Beauty ever ancient, ever new
The Grace of the "Rosa Mystica" is ever present for the Cause of our joy is the grace and beauty of the Mother of God which is but a reflection of the awesome incomparable magnificent beauty of the Beatific Vision. Rejoice for God has chosen so pure a receptacle as the Ark of the Covenant to forever cherish His only-begotten Son, sent to redeem us so that we may some day be in the presence of and perpetual witnesses of unimaginable Everlasting Beauty.
"All persons and things beautiful, however, are only a pale reflection of the beauty of God Himself. Created things possess a degree of beauty, some more, some less, whereas God Himself is infinite Beauty. St. Augustine, lamenting the years spent in sin and without the knowledge of God, exclaims in his Confessions, 'Late have I loved Thee, Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved Thee' (Bk.10:27)."
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for Laetare Sunday, he equates the beauty of the rose as the symbol of grace so magnified in the ethereal beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Mystical Rose who is the antithesis of all that is ugly: sin. Father shares St. Augustine's longing for this incomparable beauty and what he longed for when he had exausted all else that the world, the flesh and the devil had to offer. So, too, we need to turn to this immaculate Ark of the Covenant, Cause of our joy - Causa nostrae laetitiae - to console us and encourage us that like the everlasting Golden Rose - we will not wilt in our fervor for the True Faith and eternal salvation. Nothing in Catholicism is more precious than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass so beautifully preserved in the the Traditional Latin Mass as a perfect rose, thorns and all as part of the journey of the Cross. It is a reminder that our Via Crucis continues, but we take this day to rejoice, to rest and to refresh. The Golden Rose of Traditional Catholicism blooms forth more vibrant than ever even in the weed-filled fields of the dreaded dandelions of the Novus Ordo. Truth and Grace are beauty that cannot be marred. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
Today is Laetare Sunday, the Sunday just after the mid-point of Lent, when Holy Church would have us take a break from our penances and be encouraged by the fact that Easter is approaching, that most wonderful of all days, when we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection from the tomb.
Today, instead of the usual somber purple of Lent, we are allowed to wear more colorful vestments, even rose-colored ones. The organ sounds, and flowers may be placed on the altar, so that our very senses might be the messengers of joy and celebration.
Our senses are attracted to the beautiful and good, since we are made for the beauties of heaven. We are made to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him. No one is attracted by evil or ugliness. Sin attracts us because we see in it some false promise of goodness or pleasure, as Eve was attracted by the fruit of the tree of good and evil, and saw that it was beautiful to behold. God and obedience were forgotten, as she and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit and lost the gift of innocence and sanctifying grace for themselves and their descendants.
St. Augustine remarks in his Confessions: "…I was in love with the beauty of earthly things. I was sinking into the very depths and I said to my friends, 'Do we love anything but what is beautiful? What then is beautiful? And what is beauty? What is it that attracts us and attaches us to the things we love? For if there were not in them a gracefulness and beauty, they would not attract us'" (Bk.4:13).
Perhaps it is our pride that blinds us to the evil lurking below, the evil that lies in our misuse of God's good gifts. The Church, however, hopes that as we experience the beauty of her sacred rites, such as the dignity and order of the Traditional Mass, we will be drawn to the love of spiritual beauty and a taste for the things of heaven.
Traditionally on Laetare Sunday the Pope blessed a Golden Rose at the basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem in Rome. The rose was sent to a Catholic prince or princess, or to an important city or church. The blessing used by the pope reads in part:
"…We beseech Thy divine Majesty…to bless and sanctify this rose, so lovely in its beauty and fragrance. We are to bear it, this day, in our hands, as a symbol of spiritual joy; that thus the people that is devoted to Thy service, being set free from the captivity of Babylon by the grace of Thine only-begotten Son, who is the glory and the joy of Israel, may show forth, with a sincere heart, the joys of that Jerusalem which is above, and is our mother."
As we speak of the Golden Rose and the Heavenly Jerusalem, we must also speak of Mary, who prefigures in her person the spotless beauty and sanctity of the Holy City. In the Litany of Loreto the Church invokes her under the title of "Mystical Rose," one of her many royal titles. Those who have seen her, like St. Bernadette and St. Catherine Laboure, have not been able to find the words to describe her beauty. St. Catherine said that the happiest moment of her life was when she knelt before the Blessed Virgin in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and gazed into her eyes. Our Lady was adorned with roses at La Salette and Lourdes, as she is also on the beautiful "Rosa Mystica" statue. The beauty of Mary draws our minds to the contemplation of Heavenly things.
All persons and things beautiful, however, are only a pale reflection of the beauty of God Himself. Created things possess a degree of beauty, some more, some less, whereas God Himself is infinite Beauty. St. Augustine, lamenting the years spent in sin and without the knowledge of God, exclaims in his Confessions, "Late have I loved Thee, Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved Thee" (Bk.10:27).
After our lives spent among the passing beauties of this world we shall be admitted, if we persevere in God's grace, to the beatitude of heaven, to see and know God as He is, in the Beatific Vision, for all eternity. This is the true and perfect happiness, the Infinite Beauty, for which we were created.
The blessing of the Golden Rose ends with these words:
"…Whereas Thy Church, seeing this symbol, exults with joy for the glory of Thy Name; do Thou, O Lord, give her true and perfect happiness…that this same Thy Church may offer unto Thee the fruit of good works; and walking in the odor of the fragrance of that Flower, which sprang from the root of Jesse, and is called the Flower of the field, and the Lily of the valley, may she deserve to enjoy an endless joy in the bosom of heavenly glory, in the society of all the saints, together with that divine Flower, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen!" †
Father Louis J. Campbell
For the Proper of Today's Holy Mass - Missa "Laetare", see Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 21, 2004
vol 15, no. 81
"Qui legit, intelligat"
Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons