holy rosary

Month of the Holy Rosary: Do you have difficulty praying it?

October is the Month of the Most Holy Rosary.  If you have not been praying it, there are still 8 days left!  If you're having difficulty getting around to it, please read this post and see if any of this resonates with you.....

5 Reasons Why We Should Pray the Rosary

1) The Mother of God has Requested it-What better reason could there be?  Our Lady gave the Holy Rosary to Saint Dominic and has continued through history, to request that it be prayed.  At Fatima, she implored, "Pray the Rosary every day."  She has given 15 Promises to those who pray the Rosary.  The following 4 reasons come from her own list!

2)  Protection and Graces-The first Promise Our Lady gives is this:  "To all those who shall recite my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and very great graces."

3)  Armor Against Hell-"The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against Hell.  It will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy."

4)  Improves Earthly Life and Obtains Mercy-"The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish and will obtain for souls the most abundant Divine Mercies.  It will substitute in hearts love of God for love of the world, and elevate them to desire heavenly and eternal good.  O that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!"

5)  Eternal Salvation-"Those who shall recite my Rosary piously, considering its Mysteries, will not be overwhelmed by misfortune nor die a bad death.  The sinner will be converted, the just will grow in grace and become worthy of eternal life."

5 Reasons Why We Don't & the Solutions

1)  Time-In this profoundly inauthentic life that we are living today, we are pulled in many directions and the spiritual life is not made a priority.  Our Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Luke 12:31)  We must place the Kingdom of Heaven first, above all earthly concerns.  We all need to examine our lives and ask God how we can do things differently and re-structure our days.  Praying one of the Mysteries (5 decades) of the Rosary should only take about 15 minutes.  If we really do not have that much time, praying only one decade is an option.  It is understandable, some people (think of a mother with 8 children-or any children for that matter!) may be so busy that they cannot find the time and simply fall into bed at night, completely exhausted.  Chances are, if this is you, you are also pretty wound up mentally at this point!  Meditating on just one Mystery as you fall asleep will be a gift to Our Mother, which she will hold precious to her heart.  And it will probably help you fall asleep!

2)  Difficulty Establishing Habit-Even though the Rosary does not take much time, it may seem daunting before you have established the habit.  If this is the case, starting with only one decade will help break the ice.  Get used to praying one decade and then systematically add a decade until you are praying all 5 Mysteries!  Take a time of day when you have a relaxed space of time to pray...for some, this may be the morning (if you're an early bird!), for some, mid-day or evening.  Just stick with it and know that you've got Heaven on your side!

3)  Difficulty Praying Alone-Admittedly, praying the Rosary alone is an intensely internal experience.  Of course, you are never REALLY alone, for all of Heaven is at your side.  But for some, praying alone is difficult.  Many churches have groups which pray the Rosary after daily Mass.....or, pray it as a family.  Another option is to start your own Rosary group at your church or home.  You can be creative!  Rosary praying can be done with children, focused on a particular intention or combined with other activities, such as crafts, Scripture reading or learning religious songs.

4)  Lack of Comfortable Space-For some, the problem may be as simple as having no place to pray.  If you want to pray during your lunch hour at work, think about finding a quiet spot in another area of the building or perhaps outside.  Don't be embarrassed to be seen praying your Rosary!  You are giving a great witness to others and may even be instrumental in someone's conversion.  At home, there may be constant distractions around you.  Your bedroom may be no help if you are not comfortable sitting up in bed.  Every home should have a quiet place where prayer can take place.  You can devote a small room to this, your basement or part of a room.  It's a great place to display statues and other religious art and objects.  It should also be a comfortable place to be.  Soft chairs and soft light, maybe some floor pillows....an inviting, welcoming, peaceful space.  A place your family will want to be, where the spiritual life can be cultivated.  This prayer space will stand in direct contrast to all the electronics, bells, whistles and distractions, much of which is unholy, that this culture makes us think we need.

5)  Scrupulosity-The reason some of us don't pray the Holy Rosary more often, may be that we feel we don't pray it perfectly.  We expect so much of ourselves that we become discouraged and lose motivation.  The solution is to accept that no human being is perfect and that includes you.  We get distracted, our thoughts wander, we might be sleepy.  THAT'S OKAY!  Who's to say that these even are imperfections?  God uses our humanity to humble us, to break us, to refine us, to learn to trust HIM.  So if scrupulosity is your problem:  Get over yourself!  See "Difficulty Establishing Habit" above.  Starting small may help you to get started....and trust in God, not in yourself.

What a better place the world would be if from pole to pole the Holy Rosary resounded from every home to the Heavens!

