Friday, October 17, 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 (Continued).

In speaking of grace, we have not departed from the consideration of Our Blessed Lord because on His soul alone were lavished all the treasures of grace. All these supernatural wonders we have touched on were found in Him in an eminent degree. From the very first instant of His creation. His blessed soul was inundated with torrents of grace. Wherever there is a source or cause we find that its influence on other things increases according as they draw near to it. The nearer we draw to a furnace, the more we feel the effects of its heat. God is the fountain, the ocean of grace, the hearth, home, the sun of love. But is it possible to be united more closely to God than was the soul of Our Redeemer? The divinity and His most holy soul were united in an embrace so ineffable and intimate, that there resulted therefrom but one person. His soul, coming into such close contact with the ocean of grace, was deluged by it; the ocean poured in and filled up all its depths, even to overflowing. When plenitude overflows, it is impossible to add any more. What can one add to an abyss when that abyss is filled?

Under the influence of this grace, all the virtues expanded in the soul of the Word, all blossomed forth into the exquisite flower of heroism. The vices which belong to the state of imperfection found no place in that garden. But the natural virtues, the infused virtues, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, the power of miracles and the gift of prophecy blossomed forth as on virgin soil fertilized by the sun of eternity. Nature and grace reached their full perfection in the soul of Jesus. Were we to behold that soul, we should fall into an ecstasy of admiration, rapture and love. God reserves this ravishment for eternity, but we can get a foretaste of it by means of the Rosary.

In order to get a true revelation of a soul, we must be able to study and see it in all those circumstances and occasions which are likely to bring to light its real nature. But, what incidents reflect more clearly the depths of the soul of Jesus than those recalled in the Mysteries of the Rosary? Grace shone in each of the Mysteries through the transparent veil of His flesh. It was enough to see Jesus working, speaking, teaching, to catch a glimpse of the brightness of His hidden grace. So also, in silent meditation on the Rosary, the soul of Christ passes before our eyes. His grace once again shines through the mystery. He makes His presence felt by us. We draw near to Him. The Rosary is the living revelation of the soul of Christ and of its divine riches.

We should like to show, above all, that the Rosary actually applies to us the grace of Our Redeemer. The grace Christ received constituted Him the spiritual head of all humanity and rendered Him capable of meriting for us. We do not receive a single supernatural thing which does not accrue to us from this first principle. Jesus is the great reservoir from which all men must draw if they wish to be saved. He is the vast ocean of grace. We draw from it unceasingly and this profound abyss remains always full. But the humanity of the Word merited this grace for us by each one of His Mysteries. We see, then, how meditation on the Rosary brings us into contact with the source, whence salvation comes to us. Communication is established between Christ and us. His divine life bursts in upon our soul. According to one holy Doctor, each Mystery is as a fruitful breast, from which flows the milk of grace. While reciting the decades we, so to speak, drink the milk of heaven.

We must be careful, no doubt, to avoid exaggeration in this matter. We do not mean to say that the Rosary directly applies sanctifying grace to our souls after the manner of the Sacraments. Such efficacy is not proper to the Rosary or to any other devotion. It would be an error to assert that the recitation suffices of itself to give us an increase of grace; but we are laboring under no illusion whatever, if we believe that through uniting ourselves piously with the Mysteries which have worked out our salvation, God will grant many actual graces to our souls. As the Gospel points out, it was sufficient to touch the garments of the Savior in order to be healed. In the Rosary we touch, as it were, the mantle of Jesus. May we not hope that a virtue which heals will escape from it? Virtus de illo exibat et sanabat omnes (Luke 6:19).

The Mystery which expiated our sins of pride will help us especially in the practice of humility; the Mystery which expiated impure vice will help us in the practice of the virtue of chastity, and likewise with the other Mysteries.

