We cannot, strictly speaking, merit Salvation. Strictly speaking, we cannot and do not merit anything at all. Whatever we have, God has given us. Whatever we attain, God has preordained that we should be given the grace to do so. This applies to absolutely everything we do, up to the last consequences and our eternal destiny. God has, in His Justice, preordained from all eternity whether we will be saved or damned, whether we are elects or reprobates. This brutal truth is a mainstay – nay, it is the foundation – of Catholic theology. If it were not so, God would depend on our decisions and would, therefore, not be Omnipotent.
I can, of myself, merit exactly nothing. What I do is merely collaborate with God's grace; and even this collaboration is, in fact, nothing more than God's grace: an unmerited gift.
The human mind being very limited, and unable to fathom how in God infinite Justice and infinite Mercy meet, the statement above appears rather scary. It is, in fact, not pleasant to realise that God has already decided, out of all eternity, whether I will be saved or damned. What I can know with certainty is that I am given sufficient grace to collaborate with God's will and – in this strict sense – “merit” Salvation. What I do not know is whether I will persevere in making use of it. I don't know; God not only knows, and He Has decreed what the final outcome shall be.
Now, whilst I try to cultivate the virtue of hope – which is, like everybody else, a gift; I for myself could not have any hope, but God gives it to me -, the uncomfortable thought unavoidably remains: could it be that God has already decreed that I will waste the sufficient grace given to me and deserve to be punished with hell? This fear must, I would add, remain, then otherwise we would be thinking like those Protestant and rosewater Catholics sure of their salvation – and thus, gravely sinning – because they love the polar bear cub or say good morning to their neighbours or are best buddies with Christ (you talk to some Prodfies, you wonder whether they thought they just met Him for breakfast). A healthy Catholic soul is healthily optimistic about his salvation, but healthily scared of hell, too. A just God will judge everyone with perfect Justice. Good and scary thought, uh?
At this point, God gives us – in His Mercy – an ace to be played in the game of salvation: prayer.
Prayer is the antidote to the poison of our sinfulness. It is the passepartout allowing us to base our hope in something we actually do. I choose to pray, and whilst doing so I am aware that it is God's grace that prompted me to pray. But I am still collaborating with His grace.
Prayer is the key that opens the door of God's Mercy. Sinful as I am, I do not need to be terrified that my damnation might already have been decreed, I do not need to be (overly) afraid that I will not make use of God's sufficient grace and waste the possibility of salvation; I do not, because I pray, thus collaborating with God in opening a path for me in which mercy will supply what justice cannot give.
This is why a prayerful attitude is a very good sign of predestination. It is the evidence, in our daily life, that we are collaborating with God in such a way that we can be very reasonably, very robustly confident that His Mercy will supply that in which we are, by justice, deficient.
I do not know whether I am one of the elect. But I know that I pray the Rosary every day. That is a fact, a certainty, a solid base for my future, the plaster of my way to Purgatory. My healthy fear of hell is, then, reduced to this: a prompt to pray the Rosary every day. Blessed, blessed fear!
The Rosary is the queen of all prayers. No prayer is as safe, as reassuring as the Rosary. Catholic tradition has attached such devotion to the Apparitions about the Rosary and the promises concerning those who pray it, that it is not reasonable – much less smart – to doubt the ones or the others.
Wretched sinner as I am, I know that God's Mercy has opened for me a path to Purgatory; a path following which I can be very confident to, one day, “merit” Purgatory – which, sub specie aeternitatis , simply means that I hopefully will, one day, realise that God preordained and decreed, out of all eternity, that it should infallibly be so – .
Yes, I am still scared of hell. It is good that I should be, lest I neglect prayer and, little by little, abandon the practice of the daily Rosary. The fear of hell is the guard rail that keeps me on the path.
Prayer is the way I live life everyday, confidently hoping that God's Mercy will supply what I, by justice, should not obtain.
What a beautiful thing, prayer. What a wonderful thing, the Rosary.
Pray the Rosary every day as devoutly as you can.
Your path to salvation is right there, in front of you, now.
I do not pray the “new” Rosary (the one, I mean, which JP II of Assisi memory introduced to “improve” on the Blessed Virgin), but I seem to recall that one of the new Mysteries involved Jesus' call to repentance.
JP II simply thought he knew better.
Twenty years or so later, another Pope “improves” pretty much everything. I cannot imagine the man calling to repentance concerning much more than having used the air conditioner; he would, rather, call to dialogue; this dialogue would in no way include a call to conversion, because that would be Proselytism, an attitude Francis insults as he does everything Catholic.
That's another one who thinks he knows better.
So there we are: from the still orthodox – in the content; much less so in the attitude – new set of mysteries, to a new set of unofficial innovations and heresies spread via interview.
This is what happens when you think you can “improve” on the Blessed Virgin.
V II cannot be divided in a good and a bad part.
It is a fifty years long slippery slope.
When Pope Francis was informed that good, orthodox catholics had prayed more than 3,000 rosaries for him, he found nothing better to do than to mock them speaking with “progressive” nuns.
When a bunch of spirited “Charismatics” prayed for him, “speaking in tongues” like consummated dope heads, Pope Francis found it fitting to kneel and pray.
As they say: spot the difference.
At the beginning, Francis thought these Charismatics were like a “samba school”. But then he saw …. that there were many of them, so he changed his mind.
On this occasion, there were 50,000 of them; plus the press, the TV, the entire media enchilada.
Therefore, kneeling (something he never does in front of a Tabernacle) was certainly worthwhile.
The beginning of Lent is a beautiful day to start praying the Rosary.
The SSPX is running a wonderful Rosary Crusade.
All details on my blog post and the original link.
The SSPX will launch a new Rosary Crusade on 1 January.
Details here, with many thanks to the reader Elizabeth.
Other details will hopefully follow as to the participation of the laity (I’d love to enroll, though I do not live in the US).
Also please look at the other beautiful initiative of the pilgrimage of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
I look at the SSPX and Francis, and I have not the slightest doubt about who could teach Catholicism to the other.
I received a rather interesting link from a reader.
The link is in Spanish, but an Italian can understand what this is about: small package of a “medicine” have been distributed, with the Pope’s recommendation to take on epill a day (if I understand correctly) “as a preventative measure”, but otherwise “as many as the soul needs”. The package contains a rosary, and what I understand might be a small leaflet with praying instructions.
Now, it is rather childish that a Pope should put a rosary in people’ hand and not suggest that they pray… the rosary; apparently thinking that the Hail Mary is for them something painful or difficult to swallow, that must be taken in small doses at the beginning. Still, I notice two things:
1) Rosaries, unspoken of in my age, will be mentioned to millions who see them on TV. I even got years of Catholic instructions at school and no one ever told me what a rosary is, much less that I should pray it.
2) Obviously, counting is implied in the exercise of praying the rosary. Whilst Francis does not care for contradicting himself – perhaps he doesn’t even notice; I think he often talks without being in the least concerned of what he says – this is at least a good contradiction. Many came home holding in their pocket a rosary, and I am rather sure many of those did not even know what a rosary is before getting one in the hand. The counting of prayers, and then the counting of rosaries, will come from itself.
I have the impression that Francis is listening to those who say to him he has made a mess of things once too often and must now correct the course, sharpish. I am under no illusion – and will think it until contrary evidence – that this correction is not the fruit of conversion, but of the necessity to carry on with his modernist program in a rather more refined way than he did up to now, having seen that the bulldozer strategy does not work much, makes of him a clown – when he does not do it voluntarily himself -, procures him the hostility of some within the curia and, in general, backfires rather brutally.
We will see whether the next months bring us a Pope more willing to be Catholic – or to learn Catholicism – or whether this is merely a refinement of the strategy of confusion so typical of the Modernist.
We must keep praying for him, but we must keep vigilant too.
This one is not one to trust.
I pray, like many of you, my five decades of the Rosary every day. My prayers are, obviously, learned by rote, and repeated in the same way. Like many of you, I tend to be distracted and carried away whilst I pray the rosary, but I soldier on. The modern apps with a different gospel passage for every Hail Mary are a great help, but they are no magic wand, either. We get distracted. It's the human nature. If we were to start the rosary or the decade anew every time we get distracted we could never pray the Rosary in church, and we would likely stop saying the Rosary everyday.
Try to be as focused as you can, but say your rosary every day like a military man.
Besides the main dish of my prayer day (the rosary) I have, like many of you, the sides. I never think of my deceased loved ones without one or three “eternal rest”; I never think of people I love without a short prayer for them; I say an Hail Mary for every cripple or every old man in a wheelchair I see; I immancably say the Prayer to St. Michael The Archangel every time I see a faggot on the street.
Yes, all these prayers only take a very short time; yes, life will absorb me after them as fully as it did before; yes, most of the times I do not experience any kind of spiritual “turbo kick” after praying them.
