Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Rosary Confraternity Part One

The Rosary Confraternity, the official society of the Rosary is often presented in terms of the
obligations and privileges with which it has been enriched by the Church. There are indeed certain prayers to be said and there are blessings to be gained, but if one is to enter into the depths beneath these duties and graces one must search for the spirituality that initially inspired this society.

Alan de la Roche and his spiritual son St.Grignion de Montfort
Alan de la Roche who gives testimony to the Dominican origins of the Rosary describes the Confraternity in amazingly strong terms: the Society of the Slaves of Jesus and Mary in the Chain of the Rosary.

The holy and willing slavery together with the chain of the Rosary form the basis of the
brother/sisterhood. Alan gives a detailed account of how the members entrust themselves as loyal and loving servants to the Queen of heaven, and how they mutually support each other by the sharing of spiritual riches. St. Grignion de Montfort several centuries later seems to have taken inspiration from this statement when he preached the true devotion to Mary.

Napoleonic war booty
It was in the year 1486 that Michael de Insulis appeared in the University of Cologne at the time of public debates, with his Defence of the Rosary Confraternity. This author's work was so important and so beautifully designed and illustrated that the five copies that existed in Italy were seized as war booty by Napoleon and brought to the National Library in Paris, where they are to be found today.

Francois de Lillle
The teaching of Michael de Insulis, or Francois de Lille as he is named in the Paris catalogue, is of profound importance for an understanding of the true nature of the Rosary Confraternity. He made it clear that fraternity or fellowship in the Holy Spirit was an essential element of the Rosary as a shared prayer. He took his inspiration from verse 3 of Psalm 118: I share as companion with all those who keep your law.
The picture above is of the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland. No words were spoken, but the silence and the imagery are eloquent. One can sit before the Lamb on the Altar and find stillness and security.

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