THE BOOK "CALLS", Part 4

The Message of Fatima by Sister Lucia



Index
28. You shall not kill. 29. You shall not commit adultery. 30. You shall not steal. 31. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. 32. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife. 33. The commandments are summed up in charity. 34. The Rosary. 35. Contemplation of the Joyful mysteries. 36. Contemplation of the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. 37. Contemplation of the Glorious Mysteries.



You shall not kill

“You shall not kill” (Deut 5: 17).
With this commandment, God forbids any attempt against human life. To decide when a life is to end is a right which God has reserved for Himself alone. Therefore, it is not lawful for us to destroy human life, even if it is only an embryo.

This prohibition against murder, which God has laid on humanity, is placed before us in various parts of Sacred Scripture: the story of Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve is a clear example: “Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the due course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions: And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offerings, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?’ ‘If you do well will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it’.

“Cain said to Abel his brother, ‘Let us go out to the field’. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground (...) you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth’. Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou hast driven me this day away from the ground, and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me’. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold’ And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him. The Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (Gen 4, 2-16).

This passage in Sacred Scripture give us some marvelous teaching about this commandment of God: “You shall not kill” The first thought that occurs to me is this: in spite of the fact that Cain was his brother’s assassin, the Lord did not allow anyone to kill Cain himself. The right to send death to any one when He so wills it is one that God reserves to Himself. God acts in this way to allow time for repentance and penance.

If, instead of becoming embittered because of his punishment and fearing to be killed himself, Cain had acknowledged his sin and humbly asked the Lord’s forgiveness, he would certainly have been pardoned. But instead of this act of humility and confidence in the goodness of God, he flew into a passion.

Possibly, Cain was afraid that somebody, knowing what he had done to his brother, would want to avenge Abel’s death by doing the same to him. But God also forbids murder as form of revenge, so He took steps to ensure that the crime was not repeated and further sin committed. With act of rebellion, provoked by excessive pride. We cannot, therefore, take revenge on our neighbour, nor should we punish offenders in a spirit of vengeance.

In cases where those in authority find themselves obliged to punish crime in order to maintain order, the punishment must always be accompanied by a spirit of charity with regard both to the common good and towards the guilty person, so that he may acknowledge his crime, repent of it and be ready to amend his life. Normally, we do not take into account certain kinds of slow death inflicted on people and, yet these, too, are weighed in God’s balance. The injustice which one or other of our neighbours is often made to suffer; the calumny by which they are robbed of their good name, their personal dignity and the respect which is their due; the abuse by which they are deprived of their rights; and many other things of this kind, on account of which our neighbour suffers a kind of martyrdom and which bring about a slow death.

When Jesus Christ was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, St. Peter, wanting to defend his Master, took a sword and attacked one of the soldiers, cutting off his ear. But the Lord healed the wound and said to Peter: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26,52). This means that every crime has a punishment and is forbidden and rejected by God. Not even in defense of Himself did the Lord allow St Peter to use a sword. That does not mean that, in case of attack, we cannot defend ourselves, but it does mean that we cannot attack our neighbour unjustly and can do only if forced by the need of self defense.

Returning to the case of Cain and Abel, we find there an admonition combined with an order given to Cain by God, one which we cannot pass over without serious reflection: “Why are you angry and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must overcome it” (Gen 4, 6-7). We should all identify which temptation it is that assails us most frequently, and tries to drag us on the wrong path; in other words, which is the sin, as God said to Cain, has most appeal for us. We must over come it as God asked: “You must overcome it”. In fact, every sin brings with it a sentence of eternal death because it is a transgression of God’s law “But the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2, 17).

We could read this phrase as follows: ‘if you transgress my commands, you will incur the penalty of death, or eternal damnation. Every sin falls in the scope of this sentence, because all sin is a transgression of God’s law, bringing with it eternal death and, very often, temporal death also; consequently, it is never lawful for us to sacrifice either our neighbours life, or our own. This commandment is absolute: “you shall not kill”.

Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, confirms this divine commandment, saying: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says 'you fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire” (Mt 5: 21-22).

The Lord said: “He will be liable to judgment”. In fact anyone who commits this crime can still be saved, if he is willing to repent, ask pardon and undertake some penance, making reparation as far as possible for the harm caused to his neighbours.
Ave Maria!



You shall not commit adultery

“You shall not commit adultery” (Deut 5: 18).
In these days when society wants to make a law of this sin, Sacred Scripture continues to repeat the commandment of God “You shall not commit adultery”. It is the word of God, and the word of God does not change, nor does His Law: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void” (Lk 16, 17).

This commandment obliges us all, each one according to his or her state of life, to preserve chastity. Those who feel they are called to the state of matrimony are obliged to preserve chastity. Those who feel they are called to the state of matrimony are obliged to preserve chastity until the time comes to contract a definite union blessed by God in the sacrament of Matrimony; they must treat each other with respect as in the case of a tree whose fruit is still green and which must mature so that its fruit may be gathered at the proper time.

Once they have received the sacrament of Matrimony, the union between the couple is definitive and cannot be shared with others; it is indissoluble while partners live. It was thus that God instituted the marriage union, and nobody has the right to modify or transgress what God has ordained. We know about this institution from Sacred Scripture when it describes the creation of the human race: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and god said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”’ (Gen 1, 27-28).

Let us look for a moment at the way in which God established the marriage bond. he created man and woman, next He blessed them and only after blessing them did He allow them a definitive union, expressed thus by its fruits, that is, the growth of the human race. This blessing of God, which must precede the union of spouses, has today, for those who are baptized, a concrete form: the sacrament of Matrimony. Only after the couple have received this sacrament can the union be considered lawful and sanctioned.

God instituted this union, formed of two people only, and not to be shared by any other person while the couple are alive. This is the order given by the Lord from the beginning: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2, 24). The two become one flesh: the two and no more!

These two blessed by God and now one body, remind us of the tree of life planted by the Creator in the earthly paradise so that, when cultivated, it might yield fruit is due time. If we look for fruit on a tree outside its proper time, we will not find it. And if we pluck the fruit before it is ripe, it will be green, tasteless and harmful to our health if we eat it; if, on the other hand, we pluck the fruit when it is ripe, in the season appointed by God, then the fruit is delicious, a source of life and happiness. New flowers will blossom on the tree, new -spring times will smile in our homes and new lives will intone songs to our Creator.

This is the principle reason why God instituted the marriage bond, and all who chose this way of life must assume this obligation. By means of this union, God has willed to associate humanity with his creative work; He has given it, we may say, a position of honour; but, in this position, along with honour, there are laws imposed by God which must be observed faithfully. Each family, like a tree, has a single tree trunk, and from that trunk grows many branches, that is, children: growing from the tree they will cover it with fruit.

It is necessary; then, that this tree, which is the family, should give God all the fruit he wants from it. It is not lawful to destroy buds which are the germs of new life, because this means destroying and refusing to use the fruit of the tree and rendering it barren, thus incurring the same condemnation which Jesus Christ uttered in the case of the barren fig-tree. One day, early in the morning, Jesus was on his way to the city of Jerusalem and: “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once (Mt 21, 19).

Now, who would want a fig tree covered with fresh, green foliage, but never yielding fruit in his field? Its wood is of no use for building; it is taking up space on the land to no purpose. It is fit only to be cut down and thrown into the fire, because it has not fulfilled the mission entrusted to it by God, which is to yield fruit in due time. God has laid down the appropriate time for everything; a time for sowing, a time for planting, a time for private time for everything; a time for sowing, a time for planting, a time for weeding, a time for harvesting; and the whole of creation which has been given us to contemplate, follows the laws which God has prescribed for it; all creation except human beings!

