Friday, March 27, 2015

Praying the Holy Rosary together with intention

Today, via the blog The hermeneutic of continuity (where I went to check out a "Tour of a Carthusian cell"), I came across, in another post, a reference to an encyclical letter of Pope St John XXIII- Grata Recordatio, which he promulgated in September 1959, in advance of the month of October, traditionally the month of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope St John XXIII

Pope St John began Grata Recondatio by making reference to the frequent encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII, which he issued in the lead up to October, exhorting the faithful to pray the Holy Rosary. Of these letters, Good Pope John wrote that they
had varied contents, but they were all very wise, vibrant with fresh inspiration, and directly relevant to the practice of the Christian life. In strong and persuasive terms they exhorted Catholics to pray to God in a spirit of faith through the intercession of Mary, His Virgin Mother, by reciting the holy rosary. For the rosary is a very commendable form of prayer and meditation. In saying it we weave a mystic garland of Ave Maria's, Pater Noster's, and Gloria Patri's. And as we recite these vocal prayers, we meditate upon the principal mysteries of our religion; the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and the Redemption of the human race are proposed, one event after another, for our consideration" (par 2)
Grata Recondatio is a very short encyclical and so easily read. In it Papa Roncalli laid out what he wanted the Church to pray for during October 1959 through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin by means of her Most Holy Rosary. Among his intentions are several that remain relevant today, including this, under the heading "False Philosophies" -
It must also be remarked that there are current today certain schools of thought and philosophy and certain attitudes toward the practical conduct of life which cannot possibly be reconciled with the teachings of Christianity. This impossibility We shall never cease from asserting in firm and unambiguous, though also calm terms. But God wishes the welfare of men and of nations! (Wis. 1:14)

And so We hope that men will set aside those sterile postulates and assumptions, hard as rock and just as inflexible, which rise from a way of thinking and acting that is infected with laicism and materialism, and that they will find a complete cure in that sound doctrine which experience makes more certain with every day that passes. We mean that doctrine which attests that God is the author of life and its laws, that He is guarantor of the rights and dignity of the human person. God then is "our refuge and our Redemption" (par 17-18)
We live in a time when false philosophies abound. One example of this is the persistent attempt to turn behaviors into "identities" and then assert that those who share a particular "identity" are part of an inchoate "community." The proliferation of these "communities" contribute to the further fragmentation of society. All of this is nothing other than ideology at work. Such attempts succeed because they promise liberation, which is a lie, as many, sadly, discover through experience. We pray and act because we love God and our neighbor and, so, we will what God wills, which is "the welfare of men and of nations!"

While I am writing about our Blessed Mother, it bears mentioning that I am currently reading Eddie Doherty's book Matt Talbot: Fighting addiction, poverty, and the turmoil of Irish life at the turn of the century, Matt leads us humbly to the Mother of God. Yes, that is the subtitle. To give you some idea of the devotion Venerable Matt Talbot had for Our Lady, Doherty relates that he slept on his bed, made of rough, unsanded planks of lumber, "with a statue of the Virgin and Child in his right arm" (69). According to Doherty, Matt "searched all over Dublin for the right [statue], and it had taken a long time find it" (69).

For a shorter take on the life and witness of Venerable Matt Talbot see my teacher and mentor, Msgr M. Francis Mannion's article from last Spring, "A patron saint for those suffering from alcoholism?"

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