I pray, because I am a Catholic; I pray prayers learned by rote, because I am a Catholic; I pray even when I am distracted, because I am a Catholic; when I wake up, I immediately say an Hail Mary, because I am a Catholic; I pray before going to sleep, and actually often fall asleep whilst mechanically repeating “Hail Mary”, because I am a Catholic. I have a reminder on my phone that tells me it's 3pm, so I can say an “Our Father” at the hour Christ died. Small things like that. Catholicism is largely made of small things.
I am fully aware that all this has a mechanical element in it. My morning Hail Mary could often be prayed better, and many people pray much more. My intra-day prayers are said by rote, as a kind of short-circuit in my daily life. My evening prayers have, at times, a sleepy quality in them. I could certainly do better, but then again I am doing better now than I did some years ago. My rosary is good on certain days, and less good on others, but I must not fight the laziness of not saying the Rosary anymore. It goes under the skin, you see, and you end up praying much more than you used to do even outside of the Rosary. Still: I have, most certainly, room for improvement. I think I will carry it to my grave.
The prayer life of a Catholic – I mean, of most of them – has always been like this: a soldiering in Christ, where the short glorious battle events are lost in the banal routine of military life: the drills, the making of the bed, the meals, all the unromantic, unexciting, uninspiring routine. A good soldier does not say: “who cares whether my bed is properly made: all I want or care for is battle!”. A good soldier knows that soldiering is made of many little things, and that the care with which he cleans his rifle is very important even if he might never have to use it in action.
Soldiery is, in the end, made largely of routine work. It is made, if you will, by rote. Catholic soldiery has, through all ages, been no different than this.
When my mother taught me the Hail Mary, she paid attention I had learned the words. Not the feeling. Not the “dialogue with Mary”. The words. Ave Maria, piena di grazia…
Why? Because this is what Catholics do. Catholics pray in set words. Of course, they can pray differently, and it is certainly not forbidden to a Catholic to throw himself at the feet of the Blessed Virgin and pour out to her the sorrows that plague him. But being a Catholic he will know – like countless generations before him – that this is, strictly speaking, not even necessary. He knows that when he prays in the set words transmitted to us by tradition, he has prayed well. For many centuries now, all Catholics from the illiterate peasant to the refined Prince have known this. This is, by the by, one of the reason why there are so many Catholic prayers.
But there is another reason, that I do not want to leave unmentioned. Catholic prayers are set in fixed words so that they: a) teach properly, and b) give a guarantee of orthodoxy.
Our set of rote prayers tell us a lot about Catholicism. The Litanies are doctrinal expositions; the “Hail, Holy Queen” reminds us that we live in a vale of tears, that we will only see Jesus if we are saved, & Co. At the same time, by praying set prayers we know that we are led through the straight railway of Catholic orthodoxy. Prayers are guaranteed right, and are sure to teach us properly. Spontaneous prayer achieves neither.
This system served countless generations of faithful before us. Yes, we are imperfect. Yes, we get distracted. Yes, we may even fall asleep whilst praying.
Welcome to Catholicism.
All this seems, as I write this, to be rather out of favour. Whilst Francis will not tell you you must not pray the “Hail Mary” or the “Our Father”, it is not clear when he draws the lines and says “enough of rote praying”.
What is clear is that God himself has given us the “Our Father”, but the current Pontiff doesn't see the serial repetition of this prayer with a favourable eye. It is also clear that the Blessed Virgin has – with several apparitions to, among others, Saint Dominic, Blessed Alain de la Roche, and the children of Fatima – recommended the recitation of the Rosary, but the Bishop of Rome sees all this – if you can read beyond the Francispeak; which you can – as now past its shelf life, a habit of past ages that is outdated and below the standard of the smart generation of post V II Catholics.
Once again: Francis doesn't do frontal attacks. His judgments (Heavens, he does a lot of it!) are always directed towards not exactly identified “bad Catholics”, who always end up looking like your grand-grandmother.
Again, he will use Francispeak. The “bad Catholics” are always described in a way that in the end allows you to say “he is not talking of me”, whilst also saying an awful lot that actually screams he is talking about me, big time.
The prototypical Catholic of once – and the traddie of today – are his obvious target, and the message is being understood more and more clearly as the repeated affirmations make it more and more difficult to attribute the quality Francis criticises to people who do not exist at all. If these people exist, then it's us.
You pray the rosary in a – somewhat – mechanical way? Check, and actually you probably do not even believe in God.
You count your rosaries? You are a Pelagian!
You are extremely sure of your Catholic faith? You have “excessive doctrinal security”.
You pray by rote? You are following a custom of the past.
Is it a surprise this Pontiff is so ignorant of even the basis of Catholicism? Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. If his prayer life is made of inordinate waffling his very way of seeing Catholicism will, one day, follow. It is obvious this man has not the faintest idea of not only basics like the works of mercy, but even the very essence of Christianity, as he manages to be very vague, but vaguely disturbing, even when he says to Eugenio Scalfari in which strangely and I would say uniquely defined God he believes. If Athanasius would read his description of God given to Scalfari he would, I think, not call him an heretic, but would probably decide the man needs a lot of work, because his way of talking of God does sound strange indeed.
This is one who has been making his own “bespoke” religion for many decades now; the unavoidable result of making his own, “bespoke” prayers for the same length of time.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.
Hippie prayers, Francis.
Stellar blog post from David Werling on Ars Orandi about Pretty Pictures and Pious Pelagians.
Besides examining the attitude of the last two Popes concerning the new trendy word, Pelagian – a word used very appropriately by Pope Benedict, whilst Pope Francis gives the idea of simply repeating words he has heard or read somewhere -, this excellent article touches an extremely valid point: the V II “spontaneous”, vague, fluffy, tofu spirituality (yes, the one lived and promoted by Pope Francis) puts upside down the very concept of living and practicing the Catholic Faith.
There are other themes that lead one to a rather worrying reflection (like the separation between the love for the “pretty pictures” from the love from the Truth they represent and should inflame one for; or the brutal, but so true statement of the one who would never allow the Pontiff to teach religion to his children; a very sad fact whose reality is in front of our eyes every day).
Still, what impressed me most is this convincing portrayal of modern Catholicism, in which devout Catholics are considered wrong for being thorough, for taking Catholicism seriously, and for counting their rosaries.
I will not say more, because I could not make justice to the author. You can do much worse than invest the time to follow the link.
One and a half day into the latest mess created by Pope Francis with his own carelessness, we are put in front of a show of incompetence that lets one wonder why on earth Cardinal Bergoglio was deemed the best fitted to put some order in the Vatican machinery.
As I write this in a cold, grey UK morning, we have two Rosarygate updates on the usual Rorate Caeli. With the first we were informed a probably desperate Father Lombardi declined to comment on the “private” conversation of the Pope, as several Vaticanists explained to El Mundo that yes, Bergoglio is the man who would talk such rubbish. This was a huge occasion to clarify and set the matter to rest, and was lost.
Would it have been too much for the Pontiff to authorise Father Lombardi to say something on behalf of the Pope, renewing his encouragement to pray the Rosary, his respect for those who count them, his special gratefulness for the rosary bouquet given to him, and his renewed confidence in the work of the CDF? Too difficult? Really?
It was in fact too difficult, one thinks, because this is a Pope very humbly attached to heterodoxy and, in Franciscan simplicity, unwilling to backpedal even when the entire planet is asking “could he really have said that?”. Yes, he could. Yes, he did. Yes, you can bet your pint he'll do it again. This was not an occasional slip of the tongue, as such episodes are now at least one too many, and too worrying for that. This was an insight into Pope Bergoglio's world, which is why he refused to backpedal. Methinks, he considers all this mess a tempest in a glass of water, caused by people absurdly attached to these practices of the past like the Rosary, and who think they live in the Forties.
After a clearly hand-faced Lombardi declined to comment, the pressure was obviously on the CLAR to save what can be saved, or at least smooth some corner; but those at CLAR obviously refused to do the Pope's job, and confirmed (second Rorate update) the content of the report, though they tried to downplay the quotations implying the man with the writing pad must have been thinking of women, and all was written from “recollections” after the fact.
Don't make me laugh. As if words of the Pope would be put in quotation marks without someone there having written them down verbatim. Nor did CLAR, as I write, modify or correct or retract one single word of their report.
If CLAR had said “awfully sorry, we were very wrong on this one, the Vatican phoned and it is clear there must have been two or three rather massive misunderstandings”, the matter would have somewhat settled down, but they would have lost face without being in the end guilty of any misinformation. One can understand they decided to weather the storm and say “no, this is really what he said and meant”.
If I were in the same room as Father Lombardi – whom again I imagine, Jesuit and heterodox as he is, with the hands on his face, leaning on his desk in utter disbelief – I would suggest that anyone who is received by the Pope signs a confidentiality agreement, notepads are utterly forbidden, and even smartphones are given to Vatican officials before entering the Pope's room, as it is very easy to use them to record every word he says.
“But Mundabor” – you might say – “this is absurd! It is tantamount to admit the Pontiff is such a maverick that the Church must be protected from him every time he opens his mouth and speaks off-the-cuff!”.
Read on Rorate the transcript (unofficial and unauthorised; I wonder whether a dementi will follow) of the latest free-wheeling thoughts of a Pope for whom to think of something and to say it seems to be one and the same.