Please note, I do allow all my posts to be shared via internet, email or printed, as long as this website is included.  Feel free to distribute this or any of my posts.  CM

Image courtesy http://blogs.nd.edu/oblation/2011/05/06/teaching-catholic-practice-praying-the-rosary-with-middle-school-students/

Meditations on the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

glorious.jpg

On Good Friday, we completed the meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries.  Now that it is Eastertide, we will begin the Glorious Mysteries.  As I previously said, these meditations were originally published two years ago and are undergoing some editing during this re-publication.  I completed the Sorrowful and the first two Glorious Mysteries and then the project fell by the wayside.  During Eastertide (which traditionally ends the Saturday after Pentecost), I will be re-publishing these.  After this, I will be writing the remaining meditations from scratch, which will take some time.  Even though these are short pieces, I will be doing a painstaking study of Scripture, prayer and deep thought, not to mention a very meticulous writing process.  I cannot feel rushed in this process, so they will be posted as God wills that I finish them.  It is also my hope that this will eventually become a book.  I thank you in advance for your patience.....

The Resurrection of Our Lord

To reiterate the words of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, "Never think about death without thinking about the Resurrection."  The Passion has ended.  "It is finished."  Faith, Hope and Charity have prevailed.  The Three Theological Virtues were displayed by Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Faith when He said, "Thy will be done."  Hope in looking to the Kingdom of Heaven, the completion of His mission.  And Charity for the Father in desiring to accomplish His will, and consequently for us.  Now He enters into His Glory, the true and final End.  If this is what its all about, what does that say about life?  What does the Resurrection of Christ, Our Lord, demand of us?

If Christ is important, we are important.  After all, He only came here for us, for the Redemption of our poor souls.  People reject Him because they do not want to be important.  They love sin so much, they would rather think themselves not much more than the animals, with no eternal destiny.  In meaning, there must be restraint.  Therein lies the Cross, but also the Resurrection.  The alternative is a life of mediocrity or worse.  There is less feeling, less responsibility.....less joy.  We reap what we sow.  If meaninglessness is what we want, that is exactly what we will get.  The tragedy is that if we ever wake up from this dream of vagueness and delusion, we will find a precious crystal has been broken.  But this does not have to be the end of the story.  We can still write a different ending.  Through repentance we enter into Our Lord's Resurrection and Glory.  He walks before us always.  Where He goes, we are meant to follow.  We cannot fail.  We have all the assistance of Heaven at our disposal.  The same God Who catapulted the universe into existence can do no less than give us everything we ask for.

Christ calls us to a Heavenly Resurrection, but also an earthly one.  This transformation is not merely the cessation of sin, but reaching our full potential as members of the Body of Christ, one with Him in thought, word and deed.  We are powerful and power can be frightening.  Fulfilling the saintly vocation for which we were created has consequences.  Our Lord's greatest power was executed on the Cross as He stretched out His arms in yielding.  In that moment of weakness, the axis of the universe shifts and the tables are turned.  A world appears that we could not see before...."and the darkness could not comprehend it."  The caterpillar becomes the butterfly.

Being resurrected with Christ is a process of becoming.  The Father has written this message for us in all of nature, the butterfly being one of the most beautiful examples.  The snake sheds its old skin, the fragile sprout becomes a great tree, bearing fruit....the oyster patiently builds its pearl.  No matter how long it takes, no matter how many setbacks occur, no matter how hopeless it seems....if we cling to the Three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity....we will see our Resurrection.  O Jesus, Whose Resurrected, Glorified Body walked upon this very earth, bring me back from my own countless deaths, that I may follow Thee to our Eternal Home.  Amen. 

 

Image courtesy http://ajpm.weebly.com/glorious-mysteries.html

The Sorrowful Mysteries....In Closing

THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES:  A THESIS

Holy Church, through Saint Dominic, has handed the Rosary down to us as a spiritual aid.  The Sorrowful Mysteries take us through the Story of Our Lord's Passion and Death.  It is difficult to contemplate these things, but as Father Benedict Groeschel once said in a Good Friday sermon, "Never think about death without thinking about the Resurrection."  The whole purpose of the Rosary meditations which accompany each set of ten "Hail Marys," is to help us toward our own Resurrection.

Stepping away and looking at the Sorrowful Mysteries as a whole, a picture begins to emerge.  It is the picture of each human being walking along his own life's path to his final destination.  The Agony in the Garden represents the MIND.  The Scourging at the Pillar, the FLESH.  The Crowning with Thorns, the IDENTITY, or the soul.  These three components comprise God's greatest creation, the one made in His own image and likeness, the Human Being. The Carrying of the Cross is the life JOURNEY....and the Crucifixion is the END.  Within the Passion of Our Lord lies an imprint of every human life for which He goes to His death.

