The Gift that keeps on giving …

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Glorious Mystery, The Descent of the Holy Spirit.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.” Acts 2:4, Douay-Rheims.

And for the record nothing has changed. Nearly 2,000 years ago, on that first Pentecost Sunday, God sent His Holy Spirit to lead and guide the Body of Christ, His Church. ( “Church” singular, for those who miss that point.) Through all of the centuries after that day, the Church’s Birth Day, He has kept Her and guided Her. That means He has kept and guided us, you and me. And all of the “yous” and “mes” over all those centuries.

Paul said there would be a revolt. “Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition … ” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. And Arius, along with the antichrist doctrine concerning Christ and his being only a man with God in him (See 1 John 4:3.) was revealed for what he was. And God’s Church survived, stronger for the battle.

Governments, from Rome to Great Britain, France and Mexico, some of these governments governing peoples predominately Catholic, have falsely accused, persecuted both the priesthood and the laity, even putting many of God’s faithful to the sword, and with what result? The Church continues while earthly kingdoms crumble and turn into nothing more than chapters in a moldy history book. And in our day, just a few years ago, a Rosary crusade that began with three shepherd children in Portugal brought down the Soviet Union.

Satan uses media to foster lies, disseminate anti-Catholic propaganda, and so turns the masses against God and His people. For all that? People convert anyway.

Things don’t always look very promising. A shortage of priests, scandals, and more. Things are rarely as they seem. When things look bad?

“To thee have I lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven.” Psalm 123:1.

Just a thought … Think about this when things look bad. 2,000 years ago God sent His Spirit to guide and care for us. Nowhere are we told that He ever took that Spirit away.

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My Mother

The Virgin Mary

Have you ever been alone in the dark? Alone in the dark, and scared? I think we all have. I remember being alone in the dark and scared. More than once. I remember being that way as a child. I recall being that way as an adult. When I was a child it was a literal thing. As I grew older the dark moved. It stopped being on the outside. It came in. That made it even scarier. There isn’t any light switch inside me. Its broke. It was broken before I was born. The broken part is what a theologian would call sin and the sin nature. It makes me scared of the dark … inside. A Lady lost a coin. I didn’t think much of it, it was only a coin. Small change. But she knew its worth. So she lit a lamp and got out her broom. Started to sweep by the lamp light. She knows my switch is broke. She swept by the light of that lamp until … Guess what? She found the coin. But she didn’t stop there. I´d have thought that was enough, but this Lady went and gathered her neighbors. She was so happy that the coin was found that she wanted everyone to rejoice with her. Now let’s think this through … In the Psalms I´m told that the Word is like a lamp for my feet. I guess if I had a Lamp like that I wouldn’t need to be afraid of the dark. Inside dark or outside dark. In the Gospel of John I´m told that the Word was made flesh, and that the Word was the Light of the world. That Word, that Light was Jesus. He died on Calvary. Why? To fix my broken switch. But who lit the Lamp? Oh, the Lady with the broom. She lit the Lamp, helped bring the Light of the world into the world. She said yes when the Archangel Gabriel asked her to be the first to accept that Light into her life. And then she gave birth to the Light and shared him with … Everyone. So she could find that lost coin that’s me. So that she could tell all her friends to rejoice that I´d been found. There’s a lot of rejoicing in Heaven when a coin is found. I think finding the coin is called repentance, conversion. Know what else? After she lit the Lamp, and the Light of the world showed her where the lost coin was … That same Light gave that same Lady to the found coin (me) to be his Mother too. Some story, huh? I love my Mother. I love her because She reflects the Light. Know what else? I´m not afraid of the dark anymore.

Why My Rosary?

Rosary

“My” Rosary. This is personal. I want to share a reason why my Rosary is such a precious thing to me. And this is, admittedly, a tad different.

When I was little I had a mild form of epilepsy. The doctor said I’d outgrow it and I did. The “attacks” were very odd. No one but me knew they were happening. Sound and movement changed for me. Sounds were very loud and at the same time muted as though they were far away and stuffed with cotton, and movement was very, very fast and in slow motion both at the same time. All this went on inside me with my seeing and hearing. And even though I outgrew it there was and is a certain kind of “residue” left over from it. Certain types of movements make me a certain type of dizzy. If I get that kind of dizzy for very long I get nauseous. And that can last for hours or, at its worst, days. An example would be this: Someone holds up a piece of paper, maybe something they are trying to call my attention to because they want me to read it, “Hey, look at this letter from Ed I just got! You’ll want to read this!”, and my eyes fix on it, follow it, I get dizzy, and the rest is nausea. I have to avert my eyes at a time like that. Other things trigger it to, like looking up and down at a stationary thing through mu bifocals (got sick for three days once because of that), but I’ve learned to look away or down so it doesn’t really happen very often.

