A Tale of Two Kisses

JMJ

SOLOMON WRITES FOR the Bride these words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” Certainly, that is the desire of our hearts, that the Lord should kiss us so. Yet, as in a dream where everything is one’s own mind speaking, so in scripture, everything is God’s own word. And how our Lord cries out in love, “Let him, (that is, you, Son of Adam) let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” Do not be scandalized: we speak of Christ thirsting for us, and of how we can pain his heart. God speaks of being spurned by his beloved. Although he has no need in his perfection for any of this, he desires deeply the union for which he made us in his love. While any such action is possible only by grace, how do we kiss our heavenly beloved? Indeed we do it in prayer, but how deeply, how fervently?

In Star Trek: the Next Generation, Season 4, Episode 25, “In Theory”, (Original Airdate: 3 June 1991), a woman named Jenna, recently jilted, falls into a rebound relationship with an android. To be fair to the robot, whose name is Data, he really wants to be human – like Pinocchio. His programming shows that “falling in love” is something humans do, so he writes a subroutine in his programming to give this a try. Data asks all the men on the ship for input, developing his subroutine code. There are a number of humorous failures before, eventually, the young woman realizes she’s rebounding and moves on. But as they are having that last conversation she asks for a kiss, which he gives her. This conversation ensues:

DATA: With regard to romantic relationships, there is no real me. I am drawing upon various cultural and literary sources to help define my role.

JENNA: Kiss me.

(they kiss)

JENNA: What were you just thinking?

DATA: In that particular moment, I was reconfiguring the warp field parameters, analysing the collected works of Charles Dickens, calculating the maximum pressure I could safely apply to your lips, considering a new food supplement for Spot.

JENNA: I’m glad I was in there somewhere.

Retrieved on 28 Feb 2023

As one easily distracted in prayer, I most often kiss God like this. But it’s not just God. Any human conversation for me feels like this. I find myself wondering about the internet, or about social media. I find myself wishing this would stop. I go meta and accuse myself in my brain of doing stuff in my brain instead of listening. My late friend, Linda, called me out on this once. She could tell as I sat there that I was doing something else in my brain. Linda could tell I was hearing what was said, but I was not actually listening. I could respond, mostly because I had picked something and plotted my reply. Then my brain calmly waited until it was my turn to speak. To be honest, I assumed everyone did that since I had been doing it since childhood: seems to be the way my brain works. However, I do see it’s not optimal – a conversation is not like a chess game where one can plan miles and miles ahead. (I’ve learned this more in trying to acquire a second language. You spend forever doing translation in your head, plotting out words. But there are moments of actual conversation that go from rare, to a bit better.) Neither is prayer supposed to be this way, which is more than just a conversation, but rather a relationship.

Here’s another way to kiss. This comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s brilliant 1961 masterwork, Stranger in a Strange Land. In this story, a man who has been raised on Mars – his name is Michael Valentine – has just learned how to kiss and earthling women are amazed. Here Anne tells her friend, Jubal, what it’s like to be kissed by Michael. Jubal asks:

“In a moment. Anne, tell me something. What’s so special about the way that lad kisses?”

Anne looked dreamy and then dimpled. “You should have tried it when he invited you to.”

“I’m too old to change my ways. But I’m interested in everything about the boy. Is this actually something different, too?”

Anne pondered it. “Yes.”

“How?”

“Mike gives a kiss his whole attention.”

“Oh, rats! I do myself. Or did.”

Anne shook her head. “No. Some men try to. I’ve been kissed by men who did a very good job of it indeed. But they don’t really give kissing a woman their whole attention. They can’t No matter how hard they try, some parts of their minds are on something else. Missing the last bus, maybe-Or how their chances are for making the gal-Or their own techniques in kissing-Or maybe worry about their jobs, or money, or will husband or papa or the neighbors catch on. Or something. Now Mike doesn’t have any technique . . . but when Mike kisses you he isn’t doing anything else. Not anything. You’re his whole universe for that moment and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and he isn’t going anywhere. Just kissing you.”

She shivered. “A woman notices. It’s overwhelming.”

Retrieved on 28 Feb 2023

Imagine praying like that! Not “doing anything else. Not anything. You’re his whole universe for that moment and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and he isn’t going anywhere.” Distracted in prayer or God is your “whole universe for that moment”. Which sounds better?