One day, the Pharisees wanted to know Jesus’ opinion about all this and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away’. But Jesus said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female, for this reason a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. Whatever therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”. (Mk 10, 2-9). We have here a confirmation of the law imposed by God from the beginning; the two are one flesh; they are the trunk of the tree of life which cannot be divided. And if, on account the hardness of the human heart, the two are forced to separate, each of the two are nonetheless required to preserve the virtue of chastity, because as Jesus says: “Every one who divorces his wife and married another commits adultery” (Lk 16, 18).

This law of God is very clear, and it is not lawful for anyone to give an interpretation which distorts it. Only the Church can interpret the Law of God, and hence, we have to follow the teaching of the Supreme Head of the Church who is the Pope, Bishop of Rome. And if anyone happens to proclaim a doctrine which is different or contrary to this, we must not believe him or follow the doctrine, because only the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church has promised, and granted, the help of the Holy Spirit; therefore, it is the Church, in the person of its Superior Head and Vicar of Christ on earth, which has the light and grace necessary to define, teach and govern spiritually the People of God.

There is no shortage today of people who interpret this law of God in a sense contrary to the teachings of the Head of the Church, but these false doctrines were, at all times, condemned by God. Already in the Old Testament, God complained and accused his people of profaning the sanctuary of the family, saying to them, by the voice of the prophet Malachi, that this was the only reason that their offerings were not acceptable to Heaven: “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favour at your hand.

You ask, ‘why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless” (Mal 2, 13-16).

All these divine words show us the seriousness of sins against the commandment, which forbids adultery. The answer, which Jesus Christ gave to the Pharisees when they asked him about divorce, is worth our consideration: ‘It was because of the hardness of your hearts that Moses allowed a writ of divorce’. Hence, this hardness of heart is something that should not exist, because apart from anything else, it is contrary to justice, since it violates the promise that the spouses made to love each other forever. Let them not forget what the Lord went on to say: “What God has joined together, no human being must separate” and then “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her”. Hence all acts against this commandment are grave in the sight of God.

It is therefore alarming to see, in todays, society the disorder which prevails in this respect, and with the ease with which people plunge into immorality. To remedy the situation, there is only one solution: the people should repent, reform their lives and do penance. For those who do not want to take this road Jesus Christ says: “Unless you repent you will likewise perish” (Lk 13, 5), or else like the eighteen victims who perished when the tower of Silo fell on them.

That the solution lies in repentance and a change of life style is confirmed in the case of the adulterous woman, whom Jesus succeeded in saving from death by stoning, as St. John describes. He tells us that when Jesus was teaching in the Temple, the Scribes and Pharisees came to him bringing a woman who had been caught in adultery. Presenting her to the Lord, they asked Him whether He thought she should be stoned, as the Law of Moses commanded. At first Jesus did not answer: so they persisted: “he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her (..)’ But when they heard it, they went away, one by one (...) and Jesus was left alone with the women standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one Lord’. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again’” (Jn 8, 7-11).

We see here, in Jesus Christ, what the mercy of God to a repentant sinner is like. Most certainly he saw repentance in that woman’s heart and He pardoned her, promising not to condemn her if she did not sin again: “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again”. The interpreters of this Gospel passage may say that these words of Jesus referred to the death sentence laid down in the Mosaic Law for such cases. That may be so, but I think that, when the Lord ordered the woman not to sin any more, He was stating the condition for not being condemned to eternal death. For every sin e commit puts us in danger of eternal damnation, since we do not know whether God will give us the time or the grace to repent and do penance: “Go in peace and sin no more”! is the road marked out by God for all those who, having sinned, want to repent and change their lives in order to be saved.

With reference to what we have been talking about, consider these words of St Paul “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) - and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1Cor 7, 10-11). Here again we have a clear affirmation of the indissolubility of marriage; it is not lawful for anyone to separate what God has joined together. And, if because of the hardness of the human heart, a separation becomes necessary then each partner must observe chastity, that is must keep under control their passions, their unruly inclinations and vices, because God did not create us to satisfy the desires of the flesh, but to save our souls and with them our bodies, for the day of resurrection.

Thus, we must avoid falling into the slavery of sin, because as the Lord says: “every one who commits sin is a slave to sin” (Jn 8, 34). This will drag us down to Hell. The apostle St Paul warns us against this danger, saying “immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you (...) Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is an idolater), has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them” (Eph 5, 3,5-7).

The Apostle urges us not to have anything to do with immoral people, so that they will not lead us into evil ways. The Portuguese have a proverb which is certainly ‘walk with good people and you will be like them, walk with evil people and you will be worse than they are.’ Therefore we must keep away from bad companions, so that they will not lead us into discreditable ways: however, let us continue to love these brothers and sisters of ours and treat them with discretion, seeking to help them with our prayers, win them over with our words and our good example so that they may walk on a better path of purity, truth and justice and love. We must do so in imitation of Jesus Christ, who loved sinners while detesting sin, and gave his life for our salvation: “For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, might be saved through him” (Jn 3, 17).
Ave Maria!



You shall not steal

“You shall not steal” (Ex 20, 15).
God forbids us to steal, because stealing is an act of injustice; it is unjust to take possession of something that does not belong to us. Such an act is contrary to God’s justice; hence, He tells us: “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house....Nor anything that belongs to him” (Ex 20, 17).

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house”. With this commandment God forbids us to covet that which belongs to our neighbour: and, if we do not covet, we will not steal either, because it is covetousness which leads to theft.

If we do not have all that we need - and if we are able bodied - we must work seriously and honourably to earn it. In fact, anyone who, despite good health and appropriate age, does not work, fails to observe the law of work imposed by God on the whole human race: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Gen 2, 15).

In the beginning, when God gave this command to man, work was a form of entertainment and recreation: but, after man sinned by disobeying the order which God had given him not to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, the command to work was felt as a penance and a punishment for the sin committed. “And Lord commanded the man saying, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die (..)

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband and he ate (..) And to Adam he said: ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall being forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gn 2, 16; 3, 6. 17-19).

Thus according to this sacred text, because of the sin of the first human beings, we are all subject to the law of work and to temporal death; “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground from which you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return”. (Gen 3, 10). I say that we were subjected to temporal death, since we were ransomed from eternal death by the Redemption wrought by Jesus Christ. Now, in order to be saved, it only remains for us to co-operate with the grace which He has won for us.

The only exception to the law of work are children, because they have not yet the necessary physical strength, helpless invalids, and those because of their age and the work they have done in the past, have exhausted their strength. To provide what is necessary for these is the task of all those who are bound in justice to do so, especially those who are now enjoying what was gained by the effort and sacrifice of those who can no longer work; this is the charity of all who understand and love their neighbour. In this way, all will be able to live, seriously and honourably, as brothers and sisters, children of the same Heavenly Father, without transgressing his commandment: “You shall not steal”.

There are so many and such different ways of stealing that it is impossible for me to enumerate them all here, but I will mention a few. Thus, in business, it is stealing to charge more than a just price for any goods, perhaps taking advantage of need, or of our neighbour’s ignorance. On the part of those who work and receive payment for it, it is stealing not to give the proper amount of time to our work and not to work with the diligence and perfection required if things are to be done properly. And, on the part of those who are served by these workers, it is stealing not to pay them their due, and in good time.

To steal is to deprive others of their legitimate rights, either by oppressing them in such away that they cannot use something to which they are entitled, or depriving them of their freedom as the free beings that they are, since God created them thus, or in any way other what so ever.

It is also stealing to deceive our neighbour, by selling goods as of high quality when in reality they are damaged or worthless, selling animals which appear to be healthy and perfect but are really sickly or defective.

