Sunday, November 16, 2008

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

Part I: The Rosary and the Author of Holiness.

Chapter IV: The Rosary and the Divinity of Jesus.

To dwell in the soul of the Word is to live in a region far removed from the turmoil of the world, on a Thabor serene, on a summit close by to the heaven of heavens. If the splendor of this soul is reflected in us, we progress in the knowledge of Christ: that is the illuminative way. It is not, however, the topmost peak of the mystical life. To come into contact with God, to be united to God, to lose oneself in God, is the summit of sanctity and holiness. For this reason the final phase of perfection is called the unitive way, when the soul loses itself, and is hidden in God. St. Paul summed up this truth of the spiritual life in a famous text: Vita vestra est abscondita cum Christo in Deo. Your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Our life is hidden in the soul of Christ, cum Christo. This is the illuminative way. We are hidden with Christ in the profundities of the divinity, in Deo. This is the unitive way. The Rosary is the door which throws open to us the path to the illuminative way by leading us into the soul of the Savior. It will now initiate us into the secrets of the unitive way by enabling us to penetrate into the inmost depths of the Divinity itself.

The apostle St. John used to recall with a thrill of joy that his hands had touched the Word of Life: Quod manus nostrae contrectaverunt de Verbo vitae: what our hands have handled of the Word of Life (I John 1:1). The Rosary makes us experience a similar happiness. It brings us near to this Man whose name is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, and gladness in the heart. But the body of Christ was penetrated entirely by the divinity. By the hypostatic union, that unutterable unction which anointed Jesus, all the oil of the divinity was poured forth upon the humanity of the Word. Unixit te Deus oleo laetitae (Ps. 44:8). Unixit te Deus. Thy God hath anointed thee. His soul received this joyful anointing, His heart received it, His whole being received it. This mysterious oil permeated every action of Our Redeemer: it was a God Who trembled when His Heart sighed and when His Soul trembled. In order to advance to the contemplation of the divinity there is no need for us to look for another form of prayer than the Rosary, if we remember Who is proposed for our consideration in each Mystery, Who acts and the action He performs. The person is the Eternal Word; the action is theandric, that is to say, divine and human; it is embalmed by the joyous unction of the Godhead. The Deity animates, quickens and operates in every one of the Mysteries of the Rosary. Let us not stop short at the surface, the shell; let us advance into the interior, the kernel. The shell is the external events which form an essential part of the Mystery; the kernel is the interior of Jesus: His heart, His soul, His divinity. If we take refuge for a few moments in these adorable abysses, perhaps, we too shall be favored with a little of that joyful anointing which made Jesus the most beautiful of the sons of men.

The Rosary has introduced us into the sanctuary of the divinity, it will now help us to fathom the deep things of God. Is this a cause of astonishment? Are not the Mysteries of the Rosary revealed to us by the all powerful Spirit, Who, as St. Paul says, searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God: Nobis autem revelavit Deus per Spirituum suum. Spiritus enim omnia scrutatur etiam profunda Dei (I Cor. 2:10)?

The profundities of God consist primarily in the intimate life of God Himself; the Eternal Family, the Adorable Trinity, the First Love, the First Beauty: three divine persons united in an eternal embrace and re-echoing unceasingly, one to the other: love! love! love! And this triple embrace is but a single embrace; and this triple love is but one love. Et hi tres unum sunt. And these three are one (I John 5:7).

Now, in each Mystery of the Rosary we find the Blessed Trinity. The three persons are there by reason of that ineffable law, which unites them one to the other. The Word alone assumed our frail human nature, but all three co-operated in the Incarnation and Redemption. In the first Mystery they hold counsel anew and repeat their creative word: Let us make man to our image and likeness. When the great work is accomplished, and they see this virginal Humanity coming forth from their hands, they say without irony: Ecce Adam quasi unus ex nobis foetus est. Behold Adam is become as one of us (Gen. 3:22). And again, when they contemplate this innocent Humanity in agony, upon the cross, they pronounce these words of pardon: Non igitur ultra percutiam omnem animam viventem sicut feci: Therefore, I will no more destroy every living soul as I have done (Gen. 8:21).
The deep things of God, under another aspect, are His mercy and His justice. How are we to reconcile these two attributes: the infinite vengeance of God upon sin and His infinite mercy towards the sinner? The Rosary gives us the clue to the mystery. We need only look upon the cross during the fifth Sorrowful Mystery. There mercy and justice have kissed in an eternal embrace.