Our Blessed Lord is the light, the sun, which enlightens every man coming into the world; the Rosary exposes us to its heat and light. We assist at the rising of the sun of justice in the Mysteries of the Annunciation and the Nativity; we contemplate it at noon, in all its glory, while we meditate on the Glorious Mysteries. Its rays beam down on us, we reflect its brilliance. Our soul is rekindled by the fire of the divinity. Oh! if we only knew how to profit by this precious devotion, how quickly we would advance in the spiritual life! In the Rosary the greatest saints of the Order of St. Dominic found the secret of their holiness. (Br. M. Raphael Meysson, O.P., of holy memory used to call the Rosary the secret of holiness.) Hidden in the adorable soul of their God, they drank deeply from the source of all grace and obtained a little of that heroism which detaches us from earth. They tasted a little of that ineffable rapture which is a foretaste of heaven. Let us like these privileged souls descend every day into the depths of the soul of our Well-Beloved, to the source of salvation and happiness. The enemy cannot violate this sanctuary; the evil one, who finds easy entrance into worldly-minded souls, will never get access into those luminous depths where reigns a perpetual calm.

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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

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

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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

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

Part I: The Rosary and the Author of Holiness.

Chapter I: The Rosary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus (continued).

We must now consider in the Sacred Heart of Jesus beauty which is sublime and heroic. When heroism appears nature is vanquished and God is present. The seeds of heroism are sown in the hearts of all the just; they are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When circumstances require it these supernatural energies are set in movement and heroism is spontaneously born, as the flower from the seed. That is why the heart of a mother is capable of sublime and noble deeds; that is why the life of a saint is, as it were, woven with heroism. Theologians teach that all the virtues which could adorn His soul were found united in Jesus Christ from the very first instant of His conception. In Him they reached their full perfection. They were practiced by Him in the most perfect degree possible the heroic degree, and in His case heroism was divine. These perfect virtues which adorned His soul have, in a sense, overflowed from His heart upon the world that He might manifest His Heart to us. We can, therefore, declare that He lived a life of heroism in each of His Mysteries: as He lay in the manger, as when He hung upon, the cross. In the Sorrowful Mysteries, however, this heroism is more evident than in the other Mysteries.

Can we picture a scene more mysterious, more heart rending, more sublime than the agony of Jesus? Were we to unite the most poignant anguish, the most bitter sorrows, the most painful sacrifices, the most admirable devotedness which have ever found expression in the human heart, we would have heroism of the highest degree and an ocean of affliction. We could realize from it something of the anguish of a dying man, but it would give us no idea whatever of the agony of the heart of a dying God. This is inexpressible.

But what is it that renders this mystery so sublime? It is love’s sacrifice spurned and unheeded. Jesus knew in advance that He was to be misunderstood, despised and persecuted. He heard the echo of that plaintive cry: love is not loved, love is detested. And still the love of the Heart of Jesus cries out more loudly than all the impious outrages and sacrileges which He suffered at the hands of men and of demons. His tears cry out, but above all, His love cries out: Clamant lacrymae, sed super omnia clamat amor.

We see the self-same heroism in the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross. At the Praetorium, in the streets of Jerusalem, on the way to Calvary, we hear the cries of the crowd, the insults of the executioners, but above all, we hear the voice of sublimity: Clamant lacrymae, sed super omnia clamat amor. Your tears cry out, your wounds cry out, O Jesus, but above all, your love cries out.

At length, God and death come face to face on Golgotha. God and Death! What a meeting! And it is God Who wills, Who wishes to be the conquered one. But death, which appears to triumph, only wins for Jesus a more glorious title: God is Love Omnipotent. He now has a new name: He is the Victim of Love.

The Crucifixion of Jesus is the perfection of sublimity, since here love is made perfect by the consummation and the totality of the sacrifice. There still remained some drops of blood in the heart of the Divine Crucified. Ah! they must be shed. The soldier drew near and opened His side and immediately there came forth blood and water. Et continuo exivit sanguis et aqua (John 19:34). And now there is nothing more to give : the sacrifice is complete; it is truly the perfection of love in the perfection of the sacrifice of the Man-God. Thus, sublimity predominates in every scene of the Passion of Jesus, but it is divine sublimity, the depths of which it is impossible for any man or created being to fathom.

