Pope Leo and The Rosary|
The Traditional and timeless tone of Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals on the Holy Rosary of Mary bring home all the more the importance of this Heavenly Bouquet of Spiritual Roses which everyone can offer daily to God, through Our Lady's Psalter, to offset the world, the flesh and the devil
"But to efficaciously do this we must pray diligently - for prayer is fuel of the soul and our soul is that which animates our bodies. And what better prayer than the Rosary which gives us examples of perseverance, of holding fast, of joy mixed with sorrow and the hope of eternal reward. This should be instilled in all from the earliest of ages so we can have this example ever before us and be all the more ready to endure the crosses that come our way with the constant hope of the reward that we shall receive so long as we persevere unto the end."
In the war against novelty I would like to share some thoughts on several Encyclicals Pope Leo XIII wrote on the Rosary – you know "Our Ladies Psalter" the 15 decade one whose 150 Ave's correspond to the 150 Psalms Rosary – the Rosary given to Saint Dominic by the Holy Ghost and Our Lady - not the chaplet given to us by some guy - who was not Saint Dominic, Our Lady or the Holy Ghost - some 800 years later.
Leo XIII wrote at least 10 Encyclicals that I am aware of on the Rosary. Do you think he thought devotion to Our Lady and our Lord through the Rosary was kind of important? For those that do not know - this is the same Pope Leo that had the vision of Satan asking God to give him 75 to 100 years to destroy His Church. These years were granted and when Pope Leo came to - he penned the Saint Michael Prayer whose shortened version is said after every low Mass. Could it be that the Pontiff believed that after the Mass, the Rosary would be our greatest weapon against heresy, modernism and eternal damnation during the years given to Satan by God to destroy His Church?
His Encyclicals are timeless. In fact, they correspond more to our own times than to the times that were his own.
In Octobri Mense issued on September 22, 1891, the Supreme Pontiff claims that we must have recourse to the Rosary at all times but especially in difficult times. Times when there are so many Catholics in name only.
Throughout the Church’s history the Church has prayed in times of great fear and in order to avoid further misfortune – starting with all the faithful praying for Peter when he was in jail and going back further still – Jesus Himself prayed very fervently during His agony in the garden when He knew He was about to undergo a great ordeal.
Pope Leo goes on to say, and I quote:
"The Eternal Son of God, about to take upon Him our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between Himself and all mankind, did not accomplish His design without adding there the free consent of the elect Mother, who represented in some sort all human kind, according to the illustrious and just opinion of St. Thomas, who says that the Annunciation was effected with the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity. With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother."
The Pontiff then speaks about the efficacy of our prayer when presented to God by Mary and how it is our duty to pray to God in the most efficacious way possible.
He further explains how praying the Rosary and meditating on its mysteries -
"affords to faithful souls a wonderful confirmation of faith, protection against the disease of error, and increase of the strength of the soul."
Pope Leo proclaims how it is our Lady’s own desire that we pray the Rosary and how she had Saint Dominic spread this devotion as a weapon against the enemies of the faith. But if this devotion being the Queen Mother’s desire is not enough to convince us of the need to pray it - the Pope further shows how it is through the providence of God Himself that this devotion is renewed in times of difficulty within the Church.
This is followed by a part of the encyclical, which I will quote in full, that really stood out to me.