A practice that has helped to refocus these images is using things like the Jesus Psalter and the Jesus Prayer. How do you say the same thing over and over and not mean it as a mantra? It can be easy because Jesus is, literally, right there with you. Or perhaps in a Holy Hour, too. You can find yourself actually talking to him, for a moment. And listening. God can give us the grace to desire him like this. We need only assent to it, to open our hearts like saints before us, to open our lives to him.

Ask him to give you prayer.

Here’s a song that describes the desire to pray like this. Turn on the CC function to see the translation. Give me prayer.

So give me one good prayer
that will open for me all the gates of heaven
give me one sincere word
that will leave me breathless
i want to hang by a thread of hair in the middle of the sea
shouting will all my strength
give me one good prayer
that will open for me all the gates of heaven
give me one sincere word
that will leave me breathless
i want to be as an animal that roars in the forest all night long
master of the Universe
why have you fallen asleep
save me…

The Purpose of Liturgy

JMJ

FATHER ABBOT LOOKED AT ME. Mr Novice, Day Two. I had said something like, “yes, I can make the Daily Hours and Mass, and I see the Lectio Divina on the daily schedule, but when do I pray?” He asked what I meant. And I replied, “Usually I wake up and say these morning prayers, then I say these intercessions. I say a Rosary and a Jesus Psalter. I say certain prayers for my family…” Father held up one volume of our breviary. “That stuff doesn’t matter. You can do it whenever you want. This is your prayer.” I’m still digesting what he meant. I was taken aback: prayer doesn’t matter? Only Liturgy? (You see my failings… but ok.) Six years later, holding another breviary in an entirely different context, Deacon Totah said, “As you do this, your personal prayer becomes enfolded in the Church’s prayer.” He was responding to pretty much the same question asked, this time, by a member of my Deacon class. When a member of the Church is obligated to so much liturgy prayer might seem far away.

Still digesting…

Almost all pious devotions such as the Rosary and the Jesus Psalter are, exactly, liturgical prayer. We forget this. The Rosary, especially, was once called the layman’s Psalter. Its 150 beads replaced the 150 Psalms that the clergy sang in Church. A member of the laity, especially the illiterate, could thus pray these prayers without a book. The older, Dominican form of the Rosary is, very much, a lay office, recited antiphonally in a group – just like the Friars singing their Psalter. Even today, kneeling with a group of people in Church, fingering their beads, one can feel the full voice of the Church engaged in a fully liturgical act. It is really the Church’s prayer – not a pious devotion. This is even more true now, with the Rosary so widespread, that various members of the clergy and laity are as obligated to say the Rosary as they are to the Daily Office. For example, all of the thousands of members of the Dominican Family, Friars, Nuns, Sisters, and Laity, as well as the Rosary Confraternity, say the Rosary every day. This is literally a chain of Common Prayer. But – and here you can see my Protestant roots are showing – how is it prayer?

For an answer, we will start with the Catechism.

“Great is the mystery of the faith!” The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles’ Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.

CCC ¶2558

Read it from the bottom up if any of the following is confusing.

Faith is a great mystery. The Church describes this mystery in her creeds, she celebrates this mystery in her sacraments to the end that all of us may be conformed to Christ. The Mystery of faith requires that the people of God both believe in something – that is, give their assent – and then do something with that belief. We are called to be living in a real, active, personal relationship with God. This relationship – in which we assent and respond to God in his Church – is prayer. Without it, we are not really Catholics. At all.

Prayer is not the words we recite (they are part of it) nor is prayer the things we do (they are part of it) but rather the entire relationship is prayer. Haec relatio est oratio. The Catechism then goes on to note parts and functions within prayer, but it all begins with the claim that Prayer is the relationship in which we live out the great Mystery of Faith. In this context, the idea that one’s personal prayers and petitions should be encompassed by liturgical prayer makes perfect sense: if one’s needs and wants cannot be expressed in the action of the Church then they needn’t be expressed (perhaps shouldn’t be expressed) at all.

In my Protestant background, something called prayer arises in the extemporaneous composition of the moment. One does not prepare something to say to God any more than one would prepare something to say to one’s spouse. Prepared texts are “praying out of a book” and don’t count or, at best, come a distant second. Yet anyone who has improvised a prayer out loud with others knows it’s really easy to fall into “The Prayer of the Just”. “Father, we just want to thank you for just everything that you have done in our lives. And Father, God, we just need to ask you…:

The Catholic idea of prayer is exactly the reverse, as the Catechism teaches: prayer (this relationship) is initiated by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God (that is, Jesus, the Bible) experienced in the liturgy of the Church and responded to in the human heart. The Spirit gives this relationship to us mediated by the Church’s teaching and only then do we humans get to do something. And if you read further, our doings, our response, our entire side of the conversation is also the Holy Spirit acting in us and through us, mediated by our lives.