God has forbidden all these forms of stealing, saying to us: “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to another” (LV 19, 11). And St. Paul recommends the observance of this commandment in the following words: “give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need” (Eph 4, 27-28). And he says in another place: “Now we command you brethren, in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you have received from us (...)

For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘If anyone will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living idleness, mere busy bodies, not doing any work, work in quietness and to earn their own living.” (2 Thess 3, 6. 10-12). The Apostle bids us not to associate with those whose bad habits are known to us, those who break God’s laws, because they will lead us into evil ways and ruin us. And he exhorts us, if we ourselves have got into bad habits, to amend our ways, beginning once more to work honestly, in order to earn our living and help our neighbour in need.

Another type of theft is when we rob someone of their good name. Slandering our neighbour, depriving him or her of the esteem and confidence of others is one of the most serious kinds of theft we can commit, because we steal what we all value above all else, our good name, our honour, the confidence and the appreciation of others, thereby placing the person in a difficult situation, both in his or her private life as well as in his or her public life and social affairs.

Condemning all this God declares to the sinner:
“What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief you are a friend of his; and you keep company with adulterers. You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay charge before you” (Ps 50 (49), 22).

Let us accept this divine reminder because what is involved is our eternal salvation. Let us make sure that our life with God is all that it should be by our faithful and constant observance of His law and His word which is His Word incarnate, Jesus Christ our Saviour: “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (Jn5, 24).
Ave Maria!



You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” (Deut 5, 20).
With this commandment, God forbids all kinds of calumny and lies, which damages our neighbour. The Lord speaks thus: “You shall not utter a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man, to be a malicious witness. You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his suit (...) you shall not pervert the justice due to the poor in his suit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not slay the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right” (Ex 23, 1-8).

This commandment of God also forbids all unjust criticism, back biting and slander of our neighbour: that great defect of putting the worst interpretation on our neighbour’s actions, attributing to them an evil intention, which they never had. Condemning the conduct, St. James says: “Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbour?” (Jm 4, 11-12).

All back biting, censure, and unjust and detracting criticism are contrary to this commandment because they are founded on falsehood and calumny. In the Book of Proverbs, it is written: “A false witness will not go unpunished and he who utters lies will perish” (Prov 19,9).

If we apply this to our own case, we understand the meaning of this commandment very well, since we would like to see it observed with regard to ourselves. Why then, do we not understand it in the same way in our neighbour’s case? Surely it is because we live carelessly or else in ignorance of the truth?

In St. John’s Gospel, there is a passage, which has always impressed me greatly, the one which refers to Jesus’ trial before Pilate. At a given moment, the accusation is made that Jesus had wanted to be king, the true sense the Lord sought to make clear: “Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth! Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice’. Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, ‘I find no crime in him’” (Jn 18, 37-38).

This Gospel text shows us what life in the world is like. Pilate was a man who occupied a very high place in the society of his day, wielding great power, including that of a judge of the Supreme Court, and yet, he does not know what truth is! Neither did he want to know, because he did not wait for Jesus’ answer. He was not interested in learning; he simply went out and spoke to the Jews. So many people in the world live like this; they are not interested in truth, and yet we will never arrive in Heaven unless we follow the way of truth.

Thus, Pilate, having listened to calumny, condemned an innocent man to death. And he was aware of this, since he himself admitted that the victim was innocent; moreover, to stifle the voice of his conscience, he staged the hypocritical ceremony of washing his hands, declaring before all the people that he himself was innocent of the blood of that Just Man. “Pilate (..) took water and washed his hands before the crowd saying, ‘I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood’” (Mt 27, 24). “Then he handed him over to them to be crucified” (Jn 19, 16).

If it were possible to unroll the whole human web of human history, how many examples would we not find of people condemned to death or to punishments just as cruel as death, victims of calumny, of lies, of unjust judgments, of hatred, envy and vengeance? And yet, the Law of God has been given to us and is still valid, repeating always “You shall not kill. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not repeat a false report. Do not join the wicked in putting your hand, as an unjust witness upon anyone. You shall keep away from the dishonest”.

Even if people do not want to heed this voice of God, its echo must vibrate in the human conscience for as long as the race exists and afterwards- in eternity, in the despair of those who, because they did not follow it, are lost forever.

To transgress this commandment is a very grave matter: for, in doing so, we offend God in the person of our neighbour. It is a sin against the precepts of justice and charity with which Jesus Christ bids us treat our neighbour: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. (Jn 15, 12) and the Lord loved us to the point of giving his life for us. In another place, He recommends the same thing, saying, “So whatever you wish that what men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7, 12).
Ave Maria!



You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife nor shall you desire his house (..) or anything that is your neighbour’s” (Deut 5, 18).
There is so much disregard of this commandment in the world today that I ask myself if it is even worthwhile talking about it? The answer is the affirmative because even if the whole world is drowning in the abyss, the word of God remains, repeating: “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife”.

The sin against this commandment is so serious that, in the Old Testament, it was punished by death. “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbour, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death” (Lv 20, 10). And, in another place: “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman and the woman” (Deut 22, 22).

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus Christ was talking to the multitude which had gathered around Him, He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery’, But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5, 27-28). We see from this that God forbids not only the act in itself but also the covetousness and the desire involved, since these leads afterwards to the to the consummation of the act.

And the divine Master concludes his affirmation with a very harsh advice: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Mt 5, 29). In this extreme example, Jesus wants to emphasize the gravity of this sin and how it incurs the punishment of eternal damnation.

The sin against this commandment involves the violation of the two others, namely, the one which orders the observance of chastity, and the one that forbids theft. In fact, to take possession of someone who belongs to, or has been entrusted to, another is stealing. Such an act is thus contrary to both justice and charity. Hence, God includes in this commandment a list of things which we may not covet: “Neither shall you covet your neighbour’s wife: and you shall not desire your neighbour’s house (...) or anything that is your neighbour’s (Dt 5, 21).

The law of civil divorce, which various nations permit, is opposed to the law of God which lays down that the marriage bond is indissoluble: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man asunder” (Mt 19, 6). St. Paul, wishing to discuss the limits proper to this law, proposed the concrete case of the union of man and woman, which only the death of one of them can sever. “Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress is she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulterous” (Rm 7, 2-3).

The same Apostle does not conceal from us the terrible fate awaiting those who transgress this law: “Be sure of this, that no immoral man or one who is covetous (that is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them.” (Eph 5, 5-7). And this is what he wrote to the Corinthians: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and the robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber - not even to eat with such a one” (1 Cor 5, 9-11).

St. Paul also reminds us that God has called us all to sanctity: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we solemnly forewarned you. For God has not called us for uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore who ever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thess 4, 3-8).

Concerning St Paul’s remark, “The Lord always avenges all these things”; here is a page from the prophet Jeremiah, where God resolves to exterminate His unfaithful people. “How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me, and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of harlots. They were well fed lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbour’s wife. Shall I not punish them for these things? Says the Lord; and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? Go up through her vine-rows and destroy, but make not a full end; strip away her branches, for they are not of the Lord’s” (Jer 5, 7-10).

The story of King David tells us that he sinned against this commandment; and as one sin usually leads to many others, he also violated the commandment which forbids us to appropriate to ourselves the right of our neighbours, the precept which commands everyone to observe chastity according to his state of life; the commandment which forbids us to make an attempt on our neighbour’s life;, ect. God dealt mercifully with him, sending him the prophet Nathan to make him acknowledge his sins and let him know the chastisements with which God had intended to punish him. After hearing the prophet’s words, David repented and did penance. Therefore, God ordered the prophet to say to him: “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you will die” (2 Sam 12, 13-14).