10. But there are some who, whilst they honestly agree with what We have said, yet because their hopes — especially as regard the peace and tranquillity of the Church — have not yet been fulfilled, nay, rather because troubles seem to augment, have ceased to pray with diligence and fervor, in a fit of discouragement. Let these look into themselves and labor that the prayers they address to God may be made in a proper spirit, according to the precept of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if there be such, let them reflect how unworthy and how wrong it is to wish to assign to Almighty God the time and the manner of giving His assistance, since He owes nothing to us, and when He hearkens to our supplications and crowns our merits, He only crowns His own innumerable benefits; and when He complies least with our wishes it is as a good father towards his children, having pity on their childishness and consulting their advantage. But as regards the prayers which we join to the suffrages of the heavenly citizens, and offer humbly to God to obtain His mercy for the Church, they are always favorably received and heard, and either obtain for the Church great and imperishable benefits, or their influence is temporarily withheld for a time of greater need. In truth, to these supplications is added an immense weight and grace — the prayers and merits of Christ Our Lord, Who has loved the Church and has delivered Himself up for her to sanctify her . . . so that He should be glorified in her. He is her Sovereign Head, holy, innocent, always living to make intercession for us, on whose prayers and supplication we can always by divine authority rely. As for what concerns the exterior and temporal prosperity of the Church, it is evident that she has to cope with most malicious and powerful adversaries. Too often has she suffered at their hands the abolition of her rights, the diminution and oppression of her liberties, scorn and affronts to her authority, and every conceivable outrage. And if in their wickedness her enemies have not accomplished all the injury they had resolved upon and striven to do, they nevertheless seem to go on unchecked. But, despite them the Church, amidst all these conflicts, will always stand out and increase in greatness and glory. Nor can human reason rightly understand why evil, apparently so dominant, should yet be so restricted as regards its results; whilst the Church, driven into straits, comes forth glorious and triumphant. And she ever remains more steadfast in virtue because she draws men to the acquisition of the ultimate good. And since this is her mission, her prayers must have much power to effect the end and purpose of God's providential and merciful designs towards men. Thus, when men pray with and through the Church, they at length obtain what Almighty God has designed from all eternity to bestow upon mankind. The subtlety of the human intelligence fails now to grasp the high designs of Providence; but the time will come when, through the goodness of God, causes and effects will be made clear, and the marvelous power and utility of prayer will be shown forth. Then it will be seen how many in the midst of a corrupt age have kept themselves pure and inviolate from all concupiscence of the flesh and the spirit, working out their sanctification in the fear of God; how others, when exposed to the danger of temptation, have without delay restrained themselves gaining new strength for virtue from the peril itself; how others, having fallen, have been seized with the ardent desire to be restored to the embraces of a compassionate God. Therefore, with these reflections before them, We beseech all again and again not to yield to the deceits of the old enemy, nor for any cause whatsoever to cease from the duty of prayer. Let their prayers be persevering, let them pray without intermission; let their first care be to supplicate for the sovereign good--the eternal salvation of the whole world, and the safety of the Church. Then they may ask from God other benefits for the use and comfort of life, returning thanks always, whether their desires are granted or refused, as to a most indulgent father. Finally, may they converse with God with the greatest piety and devotion according to the example of the Saints, and that of our Most Holy Master and Redeemer, with great cries and tears.(12)
5. III. q. xxx, a. 1.
8. S. Augustine Epi CXCIV al 106 Sixtum, c. v., n 19.
9. Eph 5.25-27.
10. S. Th. II-II, q LXXXIII, a. 2, ex S. G. reg. M.
11. 2 Cor 7.1.
12. Heb 5.7.
MAGNAE DEI MATRIS
In Magnae Dei Matris (September 8, 1892) Pope Leo speaks of this writing as an occasion arising to stimulate the faithful’s love for our Lady as his very own love for her has increased from childhood to his advanced age. He speaks further on how he has always had recourse to her. Then explains how when claiming the chair of Peter he turned to her for help. Speaking of the ignorance of faith, error and vice abounding in our world he says:
"And to add to the anguish of this thought, so far from putting a check on such insolent and destructive depravity, or imposing the punishment deserved, they who can and should correct matters seem in many cases, by their indifference or open connivance, to increase the spirit of evil."
He goes on to say the following:
Now, to appease the might of an outraged God and to bring that health of soul so needed by those who are sorely afflicted, there is nothing better than devout and persevering prayer, provided it be joined with a love for and practice of Christian life. And both of these, the spirit of prayer and the practice of Christian life, are best attained through the devotion of the Rosary of Mary.