Our personal relationship with God can only be in Christ and, as such, can only be carried out through his Body, the Church. All real prayer is, therefore, liturgical: mediated through the Church. Like a wedding, it is the Sacramental Action that creates the root from which the relationship grows. It is to this liturgical action that our hearts must conform. Not the other way around.

And so, in time, as our hearts become more conformed to the Liturgy, we can express our desires and intentions freely – because our intentions are conformed to Christ already. We, as Sons and Daughters in the Son, can act as boldly as he does, reaching out to his Father and our Father. Liturgical prayer becomes the way that our personal needs are expressed to the Father, as we open our hearts more fully to the prompting of the Spirit, we will find liturgical actions holding, containing, our deepest thoughts, the cries of our hearts, “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26) This interweaving of our personal voice with liturgical prayer can happen in the Rosary, in the Daily Office, and in the Mass. It becomes our continual Lectio Divina.

But it begins in humble submission to the words the Church put in our mouths. The liturgy is our only prayer until all our prayer becomes liturgy.

We are all beginners here.

A Daily Act of Consecration to the Holy Family

JMJ

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. It’s falling on Friday this year because the Sunday after Christmas is 1 January, which is the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. I have a particular devotion to the Holy Family on behalf of all who experience dysfunction, divorce, or any sort of Familial Loss either through no fault of their own or because of their actions. I fall into the latter category in someways, the former in others.

Please note: what follows is not an officially approved devotion in any way. If you find it useful, amen. If you feel it needs correction please let me know. I invoke Joseph and Mary under titles that include other devotions (Seat of Wisdom, Terror of Demons): feel free to use titles that resonate with your piety.

HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH, hear the prayers of a prodigal son. I have sinned before heaven and against you. Take me as one of your hired servants.

SAINT JOSEPH, TERROR OF DEMONS pray for me! I consecrate myself to thy most chaste heart!

Like thee may I be chaste and stable. May my work be done with all due speed and diligence; ever be ordered only to the provision, safety, and advance of God’s Kingdom, the Church. Bless my skills and talents that, like thee, I may ever use them to God’s glory and not my own. By thy prayers, may my work be crowned with the virtues of fortitude, prudence, and temperance. Let me be neither greedy nor sloth; let not the noonday demon find me ready to make a mockery of God’s labor or my own. Fix me in chastity in action, word, and thought.

Pray for me, St Joseph, together with thine All Immaculate Spouse, that I may work out my salvation in fear and trembling; that having thee as my father and Mary as my mother, I may truly have Jesus as my brother and may be a devoted servant of the Holy Family of Nazareth, at home in the household of God.

HOLY MARY, SEAT OF WISDOM, pray for me! I consecrate myself to thine immaculate heart!

Like thee may I be open to the will of God, ever trusting him without knowing the cost, and ever certain that what ever he has asked of me he will give me the grace to accomplish. May I never place myself between others and thy divine son save only to say “Do whatever he tells you” and like thee may I ever make intercession before God’s throne especially for those in most need of his mercy. Cause me, by thy prayers, through pious devotion and faithful adherence to the divine precepts, to yield a fruitful harvest of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and all the other virtues.

Pray for me, Holy Mary, Mother of God, together with thy Most Chaste Spouse, that I may be constantly bringing forth the Word of God to the Joy of all the World; that having thee as my mother and Joseph as my father, I may truly have Jesus as my brother and may be a devoted servant of the Holy Family of Nazareth, at home in the household of God.

JESUS I TRUST IN THEE. I consecrate myself to thy Sacred Heart!

Hear the prayers of thy All Immaculate Mother and thy Most Chaste Foster Father on my behalf. May the fount of mercy flowing from thy side wash me. Set up thy Cross in my soul. Nail my flesh to the fear of thee. Undo my slavery to my own reasonings. Take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, on fire with love for the world, and wounded with compassion for the weak and lost, especially for those whom daily thou sendest to me.

May I truly have Mary as my Mother and Joseph as my Father, and be thou, Jesus, my Brother, Saviour, and Friend; that in service to the Holy Family of Nazareth, I may live in stability, safety, and peace.

May thy Church be my only home, thy Word my only teacher, thy Cross my only guide, and thy Eucharist my only food. My Jesus, I trust in thee!

