Tuesday, January 4, 2011
It may come as a surprise to you, to know that in the original Mass of the Rosary as celebrated by Dominicans, the Gospel text is that of the Sower who goes out to cast seed on the earth. Much of the seed comes to nothing as it falls on bad ground. But the seed planted on good soil brings forth a rich harvest. Jesus was speaking of how the word of God should be received. The picture with these thoughts was sent to me by two good friends from the USA-- Barbara and Stephen. They have produced several superb pictures illustrating the hands of Priests and Preachers.
The early Dominicans saw the Rosary as a practical and fruitful way the Mysteries of the Kingdom. They would have been conscious of the words Jesus added to the Parable of the Sower: To you is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom. For them, the Rosary was the Gospel on its knees. The Hail Mary-- at least the first part of it is nothing more, nothing less that a proclamation of the Good News that the Lord is with each one of us-- as he is with Mary. Praying the Rosary, might be compared to turning over the pages of the Gospels and taking them to heart.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Dominicans of an earlier time preached a deep spirituality that underpinned the Confraternity of the Rosary. The term Confraternity does not always enjoy the respect and dignity that this Brother/Sisterhood deserves.
St. Louis Marie de Montfort who was singled out by the Master of the Dominican Order for his preaching of the Rosary lamented the fact that in his day, there was no true Confraternity of the Rosary. This led him to propose his own Treatise on the True Devotion to Mary. His end product which lay hidden for many years is a recall to the original thrust of the Golden Rosary years of the Dominican Friars.
Much literature and many websites are still repeating the Holy Algebra approach to the Confraternity. They set down a list that says do this and get that--say these prayers and gain these benefits. Fine, as far as it goes, but the truth is that this approach lacks spiritual depth. To get to the deep waters one has to go back centuries and pick up what many seem to have forgotten. De Montfort refers to the golden days of Alan de la Roche, who proclaimed the Holy Slavery of Jesus and Mary in the chain of the Rosary. One can see from where De Montfort drew his terminology.
William Pepin, in his work, Salutate Mariam, republished by the Dominican Rosary Centre in Santa Maria Novella, Florence opens up a whole wonderland of teaching in regard to the Confraternity of the Rosary. He uses the parable of the Prodigal to explain how one should live out the true spirit of a Brother/Sister of the Rosary. ‘ Listen,’ he says ‘to the Father who says to the Elder Brother: All that I have is thine. Lk:15,31. A true elder member of the Confraternity entrusts all that he is and all that he has to Jesus and Mary and responds to their gracious response: Beloved all that I have is yours. Take it and use it in the service of the whole Rosary family.
A true elder member of the Rosary Confraternity must not be jealous or even like the younger brother looking for his own share of the property. He must be willing to rejoice with and celebrate the others. Since all that the Father has is his, he himself has the right and indeed the obligation to put the robe of mercy on his brother’s back, the shoes on his feet and the ring of union on his finger. These are covenant terms and they symbolise the covenant of love and mercy that should pertain between the members.
Becoming a member of the Confraternity implies both a Contract and a Covenant. A contract is an exchange of goods or services. A Covenant goes further and implies an exchange of persons. The prayers to be said and the indulgences to be gained—the exchange of goods, as it were, point to the contract. They are the external and secondary practices. But the inner soul of the society goes beyond a simple contract to reach the heights of a sacred covenant. Both find expression in the words of commitment: I am all yours and all I have is yours.
A member with this rich understanding of the Rosary Confraternity gives up existing out of his own meagre ration. He enters the treasure–house of the King and lives out of his infinite supply. A member of this True Rosary Confraternity is no longer waiting in the dole-queue of his own poverty or giving out of his own begging bowl. In keeping with the Book of Revelation: 3:21 - The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne... the true elder member is seated on the throne and acts with the authority of the royal household behind him. Such a one reaches out to bless others with a boldness that moves mountains with an expectant faith the works even miracles.
Before ever members of the Confraternity meet to form a formal gathering or sodality, there is a depth of spirituality that needs to be unearthed. It is a lost treasure that lies deep in our Dominican tradition. I believe the time has come to reclaim and proclaim it.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010
The weather in Knock on this 11th of November 2010 is wild and windy. Yet still the silence subsists beneath the blustery day. I have been hearing Confessions and just snapped the attached picture of the lovely wood-carving that dominates the Confessional Chapel. Both Our Lady and St. John embrace the dead Christ that they may find the grace of the new life that is born of his death.
Please know that throughout the day I am here, I am holding you in my heart and in my prayers, as dear St. Paul wrote to his listeners long ago.
