Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Queen of the Holy Rosary: Our Hope, Confidence and Refuge

It is such a simple thing to state that October is the month of Our Lady of the Rosary - She who is our hope, our confidence, and our refuge - but, like many simple things, it holds such great meaning! Following September, the month in which we remember the Virgin under Her title Our Lady of Sorrows, this month reminds us that the Lady of the Rosary who receives our loving greetings will always turn our attention to God so as to magnify His Glory.

Remember the Mystery of the Visitation, wherein the Virgin first greeted St. Elizabeth? Our Lady's very presence brought down the Holy Ghost, Her Divine Spouse, so that the voice of His humble Maiden immediately sanctified St. John in the womb of his mother. Filled with the Holy Ghost, St. Elizabeth cried out in a loud voice: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed are thou that thou has believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord." (Luke 1: 40-45)

Our Lady, always filled with the Holy Ghost, offered her canticle of praise, which we call The Magnificat, "My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty has done great things to me; and holy is His Name.And His mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear His name." (Luke 1: 46-50)

It is this same Lady who said at Fatima: "My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the path that leads you to God." This humble and Immaculate Maiden, Mother of God, who lived a most holy life of poverty and suffering, is the Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix of mankind. The Virgin's office, in this life and the next, might be simply phrased in the terms of a singular purpose: To lead souls to God through His Church. (And here is another great mystery, for the Church is a living figure type for the Virgin Herself). It follows that leading souls to God is the purpose of the Most Holy Rosary. All the great saints of the Middle Ages held a great devotion to the Rosary, because they understood that it is a meditation on the Life, Passion and Death of Our Lord.

Can we make the very simple effort of praying one Rosary each day, in order to do at least one thing which Our Lady of Fatima asked of us? In the language of Portugal, a Rosary means 1/3 of the Psalter - that is, the introductory Rosary prayers followed by 5 decades. In 'proper' terms, the entire "Rosary" of 15 decades is called Our Lady's Psalter or the Angelic Psalter.

The faithful and humble praying of the daily Rosary or the entire Psalter is, after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the most highly indulgenced prayer of the Church which cultivates our interior lives. For example, did you know that a plenary indulgence (the complete remission of confessed sins) is granted when the Rosary is prayed within the family or in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

At various times throughout the day, we might also pray one Hail Mary to salute Our Lady and to remind ourselves to always keep the Holy Family foremost in our minds, or we may offer three Hail Mary's (to ask for an increase of the virtues of faith, hope and charity). And then there are the the brief and ardent salutations, like the prayer given to mankind on the Miraculous Medal: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

Too, there are these two prayers: Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! And what of the favorite short prayer of the Blessed Jacinta of Fatima: Sweet Heart of Mary, be our salvation!

Finally, we have many prayers composed by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, who wrote The Glories of Mary. The following three address Our Lady as Our Hope, Our Confidence and Our Refuge - so eloquently stating what is in the mind and hearts of faithful Catholics who have recourse to the Mother of God - our Divine Savior, Jesus Christ:

Prayer of Hope by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse this day. I venerate thee, great Queen, and I thank thee for the many graces thou hast bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the Hell which I have so often deserved by my sins.

I love thee, most dear Lady; and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly for ever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others also. I place in thee all my hopes for salvation; accept me as thy servant and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death.

From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God, I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.

Prayer of Confidence by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
O most pure Virgin Mary, I venerate thy most Holy Heart, which was the delight and resting place of God, thy heart overflowing with humility, purity, and Divine love. I, an unhappy sinner, approach thee with a heart all loathsome and wounded. O compassionate Mother, disdain me not on this account; let such a sight rather move thee to greater tenderness, and excite thee to help me. Do not stay to seek virtues or merit in me before assisting me. I am lost, and the only thing I merit is hell. See only my confidence in thee and the purpose I have to amend.

Consider all that Jesus has done and suffered for me, and then abandon me if thou canst. I offer thee all the pains of His life; the cold that He endured in the stable; His journey into Egypt; the blood which He shed; the poverty, sweats, sorrows, and death that He endured for me; and this in thy presence. For the love of Jesus, take charge of my salvation. Ah, my Mother, I will not and cannot fear that thou wilt reject me, now that I have recourse to thee and ask thy help. Did I fear this, I should be offering an outrage to thy mercy, which goes in quest of the wretched, in order to help them.

O Lady, deny not thy compassion to one to whom Jesus has not denied His Blood. But the merits of this Blood will not be applied to me unless thou recommendest me to God. Through thee do I hope for salvation. I ask not for riches, honors, or earthly goods. I seek only the grace of God, love towards thy Son, the accomplishment of His will, and His heavenly Kingdom, that I may love Him eternally.

Is it possible that thou wilt not hear me? No; for already thou hast granted my prayer, as I hope; already thou prayest for me; already thou obtainest me the graces that I ask; already thou takest me under thy protection.

My Mother, abandon me not. Never, never cease to pray for me, until thou seest me safe in Heaven at thy feet, blessing and thanking thee forever. Amen.

Prayer of Refuge by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Behold, O Mother of my God, my only hope, Mary, behold at thy feet a miserable sinner, who asks thee for mercy. Thou art proclaimed and called by the whole Church, and by all the faithful, the refuge of sinners. Thou art consequently my refuge; thou hast to save me. I will say with William of Paris: Thou knowest, most sweet Mother of God, how much thy blessed Son desires our salvation. Thou knowest all that Jesus Christ endured for this end.

I present thee, O my Mother, the sufferings of Jesus: the cold that He endured in the stable, His journey into Egypt, His toils, His sweat, the Blood that He shed; the anguish which caused His death on the Cross, and of which thou wast thyself a witness. Oh, show that thou lovest thy beloved Son, and by this love I implore thee to assist me. Extend thy hand to a poor creature who has fallen and asks thy help.

Were I a Saint I would not need seek thy mercy; but because I am a sinner I fly to thee, who art the Mother of mercies. I know that thy Compassionate Heart finds it a consolation in assisting the miserable, when thou canst do so, and dost not find them obstinate. Console, then, thy Compassionate Heart, and console me this day; for now thou hast the opportunity of saving a poor creature condemned to Hell; and thou canst do so, for I will not be obstinate.

I abandon myself into thy hands, only tell me what thou wouldst have me do, and obtain for me strength to execute it, for I am resolved to do all that depends on me to recover the Divine grace. I take refuge under thy mantle.

Jesus wills that I should have recourse to thee, in order not only that His Blood may save me, but also that thy prayers may assist me in this great work; for thy glory and for His Own, since thou art His Mother. He sends me to thee, that thou mayest help me.

O Mary, see, I have recourse to thee; in thee do I confide. Thou prayest for so many others, pray also for me; say only a word. Tell Our Lord that thou willest my salvation, and God will certainly save me. Say that I am thine, and then I have obtained all that I ask, all that I desire. Amen.

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