The Sorrowful Mysteries tell the triumphant Story of the Messiah's Love for humanity and the Father's willingness to give His Only Son for our Redemption.  It is a Story which brings tears to our eyes for this great Love which it gives testimony to.  In return, we are called not merely to a humanist virtue, but to the heroism of Sainthood and Life Everlasting.

Good Friday: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery....

The Crucifixion of Our Lord

The Carrying of the Cross was a journey-the Crucifixion at Golgotha, its destination.   In fact, the Crucifixion was the destination of Christ's entire life on earth.  From His very Incarnation, this was the plan.  We may have difficulty understanding why it had to be this way, but we must believe, since His way is always perfect, it was the perfect way.  Looking at the Crucifixion forces us all to ask:  "What is my own destination and how is each day I live bringing me closer to it?"

Our Lord ascended to Heaven so that we could follow Him there-this is the end for which we were created.  Jesus said of His Apostles, "They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world."  We must be in the world, not of the world.  Set a course to Heaven and do not deviate from it.  The only thing that can derail us is sin, a word our "enlightened" times has forgotten.

What was the meaning of Christ's cruel impalement to the Cross?  It shows us we must let go of all the things we wish to possess which are unhealthy to our souls, which turn us away from our path to Heaven.  Our Blessed Lord could not possibly have been more helpless upon the Holy Cross.  He could not move and could hardly speak.  He arms were outstretched to all the universe, imploring us to come to Him and yet unable to grasp at anything.  We too, must open our hands when we are tempted to reach for, and take hold of sin.  We must take Christ's example of yielding.  In all things, He walks before us.  From the Cross, Jesus shows us the very key to the Kingdom of Heaven.

But how are we to resist temptation?  The sacraments of the Church Christ founded are the tools which have been given to us.  He said, "I will not leave you orphans."  The same body which was crucified, comes to us in Holy Communion-to help us stretch out our arms and let go.  This Body could not give us life until it tasted death.  We cannot receive that life until we taste the death of our sins.  The more our own will shrinks, the more beautiful we become.  The greater He becomes within us, the greater we become.

Our Lord never left His course toward the Holy Cross.  We must never leave our course toward the Kingdom of Heaven.  It will twist and turn and there will be traps to ensnare us.  But if we continue to flee to the Holy Cross and the Victim upon it-we will one day hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  Dear Jesus, whose death on the Cross has won my Redemption, show me in my moments of temptation, Thy holy arms unable to embrace and Thy sacred hands unable to grasp.  Amen.

 

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery....

The Carrying of the Cross

The unique aspect of the Carrying of the Cross, among the Sorrowful Mysteries, is the fact that it is a journey.  In western culture today, we seem always to be rushing from one destination to another.  The destination is important, but often we forget the importance of the journey itself.  So what do we learn on this Journey of Journeys, a microcosm of every human being’s life path, in addition to the grand historical path of all humanity, the Via Dolorosa?

Like any journey, this one involves a series of events.  Holy Scripture confirms for us that Christ carries His own Cross.  Tradition tells us He falls three times under its weight.  Scripture tells us He becomes so weak, Simon of Cyrene must take up the Cross.  Our Lord speaks to some sorrowful women and Saint Veronica wipes His Holy Face, a miraculous image resulting.  So here we have four basic events:  the Taking Up of the Cross, the Fallings, the Giving Up of the Cross and the Message.  All sealed with a miracle.

Tremendously weak after the brutal Scourging, Jesus takes the Cross upon His shoulders and begins to walk the Way of Sorrow.  The One who is sinless takes on the burden of all humanity's sins, soon to be expiated on this very Cross He carries, when He arrives at the destination.  This is an example of courage for us, when we feel terribly burdened by life's difficulties.  We know He walks before us always.  It is not so remarkable that He falls three times under this heavy piece of wood.  What is remarkable, is that He gets back up two times to continue carrying it.  But the third time, He is all out of strength.  The Almighty God makes Himself weak so that we can be strong.  Another example and profound encouragement for His children.  When we fall, when we break-whether through suffering or temptation, all is not lost.  There is always hope for those who trust in God.  He will give us the strength to go on.  And just as Simon was provided to take the Holy Cross from His hands, He too, will take our own crosses from us when the time comes.  We are asked only to trust.

