Wednesday, 17 September 2014

St. Louis de Montfort explains The Rosary

The surpassing merit of the holy Rosary as a meditation of the life and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ
By St. Louis de Montfort

A mystery is a sacred thing which is difficult to understand.  

The works of our Lord Jesus Christ are all sacred and divine because he is God and man at one and the same time.  The works of the Blessed Virgin are very holy because she is the most perfect and the most pure of God’s creatures.  

The works of our Lord and of his blessed Mother can rightly be called mysteries because they are so full of wonders, of all kinds of perfections, and of deep and sublime truths, which the Holy Ghost reveals to the humble and simple souls who honour these mysteries.  

Our Lady of the Roses
The works of Jesus and Mary can also be called wonderful flowers, but their fragrance and beauty can only be appreciated by those who approach them, who breathe in their fragrance, and who discover their beauty by diligent and serious meditation.

St. Dominic divided the lives of our Lord and our Lady into fifteen mysteries, (St. John Paul II added the Luminious Mysteries in the Year of the Rosary 2002-2003), which stand for their virtues and their most important actions.  

These are fifteen pictures whose every detail must rule and inspire our lives.  They are fifteen flaming torches to guide our steps throughout this earthly life; fifteen shining mirrors to help us to know Jesus and Mary, to know ourselves and to light the fire of their love in our hearts; fifteen fiery furnaces to consume us completely in their heavenly flames. 

Our Lady taught St. Dominic this excellent method of praying and ordered him to preach it far and wide so as to reawaken the fervour of Christians and to revive in their hearts a love for our Blessed Lord.  

She also taught it to Blessed Alan de la Roche and said to him in a vision, “When people say 150 Hail Marys, that prayer is very helpful to them and a most pleasing tribute to me.  But they will do better still and will please me more if they say these salutations while meditating on the life, death, and passion of Jesus Christ, for this meditation is te soul of this prayer.”  

For the Rosary said without meditation on the sacred mysteries of our salvation would be almost be a body without a soul, excellent matter, but without the form, which is the meditation, and which distinguishes it from other devotions.

The first part of the Rosary contains five mysteries: the first, the Annunciation of the archangel Gabriel to our Lady; the second the Visitation of our Lady to Saint Elizabeth; the third, the Nativity of Jesus Christ; the fourth, the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the purification of the Blessed Virgin; the fifth, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple among the doctors.  These are called the Joyful Mysteries because of the joy which they gave to the whole universe.  Our Lady and the angels were overwhelmed with joy the moment the Son of God became incarnate.  Saint Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist were filled with joy by the visit of Jesus and Mary.  Heaven and earth rejoiced at the birth of the Saviour.  Holy Simeon felt great consolation and was filled with joy when he took the holy child into his arms.  The doctors were lost in admiration and wonderment at the replies which Jesus gave; and who could express the joy of Mary and Joseph when they found Jesus after three days’ absence?

The second part of the Rosary is also composed of five mysteries, which are called the Sorrowful Mysteries because they show us our Lord weighed down with sadness, covered with wounds, laden with insults, sufferings and torments.  The first of these mysteries is our Lord’s prayer and his Agony in the Garden of Olives; the second, his Scourging; the third, his being Crowned with thorns; the fourth, his Carrying of the Cross; the fifth, his Crucifixion and death on Calvary.

The third part of the Rosary contains five more mysteries, which are called the Glorious Mysteries, because when we say them we meditate on Jesus and Mary in their triumph and glory.  The first is the Resurrection of Jesus; the second, his Ascension into heaven; the third, the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles; the fourth, our Lady’s Assumption in glory; the fifth, her Coronation.  Such are the fifteen fragrant flowers of the mystical Rose-tree, on which devout souls linger, like discerning bees, to gather their nectar and make the honey of a solid devotion.

St. Louis de Montfort

Excerpt taken from The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort

The Hail Mary and St. Louis de Monfort

Brief Explanation of the Hail Mary
by St. Louis de Montofort

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with thee!
Blessed art thou among women
And Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners now
And at the hour of our death.

Are you in the miserable state of sin?  Then call on Mary and say to her, “Ave,” which means “I greet thee with the most profound respect, thou who art without sin,” and she will deliver you from the evil of your sins.  

