Applying the Rosary As a Model for Perfecting the Soul
Preface: What follows is strictly a personal reflection on the Mysteries of the Rosary that has, over time, grown into this form – though abbreviated for publication. For quite some time I have been convinced that the original 3 sets of Mysteries contained in the Rosary correspond in some way to the classical 3 ages of the interior life – though the possible correlations, considerations and insights that the Rosary offers are practically limitless. These Mysteries of Our Lady and of Our Lord seem to give insight into how we might live in accord with our ‘image and likeness’ of God; both Jesus and Mary being the Perfect Models for this Spiritual Journey. “For thou lightest my lamp O Lord: O my God enlighten my darkness.” __ Ps. 17:29
Choosing Sides – Preparing for War
- The Annunciation: Every Christian life begins with a ‘yes’ to the basic propositions of Christianity. This ‘fiat’ of ours plants the Seed of Faith deep in our hearts and awaits its growth.
- The Visitation: We seek the water that will give life to this Seed of Faith and find this nourishment in the Womb of the Church (a distant cousin that we will soon adopt as our mother); for She contains the Waters of Baptism – the Water of Life. Just as John the Baptist leapt in the womb of Elizabeth so too the members of the Church will continually rejoice at the Baptism of each new soul.
- The Birth of Jesus: Now having been nourished by the Waters of Baptism and reborn into the Family of God (the Church) we begin to put flesh on our Faith and begin to take our first steps in this New Life of the Spirit. We are a New Creation, reborn of water and the Spirit.
- The Presentation: The Church strengthens us in Confirmation – our chance to present our New Life, Reborn in the Spirit, to the Church while we offer ourselves to God through Her. We beg for God’s help and for the help of Mother Church in this bold undertaking. As Mary caught a glimpse of the suffering of Her Son and of her participation in the suffering, we too, start to enkindle some inkling of the participation to which we are called and the pains of renouncing the wisdom of the world.
- The Finding in the Temple: Having found Christ our Savior in the Tabernacle of the Church, the Church in turn helps us to find Christ in the Tabernacle of our hearts – in the very center of our soul – never to be lost again. We wish to emulate our Lord and His Holy Mother and have prayed for all of the Christian Virtues. Though we have grown in virtue they have not as yet been tested and purified by the fires of trial. However, the necessary preparations for a successful Spiritual Journey have been made; a step that will lead us into battle with the world the flesh and the devil and hopefully win countless victories for the Glory of Christ’s Holy Name. We too should now be ‘about our Father’s business.’
The Battle is Entered – We are Not Alone
- The Agony: Thus prepared for battle, the Newly Formed Christian is faced with apprehension at the onslaught of his first trial. “Do I enjoin the Spiritual Battle or remain a safe distance away?” “Am I strong enough? Am I fully prepared? What if I fail? Can I endure the suffering and hardships of the upcoming battle?” But Mother Church has taught us to emulate our Savior King and though we wish to be spared from the fight we are all invited to repeat with Him: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Keep in mind that this election to enter the spiritual fight is rare; requiring Supernatural Aid to allow us to proceed past this point. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- The Scourging: Thus the Christian who seeks to be Perfect in this life has uttered a new Fiat. He has accepted the Will of God for his life though he may suffer many blows for His Lord. His scourging may come from any direction and source as he is tied helplessly to the Pillar of Truth; that for which he is willing to give all.
- The Crown of Thorns: Indignity, loss of stature, money, friends, health, or family may turn this Warrior for Christ into another ‘Man of Sorrows” – a castaway who is derided and avoided by all. But his transformation into this Man of Sorrows has begun to give him a shadowy likeness to Christ Our King. Should he endure these trials, the battle-scarred Christian will surely need new and greater strengths to enable a successful journey home.
- The Carrying of the Cross: The Faithful Servant is forced to carry his cross much as Christ did on His way to Calvary. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”__ Matt. 16:24. Likewise, even as Christ found help with His Cross in the person of Simon of Cyrene, Jesus helps us carry ours (or are we helping Christ with His?). At times this aid arrives through the visible help of family, Church, or friends.
- The Crucifixion: The final battle is upon the Pilgrim of the Spiritual Journey. This is the final test and most crucial. Where before he found aid and comfort in little things and readily found God dwelling in the Tabernacle of his heart, all known comforts seem now to fail him. He no longer is sure of his journey, his faith, his hope or his love. His hard-won virtues seem nowhere to be found. Self-Doubt is oppressive. In this abandonment and darkness the world seems to be the only one who cries out to him: “come down from the Cross.” The world offers her comfort and beckons the warrior to retreat to a comfortable and safe distance from the battle – offering a sponge soaked with her pain-killing diversions. A retreat is offered whereby the Spiritual Journeyer can leave the battle and no longer hear the cries of Christ, no longer see the Blood of our Tortured Lord, and no longer feel the Agony and Suffering that is His. The successful Pilgrim, however, responds by an act of sheer will and refuses these temptations of the world. Dimly he beholds the Church and Her Posterity at the foot of the Cross, and for their sake and their King’s he repeats with our Lord: “Into Your hands, I commend my Spirit.” These valiant soldiers abandon themselves to the Will of their God, and likewise offer themselves up as Sin (offenses that essentially beat against Love) just as their Lord did before them. They unite their trials with His and share in His death but also in His Glory.
The Spoils of War – a Hero’s Welcome
- The Resurrection: For those who have cooperated with Christ in the conquering of Sin a resurrection of faith is imminent. The return of faith for these Heroes of Christianity is purer and more steadfast than what they previously perceived as having lost. Their virtues have been purified in the fires of love; they have become Living Saints – the most exceptional of human beings.
- The Ascension: Transformed by the Journey of Faith, the Pilgrim Saint can now repeat with St. Paul: “And I live, now not I: but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). This death of self and transformation in Christ has left our Saint living physically on earth but spiritually and mentally in heaven – his eternal home. He has in a real sense, ascended to His God and His King though he walks among us.
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles: As the Holy Spirit once gave birth to the Church through the Apostles on Pentecost, so too does the Holy Spirit give new birth to the Spiritual Pilgrim who conquered all in the name of Christ – who now possesses the virtues in a perfected state. As with Mary, his Spiritual Mother and Model, God now fills His Saint with Grace. This indwelling Spirit of Love unites the Saint with Christ, His Mother and with all the members of the Church in a way that before was purely intellectual but is now as substantial as the ground upon which he walks.
- The Assumption: The Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Model of the Church, is now perceived in a very real way as God’s revelation to our Saint that salvation is indeed assured for those who steadfastly cling to their faith. Faith, Hope and Love have now been perfected to such a degree that the Saint is almost without need of the first two; for he sees, though as through a veil, what lies behind death’s dark door.
- The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: We see the Coronation of our Virgin Mother as also being the Coronation of the Church Triumphant – somehow, all of us participating in the Glories of the Kingdom and co-operating in Mary’s Singular Boast. For the Saints have emulated both Christ their Savior and Mary their Mother in this struggle to enter Heaven. A hero’s welcome awaits these brave men and women, as they will surely hear their Savior say to them: “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” __ Mt. 25:21
Comment: Few attempt the Journey to Perfection in this lifetime and those who have tried usually flee somewhere during the Sorrowful Mysteries of this Living Rosary. Although fraught with great trials and sorrows, the Sorrowful Mysteries must be said (that is lived). We can either recite them in this life with great merit or wait to chant them in Purgatory. But make no mistake, all who enter into the joy of the Lord will be cleansed of all their sins; for this putting to death of sin is an essential and necessary precondition that allows us entry to the eternal joys of the Glorious Mysteries which await us.