Thursday 25 September 2014

An Aide Memoire of Spiritual Combat

The Holy Rosary
(best left in the past, where it belongs?)

A lecture on the true nature of the Rosary: "The Holy Rosary"  - May 1st 2014
               One day, possibly in this very month of May, in the year 1915 the following incident happened in the trenches. The commanding officer of the neighbouring village one day saw one of the soldiers saying the Rosary in his trench. "Do you say it because you are afraid?" he asked. "No, mon Colonel," replied the soldier, "but because it helps me." "That's right," said the colonel; let's say it together." And with this he took out his beads and began to say them with the soldier. The example was infectious; one after another the men did the same, and soon the whole trench was saying the Rosary together.

               Another time, in the same year the Abbé Jarraud, who was in the Nancy region, made this report. He had seen at the Presbytery of Varangéville, and indeed venerated, a Rosary made of string, which had been made in the trenches by a young soldier. The knots were nicely spaced, representing exactly the Pater and Ave beads. The instrument was nearly worn out, having seen much active service every day of the defence of the Grand Couronné. "All the men of the section passed it on from one to another to say a Hail Mary," had explained very simply the good soldier, who had come to the Curé to ask in exchange for it a strong Rosary to use on the "Northern frontier".

               In the trenches every moment was a battle against a visible foe, but for that very reason the soldiers could not but be aware of the invisible battle in which each soul in the trench was engaged, in his shared solitude before the encounter with the forces unleashed forever by one lethal flying object. Before Eternity seconds counted.

               Before Eternity seconds always count, and the primeval foe of the soul knows it only too well. Hence it is that we observe his enthusiasm regarding all that sucks up very large quantities of them.

               During the exorcism of Anneliese Michel in Germany in 1975, many surprising truths came to the surface. Under obedience to Christ the High Priest, the demons and even the human demons present were obliged to make certain admissions. One such was their influence in the current trends. Thus we find Judas making remarks of this nature: "Nuns in monasteries are in front of the television  and are not praying enough, and they do not kneel, and they stick out their paws... The Rosary – they (the parish priests) do not regard it as modern... If only that one up there (sc. the Blessed Virgin) did not exist... The month of the Rosary does exist, but very few recite it, because the great parish priests do not look on it as modern. How imbecile they are!"

               In various exorcisms the utter hatred and dread of the Underworld with regard to the Holy Rosary is a constant. Even the use of a blessed Rosary during exorcism causes huge commotion. Understandable therefore is the keenness of that realm to insure that the Image of the Beast be duly enthroned in the hearth of every Christian home, and be ever heard, especially at the moments previously most noisome to it, that of the family Rosary. A great ally in its service is also the emitter of noise in the average vehicle. Hell is full of noise, and Earth must be brought to resemble it as closely as possible. It has the excellent side effect of excluding shared or even individual Rosaries during long or short journeys.

               Since we have hit on the monastic world, it is interesting to note the way in which noise has progressively replaced the silence of the hours of manual work, simply by the transformation of the same into an extension of Recreation. Traditionally, the option of manual work was deliberate because of the unbroken heritage of Desert Spirituality which saw the peacefulness of simple work as an extension of the prayer of the Liturgy, and hence had arisen the practice of the Prayer of the Heart, which maintained the soul in prayer mode between liturgical moments. To this day one can observe this at work in the East. Any You Tube of Mount Athos, closely watched, will disclose one simple truth: all the monks when working – be it in the olive trees or in the icon studio – have their lips unceasingly moving. They are praying the Jesus Prayer.

               Very early on in Trappist formation in France I found that the well observed Rule of Perpetual Silence became a natural invitation to recite mentally, while working, the Rosary or some other easy prayer. Even though it might not be possible to count the exact number of prayers, by going over the minimum one was sure of having them covered. And one could be sure that souls "out there" were being helped by this consecration of time. Who, I wonder, gains from the insistence that during working hours we are in fraternity...?

               The Church, being a good mother, and knowing the immense value of genuine fraternity, bonded by Our Lady, has desired to attract her children to collective moments with her. In this optic we find that we have at our disposal many fringe benefits. A plenary indulgence is attached to the recitation of the Holy Rosary in the family or in a religious community, or even in a pious association, or when it is recited in a church or oratory. A partial one is available in other modes of recitation.

               The enemy forces are fully aware of the power of this instrument. On October 10th 1975, Judas came out with the following admission during the exorcism of Anneliese: "If only they (the priests) had an idea of it! It is a powerful weapon against Satan and against us. I am obliged, alas, to admit it, but many do not believe it."  

               Hence it is that the foe in question is fairly keen on making sure that should it ever be brought into the battlefield, it should be as quickly as possible be rendered innocuous. His great means is the Divide and Conquer Tactic. This has been used with amazing success on the Western Front, for the Emerald Isle has a good track record of docility to his indications. It consists in the following strategy. Insure that as many Rosaries are said as there are pious souls present. Simply make sure that they never say the lethal formulae at the same time. Then make sure that the essence of the exercise is kept always in the forefront: reaching the finishing line. For this to happen, the greatest and most precious ally is the Fastest Draw in the West, thankfully nearly always present. Make sure that that person comes in before the first half of each prayer is finished, thus neutralizing completely the dangerous effect of the Name most hated. Make maximum use, just as at Mass, of the fact that these specialists at velocity are fully gratified by being heard loudly and clearly by their admirers, in such a way that they have the attention thus perfectly deflected from the Person or Persons addressed. Thus we have the very means of assuring that the worst possible calamity will not follow – that any young person will have any attraction for a place on Brands Hatch.

                It seems that St. John Paul was aware of the power of this weapon. He would invite the youth of Rome to use it with him at the Sala Nervi of a Saturday night. He also taught the Church how to exploit the arsenal at its disposal. I have seen electrified celebrations of the Rosary in the Charismatic Renewal in France. I have also had much consolation in gently shared and partly sung Rosaries celebrated in a car or an oratory. A meditation or a Scripture reading or quotation inserted here and there makes a huge difference. And on pilgrimage, by coach or by car, how precious has the meditated and sung Rosary been over the years in upbuilding in faith and even knowledge. People listen between the decades. Some years ago here in Ireland I would be asked, even before Ordination, to go to whichever house might have the special Fatima statue, for a full meditated Rosary. It would be well attended, and the effect of light and petal goes a long way towards creating a privileged place of encounter – both vertical and horizontal, for nothing in Erin runs without tea.

               At Fatima, only one thing was explicitly requested at each of the six apparitions. It was the daily recitation of Our Lady's Rosary. She did not actually ask for daily Mass. She could have. But it would seem that she preferred to make one simple Mother's plea to all throughout the world, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlettered, lay and, yes, cleric: "Recite my Rosary every day." If she made such a plea with such insistence, maybe there are reasons for it. And if the one at her heal has been so successful in getting this noisome pestilence out of reach, maybe there are reasons for it. And if we are doing so much for Heaven and drawing down so few of its blessings, maybe, maybe, there are reasons for it.

               The battle is on, my friends, the battle is on. It is not the moment to surrender our most powerful weapon to the enemy.

By a hermit priest under the patronage of St John Roberts

1st May 2014, St. Joseph the Worker

Please pray the Crusader prayer on 29th September the feast of St Michal the Archangel, on of our patrons for the synod on the family which is coming up in October.

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