Are you groping in the darkness of ignorance and error?  Go to Mary and say to her, “Hail Mary,” which means “Hail, thou who art bathed in the light of the Sun of Justice,”  and she will give you a share in her light.  

Star of the Sea - Ave Stella Maris
Have you strayed from the path leading to heaven? Then call on Mary, for her name means “Star of the Sea, the Polar Star which guides the ships of our souls during the voyage of this life,”  and she will guide you to the harbour of eternal salvation.  

Are you in sorrow?  Turn to Mary, for her name means also “Sea of Bitterness which has been filled with bitterness in this world but which is now turned into a sea of purest joy in heaven,” and she will turn your sorrow into joy and your affliction into consolation.  

Have you lost the state of grace?  Praise and honour the numberless graces with which God has filled the Blessed Virgin and say to her, Thou art full of grace and filled with all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and she will give you some of these graces.  

Are you alone, having lost God’s protection?  Pray to Mary and say, The Lord is with thee, in a nobler and more intimate way then he is with the saints and the just, because thou art one with him.  He is thy Son and his flesh is thy flesh; thou art united to the Lord because of thy perfect likeness to him and by your mutual love, for thou art his Mother.  And then say to her, “The three persons of the Godhead are with thee because thou art the Temple of the Blessed Trinity,” and she will place you once more under the protection and care of God. 

Have you become an outcast and been accursed by God?  Then say to our Lady, “Blessed art thou above all women and above all nations by thy purity and fertility; thou hast turned God’s maledictions into blessings for us.”  She will bless you.  

Jesus and His Mother, Blessed by the fruit of Thy womb
Do you hunger for the bread of grace and the bread of life?  Draw near to her who bore the living Bread which came down from heaven, and say to her, "Blessed be the fruit of thy womb, whom thou hast conceived without the slightest loss to thy virginity, whom thou didst carry without discomfort and brought forth without pain.  Blessed be Jesus who redeemed our suffering world when we were in the bondage of sin, who has healed the world of its sickness, who has raised the dead to life, brought home the banished, restored sinners to grace, and saved men from damnation.  Without doubt, your soul will be filled with the bread of grace in this life and of eternal glory in the next. Amen.”

Conclude your prayer with the Church and say, “Holy Mary,” holy because of thy incomparable and eternal devotion to the service of God, holy in thy great rank as Mother of God, who has endowed thee with eminent holiness, in keeping with this great dignity.  “Mother of God, and our Mother, our Advocate and Mediatrix, Treasurer and dispenser of God’s graces, obtain for us the prompt forgiveness of our sins and grant that we may be reconciled with the divine majesty.  

Holy Mary, Mother of God
“Pray for us sinners, thou who art always filled with compassion for those in need, who never despise sinners or turn them away, for without them you would never have been Mother of the Redeemer.  
“Pray for us now, during this short life, so fraught with sorrow and uncertainty; now, because we can be sure of nothing except the present moment; now that we are surrounded and attacked night and day by powerful and ruthless enemies.  

“And at the hour of our death, so terrible and full of danger, when our strength is waning and our spirits are sinking, and our souls and bodies are worn out with fear and pain; at the hour of our death when the devil is working with might and main to ensnare us and cast us into perdition; at that hour when our lot will be decided forever and ever, heaven or hell.  

Refuge of Sinners
“Come to the help of your poor children, gentle Mother of pity, Advocate and Refuge of sinners, at the hour of our death drive far from us our bitter enemies, the devils, our accusers, whose frightful presence fills us with dread.  

Light our path through the valley of the shadow of death.  Lead us to thy Son’s judgment-seat and remain at our side.  Intercede for us and ask thy Son to pardon us and receive us into the ranks of thy elect in the realms of everlasting glory.  Amen.” 

Read more in St. Louis de Montfort's book, The Secret of the Rosary

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Importance of the Hail Mary

Hail Mary 

Excerpts taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s book, 
The Secret of the Rosary.

The Angelic Salutation, or Hail Mary, is so heavenly and so beyond us in its depth of meaning, that Blessed Alan de la Roche held that no mere creature could ever understand it, and that only our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, can really explain it.  

