Rosary Miscellany

Our Mother is patient and kind.

The first joyful mystery is the Annunciation.  This, of course, refers to the moment when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear the Son of God Most High.

One often reflects on the magnitude of this announcement.  From then-Cardinal Ratzinger:

The salutation to Mary (Lk 1:28-32) is modeled closely on Zephaniah 3: 14-17: Mary is the daughter Zion addressed there, summoned to ” rejoice”, in formed [sic] that the Lord is coming to her. Her fear is removed, since the Lord is in her midst to save her. Laurentin makes the very beautiful remark on this text: “… As so often, the word of God proves to be a mustard seed…. One understands why Mary was so frightened by this message (Lk 1:29). Her fear comes not from lack of understanding nor from that small-hearted anxiety to which some would like to reduce it. It comes from the trepidation of that encounter with God, that immeasurable joy which can make the most hardened natures quake.”

Now see:  Could more than a day have passed since Mary prayed to God to send His Messiah?

Oh, how God answers prayers.


This thought has appeared elsewhere, but it warrants repeating:  The first Glorious Mystery is the Resurrection.

That’s the first mystery of glory.  A man rising from the dead.

And then there’s more…


My reflections during the Rosary are often in words, concepts.  But once, when I arrived at the Crucifixion of our Lord, words failed me, even within my mind.

Yet I had an image of Christ on the cross, so I just looked at Him.


The Luminous mysteries are unique in that they contain “The Proclamation of the Kingdom.”  But this is not a story proper – there is no clear thing happening, but a man speaking.

Still, it had to be done – Jesus had to announce the purpose for which He had come.  In that, I suppose the story, as it were, is as much about us hearing the proclamation as it was for anyone, in any time.

In other words, the Kingdom is always arriving.  What will you do with this?


“Joyful” mystery – finding of Jesus in the Temple.  Personally, I am struck by the interpretation of this event which says this is the nearest Mary came to experiencing sin, which is a loss of intimacy with God.  She, for a period of a few days, felt His absence most acutely.


The second Sorrowful Mystery – I am shaken by the fortitude of Christ at the pillar, being cut to ribbons by the centurions’ whips.

We were made – my God, You made us – with nerve endings that would give us awareness of the world around us, and also of our physical condition.  When something is harmful to our bodies, it hurts.

Here, after centuries of perfecting the art of torture, we see the full exploitation of this ostensibly useful feature:  Those nerves, down to the tenderest tissue, are slashed and ripped away from the Body.  What the body simply is, is torn away.  It is painful even in the abstract.

And for love of all the world, He does not quit, or complain, or break.


The crown of thorns represents the full ignorance of man.  You could not capture it more perfectly.


The Transfiguration sometimes strikes me – if one may speak this way – as one of the most important stories in all of Scripture.  It is the pre-resurrection assurance of glory.  It is one thing to have a voice from Heaven at the baptism – and that is enough! – but to have the same voice, and then to see the Man, resplendent in light.

It is everything short of rising from the dead.  It is a stone’s throw away from creating ex nihilo.


And finally, for now, the assumption of Mary.  By this point all of the mysteries have been lived out, before her eyes, except those which elevated her to her final glory.

She has seen the culmination and climax of salvation history, the entire hope of the whole history of her people.  The Lord Himself now dwells on earth as Holy Ghost, setting the world on fire.  There is no more doubt about the course of history.

What of her, then?  Was that enough, to live through all of this?

It might be enough.  And yet, all of that – all of it – points to something more.  Something higher.

So Mary will not descend to the grave, but is lifted to Heaven.  What a love our Lord has for her!  How she carries His original hope for all of mankind!


And I cannot begin to fathom the celebration that occurs at her coronation…

Politics and Catholicism – 14

Let us add a little depth to the metaphor.

The human being – and the human race, by expansion – possesses two drives which we in the modern world call “Progressive” and “Reactionary.”

Left and Right, or “To subdue the earth” and “To heed the natural order.”

Now, the metaphor is that of Cthulhu, swimming.  The current pulls everything to the right, toward the natural order, terminating in a sheer fall – certain death.  Therefore, Cthulhu swims left, to escape the turbulence and danger of the natural order.

The further he swims left, the less imminent the danger.  He might finally relax in the water, even become playful.  Yet, dangers still exist, and since he knows everything to the right becomes more threatening, he swims left.

And now the water is much calmer, still pulling but requiring very little effort to resist.  Cthulhu might begin to impose his own design on the river, building a place to be seated by the bank or small dams to break the water.  He will lose the exercise of those muscles which preserved him in the rapids, in favor of skills that enhance his pleasure and comfort in these less troubled waters.

New dangers await.  Stagnant water harbors bacteria.  His muscles have atrophied – if he wanders too far down river, he will surely drown.  Other creatures compete for food, and even as the apex predator he can be overwhelmed by a mass of them.  Moreover, there is an indescribable sense of discomfort, of not quite fitting in one’s environment, which the great beast cannot understand.  That, quite simply, is that he was made to rule in stronger waters, to challenge himself, to conquer mighty forces.

Proceeding left has always brought him pleasure and comfort – progress – and so he swims further left.

The metaphor can continue, but it will become complicated, even convoluted – if it has not already, for your tastes.  Let us look and see something.

There is a sense of melancholy about this metaphor, I think.  That is, Cthulhu – the complete body of a human society – is never finally satisfied and safe.  And someday he will die, his body carried along, ever more rapidly over the edge.

The human restlessness is such that it will want to challenge the rapids at times, but not for long.  Wanting for some activity to challenge his mind and body, imagining even that his survival still depends on it, man swims ever Left, requiring that he impose his will more and more completely on reality.

Somewhere up the river, he thinks, is Utopia.  Then he will be happy.


Now, “up” is correct, but the river is two-dimensional.  The way out of the river is not upstream, but up, out-of-stream.

If this seems like nonsense, or incredible, or the perfect answer – welcome to religion.  Religion is the pull of humanity up out of the river of this world.  It is the third dimension, which might elicit these varied responses from two-dimensional creatures.  One’s subjective response does not render it void.

Indeed, a properly ordered religion must position itself up, out of the river, and from that height throw down a rope.  If Cthulhu – a human society – will grab it, he will be saved both from the dangers of the Left and Right.  And it must be a strong rope, held up by a mighty arm.