200 Mysteries

JMJ

Rosary Sunday (Our Lady of Victory)

This is a special feast for the Dominicans: it even trumps Sunday. That said, I don’t know the readings for today. The Rosary is a compendium of the entire Gospel. In prayer it unites us with Christ, it unites us with his mother, the first of the Praying members of the Church. It unites the Church in petition to God the Father and it defeats the hosts of the heathen in our hearts, in our actions, in Lepanto, and anywhere else they may be.

The Mysteries of Joy

I. The Annunciation.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … betrothed of Joseph…
  2. … in the house of Nazareth…
  3. … greeted by the Archangel Gabriel…
  4. … pondering his words of greeting…
  5. … hearing that you might have a child…
  6. … asking how this shall be…
  7. … hearing the Holy Spirit will overshadow you…
  8. … hearing of your cousin Elizabeth…
  9. … consenting to cooperate in God’s plan…
  10. … conceiving God in your womb…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

II The Visitation.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … leaving the house in Nazareth…
  2. … going into the hill country to visit your cousin…
  3. … greeted by Elizabeth…
  4. … pondering her words of greeting…
  5. … seeing she who was too old now great with child…
  6. … from whose womb God greeted his forerunner…
  7. … filled with the Holy Spirit…
  8. … moved to magnify God in song…
  9. … helping Elizabeth to bear her son John…
  10. … carrying God in your womb…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

III The Nativity.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … leaving Nazareth with your betrothed…
  2. … traveling through the country to Bethlehem…
  3. … rejected by all in Bethlehem…
  4. … taking shelter in a cave with a manger…
  5. … whose birthgiving made a cave a shrine…
  6. … whose birthgiving made a trough a throne…
  7. … whose birthgiving was hymned by angels…
  8. … whose birthgiving was adored by shepherds…
  9. … whose birthgiving was worshiped by kings…
  10. … who bore for us God the word…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

IV The Presentation.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … leaving Bethlehem with your child…
  2. … traveling to Jerusalem with your family…
  3. … the ark bringing God to his Temple…
  4. … obeying with God the covenant he made…
  5. … greeted by Simeon…
  6. … hearing your Son would be a sign of contradiction…
  7. … hearing your Son would cause the rise and fall of many in Israel…
  8. … hearing a sword would pierce your heart…
  9. … greeted by the Prophetess, Anna…
  10. … pondering all this in your heart…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

V The Finding in the Temple.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … leaving Nazareth with your family…
  2. … traveling to Jerusalem to keep the Passover…
  3. … obeying with God the covenant he made…
  4. … leaving Jerusalem with your husband…
  5. … finding the Child Jesus is not with you…
  6. … searching for him everywhere…
  7. … finding him after three days…
  8. … asking him why he has treated you thus…
  9. … hearing he was about his Father’s business …
  10. … to whom God was subject as an obedient child…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

The Mysteries of Light

VI. The Baptism.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … leaving home in Nazareth…
  2. … traveling to the trans-Jordan…
  3. … entering the water…
  4. … hearing John ask for baptism…
  5. … telling John “we must fulfill all righteousness”…
  6. … God, baptized by the servant he had made…
  7. … on whom the Holy Spirit descended like a dove…
  8. … of whom a voice from heaven said “this is my beloved son”…
  9. … whom John named the Lamb of God…
  10. … led of the Spirit into the Desert…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

VII. The Wedding at Cana.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … Holy Mary, Mother of God, leaving home in Nazareth…
  2. … Holy Mary, Mother of God, invited to a wedding at Cana in Galilee…
  3. … Holy Mary, Mother of God, coming with your Son and his Disciples…
  4. … Holy Mary, Mother of God, concerned because your friends had run out of wine…
  5. … Holy Mary, Mother of God, telling Jesus…
  6. … Holy Mary, Mother of God, hearing your son ask what is this to us? …
  7. … Holy Mary, Mother of God saying “do what ever he tells you”…
  8. … telling the servants to fill jugs with water. Holy Mary, Mother of God…
  9. … changing the water into wine for the feast. Holy Mary, Mother of God…
  10. … the best wine, brought to Israel when all wine has run out. Holy Mary, Mother of God…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

VIII. Preaching the Kingdom.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God…
  2. … feasting with sinners…
  3. … healing the sick…
  4. … casting out demons…
  5. … making the blind to see…
  6. … making the deaf to hear …
  7. … making the dumb to speak…
  8. … raising the dead…
  9. … forgiving sins…
  10. … restoring communion…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

IX. The Transfiguration.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … calling to himself Peter, James, and John…
  2. … going to Mt Tabor in Galilee…
  3. … transfigured before them…
  4. … his face shining with light…
  5. … his clothes more white than any fuller could make…
  6. … speaking with Moses and Elijah …
  7. … whose apostles were terrified…
  8. … overshadowed by a cloud…
  9. … of whom a voice said, this is my beloved son, hear him…
  10. … telling Peter, James, and John not to say anything until after the Resurrection…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

X. The Eucharist.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … going to Jerusalem for the Passover…
  2. … sending his disciples ahead to prepare a place…
  3. … coming to the upper room…
  4. … washing the feet of his apostles…
  5. … taking bread, blessing, and breaking it…
  6. … giving his body to his disciples and through them to us…
  7. … taking the cup and blessing it…
  8. … giving his blood to his disciples and through them to us…
  9. … commanding us to do this in memory of him…
  10. … sending Judas out into the night…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