He then speaks of how the Church fought against the Albigensian sect primarily with the Rosary explaining further that when we have recourse to Mary we are having recourse to the Mother of Mercy and then the Pope goes on to heap praise after praise on our Queen merely by stating facts regarding her dignity and the gifts God has bestowed upon her. He then mentions the specific words “full of grace” and how they call to mind our redemption, which God began through her.
He says we are indebted to Christ for making it possible for us to call God Father as Christ Himself does and further elaborates that we should be grateful that this same act made it possible for us to call Mary our Mother as Christ Himself does. He further explains Our Lady’s deep concern for our well-being in every aspect of our lives and exhorts us to approach Mary confidently as she aides us in prayer.
He mentions how specifically the Rosary impresses the mysteries of the faith upon our mind explaining how the gift of faith raises us above the level of human things, enabling us to share in the divine nature and even more - enabling us with the possibility of meriting Heaven.
He speaks on how our faith in the Rosary of Mary can ward off our tendencies to become unknowingly lukewarm in the faith. He then suggests how the Rosary, devoutly prayed, can flood our souls with a sweetness of piety that never grows weary. Then he adds:
"It will not, then, seem too much to say that in places, families, and nations in which the Rosary of Mary retains its ancient honor, the loss of faith through ignorance and vicious error need not be feared."
He goes on to speak of yet another benefit of the Rosary, which is the faithful regulation of our lives and our conduct in keeping with the rules and precepts of our holy religion explaining that faith draws its life from charity and charity flowers forth in a profusion of holy action – the result being the increased possibility of eternal life. For if our mind often dwells on the mysteries of the Rosary our hearts become inclined to make virtuous resolutions. He then explains the great example meditation on the Rosary shines before us and goes on to show all the great things Jesus has done and is willing to do for us and elaborates further the wonderful example Christ is to us in our lives.
To frequently meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary makes it impossible for us not to have gratitude to Christ for all that He has done for us and increases the probability of our following Him through every obstacle life brings us says the Pontiff. Pope Leo shows how meditating on the mysteries of our Lady can remedy any inclination we might have of thinking it is impossible for a human being to follow Christ saying:
"She was born, it is true, of the royal family of David, but she fell heir to none of the wealth and grandeur of her ancestors. She passed her life in obscurity, in a humble town, in a home humbler still, the more content with her retirement and the poverty of her home because they left her freer to lift up her heart to God and to cling to Him closely as the supreme Goodness for which her heart yearned."
Pope Leo then states that the more Mary wonders at the sublime dignity of our Savior coming forth to us in humanity the more she gives thanks to the power and mercy of God, explaining that she, conscious of no merit in herself, grows in humility, promptly proclaiming and consecrating herself the handmaid of God even while she becomes His Mother. Can we not learn from our Lady here? How often do we, when confronted with something we cannot understand, assume that there is a problem with what is not understood rather than with ourselves? How many times when confronted with a mystery do we take the route of pride rather than humility? We should try to imitate our Lady in all the virtues knowing that this imitation will lead to our greater glory in Heaven while understanding that we can never equal the glory our Lady attains, due in part to the fact that she drank with her Son the cup overflowing with sorrow - faithfully all through her life - especially on Calvary.
The Pontiff proclaims Mary to be a most suitable example of every virtue exhorting us not to be dismayed when comprehending our weakness in comparison to Christ’s unattainable example but suggests that when contemplating the closeness of the common nature we share with His Mother that it will seem less difficult to strive with greater confidence to imitate her who is so close to her Son.
Pope Leo then exhorts us to persevere in the Pilgrimage we have started:
"For those of us who follow the journey hallowed by the blood of Christ and by the tears of Mary, our entrance into their company and the enjoyment of their most blessed glory will be certain and easy."
Lastly the Pope mentions again how the Rosary helps us persevere in the faith bringing us through troubles and fortifying us with the spiritual ammunition to fight off the evil one. He looks for those who have left the flock to return through the aid of the Rosary and then asks God to mercifully spare the wicked who scoff at those devoted to the Rosary due to their ignorance.
