Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do no be afraid.

On the long flight to St. Louis USA, I wondered if I would be able for the journey and the heavy week ahead. From the time of leaving Tallaght to arriving was the best part of 12 hours, but I made up my mind to live just one moment at a time. As the hours passed by on the plane, I recalled the word of St. Catherine of Siena: All the way to heaven is heaven too! So I decided to enjoy every detail to the full.

I remembered the Meditation Group back in the Retreat House and tried to imagine them around and along with me. I kept repeating my sacred word quietly in my inner being: Father, thy will be done. As long as that was being accomplished nothing else mattered. And when I began to falter and be afraid of what lay ahead, I recalled what Joe Dalton once told us: God does not God those who are able. He enables those whom he has called. The following lines came to me and I share them with you now in the hope that you too may find strength from them, in your calling.

For the moment, do not try to think things out.
Do not try to read other people's thoughts,
or trouble yourself with plans for the future.

Live to the full, the present moment,
and let my Annunciation for this time
be made known to you.
You too, have an angel who waits on you.
His dearest wish is to let the light of my love
reveal the way to you.

Do not burden yourself
with disturbing and distracting detail.
Leave those things for their own time,
and to those whose task it is
to care about such matters.

My wish for you, is that you rest in my love
and lose yourself in my presence.
My Son waits for you in the secret place.
Stay there and watch with him,
as you watch and wait
with those who are closest to you.

You know how friends linger in love,
And long to sit alone
in stillness and silence.

Words and thoughts are not necessary,
Plans and projects
can be left to work themselves out.
All that matters is that you let me direct you
in loving and in being loved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Annunciation Day

The Readings for this day highlight the words: Here I am Lord, I come to thy will. Mary re-echoes the theme when she Be it done unto me according to your word. We all have our moment of annunciation and are called to lay our lives open to God, that his will,-- his creative word may take flesh in us.

In meditation little else is asked of us, but that we sit in God's presence and let the river of his life and love flow through us. Here I am Lord, I come that your wonderful will may wash me clean and give me a new heart, a new purpose.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Legion of Mary Acies

Legionaries meet in the familiar homely atmosphere of their praesidium each week to pray and undertake the personal tasks committed to them. That meeting is delightfully described in the Handbook as: A local presence of Mary. We go to our meeting then as one goes on a personal pilgrimage to a holy place of presence. For the Acies, however we are drawn up in battle array, like a great battalion to publicly proclaim allegiance to the Queen of heaven and earth. So there is a note of celebration and consecration about this day.

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array? The words apply not only to the Queen, but to each one of her faithful legionaries.

You yourself are a rising morning star. In the eyes of God, you too are fairer than the moon, and brighter than the sun. You come before your Queen this day drawn up in battalion array. It is good to acknowledge your own dignity and rejoice in it on this day of celebration.

The Latin word terribilis is hardly well translated into English as terrible. Rather does it mean awesome, wondrous resplendent.” And that’s how Mary sees you in all your splendour. She is waiting to greet you. She appreciates you and thanks you for your service.

Walk then with head held high to the Vexillum of the Legion, and profess your allegiance. This noble Standard is modelled on that of the Roman Legion. Where the eagle was poised, now rests the Holy Spirit. That Spirit rests on you as it rested on the Maid of Nazareth and in the power of the Spirit, you too bring forth Jesus in your life and in the lives of those for whom you work.

Where stood the Emperor beneath the Arch of Triumph to welcome home his battle-weary soldiers, now stands the Empress of Heaven to welcome each one of you to share in the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

When the Emperor turned his eyes upon the battle-tried soldiers, he not only accepted their expression of loyalty, but rewarded them handsomely for their service. On such occasions, it was the Roman custom to pay out favours to the conquering heroes. These gifts and favours were way beyond the normal rates of pay. They were called charismatic gifts and they denote for us in the our legionary service, the gifts we need for service in the Kingdom of God and his people.

You come then in triumphal procession before heaven and earth this day. While you are an army set in battle array, you are asked to come individually to the Vexillum for thus the Queen sees you. When Bernadette at Lourdes was asked, “Did the Lady look at anyone else but yourself,” she replied: “Yes indeed she did. She Looked all around the crowd and she stopped at some as if they were old familiar friends.” Thus indeed does Our Lady look at each one of you this day. You are not only her loyal servants. You are her old famiiar friends.