If you want to contact me, here is my email : email@example.com
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I have been asked to supply here at Our Lady's Shrine, Knock in the West of Ireland. The work is light and there is plenty time to sit and look. Looking and lingering in love is very much part of the spirit of this place. After all, there were no words spoken during the Apparition and the splendour of Knock is its silence. Sitting silently in the Shrine at the gable end of the church, one is led to be still during the prayer of the Rosary. I like to stop for a considerable time between the decades and just look at the Lamb on the altar and at the other figures to the side.
My old friend, Pere Bernard of Toulouse comes to my aid. Remembering what he wrote some hundred years ago, I cease looking at the pictures and statues in the King's throne room and prefer to gaze at the King himself. In practice this means putting aside all complicated meditation and letting the vocal prayers resound like silver bells in the background. I learn to rest in the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. I may even stop fingering th beads-- only to take them up again as the Spirit moves me.
If you find this interesting or if you may want to question it, here is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the earth. -- Archmides 220 BC.
In the Rosary we have a lever and in whatever place we stand with the beads in our hands we can build a brother/sisterhood that will move the world. This I know, is a mighty claim, but being old and bold, I dare to take my stand. The Brother/Sisterhood I have in mind is what I call the Confraternity of the Rosary.
I am tired of hearing that the Order of Preachers has no specific spirituality. A certain young friar remarked that the Jesuits have the Exercises of Ignatius and the Carmelites the Dark night, more lovely than the dawn, and asked what was characteristic of Dominican spirituality. He was told that the OP’s did not have anything special. They just lived the Gospel. The Novice master went on to illustrate the point, by saying that if you went to a Jesuit doctor, he would prescribe some pills or potions. But if you had recourse to a Dominican doctor, he would just say: Take a break or have a holiday in the sun! Fine! But let me quote from no less than the Holy Father, Pius X1 The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others." Quoted by Robert Feeney, a lay Dominican, author of "The Rosary: The Little Summa
De Monroy a Master of the Order made the strong statement that The Holy Rosary is the fairest flower of our Order. Should it come to pass that this flower withers, simultaneously the beauty and lustre of our Institute is seen to fade and disappear. And on the other hand, when that flower revives, forthwith it draws down on us the heavenly dew, imparts to our stem an aroma of grace and causes it to bring forth, as from a root of piety, fruits of virtue and of honour.’ If that does not offer a lever and a place to stand, I don’t know what does.
The Dominicans of an earlier time preached the deep spirituality that underpinned the Brother/Sisterhood of the Rosary. I put it like that, because the term Confraternity does not always enjoy the respect and dignity it deserves. Interestingly enough St. Louis Marie de Montfort who was singled out by the Master of the Dominican Order for his preaching of the Rosary, lamented the fact that in his day, there was no true Confraternity of the Rosary. This led him to propose his own Treatise on the True Devotion to Mary. His end product which lay hidden for many is more or less a recall to the original thrust of the Golden Rosary years of Dominican Friars.
Having looked at the numerous Rosary Websites from all over the world, I am saddened that they are still repeating what I call the Holy algebra approach to the Confraternity. They are simply setting down a list that says do this and get that--say these prayers and gain these benefits. It is alright as far as it goes, but the truth is that is a sandwich with no meat inside. To get to the meat you have to go back centuries and pick up what Dominicans of our time seem to have have forgotten. De Montfort refers to the golden days of Alan de la Roche and Michael de Insulis. Alan had written of the Holy Slavery of Jesus and Mary in the chain of the Rosary. One can see from where De Montfort drew his terminology.
As to the De Insulis who is frequently quoted in publications prior to De Montfort, I searched for him in many quarters in Italy but could not unearth his work. Arriving at the National Library in Paris, and remembering that his French name was Francois de Lille, I found several copies his writings. The copy I was given was ornately illustrated, like a miniature Book of Kells. On inquiring why there was nothing of his work in Italy, the librarian told me that the four copies in Paris were Napoleonic war booty. If the Dominican authorities in Rome happen to see this note, I pray that they may intercede with Paris for the return of at least one copy to its true home. It would help in the rediscovery of lost treasure of the Rosary Confraternity.
Lesser known but more accessible is the splendid presentation of the Rosary Confraternity by Pepinus in his work, Salutate Mariam, republished by the Dominican Rosary Centre in Santa Maria Novella, Florence. He uses the parable of the Prodigal to explain how we should live out the true spirit of a Brother/Sister of the Rosary. ‘We should listen,’ he says to the Father who says to the Elder Brother: All that I have is thine. Lk:15,31
A true elder member of the Rosary Confraternity is not like the younger brother looking for his own share of the property. He must be willing to rejoice with and celebrate the other members. Since all that the Father has is his, he himself has the right and the obligation to put the robe of mercy on his brother’s back, the shoes on his feet and the ring of union on his finger. These are covenant terms and they symbolise the covenant of love and mercy that should pertain between the members. The prayers to be said and the indulgences to be gained—the exchange of goods, as it were, point to the contract we make on joining the Confraternity. They are what I have called the bread around the sandwich. But the bonds that hold the members together and form the rich meat of the sandwich go beyond contract to reach the heights of a sacred covenant which embraces the person saying: all that is mine is yours---Totus tuus as John Paul 11 put it.