A group of faithful offers him more than 3,500 rosaries prayed for him. Think how beautiful and moving this is! Would you not be moved at knowing someone prayed one Hail Mary for you? When the Pope receives not 3,500 Hail Mary, but 3,500 rosaries he is not at all overwhelmed by the stunning beauty of this gift; instead, he takes it “with respect”, but he is also “concerned” at the practice.
The Rosary? Seriously? Do you think you live in the Forties? And come on, are you even counting?
Please visit Rorate and read there the entire text of the transcription; it transpire an atmosphere of mockery among the present, to which the Holy Father reacts by saying to them not to laugh, but clearly showing with his “concern” he thinks the same as they do, without the mockery.
For a Pope who goes around saying he is particularly devout to the Blessed Virgin, this is seriously beyond the pale. Actually, this is beyond the pale for anyone wearing a habit.
We live in times where, to put it mildly, what would be considered object of mild derision and cause of very sad reflections in a country curate comes from the mouth of a Pope with such astonishing frequency as to make it a part of everyday life, in the same way as the ramblings of the village stupid isn’t even noticed after a while.
In this case I don’t know about the village, but I don’t have many doubts about the stupid, because a Pope who has recently been publicly corrected about a fundamental tenet of Christianity – one that should be within the grasp of every catechised child – and insists in saying whatever happens to cross his not very well instructed or reflective mind without any problem perfectly fits the description. Can you imagine the Pontiff Emeritus talking like that? Can you imagine any Pope of the past doing the same?
And so we learn that to the string of pearls this truly astonishingly incompetent Pope has given us in less than three months another one must be added: don’t pray the Rosary because it’s so passé and for Heaven’s sake, don’t count them! I mean, do you think we are in the Forties?
I am now eagerly awaiting for the corrections or, ahem, “clarifications”, of the Lombardis and Rosicas of the world, explaining to us that the Pope is oh so very fond of the Rosary and by any means, feel free to count.
The worst of it is that the clarification might even not come.
What is cause for concern here is not the Rosary, but a Pope who is concerned about them.
My next rosary is for Pope Francis. I hope he won’t be too concerned.
May is the Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
What better occasion than to make a resolution to start to pray the Rosary every day, than the month of May!
Among the heavenly investments I have mentioned in a past blog post, the Rosary is – after Mass attendance, of course – very probably the best. Padre Pio and countless other saints insisted on the Rosary. Praying the Rosary devoutly every day is a beautiful sign of predestination. I cannot imagine a better way to enrich your prayer life – nay, your life – than to pray the Rosary.
When I die, I want my last rosary to be not older than the day before. And I can die every day. Therefore…
If you should read this blog for years and take from it the habit of praying the Rosary, the benefit taken from this blog would be spectacular even if I have written rubbish for now almost three years and in more than 2,000 posts (which I do not think, at all; but I’m not you, either…).
May is the month to start praying the Rosary every day.
If you use the search function you will find several posts your truly has written on the Rosary. It is not a coincidence that my “Catholic Vademecum” page has at the top not one, but seven posts all dealing with the Rosary.
The best spot on this blog (right upper hand side) is devoted to a link to the Rosary. I almost never click to it now as I pray the Rosary with other apps, but it is the best spot on this blog because the most important message of this blog is – apart from the commentaries on the facts of the day – to pray the Rosary.
Make of the rosary your priority. If you do not have time, take time away from this blog and pray the Rosary every day. I do write a lot, but praying the Rosary devoutly every day is infinitely more important and will do more for your salvation than countless hours spent reading my posts.
When you click here, think every time if your time would not be better employed praying the Rosary, unless you have already done so.
Don’t listen to me. Listen first to the Blessed Virgin, St. Dominic, Blessed Alan de la Roche, Padre Pio and countless others.
Again: after the Mass, I can’t see what better favour you can do to yourselves, and to those you love, than praying and encouraging them to pray the Rosary.
Let me say it in three short phrases.
Pray the Rosary.
Pray the Rosary.
Pray the Rosary.
I know this has been said very often already, but as we are at the beginning of the year it might be fitting to say it again: after Mass, the Rosary is very probably the most important individual salvation tool at our disposal.
I have already written about the promises of Our Lady to those who pray the Rosary faithfully and devoutly and I will not go back on the details. What is particularly worth insisting on, though, is that the Rosary allows us to factually secure our biggest venture on this earth (salvation, compared to which every other aim simply disappears) at the very affordable price of…. twenty minutes of serious application a day.
It has been rightly said that our time tells everything about our priorities, exposing the inner logic of the usual “I haven’t the time” we so often use to avoid an issue. As there are 24 hours in a day and I sleep seven and work eight of them, there are nine hours a day on which to arrange my priorities. If, therefore, I do not find the twenty minutes a day to seriously pray the rosary (in the bus, say, or on the train, or in the car, or during lunch time, or whenever it is) it simply means that I have found things things which, together, take 540 minutes of my time a day and I consider, both collectively and singularly, a more pressing instance than reasonable security about my salvation.
I maintain, on the other hand, that once the priorities are clear enough one will not need more than some minutes of reflection to find the time to say the rosary every day, which will be even easier considering the decades can be split and prayed singularly. Now you might call me scrupulous (or a wretched sinner, that I undoubtedly am) but I can’t imagine the Catholic who is so confident of his salvation that he considers a 20 minutes investment a day an unreasonable price to pay.
Cela va sans dire, to pray the rosary every day does not, in itself, guarantee salvation; you can’t be Goebbels and think you are certainly going to make it because you invest the 20 minutes. But if you pray the Rosary faithfully and devoutly every day, you’ll know that Mary will powerfully intercede for your salvation, and that you will rather not become a Goebbels in the first place. The idea is that as long as you pray the Rosary faithfully and devoutly to the end of your days you will be saved in the end, but if you choose to be evil (perhaps thinking you pray the Rosary so you’ll be fine) you are very probably going to stop praying it devoutly every day before your day comes. A corollary of this is that as long as you pray the Rosary devoutly every day, you know you are on the right path to avoiding Hell (there’s no guarantee, of course, about the length and hardness of our permanence in Purgatory).
Is, therefore, twenty minutes of our time a day too heavy a price to pay? How important are all the activities which daily occupy the above mentioned 540 minutes (or how many they are in your case)? Where do our priorities lie? I do not know you, but I am a wretched sinner and a worrier, and this is the only thing in life I can really, really not afford to get wrong.
I’ll gladly spend my twenty minutes with the Rosary, then. It used to be a bit of a chore, you see, but it isn’t any more. It’s a handful of years now I have started to recite it everyday. Never skipped a day, or looked back.
You may want to consider making of 2013 the year you start to devoutly pray the rosary every day. it’s not a great price to pay.
Take it from me, you will not regret it.
1. In my old age I am becoming more and more wary of always linking to posts I have already written. Fortunately for me, there are reasons why this must not deter you from deepening the matter a bit. The search function you find below allows you to search keywords. These are not always the keywords I have tagged, but every key word. You can, therefore, type “Vincent Nichols” and you’ll find more than you ever wanted to know without necessity for me to build endless links to the antics of our well-known enemy of Catholicism.https://mundabor.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post
2. The “Catholic Vademecum” has now grown to several dozen blog posts. Whilst it is natural that a blog will prevalently deal with actual matters (the last madness of mad nuns,; or the last parody of Catholicism from evil bishops; or the like), in the end a blog should be there – I think – for the improvement of a Catholic’s instruction, so often a problem in these troubled times. Whenever there is no new post of mine to waste your time, you may want to waste some minutes – if you really insist in wasting time on my blog – on the “Catholic Vademecum” instead. It is my opinion that only a robustly equipped Catholic can withstand the tsunami of sugary common place now going around (you know what I mean: the “niceness” and “tolerance” and “inclusiveness” stuff). If I can give a contribution, it would be an honour to know I allowed you to show some charitable, but well-sharpened teeth to the enemies of Christ.
3. I feel that the “Online Breviary” is more than a bit neglected. As I see it, this is not meant exclusively for those who intend to pray the entire Breviary every day. In my eyes, this should be a useful resource for those who have some spare minutes to only dip in a beautiful patrimony of prayer for a short time: when you are waiting for the water for the pasta to boil, or if you can access this blog underway – say, from a tablet or smart phone – during a short wait for the train or the bus. A little, made many times, becomes a lot.
4. The “saint of the day” might perhaps also deserve a bit more attention. The site to which I link keeps everything slender and practical for the “busy man”. Again, summer and the unavoidable quiet day might be good occasions to read some interesting and instructive lines.
5. I am rather satisfied with the clicks to the “Daily offering to the Immaculate Heart Of Mary” and am glad to be of assistance to those who decide to regularly spend one minute in the company of the Blessed Virgin through my link. I think the exceptionally good “spot” within the blog page helps a lot.