DEAREST JESUS, after the example of the Chaste Heart of Joseph and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer thee all of my plans, dreams, and intentions, all of my thoughts, words, and deeds, all of my joys and sufferings, my hopes and fears, all of my crosses and crowns of this day and all of my life, all for the intentions of thy Sacred heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for the salvation of souls, the remission of sins, the reparation of blasphemies, the reunion of all Christians, and the intentions of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Amen.

Just don’t hold hands

JMJ

The Readings for the 17th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

But he persisted: “Please, do not let my Lord be angry if I speak up this last time.”

Genesis 18:32a

I‘VE BEEN READING and listening to a lot of commentaries on the Bible lately. Although everyone agrees that Abraham is interceding for his Nephew, Lot, here (under cover of interceding for the cities) the commentaries seem to disagree on the implications.

Is Abraham being very bold here, interceding for something God intends to destroy? Or is Abraham being chicken, not just interceding for Lot as he should be? Or is Abraham crossing the line, but God is gracious even so, and eventually seems to change his mind?

Carry this forward into later chapters: should Abraham, who was so brave here, have also spoken up about the requested sacrifice of Isaac? Or, did Abraham, who was out of line here, learn a lesson and not say anything about Isaac?

Did God intend to actually kill all of the People of Israel in the desert and yet – because Moses interceded – change his mind? Or did God intend for Moses to offer his own life as intercession for Israel?

This side of Glory we won’t know the answers to any of these questions, but they make for interesting meditation. Pray. And, if you wonder how we are to pray – boldly or not at all? The answer is very clear in the Gospel: by asking Jesus how to pray.

In the Epistles St Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit gives us words for prayer even moans and groans, strange tongues, sighs. Letting God intercede through us is a far better choice than praying on our own anyway. Letting the priestly ministry of Jesus flow through us as members of his body, he intercedes before the Father for whatever is needed. If we let him, he will intercede through us.

When we offer prayers “With intentions” what are we doing? Are we “pestering God” in order to “get our way” or, perhaps, is God pestering us to intercede out of growing to love those for whom we’re praying? Is prayer a way to “change God’s mind” or is it a way to participate in the Mind of God?

The on-going converstaion with God is the important part: not that you hold this or that in prayer as such, but that you’re open to God praying in and with you. The relationship is the prayer.

Lord, teach us to pray.

Preparing for Prayer

JMJ

ON THE DOMINICAN Calendar today is the Feast of St Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. It is ranked as a Memorial in other places. Since it is a Feast it has its own readings from the propers of the Order. The following, On preparation for prayer from the treatise On the Manner of Praying, attributed to Saint Albert the Great – seems very edifying.


   We should prepare ourselves for prayer. This preparation is of two kinds: remote and immediate.

   Similarly remote preparation is of two kinds: interior and exterior. Interior preparation consists in three things. First, there is the purification of the conscience: If our hearts do not reprove us, we have this confidence in God: that God hears us whenever we ask for anything. Secondly, there is the humbling of the mind, for the Lord hears the cry of the humble and does not spurn their petition. Thirdly, there is the forgiveness of injuries: Whenever you stand to pray, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may in turn forgive you your trespasses.

   Exterior preparation likewise consists in three things. First, there is the fulfillment of the commandments of God, for as Saint Isidore said: “If we do what the Lord commands, we will without doubt obtain what we ask for.” Secondly, there is reconciliation with anyone we have offended: If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother or sister has anything against you, leave your gift before the altar and go; first he reconciled with your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift. Thirdly, there is the practice of fasting and almsgiving which supports prayer, for Isaiah says: Share your bread with the hungry and take the poor and homeless into your house, then when you call, the Lord will hear you.

   Immediate preparation is likewise of two kinds: again, interior and exterior. Interior preparation consists in three things. First, there is personal recollection: Whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in private. Entering into your room is that personal recollection of the heart and closing the door is the maintenance of a spirit of recollection. Personal recollection is accomplished by gathering within oneself the thoughts and emotions which have had free range.

   Secondly, we focus our attention upon the Lord. For we pray in truth when we do not think about other matters. Thus, the soul must first be purified and thoughts about temporal concerns must be set aside so that the pure eye of the heart may be directed truly and simply to the Lord. Let every carnal or worldly thought depart, lest the soul think of anything else than that alone for which it prays. The priest in proclaiming the preface prepares our hearts by saying: “Lift up your hearts,” to which we reply: “We lift them up to the  Lord.” Thus, the heart is closed to its adversary and opened to God alone, lest we have one thing in our hearts and another on our lips.