A member with this rich understanding of the Rosary Confraternity gives up existing out of his own meagre ration. He enters the treasure–house of the King and lives out of his infinite supply. This is the secret of sharing and interceding on behalf of the other members. A member of the True Rosary Confraternity is no longer waiting in the dole-queue of his own poverty or giving out of his own begging bowl. In keeping with the Book of Revelation: 3:21 - The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne... the true elder member is seated on the throne and acts with all the authority of the royal household behind him. Such a one reaches out to bless others with a boldness that moves mountains with an expectant faith the works even miracles.
This is the Rosary Confraternity to which I attach the claim of Archimedes: Give me a lever and I will move the world.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The first requirement for meditation is stillness, stillness of body but more importantly, stillness of the heart “Be still and know that I am God.” “Be still before the Lord and wait for him.” (Psalm 37,7) The New American Bible puts it forcibly: “Leave it to the Lord.” It is a kind of letting go and letting God. Psalm 131 invites us to rest like a child in the arms of the Lord: I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at it’s mother’s breast.
Christian contemplation does not end in the mind or the heart. It is not merely a mental exercise, but goes on to engage the whole personality and to overflow in love of others. The fruit of Rosary meditation shows in the transformation it effects. The words of St.Paul in Romans 12: 2 are pertinent: Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
As we look to the Lord, we radiate something of his glory. It is told of Moses that on coming down from the mountain where he had conversed with God, the people could see the radiance on his face, so much so that he had to keep a veil over it. This is what St. Paul was referring to when he wrote: All we, with unveiled faces, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3: 18)
We too are being changed into his likeness. Meditation or contemplation is nothing more than this looking, this lingering in love with the Lord. All one has to do is to recall the scene, to picture Jesus in the inner heart, to recognise his presence, enfolding you in his love. Underpinning all fifteen secrets of the Rosary is this one all pervading secret, that as you surrender to it’s graced process you are being renewed, restored, revitalised, transformed. Do not be diverted from this lingering in love with the Lord himself, by the multiplicity of mysteries and vocal prayers. A lot of things in books and sermons on prayer, are simply the gathering of bricks and boards for the building of your house. When the labour of building is over, just sit at the fire and enjoy your home and dream along with the lover of your soul. This undestanding can bring a whole new delight and frutifulness to your Rosary.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
His Eminence Sean Cardinal Brady spoke these gracious words to very large group of members of the Legion Pilgrimage at Knock this September. I have chosen the following to form an Allocutio to the Curia of Our Lady, Spouse of the Holy Spirit in the Dublin area:
It is a delight for me to be here in Knock in the company of the Legion of Mary, that great and dedicated army of Mary’s faithful and loving servants - you who serve the Church – the Body of Christ – the Son. What a joy to be here with you – you whose object is the glory of God and not the glory of self.
Today we are here to plead, through the intercession of Mary, for a special blessing on your visitation of families, and of the sick – especially of the lonely, the terminally ill and those in their last agony – both at home and in hospital. Long may your co-operation in every apostolic work and missionary undertaking, sponsored by the parish, continue to flourish and bear fruit and be blessed by the Lord. Long may the message of the Servants of God, Frank Duff, Edel Quinn and Alfie Lambe sustain you and implore you. May the day of their beatification soon draw near.
It was the genius of Frank Duff that he saw clearly that the Church is the Body of Christ. He talked about it all the time but he did not just talk – he translated his words into action! Frank Duff was ahead of his time. He opened the way for the Legion of Mary. He did so at a time when the role of the lay faithful still had to struggle for full recognition. Many would say that this is still the case – that lay people have still not been given their proper place in the Church.
His genius was to translate doctrine into action. “Christ – the Head depends on His followers” he would say. “If they do not lend themselves to Him his purposes are frustrated”. Frank Duff’s favourite papal statement was that of Paul VI who said: “What I like most about the Legion is that it empowers the little people to become apostles”. I would say it empowers not just the little people – but all the people who care to try.
The Legion of Mary has no other reason for existing but to help people to reach their final destiny – to help people into Heaven - or to use the older phraseology: the salvation of souls. They are called to have Mary’s maternity of souls: to work in the spirit of Mary, in communion with her.