Its enormous value is due, first of all, to our Lady to whom it was addressed, to the purpose of the Incarnation of the word, for which reason this prayer was brought from heaven, and also to the archangel Gabriel who was the first ever to say it.  

The Angelic Salutation is a most concise summary of all that Catholic theology teaches about the Blessed Virgin.  It is divided into two parts, that of praise and that of petition.  The first shows all that goes to make up Mary’s greatness; and the second, all that we need to ask her for, and all that we may expect to receive through her goodness.  The most Blessed Trinity revealed the first part of it to us; St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Ghost, and the second; and the Church gave us the conclusion in the years 430 when she condemned the Nestorian heresy at the Council of Ephesus and defined that the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God.  

At this time she (Holy Mother Church) ordered us to pray to our Lady under this glorious title by saying, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

The Annunciation by Nicolas Poussin
The greatest event in the whole history of the world was the Incarnation of the eternal Word by whom the world was redeemed and peace was restored between God and men.  Our Lady was chosen as his instrument for this tremendous event and it was put into effect when she was greeted with the Angelic Salutation.  The archangel Gabriel, one of the leading princes of the heavenly court, was chosen as ambassador to bear these glad tidings.  

In the Angelic Salutation can be seen the faith and hope of the patriarchs, the prophets and the apostles.  Furthermore, it gives to martyrs their unswerving constancy and strength, it is the wisdom of the doctors of the Church, the perseverance of the holy confessors and the life of all religious (Blessed Alan).  

Blessed Alan de la Roche with
 Mary and Christ child
It is the new hymn of the law of grace, the joy of angels and men, and the hymn which terrifies devils and puts them to shame.  By the Angelic Salutation God became man, a virgin became the Mother of God, the souls of the just were delivered from Limbo, the empty thrones in heaven have been filled, sin has been pardoned, grace been given to us, the sick been made well, the dead brought back to life, exiles brought home, the Blessed Trinity has been appeased, and men obtained eternal life.  Finally, the Angelic Salutation is the rainbow in the sky, a sign of the mercy and grace which God has given to the world (Blessed Alan).

Even though there is nothing so great as the majesty of God and nothing so low as man in so far as he is a sinner, Almighty God does not despise our poor prayers.  On the contrary, he is pleased when we sing his praises.  And the Angel’s greeting to our Lady is one of the most beautiful hymns which we could possible sing to the glory of the Most High.  “To you will I sing a new song.”  This new hymn, which David foretold would be sung at the coming of the Messiah, is none other than the Angelic Salutation.   

The Holy Trinity
There is an old hymn and a new hymn: the first is that which the Jews sang out of gratitude to God for creating them and maintaining them in existence, for delivering them from captivity and leading them safely through the Red Sea, for giving them manna to eat, and for all his other blessings.  The new hymn is that which Christians sing in thanksgiving for the graces of the Incarnation and the Redemption.  As these marvels were brought about by the Angelic Salutation, so also do we repeat the same salutation to thank the most Blessed Trinity for the immeasurable goodness shown to us.  

We praise God the Father because he so loved the world that he gave us his only Son as our Saviour.  We bless the Son because he deigned to leave heaven and come down upon earth, because he was made man and redeemed us.  We glorify the Holy Ghost because he formed our Lord’s pure body in the womb of our Lady, that body which was the victim for our sins.  In this spirit of deep thankfulness should we, then, always say the Hail Mary, making acts of faith, hope, love and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of salvation.  

Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, it is nevertheless most glorious to the Blessed Trinity, for any honour we pay to our Lady returns inevitably to God, the source of all her perfections and virtues.  God the Father is glorified when we honour the most perfect of his creatures; God the Son is glorified when we praise his most pure Mother; the Holy Ghost is glorified when we are lost in admiration at the graces with which he has filled his spouse.  When we praise and bless our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation, she always refers these praises to God in the same way as she did when she was praised by St. Elizabeth.  The latter blessed her in her high dignity as Mother of God and our Lady immediately returned these praises to God in her beautiful Magnificat.
St. Mechtilde

Just as the Angelic Salutation gave glory to the Blessed Trinity, it is also the very highest praise that we can give to Mary.  One day, when St. Mechtilde was praying and was trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Virgin better than before, she fell into ecstasy.  

Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation written in letters of gold upon her breast and said to her, “My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the greeting which the most adorable Trinity presented to me and by which I was raised to the dignity of the Mother of God.  

“By the word Ave, which is the name of Eve, Eva, I learned that God in his infinite power had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to.  

“The name Mary, which means ‘lady of light’ shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and earth.  

“The words, full of grace, remind me that the Holy Ghost has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through my mediation.  

“When people say, The Lord is with thee, they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the eternal Word became incarnate in my womb.  

“When you say to me, Blessed art thou among women, I praise the mercy of God who has raised me to this exalted degree of happiness.”  

“And at the words, Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus adored and glorified for having saved mankind.”

Blessed Alan de la Roche, who was so deeply devoted to the Blessed Virgin, had many revelations from her, and we know that he confirmed the truth of these revelations by a solemn oath.  Three of them stand out with special emphasis: the first, that if people fail to say the Hail Mary, which has saved the world, out of carelessness, or because they are lukewarm, or because they hate it, this is an indication that they will probably be condemned to eternal punishment.  The second truth is that those who love this divine salutation bear the very special stamp of predestination.  The third is that those to whom God has given this favour of loving our Lady and of serving her out of love must take very great care to continue to love and serve her until the time when she shall have had them placed in heaven by her Son in the degree of glory which they have earned. (Blessed Alan)

This is but a glimpse of the wisdom and insight taught by St. Louis de Montfort.  To read more obtain the book called The Secret of the Rosary.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Our Father Explained by St. Louis de Montfort

The Our Father
Excerpts taken from the 
Secrets of the Rosary by St. Louis de Monfort

The Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer derives its great value above all from its author, who is neither a man nor an angel, but the King of angels and of men, our Lord Jesus Christ.  St. Cyprian says it was necessary that he who came to give us the life of grace as our Saviour should teach us the way to pray as our heavenly Master.

St. Louis de Montfort
The beautiful order, the tender forcefulness and the clarity of this divine prayer pay tribute to our divine Master’s wisdom.  It is a short prayer but can teach us so very much, and it is well within the grasp of uneducated people, while scholars find it a continual source of investigation into the mysteries of God.  The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs. 

Tertullian says that the Our Father is a summary of the New Testament.  Thomas a Kempis says that it surpasses all the desires of all the saints; that it is a condensation of all the beautiful sayings of all the psalms and canticles; that in it we ask God for everything that we need, that by it we praise him in the very best way; that by it we lift up our souls from earth to heaven and unite them closely to God.

St. John Chrysostom
St. John Chrysostom says that we cannot be our Master’s disciples unless we pray as he did and in the way that he showed us.  Moreover, God the Father listens more willingly to the prayer that we have learned from his Son rather than those of our own making, which have all our human limitations.  

We should say the Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear us because it is the prayer of his Son, who he always hears, and because we are his members.  God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord’s Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worth a Son, reinforced by his merits, and made at his behest.

St. Augustine assures us that whenever we say the Our Father devoutly our venial sins are forgiven.  The just man falls seven times, and the Lord’s Prayer he will find seven petitions which will both help him to avoid lapses and protect him from his spiritual enemies.  Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we endure, made his prayer short and easy to say, so that is we say it devoutly and often, we can be sure that God will quickly come to our aid. . .
St. Augustine

. . . People who say the Lord’s Prayer carefully, weighing every word and meditating on them, may indeed call themselves blessed, for they find therein everything that they need or can wish for.  When we say this wonderful prayer, we touch God’s heart at the very outset by calling him by that sweet name of Father. . .

We have God for our Father, so we are all brothers, and heaven is our homeland and our heritage.

. . . So we ought to love our heavenly Father and say to him over and over again:
God the Father

“Our Father who art in heaven” – Thou who dost fill heaven and earth with the immensity of thy being.  Thou who art present everywhere: Thou who art in the saints by thy glory, in the damned by they justice, in the good by thy grace, in sinners by the patience with which thou dost tolerate them, grant that we may always remember that we come from thee; grant that we may live as thy true children; that we may direct our course towards thee alone with all the ardour or our soul. 