In the New Testament, St. John the Baptist, too, had to rebuke King Herod for having taken his brother Philip’s wife, in these words: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mk 6, 18,). But in John’s case zeal for God’s law brought him the palm of martyrdom: he was imprisoned and, at the request of the adulterous woman, beheaded.

How happy I should be if God were to give me too, the grace of giving my life in defense of His Law and if, by so giving it, men, in imitation of David, acknowledged their sins, asked God’s pardon, amended their lives and did penance, so that thus they might be saved and gain eternal life!

We are deluded if we think or say that these divine laws were given solely for the Israelites because they were the people chosen by God to be saved. In fact, Jesus Christ, in the Gospel told us that He did not come to abolish the Law but to complete and perfect it. And He commanded his apostles to go and teach it to the whole world, so that all people might be saved: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16, 15-16).

This command that Jesus Christ gave to His Apostles proves that all of us belong to the People of God. We were chosen, or rather, created in order to be saved, on condition that we believe, are baptized and fulfill the Law of God, as Jesus tells us: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Mt 5, 17-18). And it will endure until the last day when the same Word of God will pronounce the sentence of condemnation of the transgressor: “If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him, for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world (...) the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day” (Jn 12, 47-48).

Thus we see that we will be saved by observing the Law of God, whereas by violating it we will be condemned. It is certain that God is a kind Father, always ready to receive the repentant sinner but only when He sees sorrow for the sin and a firm purpose of amendment in the sinner’s heart. It was for the benefit of souls like this that the Lord said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go learn and what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9, 12-13). Yes, because the just follow the lord’s ways: it is the sinners who have gone astray that must be called back and led in to the ways of truth, of purity, of justice and of God’s love.
Ave Maria!



The commandments are summed up in charity

We have gone through the commandments of God’s Law, one by one, to discover how we should observe them. We have seen that by observing them we shall be saved, and by violating them we shall be condemned.

And we cannot say: ‘This is my own businesses as some do who are indifferent, cynical, defeatists or individualists.

But is it their own business? What if all Heaven was moved in order to save you? How can you assert this business of saving your soul concerns you only? The Son of the Eternal Father died on the Cross instead of you and in your place, are you now going to hand yourself over to hell which He has already conquered? Stop this nonsense of defying eternal death. Your Heavenly Father does not want you to be lost; how can you forget Him, despise Him, destroy His image within you? Does a Father’s grief leave you utterly indifferent? If that is so, are you sure that you are still in the realm of the living, have you not, rather, gone down alive in to the realm of the dead?

God’s suffering because of the sins of men is very great! In the apparition of October 1917, Our Lady ended her series of spoken messages, saying: “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended”. And we offend God when we transgress his law, the Commandments.

But why does God feel so deeply offended when we sin against His Commandments? God Himself, properly speaking, is not affected by it. He continues to be what He is: eternally happy, great, powerful, immense, source of life and of all good. But God is love, and by sin we diminish love: not the love of God for us, but our love for Him. The moment we transgress one of his laws, we cease to love God; we create a void in our love. How can a son say he love his father, if, in the father’s own house he disobeys and despises his orders, his instructions, his favours and his caresses. He must be - and he is - a rebellious son, not a son who loves his father.

All true love demands giving, renunciation, self-sacrifice, self-surrender. This was how God loved us from the beginning. He created us in His image, making us sharers in his life, in his gifts such as intelligence, power of reflection, wisdom, free will, freedom and destined us for eternal life. All this sharing in His gifts which He has granted us, in the order of nature as well as of grace, is, on God’s part a self sacrifice, a self surrender, a self revelation and a descent, out of love, so as to raise us up, to honour us, to perfect us and to associate us with Himself.

All sin on our part is a breach of love. When God saw us in our fallen state, He was inflamed with great love and compassion for us; and He gave Himself for our redemption in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ whom the Father sent into the world to save us. Unfathomable abyss of divine love, which St. John described thus: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (...) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1, 14-17).

And Jesus declares that He came down from Heaven because that was His Father’s will, and that He came to save us and give us eternal life, which we had lost through sin: “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him that sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6, 37-40).

The extent to which the Father loves us may be seen in the gift He makes to us of His own Son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” (Jn 3, 16-21).

Thus, Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the Father’s love; this love was sent into the world to be poured into the hearts of men, and enkindle in them the fire of that charity which burns and consumes Him for the good children, so as to unite them in the same perfection of supernatural life, of faith and of love of Him who created and saved them. God is love, St. John tells us: “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” (1 Jn 4, 8 -10).

As we see, God gives Himself to us through love, and this love, when it is kindled in a heart, softens everything, sweetens everything, because it extinguishes the fire of unruly passions and smoothes the ways of holiness, which consists in the observance of the divine Law, through love. It is then that the person’s love for God becomes more fervent, and the union between them is made closer by strong and unbreakable bonds, until this love becomes the person’s very life. And, led by this love, gives him/herself completely to God and to others, for the love of God. What one then desires is to communicate to others this treasure of grace and happiness which we ourselves now possess within us, to make the way smooth for them and help them to continue on it, so that they may enjoy the same good fortune which has made us happy: love.

It is the new commandment which Christ came to give the world, and which, until then, was unknown or badly interpreted: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13, 34). Christ loved us and surrendered Himself unto death for us. Thus Christ is for us the model of pure, chaste love, sacrificed for God and others; He is the model for our self-surrender, our consecration and our fidelity to God and to our neighbour. These words make me think not only of religious but of every one, because by Baptism, we are all consecrated and dedicated to a religious life of love of God and of our neighbour.

Already in the Old Testament, God had given this law: “You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord. You shall keep my statues” (Lv 19, 18-19). Yes, God ordered us to love our neighbour: He asked us to love Himself: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates” (Dt 6, 4-9).

Although this commandment was so explicit in the Old Law, it was misinterpreted and distorted, as Jesus showed the Scribes and Pharisees in the case of the commandment to honour your father and your mother: “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophecy of you, when he said ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men’” (Mt 15, 7-9). A further proof of the confusion and difficulty with which people surround the Law of God can be seen in the question which an expert in the Law, with some others put to Jesus: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets”’ (Mt22, 36-40).

As Jesus teaches us, the whole law is summed up in the love of God and our neighbour for love of Him; in other words, we love others because they are children of God like ourselves and, therefore, our brother or sister, with free will like ours, with the same rights as we have, and destined for eternal life. Accordingly, it is this love which leads us to observe each and all of the commandments, because all of them, in one way or another, refer to God and our neighbour. This observance always redounds to the glory of God, our own good and that of our neighbour. On the other hand, their transgression affects God’s external glory - that is, in his creation, not in Himself - does harm to our own good and the good of our neighbour, considered both as an individual and as a member of society.

The reason is this: we are members of the Mystical Body of Christ which is His Church. What happens in it is similar to what occurs in any living body; if one member is ailing, the whole body suffers; and, when one member is lost, the whole body feels the deprivation. Now, to transgress the commandment is a breach of love. Whenever we break a Commandment in a serious matter, the bond of charity, which binds us to God and our neighbour, is broken. We cannot say love when we offend! In fact, with our transgressions, we lesson the application of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ to ourselves and consequently, its fruit; we offend our neighbour by our bad example, either by leading them into evil ways or by harming them in their rights, their health, their life, their possessions, their good name, honour, reputation, personal dignity, ect.

But we also damage ourselves, depriving ourselves of the grace of God, putting ourselves in danger of eternal damnation, throwing away our personal dignity, our good name, honour, material, moral and spiritual goods and, in many cases, even the possibility of exercising our freedom, since as the Lord says: “the sinner becomes the slave of sin”. We sacrifice our health and very often, our temporal and eternal life. Sad consequences of our transgressing the Law of God!