After I became a Benedictine Oblate I tried praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Guess what turning the pages back and forth did? Right, it made me dizzy. I tried different books, prayer books, but nothing I found seemed to work for me. The books were fine but they either made me dizzy with page turning, back and forth, or they were over simplified and boring, or … Well, anyway, I couldn’t find a book that I could use. And the books were fine, they just didn’t work for me. So I went to my confessor and explained everything to him that I just shared with you. What could I do? I mean, I don’t have to have a book to pray but I do, personally, need some structure. It helps me focus, it helps me share with God what I need to share. But I need a little creative space too. Remember that some of those books got boring? I need to have structure with leeway. So, what to do?

My Rosary. It gives me the necessary structure, discipline, and room to let my mind explore. The Mysteries are infinite in depth because they deal with our Infinite God. So my Divine Office is a string of blessed beads. And it works well for me. It’s why I write a daily Rosary devotion here on my blog. Bottom line, its kind of all I know.

Centuries ago the simple peasants that lived near monasteries saw the lives the monks lived, their prayer life in particular, and wanted that sort of spirituality for themselves. But they couldn’t read. For them, saying 150 Hail Mary‘s on their Rosary beads took the place of the 150 Psalms that the monks prayed. It was their prayer-book, their liturgy. They lived close to the monastery, close to God’s good earth, close to God. I consider myself to be in blessed company. I am happily satisfied with My Rosary. I figure the epilepsy and its aftermath is a blessing in disguise.

A Short Rosary History, with Symbolism … Monday, April 29

Rosary

A catechism, a psalter, and a net, all in one.

A Rosary Meditation … Something a little different today. Just for a change. 🙂 A little history first. In Europe, hundreds of years ago, and this went on for hundreds of years also, people lived near monasteries. They did this for safety’s sake. There were any number of marauding hoards and invading forces and monasteries, built a lot like forts and built that way for many of the same reasons that a fort is, provided a safe refuge. As an aside, many of these were Benedictine monasteries and the people living in close proximity gave rise to the Benedictine Oblate, people wanting to take part in Benedictine spirituality but not necessarily as a monk living IN the monastery. But back to the people living around all those monasteries. They were religious people and seeing the example of the monks many wanted to take part, in their own way, in the monastic prayer life. This centered around the Psalms, all 150 of them. Many of the people, farmers and craftsmen, were illiterate. They couldn’t read and therefore couldn’t memorize the Psalms. Of course this was also long before the printing press and even if you COULD read that didn’t mean you had ready access to a book. Sure, there were books, hand copied by monks, available at the church, normally chained to a table so as to prevent theft because of their great value, but work was an all day ordeal and necessary for survival, and it was from sun up til sun down. If you could read when would you find the time? But just about anyone can memorize a few short prayers. And the length of a prayer certainly has nothing to do with its depth. So the people memorized things like the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, the Glory Be, and the Hail Mary. When you think about it these few prayers form a rather complete catechism and a kind of Summa Theologica all their own. Mary delivered the Rosary to good St. Dominic with its five decades of 150 Hail Marys. This is why there are 15 Mysteries, so that the Rosary will “line up” so to speak with the Psalms the monks prayed. By the way, the Book of Psalms is composed of five collections, or “books”, of psalms. Just like a five decade Rosary. Things don’t happen by accident in God’s economy. (Now I need to insert a little note because somewhere someone might be wondering, “If there are only 15 Mysteries what do we do with the Luminous Mysteries, because they make twenty and if there’s only supposed to be 15 what do we do now? Not pray the Luminous or what?”, and I wouldn’t want folks to get the wrong idea. The Luminous Mysteries are wonderful, and so are a lot of others I’ve seen. Pray all of ’em. Make up your own. How many Mysteries are there in the Gospel anyway? More than we’ll ever know or understand. But whatever we pray, whether just one Mystery or a thousand lets not forget the original symbolism because it’s a Mystery in itself. And that’s what this post is all about.)   Here is a perfect psalter for the average person. With this the people could take part, in their own way and with their Rosary in hand, in the prayer life of the monastery they lived near. Now a little more history, going further back. One day the Apostles were fishing, and like so many fishermen of their day and ours they weren’t having much luck. (Fishermen always like the rest of us to think that fishing is a skill, and it is, but have you ever noticed how they blame not catching any fish on bad luck when skill doesn’t seem to work? 😉 ) Jesus gave them some instructions to follow and they did. They caught 153 fish, so many that the net was near the breaking point. But it didn’t break and that’s important to remember. The number 153 is significant. The Greeks taught, and just about everybody in Jesus’ day would have known this because Greece had conquered the world and spread their culture and teachings and then, after Rome conquered the Greeks, they took them as their teachers because the Romans weren’t stupid, they recognized culture and smarts when they saw them, anyway, the Greeks taught that there were 153 different tribes of men total. The catch of 153 fish symbolized the universality (Catholicity) of Christ’s saving work amongst mankind. And these Apostles were to be what exactly? Fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19) Now, when you include the pendant on your Rosary, how many Hail Mary’s are there? One hundred and fifty-three. The Rosary is both our Psalter and our prayer net, the one used to bring the catch of souls to the shore where Jesus waits for them. Will it break if the catch is large? No, because He promised that He wouldn’t lose anything His Father had given Him. (John 10:28)

Today, read this … John 21:4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. 9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

And think about this … Matthew 13:47 Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kind of fishes. 48 Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just. 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.