   How can you be heard by God, you ask, when you cannot hear yourself? You want the Lord to be mindful of you when you are not mindful of yourself!

   This is to offend the majesty of God by negligence in prayer. This is to watch with the eyes and sleep with the heart, while the Christian ought to be watching with the heart even while sleeping. Thirdly, there is the stirring up of devotion to God, which is brought about especially by meditating upon our miserable condition and upon the goodness and mercy of God. In meditating upon our miserable condition we learn what it is necessary to ask for, and in meditating upon the mercy of God we learn with what devotion we ought to ask.

Exterior preparation consists in three things, namely, place, appearance and gesture. With regard to place it is certain that one can pray while standing as well as sitting, or even while lying down. Nevertheless in public prayer we ought to observe the form established by the Church or by the majority of us. With regard to appearance keep in mind that a humble and abject demeanor is appropriate to prayer. With regard to gesture note that it includes genuflecting, lifting up one’s hands, striking the breast, raising or lowering the eyes and countenance, closing the lips or silencing the voice, the shedding of tears, the emitting of groans, sighing, etc.


Kingdom Walking

JMJ

IT’S A NEW GAME TO PLAY with the whole holy family: Kingdom Walking. Get outside, walk your neighborhood, and pray. Use a rosary or read a litany, say the Jesus Psalter or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Get a prayer rope and say the Jesus Prayer. Take on the Rule of 150 Beads if you want to walk three times a day. Get out and offer it up for peace. Here are the rules:

  1. Pray for folks as you see them.
  2. Pray for peace and safety in the neighborhood.
  3. Remember when people see you they will see someone praying:
    • Share the sidewalk
    • Follow traffic rules
    • Be local
    • Share the Gospel.
  4. Don’t be surprise when homeless folks see you:
    • Carry cash
    • Give it away
    • Remember: Christ said, “As you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.”
    • Pray for them
  5. If you pass a hospital, fire house, police station (etc) pray for their safety.
  6. This is the infantry in spiritual warfare.
  7. See how many miles you can walk.

Prayer of the Heart

JMJ

THE WAY OF A PILGRIM is a classic text of 19th Century Russian Orthodox spirituality, carrying forward the tradition of the Jesus Prayer or “the prayer of the heart”. I read the text once, as a new convert to Orthodoxy, because that’s what you do, but I was troubled by many words that seemed to be too newagey for me. They were very triggering for me – since I have a past in that world. What got me was talk about “unifying the heart and the mind”. This sounds (for those with the same history) like certain exercises in Western esotericism. So, on the advice of a wise priest, I didn’t go there. There’s enough in Orthodoxy – indeed in Catholicism as well – that one needn’t get trapped by one or another spiritual practice.

Recently, reading a book for my class in Old Testament, I came across this line:

To an ancient, the brain had no thinking role; it ran the senses of hearing and seeing and smelling. The heart did the thinking, and the kidneys gave the emotional feelings of joy, fear, and sorrow.

Reading the Old Testament, An Introduction, 2nd Ed.
by Lawrence Boadt, Paulist Press, 2012

I’ve been wondering what it felt like to “think in the heart”. I seem to naturally “hear” my thinking voice in my head, between my ears, in my brain. Working on the assumption that there’s no reason – at all – for that voice to located in any one part of our bodies, it seems that it’s set there by social construction: a child is told things from birth about where feelings and thinking (etc) happen inside and so it seems to be true.

Now, here this passage from A Way of A Pilgrim:

He opened the book, found the instruction by St. Simeon the new theologian, and read: ” ‘Sit down alone and in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently, and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. Carry your mind, that is, your thoughts, from your head to your heart. As you breathe out, say “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Say it moving your lips gently, or simply say it in your mind. Try to put all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and repeat the process very frequently.'”

Translation from Russian by R.M. French

You see that that the writer is quoting St Simeon, a writer from the 10th Century. It’s certainly not newage stuff, but, as I mentioned, such language is used in that world too. Carry your mind, that is, your thoughts, from your head to your heart. Such language is quite common in both eastern and western religious traditions. Is is possible that this quest to put the “thoughts” in your heart is, in fact, an attempt to return to the way things were in the past when we all “knew” the heart was were thinking was? In other words, is this ancient and common spiritual practice a way to fix something that went wrong when we let the brain take over the thinking voice? There seems to be some sort of human awareness that this is broken.

The modern world seems to live in data and head-space, as if to say the heart is meaningless (except for “love” by which they mean gushy feelings and sexual pleasure). I have no further thoughts on this at the present time. It seems, though, as if the spiritual traditions of the world only “work” if the heart is doing the thinking.