And it is not difficult to see how and every violation of the different Commandments ends by offending against the law of charity, which is the love of God. Whom we ceased to love when we transgressed his Law; love of neighbour, which is damaged directly or indirectly; love of ourselves because we diminish and defraud ourselves by depriving ourselves of good things which are irretrievable either in time or in eternity. Perhaps without realizing it, we disgrace ourselves completely.

The Commandments are summed up in love. They are all the _expression of that living fire of love, which is God. God is charity, God is love! It was through love that God gave us these precepts; like a good father who gives his children precise instructions so that they may walk in the right paths and be happy.

The Commandments are our best guardians; the best defense of human life. If every one kept these divine precepts today, there would be no assailants, thieves, adulterers, idolaters, no enemies of any kind. We would all love one another like brother and sister, helping one another in joy, peace and happiness, like children in their father’s house. Yes, because the world is just that; the house of our God and Father who created us all, so as to live united under his Fatherly eye, enjoying the same goods and the same loving relations, following the same road marked out by the same laws, living the same ideal which leads to the possession of the same kingdom, where life never ends, joy has no limits, and love is eternal, because love is God, the love and life of God which are poured out on his children.

But how can we say that we possess charity if we do not love God and our neighbour; if we cannot manage to make the sacrifices necessary in order to fulfill each and all of the Commandments? We have no charity if we cannot deny ourselves sufficiently in order to be pure, chaste, humble, faithful to God and to our neighbour who are poor and need our help, our assistance in their difficulty, our alms and our comfort; if we cannot deny ourselves enough so as to give to our needy neighbour what we do not, preferring to waste it on what is useless and unnecessary.

Think of all the money wasted on sinful amusements, in the indulgences of vices, on alcoholic drink, in cafe’s, in gambling - houses and places of licentious conduct, in luxuries and exaggerated vanities, on smoking ect! If we are foolish and selfish enough to waste completely what we could, and should give to our brothers and sisters who are in need, cold and hungry, where then, is our charity, our love of God and of our neighbour?

Where is our charity, if we cannot forgive from our hearts, or pay back good for evil? If we allow ourselves to be carried away by the spirit of vengeance, by envy, jealousy, prejudice malevolence, hatred, ect?

Sacred Scripture tells us: “You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord. You shall not hate your brother in your heart (..) You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord. You shall keep my statues” (Lv 19, 16-19).

And Jesus Christ taught us to ask the Father to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have offended us, and He tells us why: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6, 14-14).

In his Gospel, referring to the question put to Jesus by a scribe: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” St Mark describes the joy which filled that scribe at the answer he received and to which he replied: “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (MK 12, 32-33). In these words, we have a marvelous explanation of the first and greatest of all the Commandments, that is to say, love- love of God and of our neighbour. But we must keep in mind that we will not be fulfilling it completely as long as we transgress any one of the various commandments given by God, all of which are included in these two, to the extent that a violation of any of them involves a sin against the commandment of charity.

The commandments are a kind of more detailed part of His Message, sent to us through His Mother and ours, calling our attention to the path traced out by Him for all who wished to be saved - I leave you here, what Jesus Christ recommended to his Apostles and to us also, during the last hours of His earthly life: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy maybe in you and that your joy maybe full. This is my commandment, that you love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you (..) This I command you, to love one another” (Jn 15, 9-14. 17).

But Jesus takes the perfection of love of God and of our neighbour even further. It is easy to love our friends; but we have to also love our enemies, paying back with good the evil they have done to us. It is here that our charity touches the sphere of heroism! The Lord gave his life for his friends and also for his enemies: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (LK 23, 34). He asked pardon for his enemies and wanted to save them, leaving an example to confirm what He had once said: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (...) your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk6, 27, 25-26).
Ave Maria!



The Rosary

A remarkable and powerful prayer
We have seen already how God, knowing the great need we have to pray, but also that everyone cannot be asked to pray in the same way because the possibilities and situations in each one’s life are so different, called for daily recitation of the Rosary, thus condescending to the simple level which is common to all of us. During the very first apparition on 13th May 1917, Our Lady asked: “Pray the Rosary every day”: and this request was to be repeated by her every month until October.

So, calling to mind the insistence with which God, by means of the Fatima message, recommends the prayer of the Rosary, and also all that the Church’s Magisterium has said about it over the years, we can conclude that the Rosary is a form of vocal prayer which, in general, suits all of us, for which we should have the highest regard, and which we should make the greatest effort never to abandon.

Unfortunately in these confused times, there are those who venture to criticize the Rosary, saying, for example, that it is not a liturgical prayer. Some time ago, I heard about an article of this nature and was greatly saddened by it. Someone asked the author of it, how he had dared to write and publish such nonsense, to which he replied: “I was forced to do it”. Did he not know, then, that there is no authority in the world which can force us to go against our own conscience? It is a mystery of human weakness, which, in many cases, in order to please creatures, perhaps for earthly reasons, does not mind incurring God’s anger and the penalties with which He punishes sin. Contrary to what this person, and others of the same mind, have written, I assure you that the Rosary is a biblical prayer and that it is part of the sacred Liturgy.

We begin the Rosary with the words “Deus in adjutorium meum intende, Domine ad adjuvandum me festina” or, in English “O God, come to our aid, Lord, make haste to help us”. This is the prayer we say at the beginning of the different parts of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Then we pray: “Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui et Sancto. Sicut erat in principo, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saculorum, Amen”. Or in English, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.” This prayer of praise, which we recite at the end of each decade of the Rosary, is the same as that which we end the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, and it is also used at Mass, whether in the Gospel Acclamation on the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, or in the longer form of the hymn; “Glory to God in the Highest” begun by the Angels in Bethlehem.

The Our Father, which we recite at the beginning of each decade, was taught to us by Jesus Christ when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray: “Pray like this, ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” (Mt 6, 9-13). This prayer which we say in all the decades of the Rosary, is a biblical prayer and is part of the Liturgy; it is recited daily in the Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The next prayer is the Hail Mary, which we repeat ten times, thus forming a decade of the Rosary. It too is a biblical prayer. It begins with the words which the Angel Gabriel addressed to Mary when he was sent by God to announce to her the Incarnation of the Word: “the angel Gabriel was sent from God (...) to a virgin (...) and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1, 26-28). I think that when He was sending the Angel, God must have suggested to him the words with which he was to salute Mary, announcing to her, on the part of God, the mystery of the incarnation of the Word.

And St. Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, said “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1, 42).

Thus the Hail Mary was formed under God’s inspiration: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

We must regard this salutation as having been addressed to the Virgin Mary by God Himself, on the natural level insofar as the words of the heavenly messenger are concerned, and supernaturally in the case of the words which were spoken by St. Elizabeth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Lk 1 41-42). If St. Elizabeth was moved by the Holy Spirit when she uttered these words, as Sacred Scripture tells us; then this praise comes from the Holy Spirit.

But it is more praise of God than of Mary; You are blessed because the fruit of your womb is blessed; and it is in this fruit, and by this fruit, that the blessing of God has come to you and that you are blessed among all women. And this was how the Virgin Mary understood it when she sang: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of handmaiden. For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lk 1, 46-50). As we see, all praise of Mary rises up to God; He looked with mercy on his lowly handmaid.

So the Ave Maria is indeed a biblical prayer. But it is also part of the Liturgy being recited on various feasts of the year, both in the Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Later on, the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit Who enlightens and helps it, rounded off the formula of the Ave Maria with the humble supplication: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen”.

This prayer, in which we ask Mary to intercede for us with the Lord, does not contradict in any way the truth taught by St. Paul: “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2,5). There is only one Mediator endowed with the divine nature and possessing natural access to God, namely; Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, “an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one” (Gal 3, 20). which means that there is a second party to be served and represented by the Mediator, namely humanity.

