Part I: The Rosary and the Author of Holiness.
Chapter II: The Rosary and the Knowledge of Jesus
We have entered into the heart of Jesus, let us penetrate still further. Deeper than the abysses of the heart are the abysses of the soul. Let us descend even there. Deeper than the abysses of the soul we shall discover the abysses of the divinity. Thus does the Rosary lead us on into the depths of the deep; from the depths and abysses of the heart into the depths and abysses of the soul; from the depths and abysses of the soul into the depths and abysses of the divinity.
Let us enter first of all into the holy soul of Our Savior. His soul is that masterpiece in which God has united all the perfections of the human and angelic world. The riches of these two worlds are, in a word, knowledge or truth, holiness or grace. The realm of the spirit is a realm of enlightenment; knowledge is like a fire kindled at the summit of the understanding; truth is the glory, the splendor which crowns this radiant summit. But, incomparably more magnificent and noble than knowledge is a will transfigured by grace. This transfiguration is holiness. That which produces it is grace. Therefore, grace and truth are the common treasures of the two intellectual worlds. We shall show that the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ surpassed the knowledge and grace of the angels and mankind combined. Plenum gratiae et veritatis, He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
St. Paul declares that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ: In quo sunt omnes thesauri sapientae et scientiae absconditi (Col. 2:3). If a single mind were capable of possessing in itself all the knowledge and understanding of man and angel united, it would surely be a marvel beyond comprehension. Nevertheless, it would be possible to fathom the depths of that mind. It would be, as it were, an ocean, but it would not be a bottomless abyss.
It is impossible to fathom the depths of Jesus Christ. In the exploration of an abyss, new depths unceasingly succeed those already discovered. So also with regard to the knowledge of the Word Incarnate. Those depths which we endeavor to fathom are always followed by other hidden and secret depths. These treasures are hidden, it would be impossible to discover them all.
Distinct from the infinite knowledge which belongs to Christ as God, there were three kinds of knowledge in the soul of Our Lord: beatific, infused, and experimental. From the very first instant of His creation, He could gaze with the eye of His soul on the infinite; He could contemplate God face to face and was enraptured with that torrent of delights which finds its source in eternity. Since we derive all our glory from Christ, it was fitting that He Himself should first possess what He intended to bestow on others. Therefore, He enjoyed glory from His very conception. In virtue of His beatific knowledge, the soul of the Word knew the past, the present and the future. Absolute master as He is of heaven and earth, it is only fitting that He should know everything that happens throughout His kingdom. As He is judge of the living and the dead. He must have a knowledge of everything that will be submitted to His tribunal: our every action, our inmost thoughts, the most secret movements of our heart. All that is, that has been, that will be, is present to Him.
Meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary will bring these considerations to our minds. In the Mystery of the Annunciation, for example, we may meditate as follows; Jesus Christ knows me, He thinks of me, He reads all the thoughts of my mind, all the sentiments of my heart. He knows all my ingratitude and still He loves me. He offers me His Heart and calls me gently by my name. He acknowledges and receives my adoration, my affection, my desires. He sees me enrolled in the great army of the Rosary. He knows that act of love which I make to Him at this very moment, as I recite this decade, and He regards and thanks me in advance. We can continue in the same way in the other Mysteries.
Meditation on the Rosary will thus lead us into the very soul of Jesus. He knows everything we are going to say to Him. He knows in what work we are occupied before we begin our prayers. He is looking at us as we are actually saying our prayers. He knows what we intend doing when we have finished our prayer. These reflections will be a powerful motive to urge us to remain in His presence in an attitude of the greatest respect and ardent love. They will induce us to be most desirous of avoiding everything which would offend Him. We should also bear in mind that we are speaking to One, Who is able and Who wishes to bestow on us the gift of eternal life and happiness. Let us say to Him in each mystery: O blessed soul of my Savior, for the sake of your joys, your sufferings, your triumphs, help us to attain to the beatific vision so that we may be wholly united to Thee.
