Laetitae Sanctae is another one of Leo XIII encyclical on the Rosary it is like several of the others which are implore the praying of the rosary in October. Pope Leo notes that the praying of the rosary devoutly not only helps the individual but also but society as a whole as well. His holiness goes on to say that there are three obstacles that arise in the world “first, the distaste for a simple and labourious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life.” These are tied to the mysteries of the Rosary.
The first, the distaste for poverty relates to the joyful mysteries where we focus on Christ as a child. So much of society says that we need to amass riches so we can buy this or that to become a better person and we should “work smarter not hard”. However it takes hard work to get rich. As we look at these mysteries we see “simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love – not of the false and fleeting kind – but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness of service.” This is what we need to bring into the world.
The second, repugnance to suffering relates to the sorrowful mysteries where we focus on the Passion of Christ. It is sad that violence has become so pervasive that in just about every movie it seem features some horrible act of violence, or really just turning on the news we hear of some murder. Society as a whole has become desensitized to it even when most of us haven’t seen it in person we’ve all seen it in the movie and television programs we watch. Sure we understand that violence is bad but we often forget about the suffering and grief left behind. Yet we must remember the actions of Jesus and follow in his footsteps, as St. Thomas says in the gospel “Let us also go, that we might die with him” (John 11:16)
The third and last one, forgetfulness of the future relates to the glorious mysteries where the focus turns to the resurrection and life in heaven. All too often we look to the future and our own personal safety with a mix of materialism and nationalism. Here is where the problem arises the militarization of individuals to serve their nation, but at the neglect of the world as a whole. We are all in the same boat and the more people rocking it the sooner we will capsize. Pope Leo put is as we may doubt if “God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.” Let us remember the eternal banquet that awaits us all.
Pope Leo then talks a bit about Rosary confraternities calling them the battalions who fight the battle of Christ under the direction of the Virgin Mother noting the victory at Lepanto. This, the rosary, is the Hope of the Church. Let us all take some time and pull out a rosary and pray it.
The fruit of this mystery is Salvation and Forgiveness.
This is the final Sorrowful Mystery and the fruits are apt. With his death leading us all to salvation as St. Paul says it is through the death of Jesus that leads us to life eternal. This is the turning point in Salvation History we are living in the aftermath of this as we try to build the kingdom here on earth. Forgiveness is another thing that stems from the death of Christ. As we inch closer to the end of the season of Lent if you have the chance to go to Confession by all means go and do it. Let us also take some ownership in building up the kingdom by making the world a better place.
The fruit of this mystery is Patience.
This is one of the things that we all could ask for more of. Patience is a virtue it’s also one of the fruits of the Spirit. Of all the virtues and fruits of the spirit this is the one that it would be nice if we could have more in the world. For many of us living in a world surrounded by instant gratification and doing multiple things at the same time patience can seem like a bizarre concept. Francis de Sales once wrote “Be patient with everyone but especially with yourself; I mean that you should not be troubled about your imperfections and that you should always have courage to pick yourself up afterwards.” Let us keep this in mind as we anxiously await the end of the season of Lent, and just in general.
The fruit of this mystery is Contempt of the world and Courage.
This is a rather difficult fruit for most people to comprehend Contempt of the world. We all live in the world some more so than other but it’s a constant struggle for us to forget about Worldly Concerns as we are surrounded by them constantly. Yet, looking at this fruit it’s much more about living a contemplative life. As we read in Ecclesiastes “Vanity of vanities all is vanity” this is basically saying that sure the world exists but it doesn’t really matter there are more important things to focus on. This is takes the average person great courage to turn away for the excesses and splendors of this world. If we could all take some time as we continue through this Lenten season to just take a little break from our technology put down the tablets, phones and computers and pick up a book or take to a person in real life check out your neighborhood, visit a friend. We all need to take little breaks from our regular lives and refocus.
The fruit of the Mystery is Mortification and Purity.
When most people hear the word mortification they jump to the self flagellation and wearing of hairshirt like the albino in The DaVinci Code. It could also be like putting a pebble in your shoe and walking around with it. Pope John Paul II, wrote an Apostolic Letter on Suffering, Salvifici Doloris, in which he wrote “Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but he states: “Follow me!”. Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross”. On the other side Purity is also a fruit of the mystery and we need to strive to be pure if we want to follow the Lord. Confession is a major help in keeping us pure.
The fruit of this mystery is Sorrow for Sin, Uniformity with the will of God.
As we enter into the Lenten season this is something to think about. Sure we all sin and I am sure that we all don’t want to talk about it, just think about how many people put off going to Confession for years. For our sins to be forgiven we need to be contrite and sorry for what we have done. Since that’s what God wants or whatever. If you have some time during Lent perhaps head to confession and do some other church related business, Stations of the Cross or going to the Lenten Fish Fry/Soup Supper.