In the Mystery of the Resurrection God and death come face to face once again, but this time it is God Who is the conqueror. Heroic in submitting to the ignominy of the grave, the Heart of Jesus is now sublime in triumphing over death and hell in order to bestow on us His own divine life. The last Mysteries are enacted in heaven. It is the sublimity of glory, the sublimity of eternity. We enter into the celestial regions and here does it become us, more than ever, to keep silence, when we recall those words of St. Paul : Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him (I Cor. 2:9).

We see how admirably all the beauty and magnificence of graciousness and sublimity is found in the depths of the Heart of Jesus, as in the Rosary which reveals this beauty to us. We ought, therefore, to contemplate and honor this divine heart by meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, so that we may obtain through the intercession of the Immaculate Mother an abundance of graces from Him Who is their source and plentitude.

Monday, October 13, 2008

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

Part I: The Rosary and the Author of Holiness.

Chapter I: The Rosary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

God is infinite perfection and purity, absolute sanctity, beauty ever ancient, ever new. Without diminishing the integrity of His essence, He has made other created beings sharers in a greater or lesser degree of His own divine attributes. To us has been given the power of being able to recognize and admire in creatures these reflections of the perfections of their Maker. Among the beauties of nature we can distinguish two different kinds: beauty which is sublime, and beauty to which we may apply the term gracious. The beauty which we term gracious is seen, for instance, in light, flowers, and in all things which delight and charm us. We recognize beauty which is sublime in the vast ocean, the lofty mountains, the boundless skies. But nowhere is graciousness more truly worthy of our admiration than in the human heart, the heart of a child, of a virgin, the heart of a devoted friend. The poetry which is sweetest, most pleasant, is the poetry of the heart. Again, the depths and sublimity of the ocean have often been compared with the depths and sublimity of the heart. Which is easier to fathom the deep ocean or the human heart? We cannot speak of sublimity without considering the human heart, and in particular the hearts of mothers and saints.

When forming the heart of the first man God had an exemplar, He had before Him an ideal, He thought of the heart of Christ. According to the words of Tertullian: Christus cogitabatur homo futurus: Christ, the Man to come, was present in His mind. Ah! it is truly sweet to remember that on the day of our creation God modelled our heart on the heart of His Son.

Therefore, to know all the marvels of our world we must know the human heart. And to know the most perfect of hearts—the ideal of the human heart—we must enter into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If we wish to admire graciousness with all its charms, we must contemplate the Divine Heart of Our Blessed Lord; we must enter into His Sacred Heart. Of Him it has been written: Speciosa forma prae filiis hominum, diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis. Thou art beautiful above the sons of men, grace is poured abroad in thy lips (Ps. 44:3). If we wish to admire sublimity in all its grandeur we must study the Heart of Jesus. The Rosary will reveal to us the graciousness and the sublimity of the Sacred Heart.

It would be wrong to consider the Sacred Heart in an abstract manner, separated from the person of Christ. This error has been condemned by theologians. The Rosary is the true revelation of the Sacred Heart which it always represents united to the Third Divine Person and from which it can never be separated. In the Rosary we can contemplate that Heart, living and beating in the time, places and circumstances in which it really lived and throbbed; we can contemplate the sentiments of the Adorable Heart of Our Blessed Lord towards His Eternal Father, towards men, towards Himself. In the first Mysteries it is a heart full of love and tenderness; in the Sorrowful Mysteries it is a heart inebriated with love and overwhelmed with bitterness; in the Glorious Mysteries it is a heart still enraptured with love and exalted in its triumph. In the Joyful Mysteries it is a gracious beauty; in the Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries it is the beauty of the sublime.

We have said that graciousness is admirable above all in the heart of a child. On the day of our baptism our parents looked lovingly into our cradle and re-echoed those words of joy: Let us rejoice, for a child is born to us, a man is born into the world. Natus est homo in mundum (John 16:21). The heavenly family leant still more lovingly over the same cradle and said: A God is born to us, let us rejoice, a God is born to us. Grace made each of us a son of God, and that tiny heart which had only just begun to throb was already the temple of the Blessed Trinity. The angels, as the poet so beautifully expresses it, contemplate their image in the cradle.

