MANNA FROM HEAVEN
The Holy Rosary has never been tied to any time, place or people, nor did it arise from any human culture. Like all true liturgy, it had no earthly origin. He, who tampers with the Rosary, tampers with the work of God. Some try to modernize the Rosary, suppress it, change its form, mutilate it and denigrate it. Like the ancient Sacrifice of the Mass, it continues to live its own life, quietly and serenely amidst the turmoil of our day. We have called the Rosary, the Ultimate Liturgy and so it is. It is no sentimental paraliturgical practice developed over the centuries. It is Our Lady’s Psalter. Known through history as the Layman’s Breviary, the 150 HAIL MARY are said in lieu of the 150 Davidic Psalms of the Divine Office. Where the Office is the Opus Dei, the work of God, the Rosary may be called the Opusculum Dei, God’s little work. Like the Divine Office, it is rooted in the universal, divine injunction to pray without ceasing and was designed by Her to facilitate this duty for those unable for whatever reason to recite the Office. So well was that understood by the faithful when the Rosary was first propagated by St. Dominic, that for a long time its recitation actually began with the Aperies as does the Office. Even today, it still closes with the Hail Holy Queen – the Salve Regina with which the Office closes.
The Rosary is not just one devotion among many. It is a super devotion, the only one ever formally raised to liturgical status on par with that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has its own proper feast, October 7, instituted with a proper Office by Pope Gregory XIII. It was inserted into the Roman Martyrology by Pope Clement VII and later extended to the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI. Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Breviary, and Pope Leo XIII, the Pope of the Rosary, dedicated the entire month of October to the Holy Rosary. Pope Pius V, who for all time canonized the Order of the Mass by the famous Bull, Quo Primum in 1570, had already promulgated a similar Bull for the Holy Rosary entitled Consueverunt.
After reaffirming the tradition relating to St. Dominic and officially entrusting the propagation of the Holy Rosary to his spiritual sons, the document established canonically the form in which the Rosary was to be prayed; 150 HAIL MARY in groups of ten with the OUR FATHER in between, joined to meditation on the 15 mysteries of the Life of Our Lord. Nothing was created or changed; the devotion was merely codified with the full authority of his office defining the proper form, giving obedient testimony to the work of the Holy Ghost, Who is the Principal Author of all Liturgy. The devotion was not left open to possible variations.
The Rosary was not fabricated piece by piece like a machine, but grew organically in space and time. Under divine impulsion, it issued forth from the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, as a living plant grows from seed, in accordance with both natural and supernatural laws. The HAIL MARY was given to the world even before the Lord’s Prayer. Certainly, it was no new practice which Our Lady brought to St. Dominic, but one perfected over the centuries by the Holy Ghost with Her cooperation for the special exigencies of the Latter Days.
There are those who say the Rosary is not sufficiently Christological, but it must be pointed out to them that the climax of every HAIL MARY is not Mary herself, but ‘the Fruit of Her womb, Jesus!’ No prayer is so firmly rooted in Apostolic tradition as the Rosary. The 15 principal mysteries of the Faith flow naturally from the meditation on the Psalms. Far from modern accretions, these meditations were among the Rosary’s most ancient elements. They reproduce the Church’s essential liturgical cycle, and carry the worshiper through the entire history of Redemption.
The Rosary is the most powerful weapon, the Ultimate Liturgy! At all times and in every place, it opens the graces flowing freely from the Divine Head of the Mystical Body through the mediation of His Mother, to us His members. The persecuted Christians of Ireland were on solid doctrinal ground when they resorted to the Rosary as their dry Mass. As the number of priests dwindles, churches close down and the Liturgy breaks down, it is good for us to remember this. Pope Leo XIII and Sister Lucia of Fatima have both attested that Our Lady invested the Rosary with special efficacy: the repetition of the AVE MARIA, PATER NOSTER and GLORIA PATRI is the chain that lifts us right up to God, unites us to Him and obtains for us a participation in His Divine Life.
The Blessed Virgin Mary recommended recitation of the Rosary with great insistence to Dom Umberto Pasquale, since it is: ‘After the Eucharistic Liturgy, the prayer most apt for preserving Faith in Souls.’
The Apocalyptic Mission of the Rosary was prepared from eternity and it seems always to keep pace with the surges of evil. Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic at the time of the Albigensian Heresy. The victory was decisive and the devotion spread like wild-fire! Swelling with the growth of Confraternities, the Rosary became the prayer of the whole Church. It was intimately associated with the discovery of America and all that followed upon it. The defeat of the Turks at Lepanto was a great Rosary victory!
A detailed history of the Rosary would fill volumes. Suffice it to say that it reached its climax in 1917 at Fatima, where the Mother of God proclaimed to the whole world, ‘I am the Lady of the Rosary.’ On October 13, preceding the great Miracle of the Sun, three extraordinary tableaux were shown in the Heavens: one of the Holy Family symbolizing the Joyful Mysteries, one of the Mother of Sorrows symbolizing the Sorrowful Mysteries, and a third one of Our Lady crowned and reigning in glory as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, symbolizing the Glorious Mysteries. Much as the apparition at Lourdes set the divine seal on Pope Pius IX’s promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the coming of Our Lady at Fatima ratified the teachings of Pope Leo XIII on the Holy Rosary. Of the 11 Encyclicals and one Apostolic letter he wrote on the Holy Rosary, none surpasses LAETITIA SANCTAE, given on Our Lady’s Birthday in 1893. It ranks among the great social Encyclicals in that it proposes a schema for curing the three principal ills of modern society in terms of the Rosary:
1. The distaste for simple labor characteristic of the industrial age must yield to the salutary precepts of the Joyful Mysteries;
2. The repugnance for suffering endemic to a pleasure-motivated society must be overcome by living the Sorrowful Mysteries;
3. The lethal forgetfulness of future life must be dispelled by ordering all human endeavor to the Glorious Mysteries.
Our Lady promised at Fatima, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph.” Continue to pray the Rosary! The Rosary is prophecy. The history of the Church from its beginning until its final triumph lies hidden in Its mysteries. Ever faithfully reproducing the Life of Her beloved Lord on earth, the Church has already left the Joyful Mysteries behind and is in the throes of the Sorrowful Mysteries. Sister Lucia told Fr. Fuentes, “The most Holy Virgin has made me to understand that we are living in the last times of the world. The devil is engaging in the decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. Not to honor Mary is to dishonor her! False to her is false to Him! They who are against the Mother of Christ are against Christ Himself and His Holy Church. Of Mary, there can never be enough! Pray the Rosary every day!”
Excerpts from THE HOLY ROSARY – THE ULTIMATE LITURGY by Solange Hertz
“Do you object to the prayer of the Holy Rosary, feeling that the invocations are repetitious? Yes, it is like the Manna that fell upon the sand in the desert. The Hebrews became bored with it for the very same reason you point out…every day the same Manna, insipid and monotonous. And, yet, it sustained their lives!” (Excerpts from Ven. Pauline Jaricot on The Rosary — Jan. 1846 )