And “Jesus Christ, Man” is our Mediator by nature - the human nature which He assumed in the womb of the Virgin Mary. But Christ did not become man to be the one and only survivor of humanity, but to be “the first born among many brethren” (Rom 8, 29) whom He saved, restoring to them the access to the presence of God and intimacy with Him which they had enjoyed in the earthly paradise. In fact He did more: He bound us to Himself as members of his mystical Body which is the Church, the saving Presence of Jesus Christ until the end of time and to the ends of the earth, sharing by grace and calling the Saviour’s threefold mission - that of the prophet, priest and king.

There is, thus, only one divine Mediator: Jesus Christ; but as suppliant intercessors we have Mary, the Saints, and each one of us, if we so wish. St. Paul himself, in various passages in his letters, asks people to pray both for him and for one another. “To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph 6, 18-20).

So, if the Apostle tells us to pray for one another, we have much more reason to ask Mary to pray for us, because her prayer will be much more pleasing to the Lord in view of her dignity as Mother of God and her closer union with Christ, true God and true Man, by reason of her mission of co-Redemptrix with Christ as well as her great sanctity.

Returning now, to the biblical and liturgical dimension of the Rosary, let us consider the prayer which the Message taught us to pray at the end of each decade. A similar request occurs in the Mass, since the rubrics order us to begin the Holy sacrifice by confessing our sins, and the prayer taught us by Our Lady leads us to ask pardon for these same sins: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need” (Apparition of 13th July, 1917).

“Those who are most in need”. I think this refers to those in greatest danger of damnation. With this prayer, we ask God to apply to us the fruit of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that is, the salvation of souls, together with forgiveness for our own sins.

Thus, I believe that, after the liturgical prayer of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the prayer of the holy Rosary, because of its origin and sublime nature of the prayers which compose it and also on account of the mysteries of our redemption which we recall and contemplate in each decade, is the most pleasing prayer we can offer to God and the one most beneficial to our souls. If this were not so, Our Lady would not have recommended it to us with such insistence.

The saying of the Rosary is the form of prayer which has been most recommended by all the Popes who have served the Church in recent centuries, beginning with Gregory XIII who, in the Bull “Monte Apostolos” calls it “the Psalter of the Most Holy Virgin which we pray in order to placate God’s anger and implore intercession” (1st April 1573).

Sixtus V also, in the Bull ‘Dum ineffablis’ of 30th January, 1586, calls the Rosary the “Psalter of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, instituted by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit”.

Before these two Popes, St. Pius V had also governed the Church. He attributed the victory obtained by the Christians against the Turks at Lepanto on 7th October, 1571 to the praying of the Rosary. In thanksgiving, he ordered the Feast of Our Lady of Victorious to be celebrated annually on that day, a feast which one of his successors changed to that of Our Lady of the Rosary.

About three hundred years after that war, Pope Pius 1X was serving the Church. On his death bed, he said to those around him: “The Rosary is a compendium of the Gospel, and gives tot hose who pray it those rivers of peace of which the Scriptures speak; it is the most beautiful devotion, the most abundant in grace, and the most pleasing to the Heart of Mary. My sons, let this be the testimony by which you remember me on earth”. (February 1878). It is marvelous to see how this great Pope linked the prayer of the Rosary to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But was he not the Pope of Mary Immaculate, the one who proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary by the Bull ‘Ineffablis Deus’ in 1854?

Leo X111, in the Encyclical ‘Fidentem piumque’, of 20th September, 1896, said: “In the devotion of the Rosary, Christ occupies the first place (..) by means of vocal the vocal prayers of which it is formed, we can express and profess our faith in God, our most provident Father, in eternal life, in the forgiveness of sins, and also in the mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity, the Incarnate Word, the divine Maternity, and others. Certainly, nobody is ignorant of the great value and merit of faith. Faith, in fact, is nothing else than the chosen seed which, in the present, produces the flowers of all virtues which render us pleasing to God and yield fruits which last for eternity: since ‘To know You is indeed the perfect virtue and to know Your power is the root of immorality”’ (cf: Wisdom, 15, 3).

This affirmation of Pope Leo X111 is admirable. He is telling us that the Most Holy Trinity and the saving work of Christ are at the centre of this great prayer, the Rosary, making it a profession of faith in these central mysteries of Catholic doctrine. The faith which we profess, and exercise, in this prayer, is of great spiritual value. Hence, the same Pope, using the words of the Apostle St. Paul, says: “For man believes with his heart and so it is justified, and he confesses with his lips and is saved” (Rom 10, 10). “Therefore the Rosary provides us with the opportunity for this external profession of faith”.

In his Encyclical ‘Ingravescentibus malis’ of 29th September 1937, Pope Pius X1 says: “The Holy Rosary is not only a weapon to put to flight the enemies of God and of Religion but, above all, it fosters and nourishes the Gospel virtues. And, in the first place, it reanimates the Catholic faith by contemplation of the divine mysteries and improves our understanding of the truths revealed by God”. And he granted a plenary indulgence for the recitation of the Rosary in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

On 16th October, 1940, His Holiness Pius X11 said “The Rosary is, as its name signifies, a necklace of roses, not those roses with which the ungodly adorn themselves insolently, according to the words of Scripture - ‘Let us crown ourselves with roses before they wither’ (Wis 2, 8) - but roses whose freshness is ceasingly renewed in the hands of those devoted to Mary”.

Pope John XX111 in his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, dated 29th September, 1961, says: “Moreover, this is a characteristic of the liturgical prayer of the Missal and the Breviary: each one of its parts is introduced by ‘Oremus’, which supposes plurality and a crowd, those who are praying, those who are hoping to be heard, and those who are being prayed for. It is the crowd which prays, united in supplication, for the whole human family, religious and civil. The Rosary of Mary is raised to the dignity of great power, public and universal, for the ordinary and extraordinary needs of the Holy Church, of nations and of the whole world”.

Here the Holy Father recognizes, in the prayer of the Rosary, that dimension of plurality and universality characteristic of the liturgical prayer of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. “Moreover, this is a characteristic of the liturgical prayer of the Missal and the Breviary”. And he says that the Rosary is the supplication of the multitude praying for the ordinary and the extraordinary needs of Holy Church, of nations and of the world. “It is the crowd which prays united in supplication for the whole human family, religious and civil”.

His Holiness Paul V1, after the last voting session of the Council Fathers on 21st November, 1964, promulgated the dogmatic constitution “Lumen Gentium” on the Church. In it we read: “The sacred synod teaches this Catholic doctrine (the devotion offered by the Church to the Blessed Virgin) advisedly, and at the same time admonishes all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered, and that the practices and exercises of devotion towards her, recommended by the teaching authority of the Church in the course of centuries, be highly esteemed, and that those decrees, which were given in the early days regarding the cult of images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, be religiously observed”. (Lumen Gentium, 67).

Reading this document of the Second Vatican Council, I believe that no well disposed person could deny that the prayer of the Rosary is one of the ‘principle practices and exercises of Marian piety which, just then, were in the mind and the thoughts of the Council Fathers, just as it cannot be denied that this prayer is one of the practices and exercises of piety which have been most recommended and approved by Church’s Magisterium.

Then, on 2nd February, 1974, Pope Paul V1 published the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Marialis cultus’, in which he dedicated paragraphs 42 to 55 to the prayer of the Rosary, confessing “We too, from the first General Audience of our Pontificate on 13th July 1963 onwards, have shown our great esteem for the pious practice of the Rosary” (no 42).