6. Dulcis in fundo, the Rosary link. The link to the Rosary is by far the most important link of this blog, and again it is my opinion if this blog achieves the only results of educating some readers to the habit of the recitation of the rosary (daily, I hope: the habit can be taken without too much difficulty, and the “Catholic Vademecum” has several posts on the matter) then all the work has not been in vain. Apart from the Mass, I struggle to identify a single habit more conducive to our salvation than the recitation of the rosary, which is why the spot numero uno of this blog is dedicated to a very convenient, pretty well made online version of it.
I see my affectionate readers as soldier friends, sitting together with me in the trenches of these difficult times and hoping to get at the end of our active service without excessive damage to our fighting spirit and hopefully in a way conducive to the health of our immortal souls. I believe most of my readers are satisfied with my blog – the statistics being rather flattering notwithstanding the very immediate, direct and rather brutal style of this blog, which is certainly apt to discourage the delicate souls and PC plastic flowers – and value the contribution to their Catholic life a click on my page can give them. Therefore, it can’t be wrong to suggest to them how they can make the best of it.
I do not know you, but every now and then I am forced to examine the possibility that I may die and discover I did not pass the only exam that is important in our life, and did not achieve the only thing which, once achieved, makes everything else perfectly insignificant.
Confronted with the terrifying thought of a sufferance without end, of a failure that is not only utterly complete, but definitive in the most tragic of ways, I used to think – whilst trying to chase such terrifying thoughts out of my mind – that at least I would have some consolation from the thought of those among the people I loved who are destined, one day, to enjoy eternal happiness.
On second thought – and to make the thing eve more terrifying – I think such thoughts are simply wrong.
If I understand hell correctly, hell is a place where there is no love. If there is no love, there can be no place for feelings like the one of affection for those I have loved on earth. As a consequence, if I were to land in hell – God forbid! – I would end up, basically, hating my “hell companions”, hating those I have once hated, hating those I have once loved, hating simply everyone: those who are in hell because they are hateful people who went to hell, those who aren’t in hell because they aren’t.
A place without consolation, without human warmth or any form of affection, without any hope anything may ever change. Hated forever, hating forever, and no love in sight.
I am not informed whether some theologian has tried to inform us that in hell there must be solidarity among damned, perhaps a bridge club, certainly football teams and forms of camaraderie and friendships. But if I were so informed, I would wonder whether this is really hell they are talking about. If it be hell, there must be no love or friendship. If there is no love, there can be no consolation whatever for one’s affliction. It must be either hate or utter indifference for everyone else, for ever.
If you ask me, if such thoughts assault you, the best reassurance is to be found in those habits of which the Church says they are the best guarantee to avoid what I have described above. Besides the obvious suggestion of avoiding mortal sin – a strategy which has the disadvantage that I suspect most people who end up in hell thought their sins weren’t really bad, merely fashionable, and mortal sin something concerning others for one of the thousands reasons people fabricate in these cases – I think there is, in particular, one weapon the Divine Grace has given to everyone of us, and which everyone of us can use every day to march toward salvation one step at a time, resist scrupulosity and irrational fear, and go through life with a reasonable assurance that in some way we will manage to snatch salvation from the jaws of the dangerous human condition: pray the rosary faithfully and devoutly.
I am talking of around 17-20 minutes a day (after a bit of practice ); a time you will be able to conveniently divide in single mysteries; a time which, once the habit has been acquired, will become a pleasant moment of your day, a shield against the disappointment and sufferings of daily life, and most of all a great “eternal life assurance” bought at the price of a very small investment in time and effort.
The deal is excellent, the premium not high, the assured sum infinitely high. The deal is, in fact, so good, that one starts to understand the relaxed, optimistic, serene hope found so often in traditionally Catholic countries, in stark contrast to the gloom and rigidity of the traditionally Protestant ones. As an alternative, you can choose to see the rosary – as Padre Pio did – as a weapon, able to open you the way to heaven in the midst of the most difficult combat scenario. In this sense, the Rosary is like the Catholic’s Kalashnikov: simple, easy to use, cheap in purchase and maintenance, built with high tolerances and therefore not prone to jamming, so simple it can be used from a child, and devastating in his effect.
Don’t delay. Start today.
No, I mean today.
As today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I thought it might be useful to the one or other reader to have a collection of the blog post I have written on the matter.
Pray the Rosary!
Strange feelings on seeing the film “Colombiana”, now on cinemas in the United Kingdom.
You see a lot of Catholic symbols; crosses, rosaries, even a mantilla. There is even a catholic Mass, but I stupidly forgot whether the celebrating priest was ad orientem (the fact is, it is so normal to me that if it was I have probably failed to register it as unusual).
Unfortunately, these crosses and rosaries, and even mantillas are worn by what are undoubtedly the wrong people; particularly the rosary, with which a gangster ostentatiously plays at the beginning of the movie. Perhaps the ideology behind that is that “baddies wear crosses and have rosaries”, but this would be rather stupid as no one can say the baddies are the only one to wear them; perhaps the intention was to show the diffuse reliance on Christian values within the Colombian society; or perhaps it is just – and I say this only as a passing thought – that the slow recovery of Catholic customs in the Catholic world (you only need to go to the shop of the Westminster Cathedral to find a dozen of different rosaries on sale; on Ebay the choice is endless; I do think some things are changing here) is slowly being registered outside of it and the rich world of Catholic symbolism starts to catch the imagination of the world again. This would seem, by the way, reinforced from the post I wrote just a couple of days ago about the 10 hour documentary about the Church.
It can, of course, always be that the crosses and rosary have been shown to mock the Catholic faith, seen as the religion of choice of bloody, evil people. But this would not be a very clever strategy for a secularist or an atheist, as the Cross and the rosary are very powerful instruments, and the idea that they wouldn’t impress the one or other cinema goer in a sense opposite to the one intended a very naive one.
Be it as it may, I am surely not the only one noticing the heavy reference to Catholicism in the movie, and the rather strange context in which they are made. But if you put crosses and rosaries on the big screen, this can’t be bad.
Messa In Latino invites the faithful Catholics to pray for the full reconciliation between the FSSPX and Rome.
After consultation with priests collaborating with the site, the following prayer has been published:
V/.Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
R/. Reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V./ Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur;
R./ Et renovabis faciem terrae.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti, da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
My unworthy translation:
V. Come, Holy Ghost,
R. Fill the heart of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love;
V. Send your Spirit, and it will be a new creation;
R. And you will renovate the face of the earth.
Let us pray
O Lord, who with the light of the Holy Ghost instruct the faithful, grant us to taste, through the same Spirit, what is right* and to always enjoy His comfort. For Christ our Lord. Amen.
The prayer should be recited between Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday.
Those who recite the Rosary daily are asked to offer the rosary for this intention.
Priests are asked to add this to their intention during Mass.
* the site’s italian translation of recta is given with “la vera sapienza”, “the true wisdom”.
I don’t like talking about my blog, which is the reason why I never write blog posts like “this is my 300th post” and the like.
Still, I have been blogging for almost one year now and have, I think, learned one thing or two about what – at least in my case – goes and what not.
As I have written a couple of times in the recent past about Catholic blogging, I thought that I may write here a couple of suggestions that might be obvious to the already experienced blogger, but not so obvious to the person thinking of starting a Catholic blog for the first time.
If you were to ask me for advice about how to start a conservative Catholic blog, I would – based exclusively on my personal experience; your mileage may vary – suggest the following steps. Others will, no doubt, have different opinions. Still, here we are:
1) anonymity. It is pure illusion to think that future employers – or people relevant to one’s business – will not trace all your activity whether you want it or not; and this without you having any control about the matter and without you ever knowing what damage this has done to you. If you are like me you’ll seek wisdom, not martyrdom.
2) No public stat counter. To have a public stat counter means to make an emotional investment in how many page views you get, in front of all your readers. This can easily lead – human nature being what it is – to a perversion of the scope of the blog and you might end up writing what you think might bring more page views, rather than what you think is more deserving of a blog post. Do your own thing. It’s not an exercise in popularity.
3) Activate comments. People like to comment and yes, you will like to answer to them. It doesn’t take much time. Only a very tiny minority of readers comments, but many more enjoy to read the comments. Comments also help to clarify and expand the blog post material. In time, you’ll receive many useful hints about further posts, too.
4) Moderate comments before they are posted. It is astonishing how every blog is visited by people whose only apparent scope in life is to annoy others. Don’t be a Pollyanna, it’s full of rubbish-spitting trolls out there. You will have a “trash” button. Use it.
5) Variety. Blog about a mixture of news and general issues. A blog is very useful for themes of general Catholicism because, contrarily to what you may think, your blog posts do not get buried. See below about this, point 7). Use your blog to propagate Catholic devotions. Particularly the Rosary. And Fatima. Ah, and Padre Pio. Oh, and Pius XII. You get the drift……. 😉
6) Post just a few blog links. Too many links is the same as no links. Have just a limited number of links that work as a real endorsement and whose profile well complements your own blog. Escape the temptation of the “I link to you if you link to me”-mentality. It doesn’t even work, because being buried among 200 links against your burying others among your 200 links is, I think, not going to help much. I would also opine that Google is, very probably, smarter than that. Ah, and don’t be an ass: link to the right blogs even if they don’t link to you. You are trying to give a service to your readers, not to wage a link war….