The Mysteries of Sorrow

XI. The Garden.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … coming to a garden with his disciples…
  2. … calling Peter, James, and John to come with him further in…
  3. … withdrawing a bit from them to pray…
  4. … finding them asleep and gently rebuking them…
  5. … begging that this cup might pass from him…
  6. … finding them asleep and gently rebuking them…
  7. … sweating blood…
  8. … praying not my will, Father, but thine…
  9. … waking his disciples…
  10. … betrayed by a kiss from Judas and arrested…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XII. The Pillory.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … tried by Pilate and sentenced to scourging…
  2. … led away by soldiers…
  3. … stripped of all his garments…
  4. … bound to the pillar…
  5. … lashed with leaded whips…
  6. … lashed with leaded whips until he was ripped open…
  7. … lashed with leaded whips until he was ripped open and the blood freely flowed…
  8. … wounded on all parts of his flesh…
  9. … cut down from the pillar…
  10. … collapsing wounded onto the dirt…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XIII. The Crowning.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … passed out on the ground…
  2. … kicked by soldiers…
  3. … slapped by soldiers…
  4. … spit upon by soldiers…
  5. … dressed by soldiers in a purple robe…
  6. … crowned with a plaited, thorny crown…
  7. … mockingly hailed as King of the Jews by soldiers…
  8. … returned to Pilate…
  9. … whom Pilate condemned to death at the request of the mob…
  10. … whom condemning, Pilate released Barabbas…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XIV. The Carrying.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … Given his cross to bear…
  2. … falling to the ground…
  3. … carrying his cross…
  4. … consoling the women of Jerusalem…
  5. … falling to the ground…
  6. … whose face was wiped by Veronica…
  7. … whose cross was shared by Simon…
  8. … greeting you, his mother…
  9. … falling a final time…
  10. … coming to the hill of Golgatha…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XV. The Cross.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … arriving at Calvary…
  2. … stripped of his garments, ripping open his wounds…
  3. … stretched onto the hard wood of the Cross…
  4. … his hands and feet were pierced…
  5. … whose cross was raised…
  6. … mocked by one thief, hailed by the other…
  7. … seeing you and his beloved friend…
  8. … commending you to his disciple and all of us to you as our mother…
  9. … who cried out, “It is finished”…
  10. … who died upon the cross…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

The Mysteries of Glory

XVI. The Resurrection.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … trampling down death by death…
  2. … harrowing hell, raising our first parents together with all the righteous…
  3. … greeting Joseph in Hades and taking him to Heaven…
  4. … greeting the women in the garden…
  5. … greeting Mary Magdalene in peace…
  6. … greeting you in love and joy…
  7. … greeting Peter in forgiveness…
  8. … greeting the Disciples in teaching and the breaking of bread…
  9. … greeting the Apostles in surprise…
  10. … greeting Thomas in truth…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XVII. The Ascension.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … calling his Disciples to Galilee…
  2. … worshiped by his Disciples even though some doubted…
  3. … to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given…
  4. … sending his Apostles out into all the world…
  5. … sending his Apostles out into all the world to preach the Gospel…
  6. … sending his Apostles out into all the world to baptize all nations…
  7. … sending his Apostles out into all the world to make disciples of all…
  8. … promising to be with us until the end of all ages…
  9. … ascending to heaven to sit at the Father’s right…
  10. … who will return in the same way to us…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XVIII. The Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

  1. … commanding all his people to gather in prayer…
  2. … present whenever two are three are gathered in his name…
  3. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit…
  4. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit from the bosom of the Father…
  5. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit resting in him…
  6. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire…
  7. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit with the power of speech…
  8. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit uniting all tongues divided at Babel…
  9. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit to fill us with Life…
  10. … sending to his Church the Holy Spirit uniting us as his Body in the world…
…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XIX. The Death of Mary.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … coming to the end to your life…
  2. … asking to be buried in Gethsemane…
  3. … asking your Son to bring the Disciples, your sons, to you…
  4. … receiving ten Apostles in joy…
  5. … parting to your Son…
  6. … leaving the Church in sadness…
  7. … born to your tomb in Gethsemane…
  8. … whom Thomas, arriving late, begged to see one last time…
  9. … when they opened the tomb you were gone, leaving only roses…
  10. … sitting at the right hand of your Son, full of grace in body and soul…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

XX. The Coronation of Mary.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God…

  1. … Queen of Angels…
  2. … Queen of Patriarchs…
  3. … Queen of Prophets…
  4. … Queen of Apostles…
  5. … Queen of Martyrs…
  6. … Queen of Confessors…
  7. … Queen of Virgins…
  8. … Queen of All the Saints…
  9. … Queen of the Family…
  10. … Queen of Peace…
…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Dolorous Mysteries: Quem enim diligit Dominus, castigat.

