THE ROSARY SPIRITUALLY ENRICHES US AS WE MEDITATE ON THE LIFE OF CHRIST THROUGH THE EYES OF MARY
DURING A RECENT visit to New Haven, I was asked to bless several pallets loaded with more than 30,000 rosaries. In fact, I bless large numbers of rosaries whenever I’m at the Supreme Council headquarters. The reason is that a rosary is given to every Knight of Columbus when he becomes a member. I still have the rosary I was given when I became a Knight in 1986 and a few newer ones to spare. A rosary is “standard operating equipment” — if I might use that phrase — for every Knight. Members of the Knights and their families are encouraged by the Order to pray the rosary daily. Indeed, every Catholic should try to pray the rosary frequently. And what better month than May — dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary — for us to revisit this devotion.
By word and example, Pope Francis certainly encourages us to pray the rosary. The Holy Father prays 15 decades of the rosary daily and often can be seen praying it in public. He has even written a pocket-sized book of meditations on the mysteries of the rosary. Through these easy-to-read reflections, Pope Francis invites us to ask the help of Mary so that our hearts might be prepared to enter into the mysteries of Christ’s life.
The pope also talks about the rosary in his addresses and homilies. In one Angelus address, for instance, he called the rosary “spiritual medicine … for the heart, the soul and the whole of life.” On another occasion, he pulled a rosary from his pocket, held it up, and asked the people if they too had rosaries. Then, he asked if they merely carry the rosary in their pockets or if they actually pray it!
We might ask why it is that popes, great saints and pastors, and masters of the spiritual life are nearly unanimous in urging us to pray the rosary. Many others have answered that question more convincingly than I ever could. Yet, emboldened by the Blessed Mother’s love for me, I am willing to try! And I’d like to take my cue from a prayer that is often recited at the end of the rosary. It goes like this:
“O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation: Grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Let’s consider two phrases in that prayer: 1) “meditating on these mysteries of the most holy rosary” and 2) “imitate what they [the mysteries of the rosary] contain and obtain what they promise.” I believe that these two phrases can help deepen our understanding of the rosary and motivate us to pray it daily.
First, this concluding prayer reminds us that the rosary is a prayer for meditation on the mysteries of the life of Christ. In a daily Mass homily, Pope Francis said that prayer is not mindlessly repeating words “like a parrot!” The rosary, too, is not merely a matter of saying Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Rather, when we address the Blessed Mother using the words of the archangel Gabriel — “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28) — she calms our spirit and leads us to Jesus. She helps us enter into the “mysteries” of her Son’s life.
THE PROMISE OF JOY
When we refer to the “mysteries” of the rosary, we do not mean something that is difficult or even impossible to explain. Rather, the word “mysteries” refers to events in the earthly life of Christ that reveal the saving work of our heavenly Father. Mary, who shared in these events like no one else, guides us through the incarnation, birth and childhood of Jesus (joyful mysteries); through the events of Jesus’ public life that manifested the Father’s glory (luminous mysteries); through Jesus’ saving passion and death (sorrowful mysteries); and through the triumph of the Lord over sin and death (glorious mysteries).
By allowing Mary to help us to reflect prayerfully on these events in the life of Christ, we begin to “imitate what they contain.” For example, the first joyful mystery is the Annunciation. As we greet Mary and ask her intercession, we ponder the news that the angel Gabriel brought — the birth of the Savior. We should be moved to give thanks and praise to God for loving the world so much that he sent us his only Son (cf. Jn 3:16). We should also ponder Mary’s response to this astonishing news: “Let it be done to me according to thy word!”
When we pray each successive Hail Mary attentively, we always receive some benefit for our spiritual life. The Good News that the angel brought might dispel our gloomy outlook and rekindle our Christian hope. The response of Mary might challenge our tendency to be a Christian on our own terms, not the Lord’s.