He also declares that he has followed very attentively the numerous meetings and researches which took place on the subject of this Marian devotion: “As a result of modern reflection, the reflection, the relationships between the liturgy and the Rosary have been more clearly understood (...) Not many years ago, some people began to express a desire to see the Rosary included in the rites of the liturgy, while others, anxious to avoid a repetition of former pastoral mistakes, unjustifiably disregarded the Rosary. Today the problem can easily be solved in the light of the principles of the Constitution ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’ Liturgical celebrations and the pious practice of the Rosary must neither be set in opposition to one another nor considered as being identical.

“The more an _expression of prayer preserves its own true nature and individual characteristics, the more fruitful it becomes. Once the pre-eminent value of liturgical rites has been reaffirmed, it will not be difficult to appreciate the fact that the Rosary is a practice of piety which easily harmonizes with the liturgy. In fact, like the liturgy, it is oriented towards the mystery of Christ. The commemoration in the liturgy and the contemplative remembrance proper to the Rosary, although existing on essentially different planes of reality, have as their object the same salvific events wrought by Christ. The former presents anew, under the veil of signs and operative in a hidden way, the great mysteries of our redemption. The latter, by means of devout contemplation, recalls these same mysteries to the mind of the person praying, and stimulates the will to draw from them the norm of living.

“Once this substantial difference has been established, it is not difficult to understand that the Rosary is an exercise of piety that draws its motivating force from the liturgy and leads naturally back to it, if practiced in conformity with its original inspiration. It does not however become part of the liturgy. In fact meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, by familiarizing the hearts and minds of the faithful with the mysteries of Christ, can be an excellent preparation for the celebration of the same mysteries in the liturgical action, and can also become a continuing echo thereof. However, it is a mistake (...) to recite the Rosary during the celebration of the liturgy” (no 48).

His Holiness John Paul 11 expressed his intimate feelings, and his way of living the prayer of the Rosary, in these words of 29th October 1978: “A prayer marvelous in its simplicity and in its depth! In this prayer, we repeat over and over again the words which the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel and from her cousin Elizabeth. The whole Church joins in these words (..) At the same time our heart can include in these decades of the Rosary all the events which go to make up the life of the individual, the family, the nation, the Church, and the whole of humanity. Incidents which affect us personally or our neighbour and, in a special way, those who are closest to us, whom we keep in our heart. Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life (..) A prayer which is so simple and so rich! I cordially exhort all to pray it”.

To conclude this list of recommendation of, and appreciation for, the holy Rosary, I leave you one last quotation from a prominent figure in the Church. In the homily which the Archbishop of Colombo (Sri Lanka), His Eminence Cardinal Cooray, gave in Fatima on 12th August, 1967, he spoke of the religious life being lived at that time in the Sri Lankan Shrine in honour of Our Lady of Fatima: “Our ideal is to make the devotion in our Shrine a continual repetition of the Message of Fatima, that is, penance and prayer.

For this purpose, two institutions were founded. On one side is the Convent of the Poor Clares whose life is made up of penance and prayer. On the other side there is the Convent of a Diocesan Congregation of native Sisters, called Sisters of the Rosary: daily fast and abstinence together with hard manual work are part of their life of penance. Their special prayer is the Rosary, which is recited day and night except during Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. The Sisters take it in turns, two by two, with arms out stretched, to recite the meditated Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament. Their ideal is the authentic personification of the Message of Fatima”.

There are those who say that the Rosary is an antiquated and monotonous prayer, because of the constant repetition of the prayers which compose it. But I put the question: Is there anything at all which lives except through the continual repetition of the same actions?

God created everything that exists in such a way that it is kept alive by the continual repetition of the same actions. Thus, in order to preserve our life, we breathe in and breathe out always in the same way, our heart beats all the time according to the same rhythm. The stars, the sun, the moon, the planets, the earth follow always the same course, which God has laid down for them. Day follows night, year after year, always the same way. Likewise the sun gives us light and warmth. In so many plants the leaves appear in the spring, then they are clothed with flowers, next they yield fruit and, in autumn or winter they lose their leaves.

Thus, everything follows the law which God has laid down for it, and yet it never occurs to any one to say that it is all monotonous; hence, nobody says so; the fact is that we need all this in order to live! Well then! In the spiritual life we experience the same need to repeat continually the same prayers, the same acts of faith, hope and charity, in order to live since our life is a continued participation in the life of God.

As we have already seen, when the disciples asked Jesus Christ to teach them to pray, He taught them the beautiful formula of the Our Father, saying “when you pray say: Father...” (Lk 11, 4). The Lord ordered us to pray thus, and did not say that, after a certain number of years, we were to look for a new formula of prayer, since that one had become old fashioned and monotonous.

When lovers are together, they spend hours and hours repeating the same thing; “I love you!” What is missing in the people who think the Rosary monotonous is Love; and everything that is not done for love is worthless. Hence, the Catechism tells us that the Ten Commandments of God can be summed up in one: to love God above all things and our neighbour as ourselves.

Those who say the Rosary daily are like children who, every day, manage to find a few moments just to be with their Father, to keep him company, to show him their gratitude, to do some service for him, to receive his advice and his blessing. It is an exchange of love, the love of the father for the child and the child for the father; it is a mutual giving.
Ave Maria!



Contemplation of the Joyful mysteries

Having seen that the prayer of the Rosary is the one which God has recommended most for all of us in general, both by means of the Church’s Magisterium and through the Message which He sent to us by Our Lady, we will now look at the mysteries of our Redemption which this prayer leads us to recall and contemplate in each decade.

For the majority of Christians who live in the corrupt atmosphere of the world, it is almost pointless to talk about mental prayer. Hence, what is most suitable for them is vocal prayer, in common or in private; the liturgical prayer of the Holy Mass and the recitation of the Rosary.

In the Rosary, we find all the riches of God’s truths, or rather, the revelation of God to men. From the mystery of the most Holy Trinity which God revealed to us in the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, to the mystery of the Word made man, his life, his passion, his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and is also present in His Church, in the Sacraments, in the tabernacle where He remains in the consecrated hosts, and in our brothers and sisters, who form with us, the Mystical Body, of which we are all living and functioning members.

This is the faith which we imbibe in prayer, and it is prayer which sustains and increases our faith. As we pray the mysteries of the Rosary, we receive the light of truth and the strength of grace in order to accept willingly, and co- operate in, the redemptive work of Christ.

First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation.

In the first decade, we recall the annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin (...) and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said ‘Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favour with God and behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end’ And Mary said to the Angel; ‘How can this be since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called the Son of God’. (Lk 1, 26-35).

In this passage, God reveals to us how the incarnation of the Word took place; He speaks to us of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, that is one God in three divine Persons: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God”.

God also reveals to us the virginity and immaculate purity of Mary; God did not choose just any woman to be the Mother of His Son who, of course, could not assume a nature stained by sin. Therefore, He made Mary immaculate from the first instant of her life, the moment of her conception; and she remained always a virgin, because the Son of God could not be confused with any other, according to his human nature, which would happen if another child were born of the same Mother.

The Angel told Mary that she was full of grace: ‘Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ If Mary had not been full of grace and all holy, the Angel could not have said that to her that she was full of grace, because she would have some stain of sin in her. ‘The Lord is with you,’ - said the Angel - because Mary belongs totally to God and exists totally for God. To think that Jesus shared His Mother with us! He gave us Mary to be our Mother in the spiritual order of grace. What a great gift God has given us!

And the Angel continued: ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour’. Yes, she had caught God’s attention because she was a virgin, pure and spotless, and therefore, was chosen to be the first human temple inhabited by the Most Holy Trinity. Through the merits of the Word made flesh, from whom we receive pardon and grace, we also, if we are fortunate enough to possess the gift of faith and to live a good life, are living temples of the adorable Trinity, which dwells in us according to the sacred texts: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him or knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.’ (Jn 14, 15-17). And St. Paul draws our attention to the same truth: ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. Let no one deceive himself’. (1 Cor 3, 16-18).