Exactly one year later, following Magnae Dei Matris, Pope Leo III writes Laetitiae Sanctae (September 8, 1893) in which he relates the favors bestowed upon him by our Lady throughout his lifetime. He then explains how instead of once again urging us to pray the Rosary he will focus this time on how we can most effectively draw benefits from devotion to the Rosary:
"For We are convinced that the Rosary, if devoutly used, is bound to benefit not only the individual but society at large."
Then he mentions something that I have been trying to get to the root of for years - the reasons for the downgrade of society. He says they are the following:
"first, the distaste for a simple and laborious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life."
Assuming the Pontiff is correct on the first reason he gives I will give a modern example on why I believe that many may have a "distaste for the simple and laborious life" – and that would be in part (I think) due to the constant inundating and stimulation of our senses with material goods in commercials and the unchaste and violent scenes in the shows and commercials (along with what the media provides on the internet and in the papers) thus reducing the "simple and laborious life" - the fulfilling of our duty at work and at home – as something both boring and trivial in the minds of the inundated - something to be endured rather than fulfilled when compared to the excitement we find in watching sex, violence and being presented with exciting new gadgets for our consumption - guaranteed to make everything right with the world "for only $39.99 (plus shipping and handling). Hurry, they won't last!" How true, for the only lasting things are those of God.
Assuming the Pope is correct on the second reason he gives for the downgrading of society – namely – "repugnance to suffering of any kind" ("Death with Dignity", Euthanasia) I will elaborate on what I believe to be a pertinent example (more relative to these times) as to one of the reasons why we might find not only suffering of the unexpected sort to be repugnant but convince ourselves that even our most basic responsibilities are sufferings to be avoided when at all possible.
One of these reasons in my estimation would be the wide-spread availability of contraception. Here I need not elaborate any further than to say that we have come to believe that we can do what we want when we want without having to pay the consequences or take responsibility. Which transforms our minds from thinking a child is a blessing into thinking that a child is a curse. From thinking that sex is the privilege of the wedded to the right of all.
Another reason for our "repugnance to suffering" links us back to the first reason the Pope gives for the downfall of society – "the distaste for the simple and laborious life" which I believe is due to in part to the boredom with responsibility which is the inevitable outcome from the constant overwhelming of our senses that results form our constant watching of TV which flips the lazy mechanism in our mind to "on" and wastes hours in a day as life becomes more and more trivial to us as we see "life" played out before our eyes over and over again and as we desire more and more things we do not need due to the countless commercials we allow ourselves to endure.
Pope Leo could see the dangers back then in the late 1800’s when we were becoming more technologically advanced because he was schooled in human nature (contrary to popular belief human nature is the same now as it was in the 1800’s and the time of Adam and Eve) and he knows the perils to which we can all easily succumb IN ANY AGE.
Let us give his reason instead of projecting our thoughts to his like some deluded ventriloquist:
"When We seek out the causes of this forgetfulness (of Heaven), We are met in the first place by the fact that many allow themselves to believe that the thought of a future life goes in some way to sap the love of our country, and thus militates against the prosperity of the commonwealth. No illusion could be more foolish or hateful."… But men of carnal mind, who love nothing but themselves, allow their thoughts to grovel upon things of earth until they are unable to lift them to that which is higher. For, far from using the goods of time as a help towards securing those which are eternal, they lose sight altogether of the world which is to come, and sink to the lowest depths of degradation. We may doubt if God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.
Now lets us suppose as we do that Pope Leo is correct once again regarding the third reason he gives for the downgrading of society, that is, "the forgetfulness of the future of life." Now in addition to the reasons he states above - why would this be so in our current situation? Let me tell you why, apart from being convinced that Hell does not exist or if it does, no one goes there - the reason is because we are too busy having illicit sex and watching TV to even think about the future in this world let alone the "future life". TV thinks for us and tells us what to do. Television is the omnipotent being which our lives to varying degrees revolve around and that has taken the place of God in a good portion of our daily lives – yes, even in the daily lives of otherwise good Catholics.