+JMJ+

Friday is the day on which we traditionally meditate on the Dolorous or Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Although I’ve written elsewhere about these as a discussion of addiction – including sexual addiction – I have been struggling with these in light of the Troubles, as we might call them. They are on-going: the Late Unpleasantness might seem a tad dismissive since it’s not late. Yet, if you know the history of the American South to realize that I’m referring in that phrase to a massively huge social disruption costing many souls and much sadness. The parallel is apt.Very apt. The Dolorous Mysteries lead us on the way to something… we know not what. Yes: they point towards hope, in a way; still, as a story arc, they are self contained. And they end in death.

Praying in the Garden
This is the Church now. Yes, there are those fools who are ignoring the possibilities, and there are those who are gleefully jumping up and down, but the Church is just now praying, “If this cup might pass… but still not my will, but Thine.” We might pray that that might not be needed. We might beg God that it not come…

But we must submit to God’s will in the end. If God wants a spotless bride, he will have one.

The Scourging
I’m of the opinion that, among his many mercies, God let the Soviet scourge fall upon the Church because she was corrupt. There are stories that back this up: if nothing, she was so wed to the Czarist structures that she even allowed the Czar to take away the Patriarchate… which was restored only under the Bolsheviks. So she let the Czar destroy the power of the Church… and then let the Soviets restore it – as if she had to have the state standing with her to do anything. The Church was corrupt. God used the state to purge her. From the book, Everyday Saints comes this story of a Monastery in a small town:

It was said that its monks were all idlers and drunkards. During the Civil War [in Russia] the Bolsheviks arrived in the town that was closest to the monastery. They gathered together its inhabitants in the market square, and then they dragged the monastery’s monks out in a convoy.

The commissar loudly yelled at the people as he pointed to those men in black:

“Citizens! Townsfolk! You know these drunkards, gluttons, and idlers better than I do! Now their power has come to an end. But so that you will understand more fully how these vagabonds have fooled the workers and peasants for centuries, we will throw their cross and their Scriptures into the dust before them. Now, before your very eyes, you will see how each of them will stamp upon these tools of deceit and enslavement of the people! And then we will let them go, and let the four winds scatter them!”

The crowd roared. And as the people cheered, up walked the monastery’s Abbot, a stout man with a meaty face and a nose all red from drinking. And he said as he turned to his fellow monks: “Well, my brothers, we have lived like pigs, but let us at least die like Christians!”

And not a single one of those monks budged. That very day all their heads were chopped off by the sabers of the Bolsheviks.

This sex scandal is a perfect storm for it sets the Church up for lawsuits in ways that laws about “hate speech” and “marriage initiatives” never could. Who wants to defend sexual predators? Not I – as much as I would argue for prayer, absolution, forgiveness, I would also ask for reparation and justice. The Church – which at one time had her own courts – gave all that up to the state. So… God can use the state for this.
And it might result in some of us becoming saints – as in the story above – in spite of ourselves.
The Crowning with Thorns
What does this mean, through, for the Body of Christ, the Church herself? What will become of those who did not rape and pillage, who did not cover up, who did not find themselves paying Bishops to run an hide, or advising aging clerics to make simoniac appointments? The mocking of our friends, the crowning with thorns,the spitting, the slapping, the cruel exposure of all of us to social weakness: this will be all our lot.
This will be more of the same: for the Church must be cleansed. Out will go the lukewarm. Out will go the folks who think this will pass and their personal compromises with the world will stay in place. Out will go those who think the sexual teachings of the Church (aside from predation) are outdated. For even as the church doubles down on her teachings, she will need to let go of those who would use this crisis as an excuse to actually change it all. And as this crisis has become a division between the Church and the world – for the purpose of the latter beating up the former – so it must also become a division between those who would allow such acts “between consenting adults” even in the clergy and those who would adhere to the Church’s traditional teaching. This leads directly to:
The Carrying the Cross
This is not going to be easy. We have to be in this for the long haul. And what happened in Pennsylvania with the Grand Jury will probably have to happen in every diocese around the country before people say, OK, This is over. I would only adjure that someone needs to point out PA seems to have done somethings right since 2002, and so it will be in other places.

I would rather see the Church pick up her cross and walk than to have it laid upon her. Read up on the South African Truth and Reconciliation process. This would be the Church coming clean on her own. It’s ok if there has to be justice done after… but if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive them. We can confess our sins before they ever come out. This will be carrying the cross rather than having it laid on our shoulders.

But this process has to go deeper than just public confession of our sins: we have to tear down the entire structure that made this possible. The failure to preach the Gospel for fear of losing one’s Parochial Financial Powerhouses, one’s artists, ones friends… this must stop. Everywhere a don’t ask don’t tell stands athwart some Church teaching – no matter what it is – has to be seen as a place where we are avoiding our cross. And while coming clean on our own may avoid civil asset forfeiture, this final cross of truth may, in fact, result in closure and loss as well.

The Crucifixion and Death
The words of Joseph Ratzinger (as he then was) have made the rounds recently. I first read them in La Stampa, although I’m sure they are in other places. He was writing in the 60s, but 60 years later they seem prophetic:

Today’s Church could be faced with a similar situation, undermined, according to Ratzinger, by the temptation to reduce priests to “social workers” and it and all its work reduced to a mere political presence. “From today’s crisis, will emerge a Church that has lost a great deal,” he affirmed.

“It will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges.” It will start off with small groups and movements and a minority that will make faith central to experience again. “It will be a more spiritual Church, and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the Right one minute and the Left the next. It will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute.”