7) Be patient. A blog must grow like a tree, with the slow accumulation of concentric circles of blog posts. The accumulation of good, serious content is at least as important as the issue of the day. A blog slowly builds on the foundation of a growing number of posts your readers will love to browse around. I see this on my own (hidden to you 😉 ) statistics, with a surprising percentage of page views daily devoted to old posts. This I hadn’t expected. A blog doesn’t work – as I thought initially – like a pile of magazines, with the older ones being buried under a ton of newer material; rather, it works more like an electronic archive always accessible – and continuously accessed – through individual clicking and search engines. You’ll do well to link to older posts within new ones anyway, as it shows to your new readers that there is a lot to read around.
8 ) Method. A blog can’t eat your life, because if you do you’ll soon abandon the effort after the first enthusiasms. Rather, the decision to devote so and so much time to the blog every week – something reasonable, but “visible” and half way constant – will help you to make of this a long-term project. Those who start a blog for the stat counter – and those who think that the world has been waiting for what they have to say – will be disappointed and will soon stop blogging.
9) Honesty. Make every blog post something uniquely yours. If you link to external material, write your own thoughts about it. If you take the habit of merely posting external documents that hey can easily google you don’t give anything unique to the reader. Readers don’t visit your blog for the text of, say, “Universae Ecclesiae”, but for your take on it. The first can be had everywhere, the second from you only.
10) Images. Post images whenever you have time. Make the image relevant and striking; or use it to bring some irony, or a joke, or even to administer some cod liver oil when appropriate. Pay attention that you do not infringe about other people’s copyrights. Still, don’t be a slave to the pleasant layout: if there’s no time, it’s better to post good content with a simple layout than no content at all.
11) Tags. Post all tags you think relevant to the post. Don’t neglect this part because tags are an important part of your ability to be reached through internet searches. Whenever I saw a sudden decrease of pageviews the reason was, without a single exception, my forgetting to write the tags.
12) Technology. Make your readers as comfortable as your technical savvy allows. Post on twitter and facebook, allow internal post search, etc. Similarly, use the technology available to you. The “timer” function – allowing you to write when you have time, and to publish when you think it’s right – is a very useful tool.
13) Bite. Make your blog unique, not just another “let us get along” product. Give it assertiveness, substance, chuzpah. Write an opinion, not merely a fact. Tell clearly what you want to say. Don’t be afraid of being harsh with people who deserve to be treated harshly. You are blogging, not having afternoon tea, so stop being so English 😉 and take inspiration from the chap in the photo above 😉
13b) Bite part II, or political incorrectness. Don’t be afraid of exercising your rights. Tell it as it is. For example, don’t say “gay” unless you mean “happy”. Use “homosexual” or “sodomite” instead. You may want to sprinkle with “faggot” and “poof” whenever a harsher reproach sounds appropriate, but that’s up to you. Don’t be pussyfooting around. You have an agenda that must be said loud and clear, not whispered. Show your readers that you eat meat, not tofu. Ridicule the enemy, as this has always been an extremely effective weapon. Una risata li seppellira’ (“a laugh will bury them”).
14) Blog profile. Do your own thing. Don’t ask your readers how they’d like your blog to be, and don’t try to fathom how they would best like it. This is nonsensical; tot capita, tot sententiae. Write your blog as you like it, and other people will like it too. There’s no blog which, when properly cared for and written from the heart, doesn’t attract the readership congenial to it. Even sedevacantist sites, when properly made, attract readers! It is better to have a product with a real, individualised character, that one which tries to be all things to all people. The first gives a very good service to a limited few, but the second no added value to anyone.
15) Keep your ego outside as much as practicable. Blog anonymously and if you can (no spouse around, say) don’t tell anyone you’re blogging. Train yourself to think that you write to fight the good fight, not for human recognition. Your service is twofold: a) to God, who sees you even if no one else knows, and b) to your readers, to whom you give a service if you give a unique and instructive product instead of a copycat, or a collection of common places. This is also useful for point 1) above.
16) Accuracy. Write your blog posts in correct, proper English. If you don’t know the difference between “their”, “there” and “they’re”, “its” and “it’s”, “Popes” and “Pope’s” and the like, do not expect to be taken seriously. If you are, like me, a foreigner, do make an extra effort. “He who [writes] badly, thinks badly” (Nanni Moretti).
17) Seek remuneration. The thing with the free meal, and all that. You put a lot of work in your blog and give your readers a service which some of them will find valuable. Don’t be a wimp, and ask for your readers’ prayers (I suggest the “about the author” page for that; we don’t want to be a nuisance; or perhaps we should be a nuisance?). With the years, think of how many they might become. One day, this will be a very useful currency, and certainly worth every minute of your time, and the best compensation for your effort you may desire. Most people are honest folks: when they see added value, they are glad to give back for it; and don’t think you don’t need prayers because, if you are any similar to me, you most certainly do.
Those who have read me for some times know that whilst my attitude toward salvation is probably – in line with my Mediterranean upbringing – more relaxed than the apocalyptic concept of some, particularly Northern European, hard-liners, I still do not indulge in complacency as far as salvation is concerned.
I obviously do not subscribe to any of the childish heresies of Medjugorje (not recognised by the Church as worthy of belief), but I am not a fan of the devotion of the Divine Mercy (recognised as worthy of belief) either. I love to think that the faciloneria of so much post V-II thinking (= the departed was such a fun chap, therefore God certainly called him to Himself to enjoy the jokes and it is well-known that in Hell Stalin, Hitler and Pol-Pot need Satan if they want to play a hand of poker) has not polluted me.
Still, in order to avoid you thinking me too harsh or tinged with unforgiving puritanism I’d like to spend some words about something that might be of interest for some reader: what I personally see the proper understanding of the Rosary in the economy of salvation in the light of the Marian promises. In doing so, I will remain (as far as I know) within the path of the strictest traditional (that is: pre-VII) understanding of them.
It is well-known that the Blessed Virgin appeared to St Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche giving (or confirming) the famous fifteen promises to those who faithfully and devoutly pray the rosary. It is not my intent to examine in detail the circumstances of such revelations, as the fact that they have been traditionally considered perfectly in line with Catholic teaching is sufficient to me. What is important to note here is that the Blessed Virgin clearly wanted to point out to the great advantages that faithful, devout, daily (as we know beyond doubt from the Fatima apparition) recitation of the Rosary carry with them.
I will here examine only those among the promises which I consider most strictly linked to the only real aim we have in life: salvation. I invite the reader to – if they feel so inclined – give their alternative interpretation and explain why they would give a more restrictive (or more lenient) interpretation than the one I give.
a) Promise #5:
The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
This is very strong, and the presence of such a limited number of words in the phrase doesn’t leave much space for alternative interpretations: if you recommend yourself to the Blessed Virgin by your daily effort, you are going to make it. This clearly requires that the rosary is prayed well. This also requires a contrition and consciousness of one’s own sinfulness implicit in the perceived necessity of recommending one’s soul to the Blessed Virgin. Therefore, the promise doesn’t apply to people like:
1) those who pray a distracted, shallow, rushed Rosary, whose main aim is to “get done with it”.
2) those who are not faithful in their recitation (“oh well, I pray the rosary in principle every day, but in the last months I had (fill here excuse) to do and therefore it was perhaps three times a month” would, methinks, not qualify).
3) those who do not see that they are in need of any recommendation because they are so “inclusive”, “modern” and otherwise “tolerant” and “non violent”.
Still, promise #5 is a very powerful promise and I am very glad that it was given, and in such powerful terms.
b) Promise #6:
Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.
This I interpret in the sense that those who pray the Rosary well (you will notice the insistence on this point) will: 1) not be driven to despair and in the end to the ultimate blasphemy, suicide, by the difficulties and crosses of life, 2) nor will they, as the saying once went, be surprised by death by being caught by the Reaper in the state of mortal sin.
This obviously doesn’t mean that the one who prays the rosary will not sin mortally – as the “if” of the last sentence makes abundantly clear – . This merely means that the sincere intention to obtain a happy death will, in this case, be helped by the Blessed Virgin with such a powerful intercession, that she will obtain for the faithful who perseveres in devoutly praying the Rosary the grace of a happy death.
c) promise #7:
Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
This echoes what has been said before. “Sacraments” here doesn’t mean “Last Rites”, and therefore the meaning is not that, a contrario, if one is knocked by a bus and dies instantly he hasn’t been praying the rosary faithfully. Confession and communion are, I think, rather meant here.
d) Promise #8:
Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary […….] at the moment of death […] shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.
Note once again: 1) the Rosary must be recited faithfully, and 2) the promise only applies to the moment of death.
e) Promise #15:
Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
This is a bit complicated.
“Predestination” means, for a Catholic, that whilst every human being is perfectly free to make his own choices, God already knows what choices each and everyone of us will make. This, mind, does not limit our freedom more than the freedom of the football players is limited just because I happen to know, after the fact, how their match ended.
