A Mighty Help to Our Mothers’ Heroes

We here at Saint Benedict Center are in between two big fall events — the Pilgrimage for Restoration, which has us limping and aching, and our annual Conference, which has us feverishly preparing. Because of that, my time to write a new Ad Rem has been curtailed, so I have a guest author: our own Sister Marie Gabrielle, M.I.C.M. The following is an excerpt from an excellent talk you may listen to online. It concerns a new book our Sisters have published: The Liturgical Rosary: Meditations for Each Hour, Day & Season of the Liturgical Year.

A Mighty Help to Our Mothers’ Heroes
Adapted from the Sensus Fidelium Talk, “Doubling the Blade”

Heroes and Warriors

While secular history furnishes us with plenty of examples of warriors who were anything but heroic, when you baptize these two particular concepts, the resulting connection between them is rather striking. You see, warriors are supposed to fight the bad guys; heroes are supposed to save the good guys. And when your bad guys are the World, the Flesh, and the Powers of Darkness, and the good guys are your children, your parents, your spouse, your neighbor — suddenly a whole new light is thrown on the two-tone quality of our vocation as Christians.

We are called to be both — heroes and warriors.

Knowing this, and well aware of the difficulties inherent in the spiritual battle facing the heroic would-be warriors of the Church Militant today, Arouca Press has contracted with my Community, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to bring into print a weapon. A weapon that warriors who want to be heroes, and heroes who can’t help but be warriors, are going to love. One weapon. Two blades.

It’s called The Liturgical Rosary.

The value of such a compilation should be easily apparent. We know that when push comes to shove, it is not the element of vocal prayer that is the hardest part of wielding the glorious weapon of Our Lady’s most holy Rosary. Nor is it the standing and sitting and kneeling that pose the greatest challenge to a devout attendance at Mass and a reverent recitation of the Office. The hardest part, the part most likely to compromise the efficacy of your prayer, is keeping your mind focused. That “no mind” business from The Last Samuri — no good here. We need our minds. We are where our thoughts are. What did Our Lady tell Bl. Mary of Agreda? “When the Rosary is said properly, my power is behind it. Say it with my Divine Son and me in mind” — think about Us — “then each bead can conquer a host of men.” But it’s hard to think about the Mysteries. The devil sees to that very diligently. And because it’s hard, we need help.

Hence the vast plethora of Rosary meditation books out there. All of them are good, all of them beneficial. None of them quite like this one. Something new has just hit the Traditional Catholic Warrior market: a double-bladed sword.

The Liturgical Rosary

Talk about fighting the bad guys and saving the good guys — Arouca Press’ Liturgical Rosary is packed. Here are just a few highlights.

  • The foreward by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski deals head-on with the question of whether the laity shouldn’t rather be praying the Breviary in preference to the Rosary. If everyone admits that the Divine Office is more powerful, why aren’t we spending our evenings saying Vespers with our family? Fascinating question, and he has a fabulous conclusion to match it.

  • This book also offers a method for chanting the Rosary — one that could very well end up taking the entire Traditional Catholic world by storm. We already know the devil HATES Latin and the devil HATES Gregorian chant — because the devil hates everything that God loves. So our Catholic instincts tell us that a chanted Latin Rosary is a brilliant offensive strategy. The problem is, if you do a search online for “chanting the Rosary” most of the versions currently available to the general public are ones that take at least an hour, some even an hour-and-a-half, to chant five decades. And that is not surprising, considering practically all of them use the well-known version of the Ave Maria — the one that takes almost fifty seconds to sing reverently. Most people do not have that kind of time. It simply is not practical. However, the method given in Arouca’s book uses the Mode 4 Ave from the chanted Angelus, (which you can listen to online, it’s very lovely); this Ave takes about thirteen seconds. That is comparable to what the spoken Latin Hail Mary takes — which means it is now suddenly possible to chant five decades of the Rosary (even with an antiphon preceding each decade, and yes, there are suggested antiphons in this book, as well) in just over half-an-hour.

Is that not exciting? Can you imagine — chanting the Rosary with your fellow parishoners in church before Mass on Sunday; chanting the Rosary with your family…or with your youth group…or in your Catholic nursing home…or at your homeschool co-op? The graces that would come with that would be unspeakable. Not to mention the devil would be really mad.

  • Part Two is “The Canonical Hours” and begins the heart and soul of the book. It has a full set of fifteen meditations, one for each Mystery of the Rosary, for each Canonical Hour of each day of the week. Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline for Monday. Matins, Lauds, etc., for Tuesday…for Wednesday. And every single meditation was taken from the liturgical texts for that Hour.

  • Part Four is the Immovable feasts. Sets of meditations taken from every single feast day on the traditional Liturgical calendar, starting with St. Andrew on November 30th.

  • Part Five is the Propers of the Season — meditations from the Masses of Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Septuagesima, Lent. They’re all here.

  • Part Seven has sets of meditations for Various Occasions: Baptisms, weddings, funerals, you name it.

If this is sounding a bit like a missal to you — good. It’s supposed to. This book was deliberately patterned after the traditional Roman rite missal; it was explicitly designed to bind the two swords together.

