Nancy over at The Cloistered Heart has a lovely post on the Divine Office. Read about it here.
Today’s feast reminds us of the power of the Rosary and the value of prayer. It was established by St. Pius V on the anniversary of the naval victory won by the Christian fleet at Lepanto. Mary’s intercession was invoked through the praying of the Rosary by the faithful. The victory was attributed to her aide. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of Mary and a penetration into the mysteries of Christ. When we pray the Rosary we are following Mary’s example and are associating ourselves closely with the mysteries of salvation: the incarnation, passion and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God. To say the Rosary well requires recollection. Saying the prayers well and meditating on the events from the Gospels will nourish our interior life. The Rosary said well becomes for us a quarter of an hour’s meditation.
Happy indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners;
nor sits in the company of scorners;
but who delight is in the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night.
~ Psalm 1: 1-2
Happiness. We all want this – it is a deep longing in all of us. The psalm tells us that the happy man is a virtuous one. A virtuous man is the one who doesn’t sin or lead a sinful life doing evil, nor is he one who scorns the ways of God. Rather, the happy man ponders God’s law day and night.
…….meditates….. looks at for some length.
Back to this longing. It is a longing for God whether we are aware of it or not. This longing is for union; to be one with God. To contemplate “to seek ―mysterious union with God by way of contemplation” (OCDS Constitutions I,9b) Contemplation is a gift. It cannot be arrived at on our own power. It is also not necessary for our salvation.
St. Teresa says it is a love gift (Way 25:2), it is peace (Way 31:2), it is drinking from the fount of living water (Way 32:9). Therefore, who wouldn’t want this? We should desire this gift, but also, humbly submit to God’s will for us in receiving it or not.
This gift of contemplation has many wonderful effects in those who do receive it. In The Way of Perfectionchapter 36, St. Teresa innumerates the many benefits: humility, love of God, detachment from being esteemed, fortitude in the virtue of forgiveness, and the acceptance of trials, temptations, persecutions and struggles. Sounds good.
St. Teresa is clear in her teachings on this prayer that a high degree of virtue is necessary for contemplation. The one virtue that she desires us to have most is humility (Way 38, Way 4:4). This is the foundational virtue required in order to receive the gift of contemplation.
“I mean that the King of glory will not come to our souls — that is, so as to be united with them — unless we strive to gain the greatest virtues.” (Way 16, 2)
I cannot think of any better way to learn of the virtues, and to have as an example for us to follow, than from the Lord Jesus. And to learn from him we need to become familiar with the Scriptures, particularly, the Gospels. St. Teresa was fond of the Gospels (Way 21,3). If I draw near to him, he will teach me. This is why St. Teresa has us meditate on the Gospels in particular. What better way is there to know Christ and to let him teach you from the examples and words he gives us there.
Happy indeed is the man. . .
. . . who ponders his law day and night.
The LORD sends a command to earth; his word runs swiftly!
Thus snow is spread like wool, frost is scattered like ash,
Hail is dispersed like crumbs; before such cold the waters freeze.
Again he sends his word and they melt; the wind is unleashed and the waters flow.
The LORD also proclaims his word to Jacob, decrees and laws to Israel.
God has not done this for other nations; of such laws they know nothing. Hallelujah!