Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sanctity Through the Rosary by Edouard Hugon, O.P.

Part I: The Rosary and the Author of Holiness.

Chapter III: The Rosary and the Grace of Jesus.

The Rosary has revealed something to us of the threefold knowledge of the Word Incarnate; but if the revelation of His soul is to be complete, we must consider in it the plenitude of grace. It is grace, above all, which produces beauty in beings. One of the saints has remarked that if we were to see a soul in the state of grace we should die of wonder and joy; and according to St. Thomas the bestowal of grace on a sinner is, in a certain sense, a greater act than the creation of heaven and earth (S.T., III, Q. 113, a.9). To describe, then, the beauties of grace is to describe the splendours of the soul of Jesus and it is impossible for us to surmise the treasures of this adorable soul, unless we realise the value or the worth of grace. For that reason, we shall endeavor to describe in outline the marvellous operations of grace in the soul of Our Savior. We shall finally indicate how the grace of Christ is communicated to us by the Rosary.

Grace is a heavenly gift which makes us supernatural beings, God-like and the abode of God Himself. First of all, it widens the narrow confines of our nature and raises us above humanity and even above the angelic nature.

If grace had not been bestowed on the angels, they would be on a lower plane than man; and in heaven the saints, who have attained to a greater degree of grace than the angels, will surpass them in glory. Should God have created more perfect beings even than the Seraphim and not have endowed them with the gift of grace, we should still have to exclaim: higher! higher! this is not the supernatural.

The supernatural raises us to the level of God Himself, it is a second nature added to our first nature. In the natural order we have a soul; in the supernatural order we also have a soul. Grace, says St. Augustine, is the soul of our soul. In the natural order we have faculties: understanding, a will, the senses. Our faculties in the supernatural order are the infused virtues. There are, first of all, the theological virtues reaching out to lay hold on God Himself; then, the cardinal virtues with all their various divisions; still higher, the gifts of the Holy Spirit which implant in us the seeds of heroism. But this is not all; the virtues and the gifts are crowned by the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost and by what are called the evangelical beatitudes. Such then, in a few words, is the wonderful supernatural organism. At the foundation is grace; then, the infused virtues; higher, the seven gifts; still higher, the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit; at the very summit, the evangelical beatitudes.

As yet, however, we have said nothing. Grace actually makes us divine. God-like. Ego dixi, dii estis! I have said: You are Gods (Ps. 81:6). If we were able to penetrate into the souls of the just, we should perceive there the divine characteristics and, so to speak, the features of God. Grace, to use the expression of the holy Doctors, is that bright mirror in which God contemplates Himself and sees His image. But God cannot recognize Himself except in that which is divine. If we are the mirror of the Lord, we should reflect and show forth divine traits in ourselves. When we salute a soul in the state of grace, let us inwardly salute the image of God! Divinae consortes naturae, says St. Peter (II Peter 1:4). Grace makes us partakers of the divine nature.

When gold is plunged into a furnace it takes on the color, heat and flame of fire, whilst at the same time retaining all its own properties. Grace plunges us into the divine essence, and man, without ceasing to be man, is filled with God! He thinks in God, he acts in God, he loves in God. Kings are proud of their royal lineage. There flows in the veins of all the just a royal blood, a divine blood which has come to us from Jesus Christ, just as the vine transmits life and growth even to the furthermost offshoots. The heroes of pagan antiquity wished to be considered sons of God. That was a sacrilegious fable, but for us it is a reality. Our genealogy is truly celestial; we can say with St. Paul: Genus sumus Dei: we are the offspring of God (Act 17:28-29). This is our claim to nobility, we have the right to glory in it.

Finally grace gives us the very person of God Himself. It is that adorable mystery which theologians call the in dwelling of the Blessed Trinity.

Grace consecrates our soul by its invisible anointing and makes of it a temple wherein God takes His delight. Vos estis Templum Dei Vivi: You are the temple of the Living God, says St. Paul (II Cor. 6:16), and St. Bernard remarks that the ceremonies of baptism very closely resemble the ceremonies prescribed for the consecration of a church. But a temple or a church is built precisely that God may dwell therein. The three divine persons come into the soul and make their abode in it. Ad eum veniemus et mansionem apud eum faciemus (John 14:23). The Trinity, then, is truly present in the souls of the just. As the Chalice really contains the blood of Jesus, so also does our soul possess the Holy Spirit. Both the chalice of the altar and the chalice of a holy soul shelter God.

The indwelling of the Trinity is the presence of a friend with a friend, of a spouse with a spouse. If we are in trouble there is no need to go far in order to find a consoler. All we have to do is to enter into the sanctuary of our soul, and the Three Divine Persons are always there to banish our sorrows and dry our tears. They transform our outlook and make us see everything from the point of view of eternity, so that in all the events of life we see but the fulfilment of the divine plan. As Holy Scripture says: Ecce Dominus transit! Behold the Lord passeth! (III Kings 19:11). They transform our will, so that we perceive the will of God in whatever befalls us; trials, even death itself, become a beverage which we drink with eagerness and delight.

Finally, they transform our body. In truth, the bodies of the saints possess a secret beauty, a hidden splendor, which sometimes is revealed at the hour of death. Even in the tomb, our very dust is overshadowed by the majesty of the divinity. Even in corruption, our members bear, as it were, an invisible inscription which declares that these members were once the temple of the Trinity. They are sacred until the resurrection.

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