The main catechetical effort by which the Faithful stay abreast of Church teachings happens at the Sunday liturgies. That effort is at the core of these Personal Notes, mainly concerned with the latest scholarship in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, a scholarly biblical journal. Sometimes the Magisterium gets directly involved with the prayer-life of the Faithful, as happened with the October 2002 Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginia Mariae.
Just as I index the scriptural citations appearing in articles in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly according to the Sunday Liturgies, so have I indexed the scriptural citations appearing in the Rosarium. The Rosarium appears in these Personal Notes, part by part, according to the appropriate Sunday Liturgies. That accounts for why these Notes quote Rosarium so extensively, below.
As a quasi-aside, the Nashville Dominican Sisters who
teach at my Our Lady of Mount Carmel elementary school, in
While preparing these comments, I visited a non-Catholic Christian friend, terminally ill in the hospital. By showing an openness to truth determining politics, even within the Catholic hierarchy, I opened his soul to my Catholicism. I see my attempt to prioritize truth over politics as ultimately evangelical.
While my attitude toward the Magisterium is
evangelical, like the Sisters, my attitude is also different. Though different, my attitude is respectful. My personal attitude towards the Magisterium
is seen most profoundly in the fact that I do not take advantage of the
pastoral reasons whereby the Faithful generally are not even aware of their
obligation to accept the fact that parishes in the
Except for the dictates of the Magisterium, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is not where I would choose to practice my Faith in the Black Apostolate. My effort to bring the Black Apostolate into Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been and continues to be a missionary effort, now best expressed in the Latino Apostolate, an Apostolate that accepts Black identity. Such acceptance of Black identity is little known in the mainstream culture, but does involve what I do at Mount Carmel. I doubt too many understand that aspect of my efforts.
Last Sunday, Readings 130A, were about not getting
angry. The readings this Sunday reflect
a reason to get angry, namely being paid the same for a whole day’s work as
someone else for the last part of the day. The point is that once the Faithful have the
Isaiah is about returning from exile to
Psalm 145 is very rational. Keeping the emotions in check is required when one feels cheated by God. The Gospel represents workers who feel cheated by the owner of the vineyard. Similarly, the Faithful can feel cheated by circumstances that prevent them from receiving the education required for the good life. Life is never fair, for example for those blind or otherwise handicapped, then we die. In these readings, Jesus warns the Faithful about this temptation to feel victimized when no victimization is taking place.
Pope John Paul II has a lot of material in Rosarium Virginia Mariae surrounding
25. In my testimony of 1978 mentioned above, where I described the Rosary as my favorite prayer, I used an idea to which I would like to return. I said then that “the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life.”
In the light of what has been said
so far on the mysteries of
At the same time, it becomes
natural to bring to this encounter with the sacred humanity of the Redeemer all
the problems, anxieties, labors and endeavors which go to make up our lives. “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will
sustain you” (Psalm 55:23). To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens
to the merciful hearts of
“FOR ME, TO LIVE IS
The Rosary, a way of assimilating the mystery
26. Meditation on the mysteries of
One thing is clear: although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the
act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to
be conformed ever more completely to Christ, the true program of the Christ
life. Saint Paul expressed this project
with words of fire: “For me to live is
Christ and to die is gain” (Phil ). [This is the verse used in the Lectionary
for the readings at hand.] And again:
“It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal ). The Rosary helps us to be conformed ever more
A valid method…
27. We should not be surprised that
our relationship with
This becomes apparent in the Liturgy. Sacraments and sacramentals are structured as a series of rites which bring into play all the dimensions of the person. The same applies to non-liturgical prayer. This is confirmed by the fact that, in the East, the most characteristic prayer of Christological meditation centered on the words “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” is traditionally linked to the rhythm of breathing; while this practice favors perseverance in the prayer, it also in some way embodies the desire for Christ to become the breath, the soul and the “all” of one’s life.
…which can nevertheless be improved
28. I mentioned in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte that the West is now experiencing a renewed demand for meditation, which at times leads to a keen interest in aspects of other religions. Some Christians, limited in their knowledge of the Christian contemplative tradition, are attracted by those forms of prayer. While the latter contain many elements which are positive and at times compatible with Christian experience, they are often based on ultimately unacceptable premises. Much in vogue among these approaches are methods aimed at attaining a high level of spiritual concentration by using techniques of a psychophysical, repetitive and symbolic nature. The Rosary is situated within this broad gamut of religious phenomena, but it is distinguished by characteristics of its own which correspond to specifically Christian requirements.
In effect, the Rosary is simply a method of contemplation. As a method, it serves as a means to an end and cannot become an end in itself. All the same, as the fruit of centuries of experience, this method should not be undervalued. In its favor one could cite the experience of countless Saints. This is not to say, however, that the method cannot be improved. Such is the intent of the addition of the new series of mysteria lucis to the overall cycle of mysteries and of the few suggestions which I am proposing in this Letter regarding its manner of recitation. These suggestions, while respecting the well-established structure of this prayer, are intended to help the faithful to understand it in the richness of its symbolism and in harmony with the demands of daily life. Otherwise there is a risk that the Rosary would not only fail to produce the intended spiritual effects, but even that the beads, with which it is usually said, could come to be regarded as some kind of amulet or magic object, thereby radically distorting their meaning and function.
Announcing each mystery
29. Announcing each mystery, and
perhaps even using a suitable icon to portray it, is as it were to open up a scenario on which to focus
our attention. The words direct the
imagination and the mind towards a particular episode or moment in the life of
Christ. In the Church’s traditional
spirituality, the veneration of icons and the many devotions appealing to the
senses, as well as the method of prayer proposed by
The need for concreteness finds
further expression in the announcement of the various mysteries of the Rosary. Obviously these mysteries neither replace the
Gospel nor exhaust its content. The Rosary, therefore, is no substitute for lectio divina; on the contrary, it
presupposes and promotes it. Yet, even
though the mysteries contemplated in the Rosary, even with the addition of the mysteria lucis, do no more than outline
the fundamental elements of the life of
Listening to the word of God
30. In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken “for me.”
If received in this way, the word of God can become part of the Rosary’s methodology of repetition without giving rise to the ennui derived from the simple recollection of something already well known. It is not a matter of recalling information but of allowing God to speak. In certain solemn communal celebrations, this word can be appropriately illustrated by a brief commentary.
31. Listening and meditation are nourished by silence. After the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word, it is fitting to pause and focus one’s attention for a suitable period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. A discovery of the importance of silence is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation. One drawback of a society dominated by technology and the mass media is the fact that silence becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Just as moments of silence are recommended in the Liturgy, so too in the recitation of the Rosary it is fitting to pause briefly after listening to the word of God, while the mind focuses on the content of a particular mystery.
To move from the words of
All in all, once the Faithful have the life of
For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes
Angelus Message of
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2616.