This time around it is added to the end and it is the same for both versions of the Rosary. Once again it bring Mary back into the mysteries, as the add after the Crucifixion, The Body of the Lord was placed in the Arms of His Sorrowful Mother. This is the part of the story that we mostly skip over, since it’s not in the Bible accounts which says that Joseph of Arimathea takes the body and places it in a tomb. The image with Mary and Jesus is known as the Pietà and it is a popular thing in art as are images of others crying over Jesus these are all types of Lamentation of Christ. Michelangelo has the most famous Pietà.
I am a fan so far of these additional mysteries as we continually come back to Mary, and for most of the Rosary Mary isn’t mentioned anywhere. I hope that we can reflect on the pain that Mary felt when she held her son in her arms, as Simeon had prophesied at the Presentation “A sword will pierce your own soul” and may we share in this sorrow. Since we are there at the foot of the cross with Mary and the beloved disciple (John) whenever we are struggling in our lives we need to remember this.
The final sorrowful mystery is difficult for some to truly grasp the whole idea of it. Ultimately it is an act of love but all to often we tend to focus on the sadness of the event. Jesus suffers and dies for all of us no matter who we are we have been saved through Jesus. Love is the base of our life and faith, without it there is nothing. This recent synod of Bishops they have been talking about “non traditional” couples and divorce. The media has gone mad over this changing view of homosexuality in the church, I however do not see this changing view, I know of many homosexuals who are active in the church and all that jazz. Even Pope Francis said before “Who am I to judge.” If Jesus were alive today he would most likely be with the homosexuals and other fringe group in the world. trying to spread the message of love to all people.
We can take the role of Jesus in the world today and step up showing love to others. It reminds me of something Tertullian observed, he said that the pagans would note “See how these Christians love one another.” We need to become these people once again all to often we do the bare minimum in our faith lives going to mass on Sunday and then forgetting about it until the following week. We should be spreading the message of Love that we hear from the gospel and preach it without words. The Crucifixion is the ultimate sign of love and we are all to aspire to it, to lay down ones life for a friend, or really anyone else.
As we return to the Rosary this week Jesus has just been given his cross to bear. Now there are many different ways that this is depicted and it seems like no one is sure if it was a whole cross that was carried or just the cross bar. Jesus taking up the cross reminds of the call of the disciple “Anyone who wants to be my follower, must turn from selfishness, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” To be followers of Jesus we must take up our crosses. All to often we forget about the sacrifice that we all need to take and instead are preoccupied with the things of the world. This call is why some Christians wear crosses as a reminder of this.
Paul later tells us that by the death of Jesus on a tree it overrides the Old Testament “Cursed is he who hangs from a tree” and offers us all salvation. The wood of the cross become a beacon of peace, hope and love. The cross is an important symbol in our faith that we take for granted how often do we go into a church and not even really take notice of the cross, and for many even crossing oneself has gotten to the point of being a repetitive motion. I hope that during this week we can focus on the cross and come to understand to meaning of the cross, and be willing to pick our own crosses up and follow Jesus.
The third sorrowful mystery is the Crowning with Thorns and it covers a grand total of like a line in the Gospels. It takes place right after the Scourging at the Pillar, the soldiers were mocking Jesus and they dressed him in a purple cloth, which indicates royalty, and they wove a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. This was most likely since the Emperor wore one and soldiers could receive a ceremonial crown if they saved a Roman citizen. The crowning with thorns is a coronation of sorts through the mockery Jesus is crowned King of Earth.
There is also a symbolic connection to the story of Abraham, when he brought Issac up the mountain to sacrifice him. Abraham was ready and willing to sacrifice his son to the heavenly Father, but The Lord provides a ram caught in the brambles as a substitute. Jesus become the sacrificial lamb for all of us. On Sunday we heard that Jesus emptied himself, took the form of a slave, became human, and humbled himself becoming obedient even to the point of death. This is the sacrifice that Jesus did for us without us asking or knowing him, are we willing to do something similar and die for other.
It is also the sacrifice of Abraham. We should all know the covenant Abram was promised that his descendents would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, Abram asked how could this be since his wife was old and they had no children. The Lord gave them a child and later on asks Abraham to take his son, his one and only, the one he loves and offer him up as a sacrifice. Abraham was going to do it and lose everything in the world but his hand was steadied by an angel and the ram showed up. Could we do the same thing that Abraham does to prove our faith? Ultimately these sacrifices are all based on Love. How much do we Love the Lord and are we willing to give up everything we have for the Lord. For many of us it seems that our Love of the Lord ends when we exit the Church on Sunday and during the week we are non-religious and could care less who we hurt as long it is best for us. I hope that during this week/next week we can remember to bring the love we experience on Sunday out into the world.