary Confraternity, if you genuinely wish to attain a high degree of prayer in all honesty and without falling into the illusions of the devil so common with those who practice mental prayer, say the whole Rosary every day, or at least five decades of it.

If you have already attained, by the grace of God, a high degree of prayer, keep up the practise of saying the holy Rosary if you wish to remain in that state and by it to grow in humility. For never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil. This is a statement which I would sign with my blood.

On the other hand, if God in his infinite mercy draws you to himself as forcibly as he did some of the saints while saying the Rosary, make yourself passive in his hands and let yourself be drawn towards him. Let God work and praying you and let him say your Rosary in his way, and that will be sufficient for the day.

But if you are still in the state of active contemplation or the ordinary prayer of quietude, or the presence of God, affective prayer, you have even less reason for giving up the Rosary. Far from making you lose ground in mental prayer or stunting your spiritual growth, it will be a wonderful help to you. You will find it a real Jacob’s ladder with fifteen rungs by which you will go from virtue to virtue and from light to light. Thus, without danger of being misled, you will easily arrive at the fullness of the age of Jesus Christ.

Order The Secret of the Rosary from the Rosary Center

Thirty Days’ Prayer to Mary

Ever glorious and blessed Mary,
Queen of Virgins,
Mother of Mercy,
hope and comfort of dejected and desolate souls,
through that sword of sorrow
which pierced thy tender heart
whilst thine only Son,
Christ Jesus, our Lord,
suffered death and ignominy on the cross;
through that filial tenderness
and pure love He had for thee,
grieving in thy grief,
whilst from His cross He recommended thee
to the care and protection
of His beloved disciple, St. John,
take pity,  I beseech thee,
on my poverty and necessities;
have compassion on my anxieties and cares;
assist and comfort me
in all my infirmities and miseries,
of what kind soever.

Thou art the Mother of Mercies,
the sweet comforter
and only refuge of the needy and the orphan,
of the desolate and afflicted.
Cast, therefore,
an eye of pity on a miserable,
forlorn child of Eve,
and hear my prayer;
for since,
in just punishment of my sins,
I find myself encompassed by a multitude of evils,
and oppressed with much anguish of spirit,
wither can I fly for more secure shelter,
O amiable Mother of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
than under the wings of thy maternal protection?

Attend, therefore,
I beseech thee,
with an ear of pity and compassion,
to my humble and earnest request.

I ask it,
through the bowels of mercy of thy dear Son;
Through that love and condescension wherewith
He embraced our nature, when,
in compliance with the divine Will,
thou gavest thy consent, and whom,
after the expiration of nine months
thou didst bring forth
from the chaste enclosure of thy womb,
to visit the world,
and bless it with His presence.

I ask it,
through that anguish of mind
wherewith thy beloved Son,
our dear Saviour,
was overwhelmed on the Mount of Olives,
when He besought His eternal Father
to remove from Him, if possible,
the bitter chalice of His future passion.

I ask it,
through the threefold repetition
of His prayers in the garden,
whence afterwards,
with dolorous steps and mournful tears,
thou didst accompany Him to the doleful theatre
of His death and sufferings.

I ask it,
through the welts and bruises of His virginal flesh,
occasioned by the cords and whips
wherewith He was bound and scourged,
when stripped of His seamless garment,
for which His executioners afterwards cast lots.

I ask it,
through the scoffs and ignominies
by which He was insulted;
the false accusations and unjust sentence
by which He was condemned to death,
and which He bore with heavenly patience. 

I ask it,
through His bitter tears and bloody sweat;
His silence and resignation;
His sadness and grief of heart.

I ask it,
through the blood which trickled
from His royal and Sacred Head,
when struck with the scepter of a reed
and pierced with His crown of thorns.

I ask it,
through the excruciating torments He suffered,
when His hands and feet were fastened
with gross nails to the tree of the cross.

I ask it,
through His vehement thirst,
and bitter potion of vinegar and gall.

I ask it,
through His dereliction on the cross
when He exclaimed,
“My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”

I ask it,
through His mercy extended to the good thief,
and through His recommending
His precious soul and spirit
into the hands of His eternal Father
before He expired, saying, “It is consummated.”

I ask it,
through the blood mixed with water,
which issued from His Sacred Side
when pierced with a lance,
and whence a flood of grace
and mercy has flowed to us.

I ask it,
through His immaculate life,
bitter passion and ignominious death on the cross,
at which nature itself was thrown into convulsions,
by the bursting of rocks,
rending of the veil of the Temple,
the earthquake,
and the darkness of the sun and moon. 

I ask it,
through His descent into hell,
where He confronted the Saints
of the old law with His presence,
and led the captivity captive.