But what are all the attractions of any babe compared with the charms of the Child of Bethlehem and the Heart of the Infant God? For, says St. Paul, the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men (Titus 2:11). How touching, naive, gracious, were the glorious events of that first Christmas night: the song of the angels, the visit of the shepherds, that cradle which sheltered Him Who came to redeem the world! How wonderful it would be to see depicted in a single tableau all the events which accompanied the birth of Jesus!

Such a tableau does exist. It is the Rosary. The Mystery of the Nativity is the principal tableau, the others are grouped round about it as secondary tableaux. There, truly, does the Heart of the Infant Jesus reveal itself with all its graces: Apparuit gratia Dei Salvatoris nostri (Titus 2:11). The language of poetry alone is capable of expressing these exquisite charms. Such language flowed from the heart of St. Alphonsus Liguori in one of his Canticles:

Mary sings—the ravish’d heavens
Hush the music of their spheres;
Soft her voice, her beauty fairer
Than the glancing stars appear;
While to Jesus slumbering nigh,
Thus she sings her lullaby.

Sleep my Babe! My God! My Treasure!
Gently sleep: but ah! the sight
With its beauty so transports me,
I am dying of delight:
Thou canst not thy Mother see,
Yet thou breathest flames to me.

If within your lids unfolded.
Slumbering eyes you seem so fair;
When upon my gaze you open.
How shall I your beauty bear?
Ah! I tremble when you wake.
Lest my heart with love should break.

Cheeks than sweetest roses sweeter,
Mouth where lurks a smile divine,
Though the kiss my Babe should waken,
I must press those lips to mine.
Pardon, dearest, if I say
Mother’s love will take no nay.

As she ceased, the gentle Virgin
Clasped the Infant to her breast,
And upon His radiant forehead
Many a loving kiss impress’d:
Jesus woke, and on her face
Fixed a look of heavenly grace.

Ah! that look, those eyes, that beauty,
How they pierce the Mother’s heart;
Shafts of love, from every feature,
Through her gentle bosom dart;
Heart of stone! can I behold
Mary’s love, and still be cold?

If alas, O heavenly beauty!
Now so late those charms I learn,
Now at least, and ever, ever,
With Thy love my heart will burn
For the Mother and the Child,
Rose and Lily undefiled.

Beauty of graciousness reveals itself in the heart of a virgin whose every sigh is for her God. But the immaculate emblem of all that is virginal is, assuredly, the Heart of Jesus. Jesus, the virgin God, Son of a virgin Mother, Spouse of a virgin Church. What beauty! Holy souls have well understood it. Ravished with this pure ideal they long to immolate their hearts on the chaste breast of Jesus and taste, close to Him, the austere delights of charity. By your charms, by your beauty, O Divine Spouse of Virgins, reign in the hearts of all men!

Finally, beauty which is gracious manifests itself in the heart of a friend: Amicus fidelis medicamentum vitae—a faithful friend is the medicine of life (Eccl. 6:16), says the Holy Spirit. He enters into all our joys and sorrows, he solaces us in our grief. But, God is our friend of friends Who remains when all others go away. Friendship can exist only between those who are equals: it is one of the necessary conditions. In the first Mysteries of the Rosary, God makes Himself our equal by taking upon Himself our nature; He makes us His equals by giving us His own. It is truly the loving heart of a friend we feel beating in each Mystery! When Jesus smiled at the shepherds and the Magi, when He instructed the doctors and the unlearned, when He let fall from His lips those consoling words: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you! (Matt. 11:28) then we recognize the tender voice of a friend, the loving and devoted Heart of Him Whose delights are to be with the children of men. We shall dwell no longer on the graciousness of the Sacred Heart. Pious meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary will enable us to taste and delight in its charms.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I apologize for the delay in posting but, with God's blessings, things should be back on track. The posts from Fr. Edouard Hugon's work, Sanctity Through the Rosary will continue throughout the month of October. In it he shows us that this simple prayer can lead us to great heights of holiness and grace if we ramain faithful to it's recitation and cooperate with the graces we receive. It isn't magic. It's hard work. But it is work that we must undertake in order save our souls, which should be our number one priority.