The process outlined by Ratzinger was a “long” one “but when all the suffering is past, a great power will emerge from a more spiritual and simple Church,” at which point humans will realise that they live in a world of “indescribable solitude” and having lost sight of God “they will perceive the horror of their poverty.”

Then and only then, Ratzinger concluded, will they see “that small flock of faithful as something completely new: they will see it as a source of hope for themselves, the answer they had always secretly been searching for.

And the prophecy of Tolkien (may his Memory be a blessing), at the last council have also been making the rounds. It comes from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter, with Christopher Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 1981).

You speak of ‘sagging faith’, however. That is quite another matter. In the last resort faith is an act of will, inspired by love. Our love may be chilled and our will eroded by the spectacle of the shortcomings, folly, and even sins of the Church and its ministers, but I do not think that one who has once had faith goes back over the line for these reasons (least of all anyone with any historical knowledge). ‘Scandal’ at most is an occasion of temptation – as indecency is to lust, which it does not make but arouses. It is convenient because it tends to turn our eyes away from ourselves and our own faults to find a scapegoat. But the act of will of faith is not a single moment of final decision: it is a permanent indefinitely repeated act or state which must go on – so we pray for ‘final perseverance’. The temptation to ‘unbelief’ (which really means rejection of Our Lord and His claims) is always there within us. Part of us longs to find an excuse for it outside us. The stronger the inner temptation the more readily and severely shall we be ‘scandalized’ by others. 

We are all – as the Memes have warned us – in danger of leaving Jesus because of Judas. That is exactly what Satan wants. Stay with the Church for she is Christ on Earth. She is the Visible inbreaking of the Kingdom of God – even as she has sinners in her midst who are doing just what humans have always done: trying to be a replica of God’s kingdom on their own terms. The Church must struggle and even be purged, but we – ourselves – must stand with the Church, must bear the scourging, must wear the crown of thorns, must carry the cross. Dying because of the sins of others is what the Church, the Body of Christ, is born to do. These are not my sins, yes, but when one of us suffers, we all suffer. When one of us sins, we have all sinned. In the end, Christ will have a bride who is as pure and spotless as he is.

I pray that I will be part of that bride, that you will be part of that bride. Tolkien’s answer, and mine for I know no other even though I am an “evil liver” and a “miserable sinner” as the Prayer Book sayeth: Go to Mass. Go to Mass. Go to Mass. A thousand times go to Mass.

The only cure for sagging of fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals. Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a Mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people (it could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the 5000 – after which [Our] Lord propounding feeding that was to come.)

I myself am convinced by the Petrine claims, nor looking around the world does there seem much doubt which (if Christianity is true) is the True Church, the temple of the Spirit dying but living, corrupt but holy, self-reforming and a rearising. But for me that Church of which the Pope is the acknowledged head on earth has as chief claim that it is the one that has (and still does) ever defended the Blessed Sacrament, and given it most honor, and put it (as Christ plainly intended) in the prime place. ‘Feed my sheep’ was his last charge to St. Peter; and since his words are always first to be understood literally, I suppose them to refer primarily to the Bread of Life. It was against this that the W. European revolt (or Reformation) was really launched – the ‘blasphemous fable of the Mass’ – and faith/works a mere red herring. I suppose the greatest reform of our time was that carried out by St. Pius X: surpassing anything, however needed, that the Council will achieve. I wonder what state the church would now be but for it.

Say a rosary. Say fifty. I find them best said walking. Pray for the Church that like her Groom whose body she is, she may die and rise again. Go to Mass and pure and spotless let her be.

A Different Rosary

Watching the Song of Bernadette or the Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima I was often moved by crowds reciting the Rosary. Their whispered earnestness and the passion was carried through the screen: the prayer of the church through the ages. Holy Mary, Mother of God… I know these mid-20th Century religious melodramas are poor by today’s standards. But they pull at the heartstrings of one who loves our Lady.

When I became Catholic it was so wonderful to find myself as part of this prayer. Kneeling before God and adding my whisper to the thunder of the ages. So I would find myself overcome with tears kneeling with “the old ladies” on Saturday mornings or with the Novena Folks before the Evening Mass. And sometimes, bending my mind so, I could close my eyes and hear the continued prayers from the past blending with ours. So it has been for the last couple of years. I have also encountered quiet Rosaries said at 6AM and I’ve been awed by the joyful Rosaries of newlyweds praying in quite corners of the church in the evening.

A new thing happened recently, when the guys sat on old sofas pulled up in a circle near a grill in the parish parking lot. We began by polling intentions: my wife and my children; people we love or will come to love; the idea that finding one’s vocation was learning to love the folks God have each of us to love; for each other and our struggles for purity; for work; for courage.  Then we began the Apostles’ Creed and the rest of the Rosary. This bass pedaled sonorous rumble was a new prayer experience for me. The focused intensity of men joined in Christ to ask God for help, asking God’s Mother – our Mother as well – for her prayers was entirely different than the whispered experience I knew.

At the Rosary’s close, we sang the the Salve Regina. The surprise was in the singing of this hymn that normally wraps up the prayers. Suddenly all our voices united in singing the Latin text to the traditional plainchant setting. Where before there were bass pedals, now there was baritone warmth and glory. This prayer of brothers in arms, united in Spiritual Warfare, was the most exhilarating meditation! Far from navel gazing, as one might (wrongly) imagine a meditation to be, this was more like a shared pep-talk before the second half kickoff.