Therefore, God already knows whether each one of us is going to achieve salvation or not; but this doesn’t make us any less free in every decision we make. This promise is therefore there to give the faithful great comfort in the fact that his devotion makes it pretty likely (but not certain!) that he will, in fact, persevere in his faith, obtain a happy death and be among those whose salvation had been foreseen by God from all eternity.
These are the promises. Let us now try to put them into a practical, everyday context.
1) A person prays the rosary without devotion, just as a habit.
The promise of Mary doesn’t apply to him, because the point of praying devotedly, faithfully etc. is stressed on several occasions. Let’s not try to cheat here, as we’ll not get away with it.
2) A person prays the rosary every day, but is manifestly evil or a great sinner.
This is not in contradiction with the promises as they do not refer to saintliness in life, but to salvation at the end of it. Whilst the Rosary will be a great help (if recited properly) to one’s spiritual improvement, the recitation of the rosary is no automatic means to saintly behaviour in life.
Such a person will, therefore: a) stop praying the rosary, or b) stop praying it devoutly, thus losing the protection afforded by the heavenly promises, or c) insist in his devout recitation and in the end – and I am sorry here for you, puritan supporter of the fire and brimstone faction 😉 – still manage to get a happy death by the special intercession of Mary.
Notice here that the Blessed virgin doesn’t even promise that those who devoutly pray the rosary will refrain from evil doings. The rosary works slowly, imperceptibly as Pius XII says in his encyclical letter on the matter. It doesn’t create an immediate either/or situation; on the contrary, the either/or only applies at death.
Please also notice that this doesn’t mean that a person can plan on praying the rosary, so to speak, as one pays an insurance premium and think that he can, after paying his dues, willfully go on living an evil life with the certainty of final salvation. It is obvious that such an evil intention is not compatible with the devout and faithful recitation of the rosary.
3) A person prays the rosary every day as devoutly as he can, but he is assailed by recurring doubts as the whether he will be saved, and the fact that God already knows whether he will be saved or not is, to him, not in the least reassuring.
This person can greatly benefit by the recitation of the rosary because he will know that he can have a tangible sign of his working toward his salvation one day at a time. In other words, he knows a) that as long as he perseveres there is no cause for scruples, and b) that he only has to persevere to avoid the scruples assailing him. If you suffer from scrupulosity, I doubt that there is a better cure around than your daily medicine, the Rosary.
In my eyes, this is pretty much the interpretation of the effect of praying the rosary that would have been given to a quisque de populo in – as the Italians love to say – tempi non sospetti. It seems to me that it adheres strictly to the tenor of the promises without indulging in dangerous complacency, but without losing sight of the wonderful weapon that has been put in our hands.
I can’t stress enough (and will regularly insist on this point as long as I blog) how important the Rosary is in the life of the Catholic. So much so, that it seems to me that the faithful who willingly decides not to take the habit of the daily recitation of the rosary is like the stuntman offered helmet and body protection and refusing them on the ground that he believes himself to be professional enough to escape harm.
It is very well-known that Pope Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus, was a great supporter of the Fatima apparitions; so much so, that one of the names with which he is remembered is the Pope of Fatima.
An important issue of the Fatima apparitions is the great importance put by Our Blessed Virgin on the daily recitation of the Rosary. It is therefore no surprise that this great Pope would at some point address the importance of the rosary in an encyclical letter.
It is particularly indicative that this happened in 1951, in the middle of the Cold War. The Holy Father chose the day of the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, the 15th September, to address the entire Catholic world with Ingruentium Malorum.
Let us see some of the – in my eyes – most relevant and instructive passages of this work.
We well know the Rosary’s powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of the Virgin. By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, We consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature.
The most convenient and the most fruitful means. This is an important reminder both of the power of the Rosary (that Padre Pio didn’t hesitate in calling “weapon”) and his “convenience”. What this holy Pope means by this is explained a bit later, when he says that through the Rosary
[….all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve their own faith.]
The Rosary is so beautifully simple, that everyone can profit from it, no matter how simple or uneducated. This simplicity is one of his greatest beauties, because it makes it so accessible.
The simple structure of the Rosary is also extolled by the Pastor Angelicus from a different angle, namely that:
The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.
This is not a new form of prayer (think of the endless affirmations and repetition of sacred words used in the Eastern religions), but it is a point that is still not less valid and also followed by the most elementary common sense and by the wisdom of the ages: repetita iuvant.
How does it work, concretely? The Holy Father writes beautifully about this that:
from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed.
Little by little, imperceptibly. One doesn’t have to expect miracles from the Rosary (or from any other form of prayer or devotion, by the way). Praying the Rosary is the work of a lifetime, not a specific event with a before and an after. It is like the habit of living a healthy life, not the injection which cures the disease. I would say that the The recitation of the Rosary is, in a sense, as much a way of living than it is a way of praying.
So much so, that Pope Pius XII stresses the importance of the recitation of the Rosary in the daily life of the family; he does so with extremely beautiful words:
What a sweet sight – most pleasing to God – when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the august Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in common, assembles before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.
In this fashion, the Rosary will help both the adults and the children:
This meditation on the Divine Mysteries of the Redemption will teach the adults to live, admiring daily the shining examples of Jesus and Mary, and to draw from these examples comfort in adversity, striving towards those heavenly treasures “where neither thief draws near, nor moth destroys” (Luke 12, 33). This meditation will bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while, seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.
Please note here a point rarely stressed this day, but extremely important in any age: as a child naturally sees in his parents the source of authority, seeing their parents kneeling before the majesty of God will readily impress itself in the child’s receptive mind.
Pope Pius XII spoke to Catholicism during the cold war, with the Communist monster reigning over half of Europe, and threatening the other half. This is what Pope Pius had to say about the way to destroy the evil menace:
We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times. Not with force, not with arms, not with human power, but with Divine help obtained through the means of this prayer, strong like David with his sling, the Church undaunted shall be able to confront the infernal enemy, repeating to him the words of the young shepherd: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of armies . . . and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear, for this is his battle, and he will deliver you into our hands” (I Kings 17, 45-47)
“Not with force, not with arms, not with human power” was Communism defeated, but with the determination of staunchly Christian people (Ronald Reagan very probably the most important single person); the prayer of millions of Christians and, of course, countless shoots from that most powerful weapon, the Rosary.
This great Pope had the misfortune to become Pope in the most grievous of times, and to have to absolve his role in possibly the most dangerous situation a Pope personally – and Catholicism collectively – were ever called to confront.
It will be a comfort to you to know that the Rosary was always in his mind and in his prayers.
This blog here appears exclusively dedicated to the Rosary in Latin. His wisely anonymous (and therefore, perhaps a “her”) creator did an excellent work in caring for those who have not been exposed to Latin, at all.
The main page has all the prayers in Latin. If you have doubt as to the correct pronunciation, there are several links leading to pronounciation help. There is even an audio version to put what you have learned in practice.
I do understand that for those who have not been exposed to Latin in younger years the switch might come as a shock or that it might be seen as an inuperable obstacle, but this is simply not the case. For generations, innumerable illiterate peasants have recited a number of prayers in Latin and whilst I doubt that their diction was perfect, I am rather persuaded that many of them were better at praying in Latin than many contemporary Brits are at writing in English.
In the case of the rosary, the daily repetition of the prayers will soon allow everyone to feel reasonably comfortable. This is much easier than being confronted with a Latin Mass.
Perhaps the one or the other will take this occasion to give it a try. Perhaps the one or other will take this as motivation to learn and practice the Rosary in his original language first.
I cannot stress enough how important the Rosary is in the economy of salvation. Those who are interested may read more here , here, here, here, here and in the mother of all my blog posts about the Rosary, here
I have often written about the Rosary and I will continue to do in the future, as I think that the Rosary is the most beautiful weapon (after the Mass) in the armoury of the Catholic and the motorway to salvation even for the, well, more difficult cases.
EWTN has on its website a short-ish but well-made explanation of this devotion with both a short historical excursus and some briefly but convincingly outlined arguments of why we should pray the Rosary.
I’d add to them that the devotion to the Rosary for one’s entire life has been described by the Virgin Mary as a sign of predestination. In short, this means that developing the habit of devoutly reciting the Rosary will have as effect that Mary’s intercession and the work of the Holy Ghost will allow us to die in the state of grace.
I can’t stress enough how important this is in the life and in the economy of salvation of every faithful. The daily recitation of the Rosary – and the many promises attached to it, most importantly the one outlined above – will help the faithful to get some serenity if they tend to have scruples, to look with confidence at moral improvement and at a good death if they are alarmingly sinful – and perhaps tending to desperation – and to give a quiet confidence and a beautiful, serene hope to all the others.