Today, we rarely hear about the need for saving souls, especially our own. Yet this is the reason we exist. Modern theologians and preachers use all kinds of other language and words. Ignore them. They are speaking opinion. Our Lord himself reminds us in the Gospel that there is nothing more important than saving our own soul when he says: "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? (Mt. 16:26); and St. Paul warns us: with fear and trembling work out your salvation (Phil. 2:12). This is divine truth. The alternative is eternal damnation.

So take up the Rosary and pray 5 decades a day. Stick with it, especially when it seems fruitless and you want to put it aside. Remember what you are working toward. Ask our Lady and the saints for help. You can pray all 5 decades at once or divide them up throughout the day. Pray them while walking or while in the car or on the subway. Pray them while waiting in line. Pray them with a cup of tea. Just take up the beads and pray them every day. It might take a while but you will notice that you are growing closer to Jesus and Mary and growing in grace and virtue. You will then be on the road of salvation.

May God bless you.

Fr. Scott, C.Ss.R.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

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


The Rosary is the epitome of all Christianity. All that we believe is contained in it. In the very first Mysteries we meet with the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation. The Rosary is, like the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mass, the memorial of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord. We dwell on the truths of our last end in the Glorious Mysteries, where they are unfolded in a striking and practical manner. The Rosary, then, is theology, but theology which prays, adores, and says by each of its dogmas: Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Moral theology which treats of sin and virtue is, in a sense, epitomized in this great devotion. We cannot truly realize the infinite malice of mortal sin until we see, by meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries, at how fearful a cost the innocent Christ satisfied the demands of divine justice, what a terrible penalty He had to pay on the Cross, how He was forced to cry out under the weight of our sins: My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Each one of these Mysteries contains for us a sublime lesson of virtue. They are not merely examples of heroism; they are the very highest points of the mystical life. The Rosary, then, is moral theology which prays, weeps, expiates, rises to heroism in crying out to Christ: Thou hast redeemed us to God in Thy Blood, and hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests (Apoc. 9:10).

All history we find recapitulated in the Rosary, because the object of this devotion is He to Whom all history points, Whose radiant figure dominates every page of the Old and the New Testament. Therefore, the Rosary is history, but history that prays and leads all nations to Christ, Who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Even the social question itself has been solved by the Rosary, as Leo XIII so eloquently proved in his Encyclical, Laetitiae Sanctae. Why are the nations in fear and in trembling? The answer is threefold, according to the Sovereign Pontiff. The first cause is a growing dislike of a simple and laborious life. The remedy for this evil we find in the Joyful Mysteries. The second cause is repugnance to suffering of any kind. The remedy for this evil is found in the Sorrowful Mysteries. The third cause is forgetfulness of our future life and destiny, which ought to be ever present in our minds to inspire us with hope and courage. The remedy for this evil appears in the Glorious Mysteries. Yes, the Rosary gives us the answer to the social problem in that cry of victory: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat ! Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules.