I ask it,
through His glorious victory over death,
when He arose again to life on the third day,
and through the joy
which His appearance for forty days after gave thee,
His blessed Mother,
His Apostles,
and the rest of His Disciples;
when in thine and their presence
He miraculously ascended into heaven.

I ask it,
through the grace of the Holy Spirit,
infused into the hearts of His Disciples,
when

G. K. Chesterton on St. Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing. It was impossible that the thought should not cross my mind that she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. And with that thought came a larger one, and the colossal figure of her Master had also crossed the theatre of my thoughts.

Psalm 17, Blessing Psalter

17 For a grave and unjust accusation, 3 times a day for 3 days
1 Lord, hear a cause that is just,
pay heed to my cry.
Turn your ear to my prayer:
no deceit is on my lips.

2 From you may my judgment come forth.
Your eyes discern the truth.

3 You search my heart, you visit me by night.
You test me and you find in me no wrong.
/4 My words are not sinful as are men’s words.

I kept from violence because of your word,
5 I kept my feet firmly in your paths;
there was no faltering in my steps.

6 I am here and I call, you will hear me, O God.
Turn your ear to me; hear my words.
7 Display your great love, you whose right hand saves
your friends from those who rebel against them.

8 Guard me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the violent attack of the wicked.

My foes encircle me with deadly intent.
10 Their hearts tight shut, their mouths speak proudly.
11 They advance against me, and now they surround me.

Their eyes are watching to strike me to the ground,
12 as though they were lions ready to claw
or like some young lion crouched in hiding.

13 Lord, arise, confront them, strike them down!
Let your sword rescue my soul from the wicked;
14 let your hand, O Lord, rescue me from men,
from men whose reward is in this present life.

You give them their fill of your treasures;
they rejoice in abundance of offspring
and leave their wealth to their children.

15 As for me, in my justice I shall see your face
and be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory.

The Rosary is a Means of Perfection

Meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary is a great means of perfection.

The saints made our Lord’s life the principal object of their study; they meditate on his virtues and his sufferings, and in this way arrived at Christian perfection.

Saint Bernard began with this meditation and he always kept it up. “At the very beginning of my conversion,” he said, “I made a bouquet of myrrh fashioned from the sorrows of my Savior. I placed this bouquet upon my heart, thinking of the lashes, the thorns and the nails of his passion. I applied my whole mind to the meditation on these mysteries every day.”

This was also the practice of the holy martyrs; we admire how they triumphed over the most cruel sufferings. Where could this admirable constancy of the martyrs come from, says Saint Bernard, if not from the wounds of Jesus Christ, on which they meditated so frequently? Where was the soul of these generous athletes when their blood gushed forth and their bodies were wracked with cruel torments? Their soul was in the wounds of Christ and those wounds made them invincible.

During her whole life, our Savior’s holy Mother was occupied in meditating on the virtues and the sufferings of her Son. When she heard the angels sing their hymn of joy at his birth and saw the shepherds adore him in the stable, her heart was filled with wonder and she meditated on all these marvels. She compared the greatness of the Word incarnate to the way he humbled himself in this lowly fashion; the straw of the crib, to his throne in the heart of his Father; the might of God, to the weakness of a child; his wisdom, to his simplicity.

Our Lady said to Saint Bridget one day, “Whenver I used to contemplate the beauty, modesty, and wisdom of my Son, my heart was filled with joy; and whenever I considered his hands and feet which would be pierced with cruel nails, I wept bitterly and my heart was rent with sorrow and pain.”

After our Lord’s Ascension, our Blessed Lady spent the rest of her life visiting the places that had been hallowed by his presence and on his terrible passion.

Saint Mary Magdalen continually performed the same religious exercises during the last thirty years of her life, when she lived at Saint-Baume. Saint Jerome tells us that this was the devotion of the faithful in the early centuries of the Church. From all the countries of the world they came to the Holy Land to engrave more deeply on their hearts a great love and remembrance of the Savior of mankind by seeing the places and things he had made holy by his birth, his work, his sufferings, and his death.

All Christians have but one faith and adore one and the same God, and hope for the same happiness in heaven; they know only one mediator, who is Jesus Christ; all must imitate their divine model, and in order to do this they must meditate on the mysteries of his life, of his virtues and of his glory.

It is a great mistake to think that only priests and religious and those who have withdrawn from the turmoil of the world are supposed to meditate upon the truths of our faith and the mysteries of the life of Christ. If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation is just as much incumbent on the laity, because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might cause them to lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues, and sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which are presented to us in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

Order The Secret of the Rosary from the Rosary Center