"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 95
When looking for images for the readalong, I was surprised to find audiobook "cover art" among the top images. Not being a big audiobook "reader" (though I love having an audience for "read aloud" =P), I'm a little surprised. Is anyone here using an audio copy of The Secret of the Rosary--and if so, do you think it affects how you receive St. Louis de Montfort's preaching?
I should like to give you even more reason for embracing this devotion which so many great souls have practised; the Rosary recited with meditation on the mysteries brings about the following marvelous results:
1. it gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ;
2. it purifies our souls, washing away sin;
3. it gives us victory over all our enemies;
4. it makes it easy for us to practise virtue;
5. it sets us on fire with love of Our Blessed Lord;
6. it enriches us with graces and merits;
7. it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.
There are probably a million reasons to pray the rosary, but I'm starting to think they shouldn't be presented in a list. What we should be aiming for is more of a unified field theory. For every possible benefit of the rosary is related to all the others. Taken together, they give us a much bigger picture than that of the rosary as just one of many beneficial devotions.
The Third Decade
The readalongs I end up remembering most fondly are those which gave me an unexpected thematic hook on which to hang all my thoughts about the books. Stephen King's Pet Sematary had rites of passage . . . Michael Crichton's State of Fear had human sacrifice . . . and now St. Louis de Montfort's Secret of the Rosary has predestination.
It is actually thanks to our latest read that I finally bothered to look up the Catholic understanding of predestination . . . and to learn how much it has in common with my understanding of time travel. I had been put off by the worry that it would be too difficult to understand, but now that I get it, I think it's #totallyQED. Let me explain . . .
Since God is outside time, He already knows your future: that is, He knows not just what He did to save you but also what you did to work out your salvation in cooperation with Him--even if you haven't done it as of this moment. But it is incredibly easy to go from here to making the same mistake James Cameron did when he got Kyle Reese to say in his Annunciation to Sarah Connor, "The future is not set." I mean, of course the future is set. That's #totallyDUH What is not set is the present. (The future is not set only inasmuch as it is someone else's present.) And that's why Sarah has to go through about twenty-four hours of fear and trembling in The Terminator alone. Reese's assurance that she will live long enough to have a baby does not magically protect her from the T-800 trying to kill her that very day.
That is, the takeaway from the doctrine of predestination is not that we have no work to do, but that we have to work as if our lives depend on it. Which they do. And I refer to our eternal lives.
So what is this work that we must take up? St. Louis has his own take on the answer the Church has been teaching for years . . .
The chief concern of a Christian soul should be to tend to perfection . . .
Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes a delightful comparison when he says that we are all artists and that our souls are blank canvases which we have to fill in. The colors which we must use are the Christian virtues, and our Model is Jesus Christ, the perfect Living Image of God the Father. Just as a portrait painter who wants to do a good job places himself before his model and glances at him before making each stroke, so the Christian must always have the life and virtues of Jesus Christ before his eyes so that he may never say, think or do the least thing which is not in harmony with his Model.
It was because Our Lady wanted to help us in the great task of working out our salvation that she ordered Saint Dominic to teach the faithful to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. She did this, not only that they might adore and glorify Him, but chiefly that they might pattern their lives and actions upon His virtues.
Brandon noticed early on that one theme of The Secret of the Rosary is imitation of Jesus and Mary, and I finally get a sense of it here. For it is by imitating them that we do our share of working out our salvation--which is to say, our perfection. If you don't like the word "predestination," then every time you read it, just substitute the word "perfection," and the meaning will be just the same. For we are not instantly made perfect, but have our whole lives to work toward perfection by cooperating with grace. Same doctrine, same hashtag: #totallyQED
It's clear how praying the rosary is an imitation of Mary: she was the first to ponder all the mysteries of her Son's life in her heart, and those who meditate on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary can do the same.
Of course, the real deal is the imitation of Jesus, which I'm embarrassed to admit I never got until now. Despite having said, hundreds of times, "O God . . . grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain . . ." I really didn't get it. My only consolation is that I knew I didn't get it. =P It turns out that one disadvantage of loving the rosary for its own sake is not bothering to look too far beyond it. And in my case, it was compounded by an unrelated mistake of forgetting that virtue is a habit rather than a grace.
Praying the rosary is good in and of itself, but it becomes even better when it gives us a clearer idea of how to be like Jesus. But it is a whole other good to work at being like Jesus, Who is perfect--and the rosary is at its best when it feeds into that.
This decade about more reasons to pray the rosary ends with reasons to join the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. And of course these reasons include a long and gorgeous list of indulgences. Again, as a list, they're not very impressive. But as soon as you plug them into the unified field theory, they look as amazing as they really are.
What do you think of Roses 21 to 30?
1) Have you ever seen the fruits of a devotion show up in your day-to-day life?
2) Do you prefer practicing your devotions alone or as part of a group?
Image Sources: a) The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort, read by Matthew Arnold, b) Pet Sematary by Stephen King, c) State of Fear by Michael Crichton, d) The Terminator poster