We see, then, how varied are the aspects of the Rosary. It can adapt itself to every condition, every age, every people. It is a form of prayer so simple in its essence, that anyone, no matter how uneducated or illiterate, can take part in it; in fact, it has been called the psalter of the unlearned. On the other hand, the profundity of its Mysteries makes it the inexhaustible summa of theologians. It is, in truth, the great synthesis of Christianity: all is included in the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, just as all time is encompassed by the two shores of eternity.
It would be interesting to compare the Rosary with the Summa of St. Thomas and with the Christian Churches of the Middle Ages. Each is, in its own way, a compendium of Christianity; each is, as it were, a poem which unfolds before our eyes the plan of the Almighty in all its splendor; each is a monument which has withstood the onslaught of the centuries; each brings us nearer to God and the supernatural; each is quickened by the same divine life. In the Summa, in the ancient cathedral, in the Rosary, the soul experiences that deep joy and contentment which no words can describe; it feels that it has drawn nigh to its true home—to heaven and to God. All three are turned towards the same figure, the dominating figure of Christ; together they form a triple synthesis, a triple teaching, a triple song of love and acknowledgment of the same God and Savior. The first two are examples of human genius, but in the institution of the Rosary divine wisdom has intervened because it is the work of Mary, We should study in detail this great devotion. We wish to show in outline how the Rosary is a summary of all the works of God.
The work of the Almighty may be expressed in two words: creation and redemption. This sums up all the marvels of the real and the ideal. When these two ambitions of God see completion, then the Almighty will be able to rest. In the work of creation God rested after six days, not because His omnipotence was exhausted, but that he might contemplate the work which He had done and reflect that it was good. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum (Gen. 1:10). But alas! the work of redemption was not to be accomplished so easily or so quickly. The Almighty deferred for a very long time the fulfilment of this cherished desire. He, as it were, allowed Himself to be overcome with fatigue.

To crown a soul with glory or even to endow it with the gift of grace is, in one sense, according to St. Augustine and St. Thomas, a greater act than the creation of heaven and earth. This miracle of grace and of holiness is shown forth in the Rosary. It reveals to us the Author of holiness; it shows us our models in the way of perfection. It instructs us in the practice of holiness. The Author of holiness is Jesus. If we wish to come to a better knowledge and understanding of the Man-God we must study His Heart, His Soul and His Divinity. The Rosary is the book which will teach us all this. Our models in holiness are, after Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph who cooperated with Him in the work of redemption. The Rosary will make us appreciate their true role in the economy of salvation. The practice of holiness comprises the whole ensemble of Christian perfection, from charity in the lowest degree even to heroic charity. The Rosary will initiate us and finally bring us to the highest degree of the spiritual life.

Our work, therefore, will be divided into three parts:
1. The Rosary and the Author of holiness: Jesus.
2. The Rosary and models of holiness : Mary and Joseph.
3. The Rosary and the practice of holiness.
We do not intend to touch on the other aspects of the Rosary as several learned writers have written extensively on these points. Nor is this a deep study of doctrine. We are simply offering to the reader some theological and pious considerations which will be a help to interior souls. We treat the subject from one special viewpoint, so that we may not repeat what has been set forth in previous writings on the Rosary. According to the wishes and in the interest of certain persons, the chapters are so arranged that, while all are logically connected one with the other, each may form in itself a meditation independent of what follows and what precedes. This explains and justifies some repetitions.
May this little book make the Virgin of the Rosary and her Divine Son better known and better loved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Month of the Rosary

The month of October is dedicated to the Rosary. There are many web sites where one can find instructions on how to say the Rosary along with meditations on the mysteries. Rather than focusing our meditations in these areas, we will consider the Rosary as a means of sanctity.

This month's meditations will come from the book, Sanctity Through the Rosary by Rev. Fr. Edouard Hugon of the Order of Friars, Preachers. Through them we will learn how this prayer, which has led countless souls to great holiness, can be a means for our own growth in grace.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, open our hearts to grace, and guide us always closer to her Son.

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


Notas facite in populis adinventiones ejus. Make His works KNOWN AMONG THE PEOPLE (Is. 12:4). In these words the prophet Isaias urges us to make known to all people the works of God. We are often unable to praise the works of genius as we should, but when it is a question of praising God’s works we cannot do so; we are reduced to silence and are lost in admiration. Among the works of God there are three so manifestly divine that the human mind can do nothing but abase itself before them: the Incarnation, the Divine Maternity and the Blessed Eucharist.

