Rosary: September 2007 Archives


For some years now, especially around the Marian feasts of September 8th, September 12th, November 21st, and December 8th, I have prayed my rosary while dwelling on five mysteries of the first part of Our Lady's life. These five mysteries of the Blessed Virgin are:

— the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne;
— the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
— the Most Holy Name of Mary
— the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple;
— the Betrothal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph;

There is a particular sweetness in dwelling on these mysteries of Maria Bambina, the Infant Mary, the Child Mary. They distill graces of purity, of childlike simplicity, and of littleness.

All five mysteries are commemorated in the Sacred Liturgy. The liturgical books are rich in texts to nourish the meditation of each one. It is enough to take an antiphon, a verse, a single phrase, and to hold it in the heart while telling one's beads. The Rosary corresponds to the meditatio and the oratio of monastic prayer; it begins necessarily in lectio divina, the hearing of the Word and then, gently, almost imperceptibly, draws the soul into contemplatio.

The Rosary is, I am convinced, the surest and easiest school of contemplative prayer. The Rosary decapitates pride, the single greatest obstacle to union with God. The repetition of the Aves, like a stream of pure water, cleanses the heart.

A l'école du Père Vayssière

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Father Vayssière

Father Marie-Etienne Vayssière, O.P. (1864-1940) has long occupied a place of honour in my gallery of friends in heaven. Little by little, he is being recognized as a man worthy of a place among the greatest spiritual masters of the Church's history. I regret that he is so little known in the English-speaking world.

Father Vayssière, a Dominican solitary at La Sainte Baume in France, and guardian of the grotto of Saint Mary Magdalene for thirty-two years, was a mystic of the Rosary. His life was marked by illness and, at the same time, by ceaseless prayer. Father Vayssière's particular charism was to guide souls to the heights of contemplation by means of the Rosary. I have translated a few excerpts from his letters explaining the benefits of the Rosary in one's life with God:

Union With Christ

The soul that lives by the Rosary makes her way quickly towards a life of union with Christ. And what are, in fact, the mysteries of the Rosary? They are the very mysteries of Jesus, the mysteries of His life, the mysteries of His grace, the mysteries of His love. The Rosary is the soul truly plunged into Jesus Himself. The Rosary is Jesus filling our spirit, our intelligence, our memory, our imagination, our vision. At each instant and in all the mysteries it is always His Person that comes to the fore, but the reality is always unique, always the same: it is Jesus.

The Flame of Love

The Rosary is not only Jesus filling the spirit; it is also Jesus penetrating and taking over the heart to warm it and set it afire. Can one remain in front of a hearth, of a blazing fire, without being penetrated, in turn, by its warmth? And what comes forth from all the mysteries of the Rosary if not warmth, and the flame of love? How can we not love the One who lavishes such love on us? The One who gives Himself without reserve?

At the Wellspring of a True Holiness

The Rosary is an hour of intimacy with Jesus and Mary, during which all the rest is forgotten. It transports us into what is most intimate to the Christian life to penetrate us with its grace and to rekindle it ceaselessly within us. One who practices the Rosary in this way is at the wellspring of a true holiness.

The Perfume of the Mysteries

One must not only say one's Rosary, but also establish oneself in the atmosphere of the Rosary and in the thought of its mysteries and, there, breathe habitually the divine perfume that emanates from them. One does this by distributing the different mysteries of the Rosary throughout the exercises of the day. The memory of Jesus, of Mary, and of Saint Dominic, impressing itself upon the soul, saves it from the material preoccupations of the day, and allows the soul to live supernatural realities here below. And so, in this way, the Rosary is not merely recited; it is lived.

The Communion of the Evening

In Father Vayssière's time, Holy Mass was always celebrated in the morning. This explains why he loved to call the Rosary "the communion of the evening":

The Rosary is a communion that lasts all the day long, and the communion of the evening that brings into light and into a fruitful resolution the communion of the morning. It is not not merely a series of Ave Marias recited piously; it is Jesus reliving in the soul through the maternal action of Mary.

From Mary to the Trinity

The Rosary is a biblical and trinitarian prayer. It is a kind of lectio divina made in the open book of Mary's Immaculate Heart. The Rosary is a Eucharistic and doxological prayer. Father Vayssière called it, "an enchainment of love from Mary to the Trinity."

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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