You will hold on to the cherished Vexillum, the standard of our Legion and the sign of Victory. You will proclaim the solemn words of your allegiance: “I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all I have is yours.” Be sure of this, the Queen will be more than gracious to you. Thus she speaks to each one of you: “I see your hand stretched out to my sign of victory, and know this: My hands reach out to you. You are bringing about the triumph of my Immaculate Heart and from that Heart I answer: “Beloved Legionary I am yours and all I have is yours."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rosary Confraternity Part Four

Enrichment and evangelization
Any Rosary group operating today, or, indeed, anyone who prays the Rosary, can only enhance their prayer by affiliation to the Confraternity. The apostolate of the Rosary is not limited to gathering more people in, but must reach out with a whole programme of spiritual enrichment and evangelisation.

Do not fear that in placing in Mary's hands the fruit of your works to be shared among others, you may lose out. You are dealing with a gracious Queen, who will treat you like the prince or princess you are. Blessed Alan de la Roche points out that since we are dealing with spiritual food, and not with material things, sharing with others does not mean loss. The more mouths there are for bodily bread the less there is to go round. The bread of heaven, on the other hand, kneaded with the yeast of faith, hope and love, increases the more it is divided.

Obligations of membership

1 To be affiliated, a person's name must be enrolled on the register in a church where the Confraternity has been established.

2 Members of the Rosary Confraternity are asked to say, at the very least, the complete round of fifteen decades within the week. To encourage a slower pace and a lingering rhythm, they are given the privilege of breaking up the decades any way they wish.

3 They must meditate or contemplate the mysteries to the best of their ability.


1 The special protection of the Mother of God in life and at the hour of death.

2 A share in the prayers and good works of all the members worldwide.

3 Over and above the plenary indulgence granted to all who pray the Rosary in the family or in a group or religious communiry, there are special plenary indulgences for members of the Rosary Confraternity on the day of admission, on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, the Annunciation, the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.

Further information can be had from any Dominican priory or Rosary centre.

The Rosary Confraternity Part Three

Anyone familiar with this original teaching will see the source from which St Louis Marie de Montfort drew to form his own True Devotion to Mary. We know from the Saint's own words, that what troubled him was that in his day there did not exist any true Rosary Confraternity. So he set himself about remedying the matter.

Dominican praise of de Montfort

Little wonder that the Provincial of the Dominican Order commended him, in this statement still in existence:
We, the Provincial of the Order of Preachers, do certify, that Louis Grignion de Monrfort, Brother of our Third Order, preaches everywhere and with much zeal, edification and fruit, the Confraternity of the Rosary in all the Missions which he gives continually in the towns and country places.

Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary

Once, when discussing this matter with the founder of the Legion of Mary, Frank Duff told me, that had he been aware of this background to the Rosary Confraternity, he would have made it the basis for the Legion spiriruality. The idea of beginning with a serious consecration and entrustment to Mary, and the concept of spirirual sharing and participating, are essential elements common to the Legion and to the Rosary Confraternity.

The Rosary Confraternity Part Two

A complete consecration to Jesus and Mary
This sharing is not confined to the saying of prayers, but embraces concern for the whole spiritual and bodily welfare of one's companions. It is primarily concerned with the sharing of the supernatural values, which arise from the intercessory prayer and good works of all members. Those who wish to join, are asked to make a complete consecration of themselves to the Blessed Virgin, allowing her, in her gracious wisdom, to share out the combined treasury of grace with the whole group. We can see from this, that what we are talking about in the true Rosary fellowship, is not a question of counting of heads, or being together in one place or united in one voice. The oneness aimed at is a oneness in Christ.