“Hallowed be thy name”  The name of the Lord is holy and to be feared, said the prophet-king David, and heaven, according to Isaiah, echoes with the praises of the seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord, God of hosts.  We ask her that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God, who is so great and so holy.  We ask that he may be known, loved and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians and all infidels; that all men may serve and glorify him by a living faith, a staunch hope, a burning charity, and by the renouncing of all erroneous beliefs.  In short, we pray that all men may be holy because our God himself is holy.

“Thy kingdom come”  That is to say; May your reign in our souls by your grace, during life, so that after death we may be found worthy to reign with thee in thy kingdom, in perfect and unending bliss; that we firmly believe in this happiness to come; we hope for it and we expect it, because God the Father has promised it in his great goodness, and because it was purchased for us by the merits of God the Son; and it has been made known to us by the light of the Holy Ghost. 

Thy Will be Done
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”  As Tertullian says, this sentence does not mean in the least we are afraid of people thwarting God’s designs, because nothing whatsoever can happen without divine Providence having foreseen it and having made it fit into his plans beforehand.  No obstruction in the whole world can possibly prevent the will of God from being carried out.  Rather, when we say these words, we ask God to make us humbly resigned to all that he has seen fit to send us in this life.  We also ask him to help us to do, in all things and at all times, his holy will, made known to us by the commandments, promptly, lovingly, and faithfully, as the angels and the blessed do in heaven.

“Give us this day our daily bread”  Our Lord teaches us to ask God for everything that we need, whether in the spiritual or the temporal order.  By asking for our daily bread, we humbly admit our own poverty and insufficiency, and pay tribute to our God, knowing that all temporal goods come from his Providence.  When we say bread we ask for that which is necessary to live; and, of course that does not include luxuries.  We ask for this bread today, which means that we are concerned only for the present, leaving the morrow in the hands of Providence.  And when we ask for our daily bread, we recognize that need God’s help every day and that we are entirely dependent upon him for his help and protection.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”  Every sin, says St. Augustine and Tertullian, is a debt which we contract with God, and he in his justice requires payment down to the last farthing.  Unfortunately we all have these sad debts.  No matter how many they may be, we should go to God with all confidence and with true sorrow for our sins, saying, “Our Father who art in heaven, forgive us our sins of thought and those of speech, forgive us our sins of commission and of omission which make us infinitely guilty in the eyes of thy justice.  “We dare to ask this because thou art our loving and merciful Father, and because we have forgiven those who have offended us out of obedience to you and out of charity.  “Do not permit us, in spite of our infidelity to thy graces, to give in to the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh.

Temptation of Christ
“But deliver us from evil” The evil of sin, from the evil of temporal punishment and of everlasting punishment, which we have rightly deserved. 

“Amen”  This word at the end of the Our Father is very consoling, and St. Jerome says that it is a sort of seal of approbation that God puts at the end of our petitions to assure us that he will grant our requests, as though he himself were answering: “Amen, May it be as you have asked, for truly you have obtained what you asked for.”  That is what is meant by this word: Amen.

. . . Each word of the Lord’s Prayer is a tribute we pay to the perfections of God.  We honour his fecundity by the name of Father.  Father, thou who throughout eternity dost beget a Son who is God like thee, eternal, consubstantial with thee, who is of the very same essence as thee; and is of like power and goodness and wisdom as thou art… Father and Son, who, from our mutual love, produce the Holy Ghost, who is God like unto you; three persons but one God.  Our Father.  

The Holy Trinity
This means that he is the Father of mankind, because he has created us and continues to sustain us, and because he has redeemed us.  He is also the merciful Father of sinners, the Father who is the friend of the just, and the glorious Father of the blessed in heave.  When we say Who art, we honour by these words the infinity and immensity and fullness of God’s essence.  

God is rightly called “He who is;” that is to say, he exists of necessity, essentially, and eternally, because he is the Being of beings and the cause of all beings, and he is in all of them by his essence, by his presence and by his power, but without being bounded by their limitations.  

We honour his sublimity and his glory and his majesty by the words Who art in heaven, that is to say, seated as on thy throne, holding sway over all men by thy justice. . .

. . . It is our duty, therefore, to say it often, with attention, and the same spirit as he composed it.

Louis de Montfort has must more to say in his book, “The Secret of the Rosary”, you should get a copy.