Next to the works of God are those of Mary and these are all sublime since they are the outcome of love. They are manifold since they are to be found in every age and amongst every people. One of the most sublime of Our Lady’s manifestations of love is, without question, the Rosary which has been made known to the whole world by the Order of Preachers and which, since its institution in the Xlllth century, has been an uninterrupted song of praise to Mary.

The institution of the Rosary is much more than a work of genius, for we see in it that supernatural wisdom which theologians reverence in the institution of the Sacraments. We have no intention of putting the Rosary and the Sacraments on the same level, but it is permissible to point out the striking analogy that exists between them.

The Sacraments are in perfect harmony with our human nature which is at once material and spiritual. To desire that human beings should perform only purely intellectual acts would be to exclude a necessary element of their happiness. Man’s religion and worship requires exterior assistance. Hence the Sacraments, like man, are composed of a body and soul. They have a body in that they are external signs; they have a soul for they possess the invisible power of the Most High. A few words are spoken and immediately the outward sign is encompassed by the might of God, Who passes into the Sacraments since His grace passes into them. When grace takes possession of the soul, at that same moment the soul comes into contact with God.

In the same way true prayer engages the whole man. Now the Rosary is composed of a soul and a body; the body of the Rosary is the vocal prayer; its soul is the consideration of each mystery and the spiritual energy which results from this consideration. Like the Sacraments, the Rosary has, as it were, matter and form. It puts before our imagination the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord and in this way speaks to our bodily nature. By its sublime mysteries the divinity of Christ is set before us and in this way it appeals to our higher nature, wherein we resemble the angels and are like to God Himself.

In the Sacraments the outward sign and the miraculous power of the words combine in the formation of one thing, just as the human nature and the divine nature of Christ are united in one person; so also in the Rosary the vocal prayer and the meditation on the mystery form one indivisible whole. To separate the form of the Sacrament from the matter would be to destroy the Sacrament; to separate the mystery from the vocal recitation would be to destroy the very essence of the Rosary.

The Sacraments are, as it were, the extension and the continuation of the Incarnation. Jesus comes to us in the Sacraments to bless us and to restore us to life. As in the days of His mortal life, He allows that virtue which heals to escape from Him: Virtue went out from Him and healed all (Luke 6:19). In the Rosary also it is Jesus Who comes to us. At the commencement of each mystery we can say in all truth that the Son of David is about to pass by. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

The Sacraments are those outward marks which distinguish the Christian from the infidel; the Rosary is the distinctive devotion of every true Catholic. The Sacraments are the sweet yet powerful bonds that unite the Children of Christ; by partaking of the same Sacraments the faithful evince their communion in the same faith, the same hope, the same love. By means of the Rosary the children of Mary unite throughout the world and blend their voices in the expression of their common hope and love. The Rosary is like the standard which God raises up before the nations to assemble them from every corner of the universe. Elevabit signum in nationibus . . . et . . . colliget a quatuor plagis terrae. He shall set up a standard unto the nations . . . and gather together the dispersed from the four quarters of the earth (Is. 11:12).

It would be easy to develop at some length this comparison between the Sacraments, instituted by Jesus, and the Rosary, the work of Mary. To sum it up in a few words: the condition of human nature is such that it has to be led by things corporeal and sensible to things spiritual; the Sacraments and the Rosary are signs which help the soul to rise to the contemplation of God and eternity. Man wishes to feed his mind with things spiritual; he thirsts after the infinite; the Sacraments and the Rosary help him to satisfy that desire.

Man, by reason of his bodily nature and its inherent weaknesses, is a creature of time; but because of the powers of his soul and his supernatural destiny, he is also of eternity. Now the Rosary is vast enough to embrace both time and eternity. It includes every period of time because it contains those unfathomable mysteries to which all history converges, whose realization constitutes what St. Paul calls the fullness of time: plentitudo temporis (Gal. 4:4). It includes eternity. The Rosary begins with heaven and ends in eternity with the Mysteries of the Ascension of Jesus and the Crowning of Mary. We commence in the bosom of the Adorable Trinity, we end in the bosom of the Blessed Virgin.