Prayers Before Work

JMJ

FROM THE OFFICE of Prime in the older breviary, these prayers asking for the intercession of the saints and God’s blessing on the day’s labors happen just before the Monks go out to their various chores. They make a good morning boundary between “work at home” and “home at home”. Pope St Pius X gave us the prayer to St Joseph the Workman which is added as a beginning.


O GLORIOUS ST JOSPEH, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my motto in life and in death. Amen.

Sancta María, et omnes Sancti intercédant pro nobis ad Dóminum, ut nos mereámur ab eo adjuvári et salvári, qui vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculórum.
R.  Amen.
May holy Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, and all the Holy, Righteous, and Elect of God, make intercession for us sinners to the same God our Lord : that we may be accounted worthy to obtain from him help and salvation.  Who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.
R.  Amen.
And then is said thrice:
V.  Deus in adjutórium meum inténde.
R.  Dómine ad adjuvándum me festína.
V.  O God, make speed to save me.
R.  O Lord, make haste to help me.
And then is said by the whole Choir in unison:
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper,  et in sæcula sæculórum.  Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.
V.  Kyrie, eléison.
R.  Christe, eléison.  Kyrie, eléison.
V.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord have mercy upon us.
Pater noster. 
secreto usque ad
V. Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem.
R.  Sed líbera nos a malo.
Our Father. 
Which words are said aloud, and the rest secretly to:
V.  And lead us not into temptation.
R.  But deliver us from evil.
V.  Réspice in servos tuos, Dómine, et in ópera tua, et dírige fílios eórum.
R.  Et sit splendor Dómini Dei nostri super nos, et ópera mánuum nostrárum dírige super nos, et opus mánuum nostrárum dírige.
V.  Look upon thy servants, and upon thy works, O Lord, and be thou a guide unto their children.
R.  And the glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us ; prosper thou the work of our hands upon us, O prosper thou our handy-work.
V.  Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R.  Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum.  Amen.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.   As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be ; world without end.  Amen.
Orémus.             
Dirígere et sanctificáre, régere et gubernáre dignáre, Dómine Deus, Rex cæli et terræ, hódie corda et córpora nostra, sensus, sermónes et actus nostros in lege tua, et in opéribus mandatórum tuórum : ut hic, et in ætérnum, te auxiliánte, salvi et líberi esse mereámur, Salvátor mundi : Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculórum.
R.  Amen.
Let us pray.             
Vouchsafe, we beseech thee, O Lord God, King of heaven and earth, to direct, sanctify, and govern, both our hearts and bodies, in the way of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments : that through thy most mighty protection, O Saviour of the world, both here and for evermore, we may be preserved in body and in soul.  Who livest and reignest for ever and ever.
R.  Amen.

The Rosary: Closing Prayers & Suggestions

When praying the Rosary, it is traditional to do one set of five mysteries (eg, The Joyous Mysteries) – also known as five decades – at a time, although another pious practice is to do three Mysteries a day as a minimum.  My personal practice is five decades a day, although I do not get them all at once (more on that below).  At the end of the last decade, including the concluding Gloria, it is traditional to end your Rosary with these prayers:

The Salve Regina 

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send forth our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, thy Son.

O GOD, Who by the life, death, and resurrection of Thy only-begotten Son, hath purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

℣. May the Divine Help remain with us always,
℟. And with those who are absent from us.

℣. May the souls of the faithful through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

In my own practice I end each set of five decades this way, but if I have to stop “in the middle” as it were, I  say instead, only this prayer, which is the oldest known prayer to the Blessed Virgin (dating back at least to 250 AD):

Under thy protection we flee, O Holy Theotokos; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

There are various traditions of how to pray this and on what days to pray what.  You can see various suggestions around the net.  I stick with doing the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday, and starting the Joyous Mysteries on Monday.  However:

The traditional Dominican Rosary, as we have it today, with the three sets of five decades as we have included it in this series, is the method of praying the rosary that survived the Middle Ages.  There were other methods at that time: I’ve heard one scholar say that at one time there were 150 different mysteries, one “Ave” for each.  I don’t know about that… but the point is made that the Rosary went through an evolution before Dominic de Guzman and his Preachers made it popular in a standard form.  It survived that way for nearly 775 years, until Pop John Paul suggested five more mysteries. With these it is the practice to pray this way:

Monday: the Joyous Mysteries
Tuesday: the Dolorous Mysteries
Wednesday: the Glorious Mysteries
Thursday: The Luminous Mysteries
Friday: The Dolorous Mysteries
Saturday: The Joyous Mysteries
Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

The older format (which I like, I admit) is to use Sundays as sort of a “Seasonal Flavor”:

Monday: the Joyous Mysteries
Tuesday: the Dolorous Mysteries
Wednesday: the Glorious Mysteries
Thursday: The Joyous Mysteries
Friday: The Dolorous Mysteries
Saturday: The Glorious Mysteries
Sunday: The Joyous Mysteries (From Advent until Lent), or the Dolorous Mysteries (in Lent), or the Glorious Mysteries (the rest of the year until Advent).