When Our Lord addresses the "Daughters of Jerusalem" who are following Him on this Journey, He gives us a glimpse into His very mind as He carries the Cross.  He is thinking not of Himself on His final journey as He goes to His death.  He thinks only of us, only of humanity's final journey at the end of time.  "Weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say:  Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne and the paps that have not given suck.  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains:  Fall upon us, and to the hills:  Cover us."  This is a message to humanity-a warning, an End Times marker, reiterated by Saint John in Apocalypse.  Is it possible that He was describing our own times?

Every human life is similarly, a journey-some very short, some long, some privileged, some full of suffering.  But in the end, it all evens out-all is fair, all is just.  And upon each and every precious human life for which Christ suffered, lies the imprint of the Carrying of the Cross.  It is our joy, our hope, our consolation.  He did it all for us.  Good Jesus, give me strength when I begin to weary beneath my own crosses, that I may go on to reach that final destination, where Thou Art, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Glorious Kingdom of Heaven.  Amen.

2 More to Come....

It is a custom to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary each day of Lent.  Even better if you can pray them before the Most Blessed Sacrament or together as a family after dinner.  Wishing you continued Lenten blessings and we have 2 more meditations to come...one this Friday and the last on Good Friday.  After that, we will begin meditations on the Glorious Mysteries!

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor, pray for us!  Saints Perpetua & Felicity, great martyrs of Holy Mother Church, pray for us!

Image courtesy http://beads-of-joy-blog.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-sorrowful-mysteries.html

The Third Sorrowful Mystery...

The Crowning with Thorns

The Crowning with Thorns upon Our Lord's sacred head, must be seen as part of a larger Mystery:  the Mockery of the Kingship of Our Lord.  It is one of a three-part costume the Roman soldiers dressed Him in:  the Crown, the Scepter and the Robe.  When we look at this piece of theater, the one Act upon the human stage which emanates like lightning, putting asunder all man’s theatrical fantasy.....what reveals itself to us?

The Romans performed this mockery in response to Christ’s alleged crime, “The King of the Jews.”  What motivated them to play out this obscene insult?  A fatal flaw, a deep chasm, a mortal wounding, took place in the Garden of Eden.  Our Lord's Passion is the culmination of this tragic event.  This mockery represents of every sinner’s response to God, the unwillingness to be subject to Him and give Him due respect as Creator.

One could not honestly look at Christ without seeing His innocence, especially a non-Jew, with no investment in the matter.  We know this was very clear to Pilate, which is why he “washed his hands” of it.  In order to punish so cruelly an innocent man, they had to disguise him-plunging themselves into the sin of committing the evil, whereas the Jews were guilty of ordering it.  It is common practice to dehumanize those you wish to kill.  Broken from the Scourging, blood streaming down His face from the sharp thorns of the Crown, dressed up and derided, they proceeded to carry out the death sentence.

Woven thorns, a reed, a red cloak....the makings of a King.  Why go through so much trouble?  Looking for branches of thorns and weaving them together?  Searching for a large reed and a red garment?  Why were all three components of the kingly garb so necessary?  Because they had to completely convince themselves and this can only be done by over-reaching.  We do the same with the unborn, with sexual immorality, with our quest to be Godlike in playing with every fundamental aspect of nature, whether it be biology, botany or physics.  Going beyond the pale makes it easier to commit the crime.

The Crown, the Scepter, the Robe:  three identifiers of a King.  Here we arrive at the crux of the Mockery, Our Blessed Lord’s Identity itself.  The words upon the Holy Cross were true:  “King of the Jews.”  And King of us all, only Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity.  This is His Identity, Whom the world must deny to commit its countless evils.  But the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith will never deny Him, the King of Kings.  The gates of Hell will not prevail against her.

The world will try to tell us who we are, who it wants us to be.  Our own pride will delude us-we sew our own costumes, make our own crowns.  But it is only in confessing the Kingship of Our Lord and entering into the humility of His Crowning with Thorns, that we can ever know our own true identities....who we were created to be.  O my Jesus, Who asked of Thine Apostles, “Whom do you say that I am?,” I in turn ask this of Thee.  Amen.

Lenten Meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Several years ago, I began writing a series of meditations on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.  I published them on the former Nomen Christi Apostolate website.  The project went very well and was well received, but I never finished it.  I did complete the Sorrowful Mysteries, which I will re-publish here, starting with "The Agony in the Garden" today.  This Friday, I'll post the next Mystery and so forth on the remaining Fridays in Lent.  I am doing some slight editing in this re-publishing.  I will resume this project one of these days and complete all 20 Mysteries. 