Doubling the Blade

Because even though the Virgin’s Rosary and the Church’s Liturgy are intrinsically united in their purpose of keeping us in constant contact with the mysteries of our Faith and the truths enshrined therein, have you ever noticed that the two can sometimes feel a little bit out of sync with each other? For example — say Christmas falls on a Tuesday; the Mysteries of the Day are supposed to be the Sorrowful Mysteries, not the Joyful. Have you ever felt that it is a little tricky to be under the joyous spell of a Virgin Mother with the Infant God wrapped in Her arms…and be trying to think about the Scourging at the Pillar at the same time? The problem is not a contradiction between the Mysteries themselves; the problem is how do you acquire the fine art of connecting them: how do you mentally, emotionally, spiritually align the two. We don’t want to go schizophrenic and start haphazardly bouncing our attention back and forth between them; we certainly don’t want to be callous and ignore one or the other. No. Our sensus catholicus wants them connected. We just need help doing it.

That is why, we believe, Our Lady has allowed this book to come into existence. To help.

The Magic of these Meditations

Listen to this, it is Meditation 7 (for the Scourging at the Pillar) taken from page 303 for Christmas Day: “Our Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works (Titus 2:13,14).” The connection is there, but it calls for a little unearthing. Try putting both the images side by side in your imagination: Christ in the manger and Christ at the Pillar. (One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to meditate is to do exactly this: to hold two truths in your mind at the same time and contemplate one in light of the other.) Look at the Christ Child: “He gave Himself for us.” Now look at the Prisoner: “that He might redeem us from all iniquity.” And now you begin to realize: this Scourging is that baptism wherewith He was to be baptized; He came for this — He has been waiting His whole life for this moment, more eager to suffer than others were to inflict suffering on Him (if you can imagine such a thing). Why? To cleanse us — His people, His own brothers according to the Flesh, His own Flesh and Blood according to the Doctrine of the Mystical Body — that we might pursue good works. Not foul, sensual, selfish works, such as we automatically default to without His grace — but good works. Like what? Like love of God. What does that look like? Well, look at Him. THAT is what Love looks like.

It is almost like magic. What begins as a little spark of suspense, when you read the meditation assigned to whatever Mystery of the Rosary, you come at it wondering, “What is the connection?” And because your attention is engaged, the entirety of the next three minutes that you are about to spend on that decade become this miniature treasure hunt: It is as though the Church is guiding you by one hand, and Our Lady has you gently by the other — you never know quite what you are going to find. But you know it is going to be beautiful. And this magic is present in every single meditation for every single feast for the entire year.

It’s all here. The richness of the our traditional Catholic Liturgy in bite-size pieces scattered throughout your whole day but for the purpose of saturating your whole life. It’s wonderful.

A Preliminary Form — of Unspeakable Potential

On the other hand, there may be people right now whose eyebrow — singular — has remained arched for the duration of this article as they wonder — legitimately — “What do these Slaves think they’re doing, parading the Rosary around as a Liturgical prayer when it’s not? What gives?”

If this objection happened occur to you — rest easy. All we have done, all we claim to have done, is compiled a devotional book for devotional purposes. But we are not unaware of the fact that in so doing we have given something of a form the amazing dream shared by both Sister Lucia of Fatima and Ven. Fr. Patrick Peyton: the dream of the Rosary being one day elevated by the Church to the status of a Liturgical prayer. Our book makes no pretense at being a finalized, polished, perfected form (which only the Church could do) — but merely a preliminary form, a rough draft, as it were. It is something that, in the spirit of the docile children we aspire to be, we now present to the Church — “Here, Your Excellency; here, Your Eminence; here, Your Holiness. Here is one idea, one version, of what the Rosary as a Liturgical prayer could look like. Take it and do with it what you will.” It is starter dough. That is all. Whether the Church actually does anything with it, we leave completely to God’s Providence.

But we hope that she will. And why is that? Because for the last 800 years, our Mother the Church, in her Wisdom and maternal solicitude, has been telling her children, “These beads are a great tool, a magnificent weapon. Use these to solve your problems, to protect yourselves and your loved ones.” She has spoken, she has urged and exhorted and encouraged, and practically bribed us to make use of the Rosary. But it has remained all the while the prayer of the children. Whereas, to officially incorporate the holy Rosary into her body of liturgical worship — to codify its form, to give it rubrics, to bind a particular class of Catholics to its daily recitation (say, for instance, members of lay Religious Communities like mine) — that would be like Holy Mother Church forging a sword for herself, even sharper and sturdier than the one she has made available to her children, unsheathing it before our wondering eyes, and saying, “Come. I will show you how to use this blade to maximum effect.”

Can you think of a more powerful way for the Church on earth to prove that she takes seriously the admonitions of the Queen of Heaven? Actions speak louder than words. Imagine the Church SHOWING her children, not just telling them, how important the Rosary is; leading them by example — not just by exhortation. By example. I think the whole Catholic world would rally to that standard.

Which isn’t to say the idea of a Liturgical Rosary will necessarily catch on right away. If people are happy doing the whole ambidextrous routine, Rosary-sword in one hand, Liturgy-sword in the other, great.

But there are those who will find the idea of Arouca’s new double-bladed sword totally irresistible. You will see it for what it is: a help for those who wish to be absolutely and lovingly devoted God and His beautiful Mother; a help for those already fighting from within that magic circle of generous hero-warriors championing the cause of Christ and His beautiful Bride. In a word, you will recognize in this book a mighty help for our Mothers’ heroes.

And you will not be disappointed.