For me… leaning on both traditions, I like the following:

Monday: the Joyous Mysteries
Tuesday: the Dolorous Mysteries
Wednesday: the Glorious Mysteries
Thursday: the Joyous Mysteries
Friday: the Dolorous Mysteries
Saturday: the Glorious Mysteries
Sunday: The Joyous Mysteries (From Advent until Lent), or the Dolorous Mysteries (in Lent), or the Glorious Mysteries (In Easter), and the Luminous Mysteries during Ordinary Time.

This allows me to add all four traditional Marian Antiphons:
Joyous Mysteries – Alma Redemptoris Mater
Luminous Mysteries – Salve Regina
Dolorous Mysteries – Ave Regina Caelorum
Glorious Mysteries – Regina Coeli

And that’s it. I hope this is useful. Byzantine text is so rich, so meditative. This series was a good thing 5 years ago and seems a good thing now. Do not hesitate to let me know of any feedback.

The Rosary: The Coronation of the Blessed Virigin

JMJ

Our Lady’s coronation by her divine Son as Queen of Heaven is, in fact, the second coronation in the Rosary: the first being that of her Son, himself, by the Romans; but where the Virgin receives a crown of twelve stars from Jesus, he, at the hand of his fellow men, received a crown of thorns.  Jesus entire ministry was taking man into divinity.  Our nature, the stuff of which we are made – each of us, born of woman, born in pain between blood and feces – is raised up to God that we might follow and, here, Mary is the first.

She was the first to carry within her body the God-Man in the flesh: as we do now, after communion, also carry his flesh and blood.  She was the first to open fully her life to the Holy Ghost, as we do (or try to do) daily. She was the first to know the Incarnation, to dance in the new gavotte that God was calling for Adam’s Children.  And so she is the first to be fully divinized, fully en-theosed, to be crowned in heaven.

We too, if we dare, can be filled with the Holy Ghost, bear Christ in our bodies to the world, only fall asleep, never die, and be crowned in heaven. But only if we dare to take God by the hand and dance.  Yet, more than just a prophetic sign for us, Mary is Queen of Heaven and of each of us if we will let her reign.  Her coronation is her confirmation: she is mother of the Church, the untilled field from when sprang the divine wheat, she is the fount of wisdom, the unhewn mountain, the multiplier of wheat, the way-shower, the gate through which the king has passed.  The titles continue for pages and pages.

I’ve taken the verses from the Akathist to the Blessed Virgin which would be a bit long-winded if one were reading these texts as part of a full, five- or fifteen-decade devotional, but as a meditation on this one mystery, they make perfect sense.

The embolism I use for walking or private prayer is: and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, crowning thee Queen of heaven and Queen of my heart.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery:
The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

