Sunday, October 26, 2008

Devotion to St Anne

While it may be the feast of Christus Rex, I have been also devoting some attention to preparing suitable collections of hymns and prayers for use once the Perth Latin Mass community moves into its new home at St Anne's, Belmont.

This exercised my thoughts some weeks back when I was on retreat at Toodyay, and took the opportunity to go on some long walks each afternoon round that township. I came up with a list of the principal points concerning the holy life of St Anne, and considered them by meditating upon them as we do the mysteries of the rosary.

Here, then, is one result so far of all this:

The Rosary of St Anne

No apology need be given for proposing to good Christian people a new devotion, if it be agreeable to true faith and piety, arising from the traditions handed down to us from the earliest ages as a new shoot from the one vine. If we are to take good St Anne as our patroness and behave as her humble clients, it is needful to place ourselves in her service, and to imitate her as our model of holiness, and not in words only but in deeds. For this reason, to dwell upon the chief facts of her life and to propose to ourselves her virtues is most requisite.

It is a settled principle of Catholic doctrine that God our Lord delighteth to vouchsafe unto His servants what graces they need for their state in life. Now, after the most prodigious graces that her daughter Mary received, that that spotless Virgin be a fit Mother to her Divine Son, it is evident that St Anne must likewise have been gifted with altogether singular graces, that she might fitly raise up a daughter not merely saintly but immaculate, holier than all other creatures in heaven and on earth, as Blessed Pope Pius IX declared. Having noted that St Anne thereby obtained graces particular to herself above even all other saints, it is obvious that her merits, patronage, and glorious suffrages are of the greatest benefit to us sinners, seeing as she has deservedly won a most exalted place in heaven and is most specially the object of the Divine predilection.

What, then, are the noteworthy points about St Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary? The question itself supplies the answer. She was elected from all eternity to be the mother of the Mother of God, to conceive her immaculately in her womb, to bring her forth to the world and to dedicate her entirely to God, and thus was assigned a fittingly righteous spouse in her dear husband St Joachim (it may be piously believed that the Lord tried and tested them by giving them no child for a long time, until their prayers and resignation to the Divine Will proved them worthy, and worthy of so unique a daughter); furthermore, it is part of the tradition of Holy Church that SS Joachim and Anne presented their daughter Holy Mary to God in the Temple at Jerusalem (as appears most reasonable considering her immaculate sacred state), and that in process of time St Anne (and of course her husband also) came to the end of life, and died, or rather fell asleep in the Lord, her soul coming to its eternal rest and reward in heaven – else we should not name her a saint at all! Our reason, in the light of what Revelation teaches us of her daughter, very easily deduces all these mysterious truths concerning St Anne.

The liturgies of the Church supply us with ample meditations on these mysteries, as we may term them, of St Anne. It must first be understood that devotion to St Anne comes to the West from the East – that the Greek or Byzantine Rite has enriched our Latin or Roman Rite with the great themes of piety concerning her. Consider that the feast of St Anne herself (26th July) is named in the East (where it is kept a day earlier) as the feast specifically of her Dormition, or death. Again, the feast of the Birthday of Our Lady (8th September) is regarded in the East more from the perspective of St Anne's delivery of her precious child the All-Holy Mary. Indeed, the Byzantine Rite sets aside the next day, the 9th of September, as the synaxis – the meeting, or more strongly put, the marriage – of SS Joachim and Anne; whereas the Western, Roman Rite celebrates St Joachim, the husband of St Anne, on the 16th of August, the day succeeding the Assumption of Our Lady: the former emphasises their holy union, the latter, the truth that St Anne had a noble and worthy spouse, himself specially graced to be a good father to the Virgin of Virgins. The 21st of November is the date common to both East and West for solemnly commemorating the Presentation of Our Lady, but again the Greek liturgy gives more emphasis to the role of her parents, SS Joachim and Anne, in that glorious occasion. Finally, what Rome denotes the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Byzantine liturgy further names the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God by St Anne as the mystery celebrated on the 8th of December (or 9th, in some rites).

Hence, divinely enlightened reason and the traditional worship of the universal Church together present us with five special considerations concerning St Anne, whom the author of the
Cœleste palmetum ages past declared to be Most Worthy Spouse of Joachim, Most Illustrious Mother of the Mother of God, and Most Happy Grandmother of Jesus Christ. (It is piously held that St Anne was privileged to hold in her arms her Divine Grandchild, ere she came to rest in peace.) These mysteries let us now recapitulate:

1. St Anne, specially graced by God, marries St Joachim – what excellent dignity of holy wedlock happily achieved: what virtues proper to this state of life;

2. St Anne conceives Our Lady without stain of sin - in answer to prayer and in accord with God's saving plan: faith, trust, perseverance, resignation;

3. St Anne brings forth Our Lady to the world – what happiness, joy and gladness: what love and dedication to all duties of nurture and care;

4. St Anne and St Joachim present Our Lady to God in the Temple – freely disposing what is most precious in the service of the Lord;

5. St Anne reposes in death, and comes to live forever with God in Heaven – a truly happy death: the priceless, unmeritable grace of final perseverance.

It only remains for us to meditate upon these mysteries in the manner familiar to us from praying the Holy Rosary. If our custom is to begin the Rosary with the Creed and so forth, so likewise it is highly appropriate to do so when saying this Rosary of St Anne. It will be most pleasing to God our Father that we do so, and for us therefore to recite the Lord's Prayer at the start of each decade, finishing it likewise with the 
Glory be in worship of the Trinity; and St Anne will be delighted that we invoke her dearest daughter with each Hail Mary, and that we name in that salutation the most blessed fruit of her womb, Our Lord Jesus Christ (and also pray Him in the Fatima prayer as we normally do at the end of each decade).

To conclude the Rosary of St Anne, after the
Hail Holy Queen, it would only remain to turn to St Anne, saying Pray for us, blessed Anne, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, and concluding with her Collect:

O God, Who didst deign to confer on blessed Anne the grace that she be made worthy to be the mother of her who brought forth Thine only-begotten Son: mercifully grant that we who celebrate her memory, may be aided by her patronage with Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Note that this Rosary of St Anne is to be distinguished from her Chaplet, which apparently dates from 1875...)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this devotion. Have you asked for an imprimatur from the Church for this? Also, have you had this new devotion offered in Church with people? Would it be okay for me to promote this new devotion to St. Anne at least as a private devotion?

I'm a big St. Anne devotee and I want to find new ways of promoting devotion to her other than the standard novena.

For me personally, I thought I would add the Litany of St. Anne after this Rosary since I frequently add the Litany of Loreto to the standard Marian Rosary.