It could be said that we become bored doing the basic duties God gives us in life and thus become bored with life itself. I speak from experience – I watch TV too but I admit I can improve my spiritual life while others convince themselves that they do not need to improve in any area of their lives - whether it is by watching less TV, dressing more modestly or more according to their gender, gossiping less, speaking more chastely, the list could go on.
In a sense the Devil’s job is kind of easy when it comes to getting us to sin with a great regularity because it does not take much to throw us way off track. Something as small as the pill or a box in your living room and we will be sure to take care of the rest. Satan’s biggest victory was the sin of Adam and Eve because the result of this fall is that we now all have a tendency towards sin. His second biggest victory, I believe, is his making it easy for us here in the West where we can feel as if we no longer have to depend upon God but only ourselves. And in fact is that not what he did with the original pair?
But the Pontiff does not leave us hanging there – he gives the solution which is to work diligently so that we may be of good conscience and peace of mind, resulting in a harmonious and loving existence in our homes and charity in our actions towards our neighbor. For when we show our neighbor charity - our neighbor becomes more likely to show charity to another - resulting in the spreading of charity throughout our society.
But to efficaciously do this we must pray diligently - for prayer is fuel of the soul and our soul is that which animates our bodies. And what better prayer than the Rosary which gives us examples of perseverance, of holding fast, of joy mixed with sorrow and the hope of eternal reward. This should be instilled in all from the earliest of ages so we can have this example ever before us and be all the more ready to endure the crosses that come our way with the constant hope of the reward that we shall receive so long as we persevere unto the end.
Before the three mentioned encyclicals above, Pope Leo decreed Superiore Anno on August 30, 1884. In it he says the following:
"Indeed, from the spirit of prayer which is poured out over the house of David and the dwellers in Jerusalem, we have a confident hope that God will at length let Himself be touched and have pity upon the state of His Church, and give ear to the prayers coming to Him through her whom He has chosen to be the dispenser of all heavenly graces."
Here it is interesting to note that the Supreme Pontiff calls our Lady the dispenser of ALL Heavenly graces.
There has been a movement in recent years to get the Vatican leader to proclaim as Dogma, Mary as Mediatrix (of all graces) Co-Redemptrix and Advocate. This is a commonly held belief amongst Catholics throughout the centuries and throughout the world - it just has not been proclaimed ex-Cathedra in the way the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of our Lady has. To my limited knowledge the Resurrection of our Lord has not been proclaimed ex-Cathedra in such a manner either though it is an infallible doctrine of our faith. But unlike the new Marian Dogma many wish to be proclaimed there is no significant controversy about the Resurrection of our Lord among true believers. At least not enough controversy to where the pope feels compelled to call a council over it, start a commission to look into it or making a binding proclamation to all the world in the solemnest way possible that the Resurrection is a belief that must be held in order to be Catholic. The Resurrection is a self-evident article of our Faith clearly stated repeatedly in Holy Writ.
We might ask - why the controversy over the "final dogma" of our Lady? After all, we have the Dogma that begins her earthly life – that of her conception free from Original Sin and the Dogma that completes her earthly life in her Assumption - why not the Dogma that would elaborate and explain her Heavenly Role where she intercedes on behalf of all the elect until we are one with her and her Son in Heaven?
We will deal here only with her role as mediatrix of all graces because this is what Pope Leo alludes to in this encyclical.
Some speculate that the reason for not proclaiming this doctrine as Dogma could be that the proclamation of the Dogma would cause more confusion over the doctrine rather than help clarify it – part of the reason being is that the title co-Redemtrix in this desired Dogma is particularly difficult for some to accept due to the fact that they mistakenly believe the word "co" in this title means "equal to" instead of merely “with”.
So what is confusing about our Lady being proclaimed Mediatrix of all graces? Well Scripture states that "there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ" and no Dogma can contradict Scripture and be authentic Dogma. So what are we do with this infallible God breathed verse in Holy writ? How do we reconcile the fact that Jesus is the One Mediator between God and man and the fact that our Lady is the Mediatrix of all graces? By saying there is one Mediator and one Mediatrix? No, the protestants would not fall for that.