William Pepin
That other great preacher of the Rosary Confraternity, William Pepin, a contemporary of Michael de Insulis, has left us a splendid collection of sermons on this subject of the shared spirituality of the Rosary. He pointed to the text: All that I have, is yours...' Luke 15:31: which comes from rhe story of the Prodigal Son. The father gives the elder son a powerful lesson in the matter of sharing with his brother. In those words, 'All that is mine, is yours,' the father is telling him to assume the authority of an elder brother. The generous father tells his first-born that he is perfectly entitled, indeed obliged, to go into the family treasure- room, and take out what is necessary for the younger needy one. He is being challenged to put the cloak of mercy on his brother's back, to put the shoes on his feet, and the ring of loving relationship on his finger. The cloak is for protection, the shoes are for freedom - only slaves went barefoot. The ring symbolises love, friendship, covenant relationship. Celebrate our brothers and sisters

Members of the true Rosary Confraternity are expected to exercise this same ministry towards their fellow members, that is to support and upbuild each other as the Father of the Prodigal did and as the Elder Brother ought to have done. These are the qualities of confraternity, united brother/sisterhood, which brings with it genuine respect and generous sharing. Far from the begrudgery of one who has 'slaved all these years', the long-standing elders should realise that everything the father has is already their own, and that they are perfectly entitled to kill the fatted calf themselves and to celebrate their brothers and sisters. They claim that authority, not for their own selfish interests, but for the common good of all.

Step out wth head held high
The Book of Revelation speaks of those who win the victory and are given the right to share the throne. Rosary leaders then, have should not disclaim this God-given authority. If, out of false humility, they do so, then others suffer by their failure to act as true elder brorhers or sisters. William Pepin continues: every member of the Rosary Confraternity should step out with head held high, not only to claim personal inheritance, but to share it in a spirit of Christian fellowship. As princes and princesses of the royal blood we enjoy innumerable privileges which, however, bring with them obligations of love and service in the royal household of the Confraternity.

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.

True Devotion to the Rosary

First time I heard of the Rosary Confraternity I was turned off. The literature at the time seemed a kind of Holy Algebra. Do ABC and you get XYZ in return! It was a matter of performing this and that and expecting a free hand-out. The whole thing appeared cheap.

It was only when discovering the original thrust of the Confraternity that I began to make sense. In particular I came across the Golden Book of Alan de la Roche, (Opus aureum Alani de Rupensis) and found that he was the legitimate ancestor of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort and the True Devotion to Mary. The spirituality of de Montfort and all the detail of his work as devleoped later by his Congregation, are a replica of the original thrust of the Rosary Brother/Sisterhood.

It would seem that in the centuries following Alan de la Roche and his associates, that Dominicans let the meat fall out of the sandwich! In the Posts to follow I have endeavourd to reclaim the true nature of this great Rosary Society. I would indeed welcome comment from you, dear reader. In particular I would wish to explain to members of the Legion of Mary, that the statement made by Frank Duff, their Holy Founder, was a purely private remark. There were two witnesses, but they have long since gone to their reward. (See section Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Place of Sanctuary

I have just arrived back from my visit to St. Louis, Missouri where I have seen the magnificent site proposed for a Sanctuary of the Rosary. It is a former convent situated on 140 acres of wooded land overlooking the lorldly Mississippi River. Seldom have I set foot in a more awe-inspiring location. The view from the Convent building is breathtaking and with wild deer roaming about and birds singing in the woods, this is indeed a place of sanctuary. Heaven and earth come close here. It is surely a sacred space where the visitor feels urged as Moses was, to take one's shoes for this is holy ground.

Mary Broome, who was my host tells me that since 2003, the Year of the Rosary, the St. Louis Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima has been searching for a suitable location to establish a Shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary. I believe that they have found such a spot. With the spacious grounds and the large building on it, this is destined to become not only a Shrine, but a place of stillness and security that makes it a veritable sanctuary. Picture above shows the building that is at present on the site and gives some idea of the splendour of the place as it looks down on the flowing water of the Mississippi river.

The immediate problem is that the money needed to have this dream come true, the sum of 4.5 million dollars is needed. It seems an impossible dream, but the fact is that this sum for 140 acres of land close to the city and in such an overwhelmingly splendid situation is like a gift from heaven. To help with the dream and the gift, donations can be sent to:
Rosary Shrine Fund,
PO Box 31353
St. Louis, Missouri, 63131