These meditations are very personal for me, since I draw on many of my own life experiences, including some of the most difficult.  The only research I do is the reading of Scripture, since I wish these thoughts to be as original as possible.  With each meditation, I am seeking to uncover a fundamental aspect or nature of the event and to show some practical application to our own daily lives.  I hope you find these meditations enriching and please feel free to share them with others.  Come back this Friday for the next one!

The Agony in the Garden

It seems strange that Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, would feel fear so intense, that it would produce the Bloody Sweat of His Agony.  One might expect Him to approach His death with greater stoicism.  Why would He suggest to the Father that this “cup” be taken from Him?  What was the nature of this Agony and what do we have to learn from it?

Our Lord was fully God, but also fully man.  His Agony shows us how very human He was and how much He understands our sufferings, particularly those of the mind.  The drama in the Garden of Gethsemane comes down to the two qualities of God that are wholly unique:  omniscience and omnipotence, the two things desired by Adam and Eve.  This is another garden where the reverse struggle plays out, only now, the right choice is made.  Rather than man attempting to assume the qualities of God, God assumes the weakness of man.  This right choice is precisely the moment which leads to our Redemption, secured on the Cross, reversing the curse of our first parents.  The moment before Our Lord was physically apprehended, presents the Mystery of the Agony in the Garden.  This is where the final yielding of His Spirit occurred, when He speaks the words, “Thy Will be done.”  All work begins in the mind and our Redemption was no exception.  Once Our Lord was apprehended, there could be no turning back.  He was then fully prepared to enter into His Passion.

Our Lord possessed in that garden, the complete knowledge of what awaited him.  Man’s ignorance makes it easier for him to approach fearful situations.  Complete knowledge made it excruciating for Christ.  He also possessed the power to run away, the power to obliterate the enemy coming for Him.  At the very moment when humanity’s Redemption was held in the balance, surely all hell’s power was leveled against this one Man.  It must have been excruciating for Satan as well-never before or since would a task require more of him.  If the right choice was made, so many souls would escape his grasp.  So here may lie the nature of the Agony in the Garden:  to proceed in spite of Divine Knowledge and to withhold Divine Power.

What must I do in spite of my fear and how must I withhold my power?  It has been said that our age has no lack of virtue, only a lack of heroism.  Dear Jesus, make me stand firm in my own little agonies, that I may receive the Redemption Thou hast so grievously won.  Give me the courage to say, "Thy Will be done."  Amen.

 

The Sorrowful Mysteries in a New Light....

I would like to share my time with Jesus and Mary last night....

I curled up on the couch and told the Blessed Mother I was about to pray the rosary for pro-life intentions. A minute later, I was hanging my head, half asleep. I said to her, "I'm too tired!" I received the inspiration to simply meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries as I rested. So I started thinking about the Agony in the Garden. Immediately I felt, "I'm not in the mood for this-I want to think about happy things." Then I got the ispiration to find something positive in each Sorrowful Mystery. I was confused at first, but I tried. What could be good about Our Lord's Agony? I thought of the times in my life when I have suffered with anxiety, sadness and other unpleasant emotions. As I imagined Our Lord kneeling in His bloody sweat, I realized that indeed, He walks before me always. He does not expect anything from us that He was not willing to suffer Himself. And I felt great comfort.

As I contemplated the cruel scourging of Our Lord, I thought of my own physical suffering with chronic pain. All my pain has been nothing compared to His in those awful moments. And the Crowning with Thorns...what could that mean? I thought...humiliation, mocking, persecution. Yes, I've suffered that too...in my pro-life work and also for simply being a faithful Catholic. But to place a crown of thorns upon the sacred head of the King of Kings....and for Him to bear it humbly....for me, for my sins....in this as well, He walks before me.

What of the Carrying of the Cross? This is the one thing we truly cannot bear-the weight of sin. We are forced in the Sacrament of Penance to give it over to Him, to place the weight of our guilt into His hands. So I thought of my sins, the very worst ones....and great comfort came over me, knowing that this too, He has taken upon Himself, leaving me free once again to run and leap through the fields of life. And the Crucifixion. Death itself. Even this, we are not to fear because He takes this upon Himself as well.

So where does this all leave us? There is nothing in life or death to fear if we walk with Christ because...He walks before us always! Our Blessed Lord's Passion encompasses and embraces every suffering we will ever have. Our pain is small within the vast expanse of His Heart. My half-asleep meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries was one of the best ever....a source of great peace and even joy. When we take the time to put God first and exercise the spiritual life, we are never disappointed. He always gives in abundance and so much more than we even imagined. This must be a foretaste of Heaven:

"...eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." ~1 Corinthians 2:9