In very simple words, the practice of the devout recitation of the Rosary is the way a Catholic makes his salvation – to express oneself very bluntly – in some way “irrefutable”. If he perseveres in this devotional habit, Mary’s intercession and the Holy Ghost’s work in him will invariably lead him to a point where he improves his ways at least to the extent that the mercy of God does not deny him salvation. It doesn’t mean that one will become a saintly man, nor that this process will be a gradual or a visible one, nor that a long and painful sojourn in Purgatory will in this way be automatically avoided. Similarly, it is not like going to the gym every day, with the results being soon visible in direct proportion to the regularity and earnestness of the effort. Rather, it is like working every day to the building of an invisible shield with the promise that – if we persevere in this work like honest craftsmen – the shield is guaranteed to be, at the moment of death, strong enough to avoid Satan wounding one’s soul to the point of damnation.
It is, in a sense, a minimum guarantee concerning what is, in everyone’s life, the matter of most importance.
For this reason not only the importance of the habit of praying the rosary can never be sufficiently stressed, but at the same time the benefit of transmitting this knowledge within one’s own circle of relatives or acquaintances appears evident. For example, parents could make an effort to instil in their young children the habit of praying the Rosary every day at the same time as they decide to acquire this habit for themselves; even if there is no guarantee that these children, once grown, will keep the habit it is highly probable that one day – when life’s troubles knock at their door, as they invariably do – they’ll remember the experience and perhaps recover a great patrimony for themselves.
The Rosary is truly, truly important. So important that, in my eyes, it should be looked at with the same sense of importance with which mass attendance is observed, but with the notable difference that a daily rosary recitation is easier to achieve than mass attendance and the failure to attend to this devotion is therefore, so to speak, less easily excusable. I mean by this that one can pray the Rosary even on many of those occasion when he is not in a position to attend Mass: say, when ill or travelling.
If one is honest with oneself, he’ll notice that he does have the time to pray during the day, or before going to bed. As always, it is a matter of priorities and if one discovers that he can’t find 20 minutes for prayer in 16-18 hours of waking time, well this is a clear sign that his priorities are in dire need of re-adjustment! Conversely, if one decides that the daily recitation of the rosary does have priority he’ll soon discover that the opportunities to recite it are in a normal day – and if necessary by splitting the rosary in a decade or more at the time, as one is allowed to do – aplenty.
Forgive me, therefore, for coming back to the same argument again and again. If there is an issue worth of being repeated, it is this one. I also allow myself to stress the benefit of daily recitation of the rosary because – at least for me – this is the only way to make it work. It is in my eyes very difficult to take the decision to pray the Rosary, say, “three times a week” and stick to it, as irregularity of practice facilitates forgetfulness and mañana-attitude. Much easier is it, I think, to make of the rosary a daily habit. No forgetfulness, and no mañanas…..
Devout Mass attendance and devout Rosary recitation are God’s and Mary’s double whammy against Satan’s snares. You do these two and the rest will come to you by itself in the same way as if you leave your front door open in winter cold will unavoidably get in. By devoutly attending Mass and reciting the Rosary, you open the door to Heaven moulding you in such a way that Satan won’t win, guaranteed.
There’s no better deal in your life, no investment with a higher yield, no pleasure or joy that can compare with this.
Start taking the habit of praying the rosary every day. One day you’ll be so glad you did it.
I am not a mother (neither a woman, come to that), so I can’t really tell.
Still, I can imagine. I can imagine that I am a mother in the bliss of newly found maternity, a joy without equals.
But then I imagine that when the child is just a few days old, I am informed by a very reliable person that this child is going to undergo great suffering and a painful death. How would it feel? A short time later, I must leave my home in the middle of the night, precipitously fleeing those who want to murder the child. Some years of relative tranquillity go by (during which, though, I have never forgotten the fateful words of Simeon) and one day, I discover that through a misunderstanding my twelve years old child is missing, somewhere in a great city far away from me. Then I return to where I last have seen him, every hour a nightmare and slow death; looking for him without success, for days.
Further years go by, until the now ancient words of the old man in the temple take meaning and form. My own and only child is – after being whipped almost to unconsciousness – made to carry the instrument of his own torture and stumble under his weight. Enough? No, not enough. I see my child savagely nailed to the cross, undergoing a slow and painful death in front of my very eyes. I see him dying, then have to endure the excruciating pain of having the cold dead body of my own child in my arms and to suffer his deposition on a tomb.
I am not a mother and I can’t really know how it would feel. But I can certainly try, and it takes my breath away. Most mothers would prefer to die and call themselves happy, rather than to have to endure all this.
At the same time I think of the challenges and problems of my life, problems I sometime tend to, well, rather make worse than they really are and when I compare my problems with those of Mary, I am helped to understand that perhaps my sufferings are not so unbearable after all, and that She who has suffered so much sees my problems and sorrows – even if infinitely less burdensome than hers – with great love and compassion anyway.
At the same time, I know that She is, in virtue of Her Son and in virtue of Her Sorrows, my (and our) Mother too. A mother to whom I can always open my heart in love and confidence, certain of being heard and loved; and a mother whose sorrows naturally sadden me. It is therefore fitting, every now and then, to dedicate ourselves to another Catholic devotion of the past unlikely to ever be mentioned by the friendly, smiling, joke-cracking and oh so nice progressive priest near you.
The Seven Sorrow of Mary is a traditional Catholic devotion by which the faithful briefly meditate (whilst praying or with a short introductory reflection, as in the Rosary) on those fateful seven moments in Mary’s life.
As already explained on a different occasion, the aim (and a main tenet of Catholicism at the same time ) is to unite ourselves to Mary’s and Jesus’ sufferance and at the same time to draw strenght and inspiration to bear the trials that we ourselves have to endure.
It isn’t really realistic to think that grave tests will be taken away from us. We are never going to be given tests we can’t endure, but most of us are going to be tested in some way or other, so don’t bet your pint. The best think to do is to try to grow our spiritual life by lovingly uniting ourselves to Mary’s and Jesus’ sufferance in order to be spared them if this is God’s will, and to be able to endure them and make them bear fruits if, alas, things have been appointed otherwise.
If you follow this link you’ll find a beautiful rendition of the first sorrow this devotion, with prayers and big images to help you stay focused. From there, you’ll be able to click your way to the following ones.
When you have followed the devotions to the end, please stop a moment and bask in the knowledge that once again, in the privacy of your home, a little part of the extremely rich and at times almost forgotten world of Catholic devotions has come back.
I have written already about the beautiful site of “The Age of Mary”. Among (many) other things, the site is notable for the best narration of the Fatima events I have been able to find on the Internet up to now. I would like to spend some words about this astonishing series of historical documented facts.
Let us first say very clearly that, no matter how impressive the miracles and apparitions, as a Catholic you are not obliged to believe anything of the entire story. As in every private apparition, no belief is required of the faithful; not even in the cases publicly endorsed by the Church as worthy of belief. I would be the last one to accuse a Catholic of being a lesser one because he doesn’t believe in the Fatima apparitions.
But please allow me to say why I am one of those who do. Some of the arguments can, no doubt, be applied to other apparitions (think of Lourdes).
1) The apparitions involved children. It is apparent how a child tends to change and inflate whatever exciting event has happened to him; nay, whatever event he is requested to repeat time and again. Nothing of the sort has happened here. Infinite times the children have been requested to tell the story; infinite times they have repeated it in exactly the same way. Hundreds of sceptical and atheist enquirers eager to expose the “plot” have never succeeded in finding contradictions, exaggerations, changes of descriptions, discrepancies of whatever sort. This is not normal, and doesn’t happen just because one child (or three) happens to be uncommonly fond of precision.
2) The apparitions involved children who were, without exception, illiterate. They couldn’t have written down a story, or an agreed version, to give coherence to their claims.
3) The apparitions established a clear hierarchy – at least in the eyes of the people – among the children. Only one girl, Lucia, speaks to Mary; the older of the two siblings, Francisco, doesn’t hear her, nor does he ever pretend to do so; but his younger sister, Jacinta, hears Mary’s every word. Come on, this is a recipe for strife, we are talking here of children between seven and ten! Nothing of the sort ever happened. No rivalries, no jealousies, no attempts to make oneself important as their notoriety grows, no fights for leadership, no races to get attention. This is not normal by any adult standard, let alone by a childish one.
4) The apparitions trigger a change in the children’s behaviour. A real, observable and lasting one. They start praying for long periods at a time, when before they used to cheat on their daily rosary obligations; they start to offer all their suffering to God with a zeal and simplicity you would find in a living saint, and only after a long and conscious effort; they start practicing such harsh penances that their relatives are worried. One child can, perhaps, fall in love for a short time with his own pious dispositions; another may indulge, every now and then, in an excess of zeal; but this was three children, out of three claiming to have seen Mary, completely changing their tune and starting to behave in what can only be called an extraordinary way. Try this with your nephews and see how it goes.
5) The plain simplicity of the entire story. A poor village in the middle of Portugal. Simple, illiterate children from simple and rather poor (though not destitute) families. Monotonous conversations of Lucia with Mary; just as monotonous responses of Mary to the children. There is no glitz here, no splendour, no poetry. A planned tale would have been intriguing, the events fascinating, the words spectacularly catching, unforgettable. Nothing of the sort happens here. Plain questions, plain answers, no concessions to the theatrical.