It seems these two Rosaries are important: both the whispered rumble and the rolling thunder. The Church survives on the former, but she needs the latter as well. I don’t know what it might feel like to others gathered in groups, but I know that, as far as some visionaries go, men report experiencing the Rosary as a weapon, a sword. St Dominic has his friars imitate knights by wearing the Rosary hanging on their left hand side not in place of but rather as a sword. I felt that for the first time the other night.

Maria, auxiliam Christianorum, ora pro nobis!

Here is Deep Water

JMJ

The Readings for the Memorial of Joachim and Anna, Grandparents of God
Thursday in the 16th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Obstupescite, caeli, super hoc : et portae ejus, desolamini vehementer, dicit Dominus. Duo enim mala fecit populus meus : me derelinquerunt fontem aquae vivae, et foderunt sibi cisternas, cisternas dissipatas, quia continere non valent aquas.


Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. 


There are a lot of Catholic Devotions out there! A lot of spiritualities! Each one is supported by the church, approved, and growing. It’s not a case of once-size-fits-all. Do you like to study and underline passages in books as you think about them? You may be a Benedictine. Do you like to do that on your Kindle while you read in a group? You may be a Dominican. Do you prefer to set the books down and picture yourself in them from memory? You may be a Jesuit. Do you prefer to toss the books out the window and live the Gospel in the streets? Franciscan. It’s a thing: there are online online tests about which religious order your personality fits into. 

Coming from a tradition of one-size-fits-all, this has been eye opening to me. Catholic means whole. If there is something of good, of God in a tool, it belongs in here. There’s meditation, chanting, and silence enough to put any ashram to shame. There’s praise and worship music, baroque stringed adventures, a capella vocal harmonies, and Russian four part chanting enough to put the entire world to shame as mute.There’s a myriad of litanies, vocal prayers, novenas, pilgrimages, books on mass intentions, patristic writings, meditations on the Psalter,  teachings on centering prayer, mystical saints teachings on gardening… There’s enough liturgical variation (just on the books, alone) to make us all eschew the idea that there’s one right way to do Catholicism. 

It’s in light of this buffet of spiritual treasures, this feast for the soul, that I’m always confused at folks who need to shun “organized religion”. This is hardly that, save as a library is organized or a hardware store. You can totally mix and match here. Why did shallow wells of your own when you can plumb the depths of humanity’s spiritual treasures here? Each one plugged into the illimitable riches of a 2000-6000 year old tradition. This water is deep and fresh. And the deeper you go, the deeper it is.

Today is the feast of the Parents of the Blessed Virgin, who were the Grandparents of God. And the thing that calls out to me today is the Rosary, for my friend Tim, spoke on this on Tuesday night, and also this Rosary is my spiritual home. This has become a daily prayer. It, too, gets deeper the further in you go, until you’re lost in visions and depths, stars and great abysses of joy. And when I’m in a room full of people praying this together i can hear the echoes of the children at Fatima and Lourdes, of the mobs surrounding them, simply kneeling and whispering

Hail Mary, full of Grace;

The prayer of the entire church from the Archangel to now. Here to participate in freely, by anyone with a hand and a heart/brain/mouth to say the words. 

A podcast (?) or a conversation I heard (?) last week drove home the point: when Jesus says the “gates of hell will not prevail against” his Church, he uses a word that can’t be about gates… overpowering is not something gates do. Gates do not attack they defend. Gates can be overpowered though. And in that war someone might prevail. Jesus means for us to be on the attack in this spiritual warfare! And since this is a great prayer for walking either a lone or in a group, it comes to me that it’s a great way to conquer as well. What if you could walk the streets of your city or town claiming them for Jesus and our blessed Lady as you walked: simply praying the Rosary and fighting off the demons.


What if armies of prayerful folks could leave Mass on a Sunday and  reclaim whole stretches of their city just by walking home and praying the Rosary as they went? What if walking became your regular mode and you might spend your morning and evening walks to and from the office battling demons and waging peace on your town. 

We consecrated the Archdiocese to Mary last year, maybe we should begin to consecrate the streets, one by one, letting the deep waters of God’s grace fill up our city. Or yours.


___

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Sé do bheatha, a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta, tá an Tiarna leat. Is beannaithe thú idir mná agus is beannaithe toradh do bhroinne, Íosa. A Naomh-Mhuire, a Mháthair Dé, guigh orainn na peacaigh, anois, agus ar uair ár mbáis. Amen.

So is the Hail Mary in Irish.

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary

In preparation for the Consecration of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this act of personal piety seems a good thing, indeed, a very good thing.