In the second place, there was in the soul of Christ a knowledge which was infused as the gift of knowledge is implanted in the angelic intellect. Men are obliged to acquire knowledge from the world round about them. Truth is indeed the manna of the soul, but it must be gathered little by little and only with great labor among the vast fields of creation. With the angels it is not so: the manna falls directly into their minds. From the very beginning, God infused into them ideas of such range and power that the whole universe lies open to their gaze. It would not be fitting that Christ, Who is king of the angels, should be lacking in a perfection which enriches His subjects. His soul, from the very dawn of its creation was endowed with an infused knowledge incomparably more extensive and wider than the knowledge of the angels. The angels, by reason of that wonderful understanding which has been given them, know everything concerning the works of nature, but they know nothing of the decrees of the Divine Will. They know neither the future nor the secrets of hearts. The soul of the Word, by reason of His infused knowledge, was cognizant of everything that appertains to the gift of wisdom and prophecy: the past, the present, the future, the secrets of hearts. His infused knowledge with regard to the things of creation was as universal as His beatific knowledge. While it introduces us into the sanctuary of the soul of Christ, the Rosary makes us, after a fashion, participators of His infused knowledge. It initiates us into these wonderful Mysteries which were made known to the angelic mind only by degrees. A few moments teach us more about supernatural truths than was revealed to angels during the long centuries which preceded the Incarnation. During the recitation of a few decades our field of vision covers the whole of the supernatural order. Privileged souls, advanced in the ways of prayer, sometimes receive heavenly communication. As a result of their entrance into the soul of Christ they are enlightened with His enlightenment and are enabled to understand His secrets. Infused knowledge is not a rare occurrence in the annals of holiness. Many of the saints have obtained it through meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary.
We do not aspire to these extraordinary favors; but all of us from the moment when we unite our soul with the soul of Our Redeemer have the right to hope for the grace of illumination, so that our minds may be better able to comprehend the truths on which we meditate. From this divine soul there will radiate such supernatural brightness as will make the profundities of these Mysteries intelligible for us. Our faith will be strengthened by the recitation of this prayer and the Rosary will be for us a real participation in the infused knowledge of Christ.
Lastly, we must consider the acquired or experimental knowledge of Our Blessed Lord. His two higher forms of knowledge did not destroy the natural activity of His intellect. From a purely human point of view, Jesus Christ was the greatest genius the world has produced or ever will produce. All that is creative or incentive in the soul of a poet, all that is pure and perfect in the soul of an artist, all that is noble and generous in the soul of an orator—all was united in His soul. He is the most perfect representative of humanity. In comparison with Him, other men of genius are only as a child compared to a giant, an obscure planet before the sun. His penetrating mind penetrated the essence of things. With a single glance He took in all. He acquired without difficulty this experimental knowledge which costs us so much labor and fatigue.
By his acquired knowledge alone. He knew all the truths which it is possible for reason to comprehend. He proved all the secrets of nature. He saw, in advance, all the marvelous inventions of which the human mind is capable. He was His own master. Teacher of angels and of men, it was not necessary that He should learn anything from anyone.
Both His beatific and infused knowledge remained in variable because from the beginning they were perfect, but He underwent a true progress in His experimental knowledge. According to St. Thomas, we must take literally these words of the Gospel: Jesus advanced in wisdom and age (Luke 2:52). His understanding developed unceasingly until it reached its perfection.
But Our Blessed Lord acquired this knowledge by each one of His acts and in the principal events of His life, which we recall when we meditate on the Joyful Mysteries. The Rosary, then, brings us into contact with His experimental knowledge and it is only natural for us to hope that Jesus, our Teacher, will enable us to acquire that human knowledge which is necessary for our state in life. If our vocation requires that we should devote ourselves to study, we shall find a powerful aid in the Psalter of Mary. Let us recite a few Aves, let us enter into the depths of Christ and our work will become easier and more fruitful. Like Jesus, we shall advance swiftly in knowledge and in wisdom. Some of the most celebrated men of the world sought a refuge in the Rosary when their inspirations seemed to have deserted them. We may see to this day two large rosaries which belonged to Michelangelo and which appear to have been frequently used. The following are the well-known words of Joseph Haydn: When all does not go well with my composition I walk up and down my room, Rosary in hand, and recite some Ave Marias and soon my ideas return to me anew.
Happy is the study which is thus conducted. Blessed are the moments passed in union with the adorable soul of Him Who is the creator of genius and the author of holiness.