6) Orthodoxy. Several times both the angel and Mary speak to the children; they transmit a quantity of information. None of it is less than absolutely orthodox. Try to invent that as a group of three seven-to-ten-years-old children, and good luck to you. This of the orthodoxy is, to me, actually the first criterium of every claim of apparition. This is why I, like many others, despise the Medjugorje affair so much.
7) Public character. One of the unique features of the Fatima apparition is the utter public character of the entire matter. Never before had Marian apparitions been announced, and punctually delivered, in front of a plurality of people. Granted, not everyone could perceive the various phenomena; but enough of them could as to make the event a truly public display of miraculous activity. We do not know why not all were able to enjoy the extraordinary phenomena more than we know why Francisco was not allowed to hear, or Jacinta to speak. But this is what happened all along, with various people affected in various way, and a multitude of them affected forever.
8 ) Memory. Some of the apparitions contained longish conversations; all of them went above what a child can usually remember. Prayers are repeated to them a couple of times and their content is etched in their memory forever. Never they say that they can’t remember what was said, never they have hesitations. Still, at times they forget the implications (for example, they don’t reflect that Lucia won’t be killed, because Mary forecast a long life to her; but that Mary says so, they never forget), showing to be in normal “child mode” most of the times, in another stunning contrast to their behaviour related to the apparitions. These children are stunningly normal in their being children, and extraordinary in whatever pertains to the apparition.
Fatima is, truly, unique even among the Marian apparitions considered worthy of faith. It richly deserves the central place it has rapidly gained in the heart of Catholics. Not even 100 years after the events, you’ll rarely hear a Rosary recited without the “Fatima prayer”.
I invite you to read the entire story from the beautifully made Internet site (intelligently divided for you in easy-to-digest tidbits) and become aware of the unique nature of the extraordinary events in Fatima. Your belief in Fatima, once acquired, will make it so much easier for you to start what the Blessed Virgin so often recommended to the children: daily recitation of the Rosary.
I stumbled upon another Rosary site. Well, not only a Rosary site, really. This is a kind of one-stop-shop for many of the needs of the modern Cyber-Catholic. Modestly, there is no emphasis about who are the authors of this site but by clicking around it would appear that it is the brainchild of an association called Auxilium Christianorum. Massive kudos to them.
The site is divided in sections.
There is a Rosary section which very focused on the actual way of praying the rosary. Half a dozen of different traditions and methods of Rosary praying are described in detail. The influence of Simon of Montfort is particularly evident. The entire Rosary section is entirely built upon the pre-Conciliar Rosary structure. The “luminous” mysteries are completely ignored and whilst not less than eleven Papal encyclicals are reported, JP II’s Rosarium Virginis Mariae is spectacularly absent. I begin to think that there may be a message behind that, but I’m not sure which 😉 .
Basically, the entire section is vastly Vatican II-free, and so much better for it. Still, who has written this is well endowed with common sense, and very modern in approach. The “helpful suggestions” include to pray simplified versions of the rosary if one hasn’t time or is too lazy for the full five decades with all the trimming; to not neglect, in case, also to pray the rosary whilst driving (very easy, this, and can be done vocally; in the end a lot of people talk by driving all the time); or, as regards the new-ish and not uncontroversial fashion of wearing a rosary, to not have a problem in wearing is, but by taking it out to use it, in a bold public display of Catholicism. Also please note that these people are traditionalists, but not sedevacantists. The beautiful audio version in Latin (one of the many versions of the Rosary of this excellent site) is recited by none other than… Pope John Paul II! Still no “luminous” mysteries, though…. .
A second section of the site is dedicated to the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin”, a simplified version of the Divine Office for the use of the laity. This version seems to be further simplifies inasmuch as the first two hours (matins and lauds) are supposed to change daily, which here seems to have been substituted for a standard version. Still, the material is considerable, well presented and available in both English and Latin. This is an excellent resource for all those who want to try to see whether the little office is a devotion for them, and the latin text is a welcome addition.
The third section is very modestly (and inappropriately, I would add) called Catholic Calendar, but it is so much more than that. It is a complete Catholic Almanac with a wealth of resources: saint of the day, daily reading of the Mass; daily reading from the rule of St. Benedict; Martirology; daily reading from the Imitation of Christ; daily reading from the “secret of Mary” (link to full version available); a beautiful “saint picture of the day” with reflections (today, 1st November, it seems to be from Gustave Dore’s “Paradise” after Dante, it is very beautiful), and a lesson of the Catechism of.. Trent (today, All Saints, unavailable and with other reflections instead). This is a source of massive Catholic wisdom and prayer, changing every day and made conveniently available within the same site.
The following section is the “Total Consecration to Mary” after the fashion of Simon of Montfort. The devotion and procedure for the consecration are explained in detail.
The last section is, like a jewel on the crown, the most complete and best presented description of the Fatima apparitions (and more: see Immaculate Heart of Mary part) I have ever read. The material is vast, but still very easy to read. Like all the others, this section too is extremely orthodox and you won’t find any trace of modern imbecility a’ la Vincent Nichols here. Statements like “War, disease, and natural disasters are punishments for sin” are prominently and unapologetically displayed. This site deals with Truth, not with popularity.
Summa summarum, this site deserves to become one of your standard Catholic links from today. Everything here is accurate, from the theology to the attention to practical matters to the very accurate (and I would say: professional) layout and presentation. It is joy to use and explore.
I look forward to many happy (and some less happy, but prayerful) hours in the company of this beautiful site.
A prayer for those who have created such beauty is more than in order.
I have already posted about the Rosary and you will find an explanation of what it is – and how beneficial its recitation – under the “Catholic Vademecum” button at the top of this page. In this Month of the Holy Rosary, I have found what I think is a useful integration.
This here is, though, a useful integration because it is a video following you step by step and allowing you to enter into the “rhythm” of the Rosary. Various options are at your disposal, from the background you find mor einspiring to two different sets of video to the possibility of joining an already ongoing rosary recitation or starting from the beginning of the five decades you have picked up for the day.
At any time, a virtual rosary (the object) on the right will tell you at a glance where you are in the process.
This product is really interesting in that it gives to beginners, who might be intimidated and not willing to enter a church to see how it’s done, a comfortable way to follow “how it works”.
On a window below you’ll see how many people are praying together with you. This is another important component of the rosary, a devotion that can also be prayed alone but is best prayed with other faithful.
I personally found the video somewhat distracting and to better focus on the relevant mistery had to close my eyes often, but everyone collects his thoughts in a different way. I also stop to meditate shortly on the mistery before starting the Our Father in order to help myself to stay focused, but accomplished rosary prayers will not have this need.
One day I’ll try to see whether there is something like that in Latin, possibly with all the trimmings like the rosary depiction. For the moment, I dare to hope that this extremely well made product will encourage the one or the other to stop hesitating and to finally start with the recitation of the Rosary.
On the 7th October of 1571, one of the greatest naval battles of all times took place in Lepanto, off western Greece, between the Holy League of several European countries and potentates (mainly: Spain and Venice) and the then extremely feared Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans had not lost a naval battle for centuries and their expansion in Mediterranean waters had become so dangerous that an attack on Rome was not out of the question anymore.
The battle proved such a stunning victory that the Ottomans never regained their former supremacy on the Mediterranean. Interestingly, this was due not to the difficulty or cost of replacing the material (the Ottoman suffered an almost annihilation of their fleet but with a huge effort had their fleet completely rebuilt in around a year), but in the impossibility of recreating an entire generation of skilled soldier and archers, whose training was extremely long and expensive and whose ranks suffered extremely heavy losses during the battle.
The Ottomans lost not only 210 of their 240 vessels, but between 15,000 and 30,000 soldiers or sailors. The Holy league’s losses were limited to the loss of 7,500 soldiers and sailors (but with the liberation of around the same number in Christian prisoners enslaved as oarsmen in the Ottoman fleet) and the loss of merely 20 vessels in battle, plus further 30 that had to be scuttled.
Together with the two sieges of Vienna (I have written about the second one here), the battle of Lepanto constitutes one of the most dramatic – and perhaps the most glorious – page in the history of the brave fight of Christianity against the Ottomans. The fact that at the time of the second siege of Vienna (more than one century later) the Ottomans were still at the height of their power on land but had never managed to regain supremacy on the sea gives you an idea of the extent of the defeat and of the trauma it caused among the Ottomans.
The Holy League stood under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, with a huge Rosary procession celebrated in Rome on the day which turned out to be the same one of the battle. Andrea Doria, the commander of the Venice Fleet, had in his room a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
After the spectacular victory, the great Pope St. Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory to commemorate the event. The name of the feast was changed a couple of times and it is now Our Lady of the Rosary.
The 7th October is a great day for Christianity. All too easily we forget that even if these events now belong to a remote past, the consequences of they turning out differently would be still felt today. Who knows whether – in that case – your truly would be here today, writing a Christian blog.
The Rosary is an extremely powerful weapon. We should remember it more often in our daily life, facing the enemies of abortion, divorce, homosexuality, aggressive atheism, and heresy in general. Those who wish it may find additional information about the Rosary here.