12 Day Preparation | Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary

Week One | Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

Week Two | Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

Week Three | Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

October 7 Consecration Day | Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

The Luminous Mysteries: the Broken Road

Antiphon: God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

In your baptism, O Christ, our God, you opened the pathway of initiation for us, into your Mysteries. I thank you for all who have moved me along this path, awkward and jerking though I have been. I’ve been on my way in for so long. And I have to thank those men who held the door open: the Pastor at the Marietta Baptist Tabernacle that wouldn’t know a trinity from a hole in the ground, and did it all wrong… but he taught me how to swim. And Pastor Pinto who gave me communion first. And Jim Lowery who got me wet again – this time in all the right names, and it stuck… Then Paul Moore with Henrician hands, but wait we’ll try again. And Bill Swing, who welcomed me back into Christ’s flock after I had gone a Paganing. And then Father Victor, who Confessed, Chrismated, and Absolved me into the Church Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. There was another turn unexpected, and Father Michael welcomed me into communion with Peter. God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

At the wedding, O Christ, you changed the water into wine. The things we offer are not divine, but what we offer in good faith, you take, and change, and elevate. And all the things I thought I’d have to carry all this way, you let me drop. All the things that were not according to your plan. But each one taught me by not being yours, each one held me in arms that were not love… but so nearly there… that I could not but keep looking, more and more, in the right direction. Do what ever he tells you, and you said, love… and I tried loving and even through I was wrong, you took it – and drew it deeper into yourself, the jars were full, the guests were drunk: and you brought out the best wine last.  God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

In preaching and proclaiming the kingdom, O Christ, you laid out in words, in simple human terms, the divine truths of all time. And I would be woefully arrogant if I did not know and see all the places you have taught me. I would not be me if it were not for Pastor Pinto, Pastor Lowery, Jeanette and David, my Sunday School teachers, these people gave me love for the Bible. And Pastor Lowery opened the door to John Wesley’s writings – and they, in turn, showed me the Church Fathers. And Mr Witkowsky opened my high school brain to history, and Dr Carlson confirmed the Freshman me in those mysteries. Jim Carse showed me the Tao and Games, and Frank Peters (SJ) showed me the Torah and the Church. Nina and then Starhawk danced me round the spiral for ten years, then Shadwynn called a change and Donald and Rick brought me back to Christ. And then they again opened to me the Fathers as well: and so out again to Fr Victor and Fr Joseph, to a wider Dance with Sare and Cam. In the end, though, stumbling along, it was Steve and Steve and Mom and Dad pointing the way. Then Michael. And again Father Michael, and last, my little brother, Joey… God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

On the Mountain, your truth was revealed. All things that are, are yours. Nothing that is isn’t yours. Only, without you, nothing alone is strong. Your light is all – and there is naught but darkness where you are not. And by your light, we see light everywhere. And so I can thank you deeply, that I have known the joys of all the wrong places, and I have known those pains as well. I have never once stopped looking, but you were always further along, just a light around the corner. A couple of times I thought, let me rest here… but no, the light was higher up the mountain; further up, and further in. You were in the cloud and I, unknowing, stumbled right into your arms. God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

Bread and wine are your body and blood. And Christ, there, is the mystery in sum. The things of this earth are made divine – see it in water, see it in the wedding, see it in the words we use to proclaim you, see it by your light in all light: this broken world, is transubstantiated by your grace. The whole damned thing is lifted up and blessed and broken, and it is you that we receive when we take it up in love. Every fracture, every quake, every tear, every wet eye, sobbing lung, and running nose, is held up in your hands, every broken heart is not healed but rather is iconified by the offering, made into your image which is the only true image there ever was, is, or ever can be. What is not you is not. And under the weaving of failure, runs the water of blessing, changed into the wine of love. Under the waving of the rotted grains of earth is the bread of heaven – and the whiskey of life. You, God, this broken road, is your narrow path destroyed by us in our pride, and damning ourselves to walk the other way, you went behind us and said, “boo”. Interception! God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

Joyous Mysteries: Addiction

The Angel came to Mary. Most of us won’t ever get there. But our conscience calls out to us. That comes from Latin works meaning “with knowledge” and St Paul says we have the law of God written in our hearts… When that voice calls out we can listen like Mary. It never calls us to our addiction, but away. We rarely listen, but we can…

And we are never called to face this alone. Somewhere a friend or loved one, awaits our message, our help, and our need. We do not need to sit alone, waiting in the dark. Our family ties, social obligations, work duties feel like intrusions on our fears, our concerns, our addictions and they are, exactly, that: or seen another way, they are the way out.

The birth of Hope shines out. Every day is Christmas. If we will let it be so, every day Christ is born in the cattle stall and dung of our hearts and fills them with heaven. The light is there to burn away the thorns and dirt; to fill us with love. We can’t wait until everything is just right. God is now here.

Mary presented Jesus in the Temple, God offered to God; God living the terms of his own covenant. God follows the rules he gave us, the rules he wove into the very fabric of space and time by his own hand. For God, two plus two can never equal five. These are his plan. 2+2=4 because that is Truth and God is Truth in himself. He can never decree untruth. And, with them written in our hearts, we do well to see the rules, the laws and follow God himself. We don’t always, and things get out of hand.

And one day Jesus ran away. Or did he get separated from his family and go to the only safe place he knew? Was there some teaching to impart that would later yeild a fruitful harvest? We will know later…

But whatever happened, parents get scared, the all-too-human fear of loss arises, plans destroyed. And yet there is Jesus, safe and sound in God’s house, on God’s business; no matter how out of control it all looks. Where’s my red stapler? Who moved my cheese? How in all Creation will I ever get that done without my sense of control? Let it go.