As we enter into the mysteries of Christ’s life, we also “obtain what they promise” — first and foremost the blessedness and joy of growing in the likeness of Christ. This overarching blessing is specified in the 15 promises of the Blessed Mother to those who pray the rosary, as promoted by the Dominican order — promises that strengthen our hope for eternal life and that give us encouragement in the misfortunes and challenges of life.
In this month of May — and in every month thereafter — let us put our K of C rosaries to good use!
COMMANDMENTS OF GOD
The Ten Commandments of God
I. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.
II. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
III. Remember to keep holy the Lord's day
IV. Honor your father and your mother.
V. You shall not kill.
VI. You shall not commit adultery.
VII. You shall not steal.
VIII. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
IX. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
X. You shall not covet you neighbor's goods.
The Two Great Commandments
- You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, and with your whole strength; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
- To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves, we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church, and perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy
Note: These two commandments contain the whole law of God
PRECEPTS, OR COMMANDMENTS, OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The precepts of the Church
The Precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. the obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
- The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.") requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord.82
- The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.83
- The third precept (“You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.84
- The fourth precept (“You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation.") completes the Sunday observance by participation in the principal liturgical feasts which honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.85
- The fifth precept (“You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.86
- The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities.
The Seven Precepts of the Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists 5 precepts. The last two are included elsewhere in the catechism but are not listed as precepts. And they are equally important. The original seven are listed here for historic educational value.
I. To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and resting from servile works.
II. To observe the days of abstinence and fasting.
III. To confess our sins to a priest, at least once a year.
IV. To receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during Easter Season.
V. To contribute to the support of the Church.
VI. To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.
VII. To participate in the Church's mission of Evangelization of Souls.(Missionary Spirit of the Church)
THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS
The Seven Sacraments
The traditional definition of a sacrament is this: "A sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace." Within this definition there are three important statements:
A visible sign:
An action is performed by a minister (usually a priest). For example, when a baby is baptized in the church the priest pours water over its head and at the same time says the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." That is a visible sign.
Instituted by Christ:
The Lord Jesus Christ instructed His church to offer the seven sacraments to His followers. For example, His directive to His disciples in Matthew's Gospel (28/19), "Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you."
To give grace:
Grace is God's free gift of Himself as the controlling influence in our life and the decisions we make once we have committed ourselves to Him in faith.
Sacraments of Initiation (These sacraments lay the foundation of every Christian life)
In Baptism we receive new life in Christ. Baptism takes away original sin and gives us a new birth in the Holy Spirit. Its sign is the pouring of water.
Confirmation seals our life of faith in Jesus. Its signs are the laying on of hands on a person’s head, most often by a bishop, and the anointing with oil. Like Baptism, Confirmation is received only once.
The Eucharist nourishes our life of faith. Its signs are the bread and wine we receive—the Body and Blood of Christ.
Sacraments of Healing (These sacraments celebrate the healing power of Jesus)
Through Penance we receive God's forgiveness. Forgiveness requires being sorry for our sins. In Penance we receive Jesus' healing grace through absolution by the priest. The signs of this sacrament are our confession of sins and the words of absolution.
Anointing of the Sick
This sacrament unites a sick person’s suffering with that of Jesus and brings forgiveness of sins. Oil, a symbol of strength, is the sign of this sacrament. A person is anointed with oil and receives the laying on of hands from a priest.
Sacraments at the Service of Communion (These sacraments help members serve the community)
In Matrimony a baptized man and woman are united with each other as a sign of the unity between Jesus and his Church. Matrimony requires the consent of the couple, as expressed in the marriage promises. The couple and their wedding rings are the signs of this sacrament.
In Holy Orders men are ordained as priests, deacons, or bishops. Priests serve as spiritual leaders of their communities, and deacons serve to remind us of our baptismal call to help others. Bishops carry on the teachings of the apostles. The signs of this sacrament are the laying on of hands and anointing with oil by the bishop.
Note: The sacraments that can be received only once are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.
FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Fruits of the Holy Spirit
“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:17-20)
This passage in Matthew's Gospel helps us to understand the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are the observable behaviors of people who have allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit to be effective in them. The tradition of the Church lists 12 fruits:
GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
In the Book of Isaiah 11:2-3, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are described. In the passage the gifts are considered ones that the Messiah would have possessed. Through Jesus, we also receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- Wisdom helps us recognize the importance of others and the importance of keeping God central in our lives.
- Understanding is the ability to comprehend the meaning of God's message.
- Knowledge is the ability to think about and explore God's revelation, and also to recognize there are mysteries of faith beyond us.
- Counsel is the ability to see the best way to follow God's plan when we have choices that relate to him.
- Fortitude is the courage to do what one knows is right.
- Piety helps us pray to God in true devotion.
- Fear of the Lord is the feeling of amazement before God, who is all-present, and whose friendship we do not want to lose.
7 DEADLY SINS, 7 HEAVENLY VIRTUES
7 deadly Sins, 7 Heavenly Virtues
The Roman Catholic church recognized the seven capital virtues as opposites to the Seven Capital Sins or the Seven Deadly Sins.
SIN <==> VIRTUE
Lust (excessive sexual appetites)<==>Chastity (purity)
Gluttony (over-indulgence)<==>Temperance (self-restraint)
Greed (avarice)<==>Charity (giving)
Sloth (laziness/idleness)<==>Diligence (zeal/integrity/Labor)
Wrath (anger)<==>Forgiveness (composure)
Envy (jealousy)<==>Kindness (admiration)
Pride (vanity)<==>Humility (humbleness)
The Seven Deadly Sins
- LUST- An insatiable need for sex or things of a sexual nature. This includes thoughts, desires, and actions. If this need is unfed, it can lead to masterbation, rape, and even beastiality. Lust is fed by any of the aforementioned means or viewing pornography.
- GLUTTONY- Over indulgences of anything to the extreme, usually food or drink. Alcoholism is considered part of Gluttony.
- GREED- Greed is the need for material possessions or material wealth. If this need is unfed, a Greedy person may even resort to hoarding their goods, theft, robbery, or obtaining any material possessions by means of trickery, violence, deception, or manipulation. Greedy people usually are easy to bribe, or will take any bet or do anything for a dollar.
- SLOTH- Sadness, depression, or the inability to feel joy. Sloth is often confused with Gluttony, though I don't know why. Those who suffer from depression to an extreme usually have thoughts of or plans for suicide. Many times, Sloth can lead to another sin: Wrath. Those who have lost or lack love, usually fall into a deep state of Sloth.
- WRATH- Extreme anger, rage, hatred, or a need for vengeance or revenge. People who suffer with Wrath issues will often resort to taking the law in their own hands if they feel the justice system has failed them. To feed the need of Wrath, they may even turn to physical abuse of themself or others, murder, or even genocide. Wrath usually is a need to do harm to others. Dante described Wrath as "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite" according to the Wikipedia.
- ENVY- The need to have better or be better than others. The need to have the goods of others. Wanting what others have for yourself. Many times, someone with extreme Envous needs may turn to voyerism to feed the need to see what others have that the envious want.
- PRIDE- Once considered a need to be the most beautiful, Pride can also mean a need for public acceptance in all acts. Pride can also be a need to be more important than others. Those who suffer with Pride issues, usually fail to give due complements to others, but instead fish for complements for them selves. They find ways to be better than those around them and usually have a "One Up" story. Pride is said to be the original and most deadly of the seven sins, leading straight to damnation.
The Seven Heavenly Virtues
- CHASTITY- Courage and boldness. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and betterment.
- ABSTINENCE- Constant mindfulness of others and one's surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation.
- LIBERALITY- Generosity. Willingness to give. A nobility of thought or actions.
- DILIGENCE- A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Budgeting one's time; monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness.
- PATIENCE- Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. The ability to forgive; to show mercy to sinners.
- KINDNESS- Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice and for its own sake.
- HUMILITY- Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self.Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self.