Summary of the Law (said at every Sunday Mass)

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rosary Meditations

‘Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ This he said, signifying what death he should die. 
—The Gospel According to Saint John, 12.xxxi-xxxiii
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The Crucifixion has been one of the principal focuses of Christian piety since the first century, and naturally so. St Paul’s mystical assertion of the Coïnherence set the tone, and the King James translation (to my mind) still captures it more vividly in English than any other I know: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The interanimation of our being with his, expressed in rare and exceptional cases by the Stigmata, is the principle of all Christian life.

The West has tended to accent identification with the suffering of the Cross. Various devotions to the Passion—the Stations of the Cross, meditations on the sorrows of the Virgin, the very use of the crucifix—are salient features of Latin Catholic piety. The East, by contrast, has tended to emphasize a different image: Christus Victor or ‘Christ the Conqueror,’ drawing on phrases of St Paul and especially of St John, the latter of whom in his Gospel depicts the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension as a single act of divine glory, which might rather be called the Exaltation. Neither image need (or, indeed, can) exclude the other; but different rites have different spiritual styles, and while this is a very good thing, it can lead to neglect of one image or the other.

The Anglican Use, though obviously about as Western as rites come in geographical terms, may bear some relation to the ancient rites of the East. [1] And there does seem to be a persistent tendency, if not to turn, yet at least to glance eastward, among Catholics of the English tradition; perhaps St Theodore of Canterbury [2] bequeathed it to us. In the spirit of the glance eastward, I’d like to suggest some Scriptural meditations for the mysteries of the Rosary, connecting them with the Exaltation seen as a single action.

The Joyful Mysteries

I. The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Gabriel
- In the holy tabernacle I served before him; and so was I established in Zion: and I took root in an honorable people, even in the portion of the Lord’s inheritance.
- I shall put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
II. The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth
- The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant.
- By the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people: insomuch that they brought the sick into the streets, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
III. The Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ at Bethlehem
- The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: and we beheld his glory.
- Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be shaken at his presence.
IV. The Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple
- Take thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
- There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand as an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
V. The Discovery of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem
- Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
- As for that place wherein the ark is laid, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.

The Luminous Mysteries

VI. The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan
- Behold the lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.
- As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
VII. The Miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ at Cana
- Jesus said unto her, ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.’
- When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand.
VIII. The Proclamation by the Lord Jesus Christ of the Kingdom
- This day this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
- The night is far spent; the day is at hand. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
IX. The Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the Mountain
- Behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elijah: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish in Jerusalem.
- I have resolved to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.
X. The Institution by the Lord Jesus Christ of the Eucharist
- Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh.
- If then ye have been raised with Christ, set your minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

The Sorrowful Mysteries

XI. The Agony of the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane
- By night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
- Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none on earth I desire but thee.
XII. The Scourging of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Pillar
- My beloved is radiant and red, the chiefest among ten thousand.
- Lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
XIII. The Crowning of the Lord Jesus Christ with Thorns
- Behold the king with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him on the day of his espousals, and on the day of the gladness of his heart.
- His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself; and he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.
XIV. The Bearing by the Lord Jesus Christ of the Cross
- Who is this that cometh up out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?
- Having despoiled principalities and powers, he made a spectacle of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross.
XV. The Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Death
- I sleep, but my heart is awake.
- As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Glorious Mysteries

XVI. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the Dead
- He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.
- That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us.
XVII. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven
- Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
- Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
XVIII. The Descent of the Holy Paraclete Spirit upon the Cenacle
- He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, rivers of living water shall flow from him.
- I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
XIX. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven
- The Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
- The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
XX. The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Theotokos
- I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars upon her head.
- Christ is all and is in all.

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[1] Specifically: the Anglican Use (or Divine Worship as it is now officially called) derives from the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of all liturgies of the Church of England. The Book of Common Prayer was itself derived from the Sarum Use, the most illustrious of the several local forms of the Mass in Mediæval England (and which even influenced rites outside the Isles, as far off as Norway and Portugal). The Sarum Use is descended from the Gallican Rite, which is widely conjectured to be of ultimately Eastern antecedents: either directly, according to the once-popular Ephesine theory that it was brought to Lyons by St Irenæus from Ephesus, or indirectly, through the heterogeneous ancestry of the Ambrosian Rite used in Milan. This may sound far-fetched to a modern reader, but Eastern influence on the whole of the Church was far greater in the first few centuries; monasticism was the child of Egypt, yet rapidly spread as far afield as Ireland, and as late as the eighth century there was a long string of Greek and Syriac Popes.
[2] St Theodore was originally from Tarsus in Asia Minor, and served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690.

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