God has come to us as one of us.
In every thing like us save sin.
Our addictions are known to him
Our pains and loss as well.
Yeild it all over to him.

And it will be transubstantiated.

Christ is born.

Dolorous Mysteries: Addiction

When Christ is praying in the garden he faces the darkness. He knows the reality of sin, the hardness of the world. The fear is real. He is at rock bottom. Everything he thought he had, all that he is, all that he has said and done is over. There is only one way out. He turns his life over to God – whom no one better than he understands – and says, “I trust you to do this.”

When Christ is scourged at the pillar how like us with addictions is he, feeling over and over the pains that rack us, the torments that rip us apart. How like us is he, so weakened by the blows that he falls down, held up only by the device of torture itself. How unlike us is he who, feeling this pain, still reaches out to us in love to say God now shares your pain. It is real pain, real blood, real flesh torn apart. But it is the way out.

They cut him down he passes out. The soldiers to pass the time mock him: dress him up and crown him with thorns. They slap him awake and laugh at him. How like us in our throes of addiction or, in our struggle for sobriety, how like us when our friends now mock us and taunt us. The heart is broken. The mocking hurts. The slapping is the easy part for it wakes us up and we realize this was never love. And yet we must reach out to him: and love all the more. These things from our past that taunt us: it’s not a loss for it was never a gain.

But it’s gone, and the memories stab deep.

Some days, though. Let’s be honest, most days, really… it’s just normal. We have to get up and walk. We feel the pains from within, but they are not so strong. We remember the mocking, but whatever. It’s a normal day. We have to keep walking. This is our life. Keep walking. Wake up and feel these reminders, and keep walking. Stand, sometimes fall. Keep walking. This is the Via Dolorosa, but it is the Via Gloriosa, we are walking with him. He carries the cross as we must. Our very life patterns, our weaknesses, we keep walking. He is walking beside us, and he, like Simon, helps us. Gives us his strength, until it’s not us at all. Keep walking. It’s him.

Keep walking.

Then in the end.

Death.

We reach the end and we die crucified on our life. His death was a sacrifice of redemption. His death on the cross ripped open the fabric of the universe and light and life pours in. We must die as well. 100% of us will die. Everyone who has ever lived has died. We will die.

No choice.
We cannot choose when.
We cannot choose where.
We cannot choose how.

But we can choose why.

We can choose to die to self to live for him. We can choose to offer all the pain, all the scourges, the fears, the mockings, the slaps, the walking. We can choose to unite every last grief and sorrow to him, through him, with him, and in him to God’s purposes, to God’s glory, and God’s salvation of the world.

Then in the end.

Death has no sting.
The grave has no victory.
The bars of brass have been broken down from the inside out.

Christ is Risen.

The Jesus Psalter

I first heard of the Jesus Psalter reading Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s wonderful Come Rack, Come Rope, a love story set in the time of the Elizabethan Pogroms. It was also my first introduction to how those Pogroms were conducted – hunters, star courts, betrayals, simony, etc. Reading such a story can drive one to despair, or conversion. The Jesus Psalter is mentioned a couple of times in the opening portion of the book, both rather offhandedly.

…in Marjorie at least, as will be seen more plainly later, there was a strong love of Jesus Christ and His Mother, whom she knew, from her hidden crucifix and her (rosary) beads, and her Jesus Psalter–which she used every day..

And:

Her advice, besides that which has been described, was, principally, to say his Jesus Psalter more punctually, to hear mass whenever that were possible, to trust in God, and to be patient and submissive with his father in all things that did not touch divine love and faith. 

As it turns out, despite Benson’s passing mention of it, it was a very important text in the Bad Old Times. It became a focus of piety for the beleaguered Catholic Church which historical context adds levels of meaning to the devotion.  As a side note: this is why I think it’s important today. It fell out of use over the last 500 years, but today we may need it again. There are Christians in name who will not fail to turn over the Faithful, I think, if things get much rockier.

So, being the religious geek I am, I had to go looking for it. And it’s out there, in a tiny few places.  The first place I found it was in on a website devoted to Latin prayers. I liked it, printed it out, and used it at the Monastery. Fr T even wants to reprint it. Then I found another text last summer, much more ancient, via Google Play. It is from a prayerbook published in 1599. (It’s here in the Google Play Store.)The Full Title (as such were, in those days) is:

A Manuall of Praiers, gathered out of many famous and good authors, as well auncient as of the time present. Distributed according to the daies of the Weeke. Whereunto is added a newe Calendar, with the order to helpe at masse. (Certaine deuout and Godly petitions, commonly called: Jesus Psalter.)

More recently (this month, in fact) I was handed a copy of the text printed by the Catholic Truth Society in the 1940s.

The Jesus Psalter is a set of 15 invocations of the name of Jesus, recited in “decades” as on the traditional Dominican Rosary, but each invocation is different. Each one includes a threefold recitation of the Divine Name and each decade ends with a a set of the same prayers, including the Pater Noster and the Ave. Each set of five decades ends with the Credo as well. Later editions of the text have a longer prayer said at the end of each five.   Each decade, between the invocations, there is a series of meditations. Although they have a common theme, they vary between each edition I have. The oldest one from 1599, doesn’t have meditations for all the decades and some are limited to only one or two sentences. This leads me to the conclusion that the meditations were intended to be personalized. This is as in, again, the Dominican Rosary, which is meant to be prayed (perhaps with a guidebook) until it comes “into one’s soul” and forms its own set of meditations in the heart.