Sometimes man wavers in the execution of human justice, but divine justice never yields. Even God’s pardon is just because Jesus made reparation for the guilty. Infinite love, infinite justice, this is what God wrote upon the cross with the blood of His Son. Let us also go up on the cross, that we may embrace the divinity.

Again, the mysteries of predestination and glory, give us some idea of the deep things of God. The Rosary does not raise the veil which hides these depths, but at least it casts some consoling rays of light upon the darkness. It shows us Jesus, the model of all the predestined, and teaches us that we must be made conformable to Him. The Glorious Mysteries of the Resurrection and the Ascension give us some notion, though imperfect, of glory.

Eternity is still another of the deep things of God. But eternity has already begun in us. Faith, says St. Bernard, has a span large enough to contain eternity itself, and St. Paul tells us that Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for! Sperandarum substantia rerum (Heb. 11:1). Faith is in such intimate relation with God, that what we believe by faith and what we see by the beatific vision are one and the same thing. We may say the Rosary has the same property as faith, because the Rosary is the resume of faith, inasmuch as its Mysteries contain all the truths which faith requires us to believe. Therefore, by faith and by the Rosary the future already exists in the present; we already possess the good things we hope for.

St. Paul uses other words still more emphatic: Faith, he says, is the beginning of God: Initium substantiate ejus. The beginning of His substance (Heb. 3:14). Therefore, by faith there is in the soul of a Christian the seed of God, the principle and the beginning of eternity.

But the Rosary brings us into contact with eternity in a special way, because the Man-God whom we adore in each Mystery is, to use the expression of St. Catherine of Siena, the bridge placed between time and eternity. He touches the bank of time because of His human nature; the bank of eternity because of His divine nature and person. In commencing the recitation we can unite ourselves with the Man-God and allow ourselves to be carried up on the bridge of time. At the end of our prayer we shall have unconsciously reached the bank of eternity. Thus we have considered all the profundities of God which are revealed to us in the Rosary: the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity, divine mercy and justice, the mysteries of predestination and glory, eternity and the secrets of the infinite.

Souls who are called to a life of union will find inestimable resources in the Rosary because the Rosary is the most sublime, the surest and the easiest form of contemplation. It is the most sublime because we are at once cast into the depths of the infinite, where souls can meditate without ceasing and never exhaust its riches. Always there are new abysses to be fathomed. It is impossible to go beyond the divinity, and for that reason it is impossible to go farther or higher than the meditation of the Rosary.

Then, it is the surest way. There is danger of being deceived if we consider the divinity as living in the abstract, a form of life which has no relation to man. The Rosary shows us the true life of God and His dealings with man, making it His delight to dwell among us to converse with the children of men.

Lastly, it is of all ways the easiest. Our natural manner of comprehension is to rise from the material to the spiritual, from things visible to things invisible. In the meditation of the Rosary we rise from the visible humanity of the Word, to the contemplation of the invisible divinity. Sweetly and unconsciously we go from Christ visible to Christ God. The son of Mary is God Himself and we can repeat these words of the Psalmist: quam bonus Israel Deus. How good is God to Israel (Ps. 72:1). Pious souls will know how to complete these reflections themselves, and will realize that the Rosary is able to meet the needs of all.

There are souls for whom the purely abstract has no attraction. Even when speaking to God, they feel the need of addressing a heart of flesh like their own, a heart which throbs and beats. They will find in the Rosary the Heart of Jesus. There are others whose keen intelligence feeds on spiritual beauties, whose penetrating eye longs to contemplate the heaven of spirits. These latter will find in the Rosary the soul of Jesus. There are still others who soar towards the highest summits of contemplation. They are capable of fixing their regard on the heaven of heavens. They will find in the Rosary the divinity of Jesus. The Sacred Heart for beginners, the soul of the Word for the more advanced, the divinity for the perfect. The heart, soul and divinity are three dwellings wherein we must dwell at one and the same time. They must never be entirely separated. Even beginners must penetrate into the soul and divinity of Jesus; the perfect must ever be mindful of His soul and heart.

Death will not separate us from this trinity, on the contrary it will permit us to abide more perfectly in the heart, soul and divinity of our Well-Beloved. Videbimus, Laudabimus, amabimus. We shall see our Well-Beloved, we shall praise Him, we shall love Him. This is the wonderful trilogy of happiness which is commenced here below in the Rosary. With you, O Mary, we shall ever dwell in these three eternal tabernacles of your Son. We shall see Him, we shall praise Him, we shall adore Him.

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