What needs to be clarified here is that we all have the capacity of being co-mediator’s with Christ when we pray for one another or bring others to Christ as Mary does. For there is one Creator and that is God. But it cannot be denied that there are co-creators with God, or should I say, pro-creators, people who work with God to bring human life into existence. My parents come to mind here. Nor, as the Church has consistently taught, can it be denied that we all can be co-mediators within the sole mediation of Christ. For God has set things up in the spiritual realm much the same way he has set it up in the physical realm. We can work with God to bring physical bodies into existence and we can work with God to bring spiritual souls into existence. And if that weren’t enough our Lord also gives us the capacity to assist Him in bringing souls to Heaven. Not because He needs our assistance or because He cannot do it on His own but because in His Grand Design He desires or calls us to be a part of the process. He wants us to function as part of His mystical body working to follow the will of our Head, Christ Himself, to where He wishes to lead us - eternal bliss.
Of course when speaking of who can do what in the spiritual realm we must understand that the closer one is to God the more effective one’s prayers, works and intercessions will be. For instance if you had Him in your womb and He sucked upon your paps and you heard and kept the word of God like no other then your mediation would be more effective than the rest of man-kind. If you were the mother of the Son and the daughter of the Father and the spouse of the Holy Ghost so much the better.
The simple and brief explanation to the dilemma of co-mediatrix is that Christ is the source and the winner of all graces – though our Lady helped win these graces with Christ as she suffered with Him throughout her life and most especially at His death on the cross in a unique and singular way.
So Christ is the sole mediator between God and man. And He chooses to do with the gifts that come with the role as the one mediator between God and man as He pleases. Our Lady being part of the mankind that Jesus Christ mediates His graces to is made dispenser of all the graces she helped win (in a subordinate and secondary way) with Christ. She does not usurp the position of Christ between God and man - as if she was not man or as if she takes His place – Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man because He mediates all graces to mankind – specifically to and through our Lady. God gives to whom He desires what He desires. He gives much to some and less to others but He never gives less than what we are worthy of. He mediates the graces He won to all mankind as Scripture states - THROUGH Mary. So the doctrine properly understood shows that yes, of course Jesus is the One or Sole Mediator between God and man. But according to numerous Popes and doctors of the Church He mediates all graces to and through our Lady – who represents man-kind and embodies the Church - making her the Mediatrix of all graces – not between God and man as if she was not part of mankind because Christ won those graces for His mother as well as for the rest of mankind and mediated some of those graces to her at her conception. These are just some of those unique and singular privileges you happen to get if you find yourself to be the Mother of God. So if you ever get the chance to be God’s Mother don’t turn it down.
The undeniable and indisputable fact of the matter is that Mary did in fact help obtain all graces with her Son. God is the SOURCE of all grace and our Lady, by the Power of God, has been given the privilege of OBTAINING and having all graces at her to disposal to dispense with as she sees fit. And since her will is fully united to the will of God in a most complete and perfect way one could say that what she sees fit is what God sees fit. Her will never contradicts that of her Maker. Her will is fully united with that of Her Maker. The fact that our Lady did in fact help obtain all graces with her Son is documented in encyclicals and elsewhere through the centuries. This makes her a mediatrix WITHIN (not apart from) THE SOLE MEDIATION of Christ much as we are mini-mediators of the graces of Christ to the extent that we pray for others obtaining for them the grace that moves them closer to God, so long as they cooperate with those graces that result from our intersession. But our Lady is THE MAJOR co-mediator of all co-mediators within the sole mediation of Christ because Christ made her so when He made her the dispenser of all graces. If the dispentrix of all graces is not the mediatrix of all graces (properly understood in her secondary and subordinate role with her Son and in her primary role amongst all created beings) I do not know what she could be.
And what is the answer to all this: Do as Pope Leo entreated, as Our Lady pleads: Pray the Rosary for the conversion of souls!
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH" - St. Athanasius, AD 373
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