Another difference in various online editions is a confusion about how the decades are said. Here I will go with the one that is most logical – and also included in the 1599 text: each invocation is intended to be said 10 times with 3 repetitions of the name of Jesus in each invocation. Thus the Holy Name gets said 150 times in each set of 5 decades and thence we get the name Psalter: for “Jesus” is said once for each of the 150 Psalms. Add that to the daily practice of the Rosary, 150 Aves said in sequence (through the 15 traditional mysteries), and the laity would get 9 sets of “Psalter Equivalences” each week.

When read as a sequence, you can see the progression of thought through the 15 invocations:

  1. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me.
  2. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me.
  3. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, strengthen me.
  4. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, comfort me.
  5. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, make me constant.
  6. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, enlighten me.
  7. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to fear Thee.
  8. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to love Thee.
  9. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to remember my death.
  10. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, send me here my purgatory.
  11. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to flee evil company.
  12. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to call to Thee for help.
  13. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to persevere in virtue.
  14. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to fix my mind on Thee.
  15. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to order my life to Thee.

I’ll do more posts on this. Look for the label “Jesus Psalter”.  Peace.

The Rosary: The Transfiguration

In the Mystery of the Transfiguration, God is revealed as he really is: a human man, fully divine, enfleshed, and loving us so dearly. In the Transfiguration the Son of God is revealed as God the Son. There are some religions that insist the divine has no body. They are wrong and are denying Christ who is God and Man in spite: those statements coming after God’s Incarnation are a rejection of God.

The Transfiguration also reveals man as he really is: fully participating in the divine dance, as was intended to be our place before the Fall. Through Christ, the human and divine united, we are made one with God’s divine energies but not his essence: Christ alone bears both humanity and divinity in full without loss or commingling. The only thing he doesn’t carry is sin.

The Transfiguration reveals to his disciples, as the hymns show, that this is God and all that he does he does of his own will.

In praying this Mystery, I add “… who was Transfigured on Tabor” after the Holy Name.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery:
The Transfiguration of Christ on the Mountain

Let us contemplate in this mystery how Jesus is Transfigured on Mount Tabor; speaking with Moses and Elijah, Our Lord appears in radiance, and then the other two – symbolizing the Law and the Prophets – fade away. Christ is Lord of the Living and the Dead, of the Law and the Prophets.

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

When Thou wast transfigured before Thy Crucifixion, O Lord, the mount resembled heaven, and a cloud spread out like a canopy, and the Father bore witness unto Thee. And there were present with Peter, James and John, since they were to be with Thee at Thy Betrayal; so that seeing Thy wonders they might not be dismayed at Thy sufferings.
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.

When Thou wast transfigured, O Savior, on a high mountain, in the presence of Thy chief Disciples, Thou didst shine forth in glory, symbolizing that they who are recognized for the sublimity of virtue, shall also be made worthy of divine glory.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The mountain which was thick with smoke of old hath become now honorable and holy; for that Thy feet did rest on it, O Lord, for the mystery hidden before the ages, Thy Transfiguration before Peter, James and John hath made manifest.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Moses and Elijah, when they conversed with Christ, made manifest that He was the Lord of the living and the dead, and that He was the God Who spake of old in the law and the Prophets, the same to Whom the voice of the Father did bear witness from a radiant cloud, saying, Him do ye hear; for He it is Who by the Cross hath taken captive Hades bestowed life eternal to the dead.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When Thou didst prefigure Thy Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou didst take Thy three Disciples, Peter, James and John, and with them didst ascend Mount Tabor. And at Thy Transfiguration, O Savior, Mount Tabor was covered with light.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Peter, James, and John, not being able to bear the radiance of Thy face and the splendor of Thy raiment, did fall down on their faces kneeling, and being overcome with astonishment, wondered at the sight of Moses and Elijah conferring with Thee on things that were to befall Thee, while a voice from the Father bore witness, saying, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thy Disciples, they threw themselves on the ground, unable to bear the sight of Thy figure that may not be looked upon, O Word. And the angels did minister in fear and awe, while the heavens were affrighted and the earth trembled when they beheld on earth the Lord of Glory.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The servants of the Word, beholding new and wondrous things, and hearing the fatherly voice on Tabor, cried out rejoicing: This is our Savior, the Element of the ancient covenant.
Hail, Mary, &c.

O Thou Holy One Who hast sanctified the whole universe by Thy light, Thou hast been transfigured on a high mountain, and hast shown Thy Disciples Thy might and that Thou shalt deliver the world from transgression. Wherefore, do we cry out to Thee, O compassionate Lord, save our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When, O Christ our God, Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, Thou didst reveal Thy glory to Thy Disciples in proportion as they could bear it. Let Thine everlasting light also enlighten us sinners, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. O Thou Bestower of light, glory to Thee.
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.

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, as thy Son was Transfigured, revealing his glory and the glory of thy maternity, so by thy prayers, help us to be transformed by his divine Passion. Beg him to burn our sins by an immaterial fire, and make us worthy to be filled with his bliss, so that, rejoicing with thee, we may magnify him eternally.