ARTHURIUS L. McMAHON, O.P., S.T.M
EDUARDUS J. HANNA
Archepiscopus S. Francisci
S. Francisci, die 27 Sept. 1915
HE name Rosary signifies a crown of roses; and well does this devotion deserve, by just right, a name so beautiful. The rose is the most beautiful of flowers and ravishes our senses with its beauty and perfume; and there is no delight that can equal the heavenly enchantment of the spiritual sweetness which is exhaled from this beautiful prayer.
The Rosary is a spiritual garland of mystic roses with which we deck the brow of Mary—a diadem which reflects the joy and brilliance, the purity and fecundity of the glorious Queen of Heaven.
The flowers which we weave are not of this earth, but are indigenous to Paradise, and were transplanted by an angel's hand from their native soil to bloom and flourish among the weeds and thistles of this miserable and sinful world.
There is no form of prayer more efficacious, or more excellent and acceptable before Heaven than Mary's own devotion, the Rosary. There is nothing that the great Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, urged more upon the Church than the devout practice of reciting the beads in her honor.
The devotion of the Holy Rosary was revealed to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary, who commanded him to preach it throughout the world; and hence the Rosary has ever been the spiritual heritage and distinct property of the Dominican Order.
The Rosary is adapted to the learned and the ignorant, and to every capacity. The form and matter are intelligible to the most illiterate, and yet so sublime as to be matter of contemplation worthy of the highest intellect. Moreover, the Rosary is not only a most sublime and perfect devotion, but there is no devotion in the Church which is enriched with more precious and valuable helps to salvation; and there is nothing, outside the Holy Sacrifice, that can profit the living and the dead equal to the pious recitation of the Rosary.
The Form and Matter of the Rosary
The Rosary consists in the recitation, in honor of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of the Angelic Salutation one hundred and fifty times, distributed into fifteen decades; each decade being preceded by the Lord's Prayer and accompanied by meditation on one of the principal mysteries of our Divine Saviour and terminated by the doxology or "Glory be to the Father," etc. The vocal prayer is the matter, the body of this exercise; the meditation on the fifteen mysteries is the form, and, as it were, the soul of this prayer. The Rosary is divided into three parts; each part contains five mysteries and is called a chaplet. The first part consists of the five joyful mysteries; the second, of the five sorrowful; and the third, of the five glorious mysteries.
Manner of Reciting the Rosary
The method of reciting the Rosary practiced by the Dominicans is as follows:
In the name of the Father, etc.
V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
R. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb—Jesus.
V. Thou, O Lord, wilt open my lips.
R. And my tongue shall announce Thy praise.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, etc., Alleluia.
(From Septuagesima to Easter, instead of Alleluia, say Praise by to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.)
Then announce either "the first part of the holy Rosary, the five joyful mysteries," or "the second part of the holy Rosary, the five sorrowful mysteries," or "the third part of the holy Rosary, the five glorious mysteries." Then the first mystery, "The Annunciation," etc., and Our Father once, Hail Mary ten times, Glory be to the Father once; in the meantime, meditating on the mystery. After reciting five decades, the Hail, Holy Queen is said, followed by
V. Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray
O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that, meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Five Joyful Mysteries
(Assigned for Mondays and Thursdays throughout the year, the Sundays in Advent and after Epiphany till Lent.)
Like scenes of some wondrous drama these Mysteries set before us the joys of the life of our Saviour. One by one the scenes are unfolded—each telling its story, conveying its Gospel lesson to the human soul. Before our mental view pass the personages mentioned in God's Book. Here are Mary the humble, Joseph the obedient, Elizabeth the prayerful, Simeon the just, the angels on earth and in heaven—all bending in lowly reverence before Jesus, the grand central figure of the Rosary devotion. Our minds filled with Faith and Hope and Love, we begin the decades:
First Joyful Mystery:
"And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, . . . And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus."—(St. Luke, I, 28-31)
As Jesus, the Savior of Mankind, humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto the death of the Cross, how fitting that Mary, his Mother, should in the moment of her greatest exaltation teach us the lesson of Humility.
Pride wrought the ruin of legions of angels; through pride our first parents sinned in the Garden of Happiness. By humility our salvation was achieved—the humility of the Word of God. In our pride we have disobeyed God's holy law. Through humble penance are we to regain God's favor.
O Mary, humble hand-maid of the Lord, pray that we know our own unworthiness!
Second Joyful Mystery:
"And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judea. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb."—(St. Luke, I, 39-41.)
Charity prompts Mary to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hour of her need. Ah, how the loving heart of our dear Mother anticipates the words of her Divine Son: "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you have love one for another."
"I was sick and in prison and you did visit Me," says our Saviour. And He calls those specially blessed of His Father who shall feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring comfort to those that mourn. Wheresoever we move on earth let us, by kindly word and sympathetic action, bring a warm breath of heavenly charity.
O Mary, sweet Mother of charity, teach us to be kind; and for the sake of Christ to lighten the burden of Christ's least brethren!
Third Joyful Mystery:
"And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."—(St. Luke, II, 7.)
"Wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger" is Jesus on the night of His birth. The world had forgotten the richness of being poor. It was needful that Jesus should enter into the world in poverty to teach the lesson of detachment from earthly things. In the Crib of Bethlehem, as from the Mount, Christ teaches the self-same lesson: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
If we possess worldly goods, let us act as God's faithful stewards, giving liberally to the poor of Christ; if poverty be our lot, let us not murmur against God's Holy will, but rather thank God we are saved from the many temptations of riches.
Mary, lover of poverty, teach us to seek first the Kingdom of God.
Fourth Joyful Mystery:
"And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord."—(St. Luke, II, 22, 23.)
In obedience to the Mosaic law, to which He was not subject, Christ allowed Himself to be presented body and soul in the Temple to teach us that by purity of body and soul we are to consecrate ourselves to the service of God.
"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." As we are pure of heart, so will our vision of the things of God be clear. By prayer and the Sacraments shall we maintain purity of life. Prayer will keep our minds in touch with God. Strict examination of conscience will make known to us our faults. The Sacrament of Penance will cleanse our souls. If through the Sacrament of the Eucharist we abide in Christ, Christ will abide in us and keep us pure.
O Mary, Virgin Mother, protect us in body and soul!
Fifth Joyful Mystery:
"The Finding in the Temple"
"And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. . . . And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"—(St. Luke, II, 46, 48, 49.)
Zeal for Souls
Zeal to be about the things that are His Father's prompts Jesus to remain in the pulpit in the midst of the doctors of the law, hearing them and asking them questions. "They that instruct many to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity." (Daniel XII, 3.) How glorious the reward of those who sacrifice themselves for the salvation of souls!
Whatsoever be our station in life, we can work for God by word and example. If our words are holy and of good repute, and our actions are prompted by charity, justice and purity, we are spreading the Gospel of Christ—carrying His message to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Mary, zealous lover of souls, teach us to work for God!
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries
(For Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the year, and the Sundays in Lent)
The curtain has fallen on the Joyful Mysteries to rise slowly again, disclosing the principal scene in the Tragedy of Christ. There is this difference between every other tragedy played out on the wide stage of the earth and the Tragedy of Christ, that each one of us acted a sad part in making our Divine Saviour suffer. When sorrow for our sins brings tears of humble repentance to our eyes, let us still look up to the Cross—the Symbol of Hope. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself." (St. John, XII, 32.) Saints have meditated on the sufferings of Christ and have found therein the motive for further battling against temptation; sinners have contemplated the Sorrowing Christ and have experienced the undying truth