Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pray the Rosary Every Day

At confession today, my ghostly father - a Redemptorist - queried whether I prayed to Our Lady, whether I said the Rosary daily; and when I revealed that I haven't, urged me to return to it. He quite rightly said it would help me overcome my faults, if I but sought her help in prayer: funny how it often requires someone else to point out what should be obvious, commonsense policy for avoiding sin and growing in fidelity and holiness.

After confession, before starting on my penance of two decades of the Rosary (I picked the Scourging and the Crowning with Thorns, to excite sorrow for Our Lord's most bitter Passion, freely undergone by Him out of love, to atone for my sins), I finished the prayers I'd been saying beforehand by reciting the Alma Redemptoris Mater with its versicle Post partum and collect Deus qui salutis aeternae, and was struck by the great appropriateness of the words full of hope: ... Mater... succurre cadenti... surgere qui curat populo... Virgo... peccatorum miserere. For rather than turn her eyes from sinners, the most benignant Mother of God and Virgin acts after the Heart of Her Son, and helps those who fall, arises to aid her people, and has mercy on sinners.

It was a joy to communicate at Mass later on; consciousness of unworthiness holds one back, but hunger for the true Bread of Life draws one on to repentance, that the gate of the Holy Table be unlocked to the famished soul:

O Bread of Heaven, beneath this veil
Thou dost my very God conceal:
My Jesus, dearest treasure, hail!
I love Thee and, adoring, kneel;
Each loving soul by Thee is fed
With Thine own Self in form of Bread.

O food of life, Thou Who dost give
The pledge of immortality;
I live, no ‘tis not I that live;
God gives me life, God lives in me:
He feeds my soul, He guides my ways,
And every grief with joy repays.

O Bond of love that dost unite
The servant to his living Lord;
Could I dare live and not requite
Such love - then death were meet reward:
I cannot live unless to prove
Some love for such unmeasured love.

My dearest God! Who dost so bind
My heart with countless claims to Thee!
O Sweetest love, my soul shall find
In Thy dear bonds true liberty.
Thyself Thou hast bestowed on me;
Thine, Thine for ever I will be.

O Mighty Fire, Thou that dost burn
To kindle every mind and heart!
For Thee my frozen soul doth yearn;
Come, Lord of love, Thy warmth impart;
If thus to speak too bold appear,
‘Tis love like Thine has banished fear.

O Sweetest dart of love Divine!
If I have sinned, then vengeance take;
Come pierce this guilty heart of mine,
And let it die for His dear sake
Who once expired on Calvary,
His heart pierced through for love of me.

Beloved Lord, in Heaven above
There, Jesus, Thou awaitest me,
To gaze on Thee with endless love;
Yes, thus I hope, thus shall it be:
For how can He deny me Heaven,
Who here on earth Himself hath given?

-St Alphonsus Liguori,
Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,
Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church.

In humility, indeed in full recognition of recurrent faults, I pray with St Philip Neri, "Do not trust me, Jesus, for I will betray Thee today, but for Thy grace." For as St John writes, he who says he loves God, but does not keep his commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the truth (cf. I S. John ii, 4; v, 2-3). Terrible words!

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