LET us contemplate, in this Mystery how the glorious Virgin Mary was, to the great jubilee and exultation of the whole court of heaven, and particular glory of all the Saints, crowned by Her Son with the brightest diadem of glory.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Rejoice, Thou through whom joy will shine forth: Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease! Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam: Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve! Rejoice, height inaccessible to human thoughts: Rejoice, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels! Rejoice, for Thou art the throne of the King: Rejoice, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all! Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear: Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation! Rejoice, Thou through whom creation is renewed: Rejoice, Thou through whom we worship the Creator! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, initiate of God’s ineffable will: Rejoice, assurance of those who pray in silence! Rejoice, beginning of Christ’s miracles: Rejoice, crown of His dogmas! Rejoice, heavenly ladder by which God came down: Rejoice, bridge that conveyest us from earth to Heaven! Rejoice, wonder of angels sounded abroad: Rejoice, wound of demons bewailed afar! Rejoice, Thou Who ineffably gavest birth to the Light: Rejoice, Thou Who didst reveal Thy secret to none! Rejoice, Thou Who surpassest the knowledge of the wise: Rejoice, Thou Who givest light to the minds of the faithful! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, branch of an Unfading Sprout: Rejoice, acquisition of Immortal Fruit! Rejoice, laborer that laborest for the Lover of mankind: Rejoice, Thou Who givest birth to the Planter of our life! Rejoice, cornland yielding a rich crop of mercies: Rejoice, table bearing a wealth of forgiveness! Rejoice, Thou Who makest to bloom the garden of delight: Rejoice, Thou Who preparest a haven for souls! Rejoice, acceptable incense of intercession: Rejoice, propitiation of all the world! Rejoice, good will of God to men: Rejoice, boldness of men before God! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd: Rejoice, fold of rational sheep! Rejoice, torment of invisible enemies: Rejoice, opening of the gates of Paradise! Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth: Rejoice, for the things of earth join chorus with the heavens! Rejoice, never-silent mouth of the Apostles: Rejoice, invincible courage of the passion-bearers! Rejoice, firm support of faith: Rejoice, radiant token of Grace! Rejoice, Thou through whom hades was stripped bare:Rejoice, Thou through whom we are clothed with glory! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, Mother of the Unsetting Star: Rejoice, dawn of the mystic day! Rejoice, Thou Who didst extinguish the furnace of error: Rejoice, Thou Who didst enlighten the initiates of the Trinity! Rejoice, Thou Who didst banish from power the inhuman tyrant: Rejoice, Thou Who didst show us Christ the Lord, the Lover of mankind! Rejoice, Thou Who redeemest from pagan worship: Rejoice, Thou Who dost drag us from the works of mire! Rejoice, Thou Who didst quench the worship of fire: Rejoice, Thou Who rescuest from the flame of the passions! Rejoice, guide of the faithful to chastity: Rejoice, gladness of all generations! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, uplifting of men: Rejoice, downfall of demons! Rejoice, Thou who didst trample down the dominion of delusion: Rejoice, Thou who didst unmask the fraud of idols! Rejoice, sea that didst drown the Pharaoh of the mind: Rejoice, rock that doth refresh those thirsting for life! Rejoice, pillar of fire that guideth those in darkness: Rejoice, shelter of the world broader than a cloud! Rejoice, sustenance replacing manna: Rejoice, minister of holy delight! Rejoice, land of promise: Rejoice, Thou from whom floweth milk and honey! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, flower of incorruptibility: Rejoice, crown of continence! Rejoice, Thou from whom shineth the Archetype of the Resurrection: Rejoice, Thou Who revealest the life of the angels! Rejoice, tree of shining fruit, whereby the faithful are nourished: Rejoice, tree of goodly shade by which many are sheltered! Rejoice, Thou that has carried in Thy womb the Redeemer of captivesRejoice, Thou that gavest birth to the Guide of those astray! Rejoice, supplication before the Righteous Judge: Rejoice, forgiveness of many sins! Rejoice, robe of boldness for the naked: Rejoice, love that doth vanquish all desire! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride! Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, container of the Uncontainable God: Rejoice, door of solemn mystery! Rejoice, report doubtful to unbelievers: Rejoice, undoubted boast of the faithful! Rejoice, all-holy chariot of Him Who sitteth upon the Cherubim: Rejoice, all-glorious temple of Him Who is above the Seraphim! Rejoice, Thou Who hast united opposites:Rejoice, Thou Who hast joined virginity and motherhood! Rejoice, Thou through whom transgression hath been absolved: Rejoice, Thou through whom Paradise is opened! Rejoice, key to the kingdom of Christ: Rejoice, hope of eternal good things! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, receptacle of the Wisdom of God: Rejoice, treasury of His Providence! Rejoice, Thou Who showest philosophers to be fools: Rejoice, Thou Who exposest the learned as irrational! Rejoice, for the clever critics have become foolish: Rejoice, for the writers of myths have faded away! Rejoice, Thou Who didst rend the webs of the Athenians:Rejoice, Thou Who didst fill the nets of the fishermen! Rejoice, Thou Who drawest us from the depths of ignorance: Rejoice, Thou Who enlightenest many with knowledge! Rejoice, ship for those who wish to be saved: Rejoice, harbor for sailors on the sea of life! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O GLORIOUS Queen of the heavenly host, we beseech you accept this rosary, which, as a crown of roses, we offer at your feet; and grant, most gracious Lady, that, by your intercession, our souls may be inflamed with so ardent a desire of seeing you so gloriously crowned, that it may never die within us, until it shall be changed into the happy fruition of your blessed sight. Amen.