Jesus Christ and the Apostle tells us here that we are living temples of God and that we must keep our temple pure, because we are God’s dwelling place, and also in order that God’s life may grow in us and may give us immortality.
Ave Maria!

Second Joyful Mystery: The Visit of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth.

In the second decade, we recall Our Lady’s visit to her cousin, St. Elizabeth. In the first mystery, we left the Angel talking to Mary and adding afterwards: “And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the six month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. And Mary said, ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’. And the angel departed from her’”.

“In those days Mary arose and went in haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is it granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (...) And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord’” (Lk 1 36 -45).

This meeting of our Lady and her cousin St. Elizabeth shows us Mary’s great faith and deep humility. This is obvious at once in her answer to the Angel, when he announced that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God. She does not feel exalted, or raised to a higher level. She believes the Angel’s words; she recognizes her lowliness before God and offers herself to serve Him as a slave: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’.

And thinking always of God’s mercy, Mary answers her cousin: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden’ (Lk 1, 46-48).

The Virgin Mary and St Elizabeth intone here the most beautiful canticle of praise to God. Their lips are moved by the Holy Spirit. But, after all, was not Mary the living temple of the adorable Trinity!
Ave Maria!

Third Joyful Mystery: The Birth Of Jesus Christ.

In the third decade of the Rosary, we recall the birth of Jesus Christ, God made man. He is the masterpiece of love! God who comes down from heaven to earth, to save his poor creatures.

‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven’ (Jn 6, 51) - He would say later, in the synagogue at Capernaum. Yes, He came from heaven; He became man, assuming the humble condition of a creature! He who is God, co -eternal with the Father, equal to the Father in power, wisdom and love! He is born as man, but He is eternal like God! A mystery which the Apostle St. John describes thus; ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (..) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father’ (Jn 1, 1-14).

He came into the world as a man and manifested Himself as Light, Light, which shines in the darkness: present among us today as then, but his humanity is veiled. He is present in his word and in his works, in the Eucharist and in the Sacraments of the Church and in the person of each of our brothers and sisters. He says: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’. (Jn 8, 12). Those who follow Christ will find in Him light and life.

This is how the birth of Jesus took place: ‘In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and lid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

‘And in the region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel of the Lord said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy, which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

‘When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us”. And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them’ (Lk 2, 1-20).

As St. Luke says here, the shepherds came and heard what was said to them, they believed and praised God. In the same way, we too, must renew our faith in the revelation which God gives us here; we must believe and say ‘My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You’. And like Our Lady, we must keep all these truths in our hearts, with faith, hope and love.
Ave Maria!

Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

In the fourth decade of the Rosary, we call to mind the presentation of Jesus in the temple. St. Luke describes this event in the life of Christ in the following terms: ‘And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

‘And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord’ (Lk 2, 21-23).

Circumcision, prescribed by God in the Old Law, was replaced by Baptism, of which it was a figure, and which Jesus Christ was to institute later as a Sacrament, to wipe out the stain of original sin in us, to make us members of His Mystical Body and sharers in the graces of his redemptive work.

The example of fidelity in the observance of God’s Law which Our Lady gives us here should move us all to follow the same road of fidelity to God and his Church.

Fulfilling this commandment to present her first-born in the Temple to be offered to the Lord, Mary is, at the same time, carrying out the mission entrusted to her by God, that of Co-Redemptrix of the human race. Mary knows the Sacred Scripture and, through them, she knows that her Son is destined to be a victim of expiation for the sins of men and a sacrifice of praise offered to God.

Reflect on what Isaiah prophesied about this:
“Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our grieves and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin” (Is 53, 1-10).

Mary knows that this prophecy is to be fulfilled in the person of her Son, she knows that He has been sent by God to carry out the work of our redemption. And far from wanting to save Him from such pain and suffering, she takes Him in her pure arms, brings Him to the temple with her virginal hands and places Him on the altar so that the Priest may offer Him to the eternal Father as an expiatory victim and a sacrifice of praise.

Here, Mary does not simply offer her Son, she offers herself with Christ, because Jesus had received his body and blood from her; thus she offers herself in and with Christ to God, co Redemptrix, with Christ, of humanity.

In this mystery of the presentation of Jesus, the pure hands of Mary are the first paten on which God placed the first host; and, from this paten, the priest on duty in the temple of Jerusalem took it to place it on the altar and offer it to the Father as something which is owed to Him and an offering which He is well pleased. Here we have a figure, later will come the real Mass, when the sacrifice of expiation will be consummated on Calvary; Jesus by His own hands, will offer Himself to the Father for men, under the consecrated species of bread and wine saying to the Priests of the New Covenant: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Lk 22, 19), that is, offer My sacrifice to the Father so that it will be renewed on the altar for the salvation of the world. Because ‘This is my body which is given for you (...) This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’ (Lk 22, 19-20).
Ave Maria!

Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Prayer of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem.

In the fifth decade of the Rosary, we recall the journey of Jesus Christ to the temple of Jerusalem, to take part in the communal prayer of the people of God. St. Luke describes this event in Our Lord’s life thus: “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing to be in the company they went a day’s journey and they sought him among their kinfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions (..) and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously’ And he said to them ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I was in my Father’s house? (Lk 2, 41-49).

The Holy Family here gives us a great example of Christian life. Neither distance nor lack of transport deters them from journeying to the temple in Jerusalem to join their prayer to that offered to God by his people. The Jerusalem temple reminds us of the places of worship which today, for us are our Churches where we too should go, all together, to offer to God our prayer and praise.

In the answer He gave his mother, Jesus Christ tells us that the temple is the House of God! ‘Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ For us the Churches are the Father’s house, and so we must enter them with faith, with respect and with love.

We go to our Father’s house, so that, there, united around the same table, we can be fed by the same bread; the bread of the Eucharist, the bread of the word of God. Like Jesus Christ, we must listen there to the word of God, which is spoken to us by His ministers, as it was formerly imparted to the people of God by the doctors of the law.

Today we are the successors of that people; we who, happily, have received Baptism and, with it, the gift of faith, members now, of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church.
Ave Maria!



Contemplation of the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary

Having looked at the events in the life of Jesus, which are recalled in the first part of the Rosary, we now pass on to the second part, the five sorrowful mysteries.

First Sorrowful Mystery: The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives.

In this mystery of the Rosary, we recall the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives.
The Gospel tells us that the Lord spoke several times during his public life of the way He was to die and thus accomplish the work of our redemption. When the time came, after He had celebrated the last Supper with his disciples, during which He instituted the Eucharist to perpetuate his real presence among us, and to prepare himself for his imminent Passion and Death. He went with them to a place called Gethsemane and there He said to them: “Sit here, while I go yonder to pray’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with me.’ And going a little further he fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation (...)’ Again for the second time he went away and prayed ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done’” (Mt 26, 36-42).

Here as in the other events of his life, Jesus Christ is for us a model, which we must follow and seek to imitate. Although He was God and had therefore, all grace and strength, He was also truly human; and He chose to prepare Himself by prayer, to submit his human will to that of the Father, who needed Him as an expiatory victim for the sins of humanity. To his human nature, suffering, humiliation and death were repugnant, as it is for all of us, because they are the punishment for sin; sin which He did not commit, but for which He chose to make satisfaction on our behalf. And so, He spent a long time in prayer, repeating ‘Father, if thou art willing remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done’ (..)And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling upon the ground” (Lk22, 42,44).

When suffering and anguish oppress us, let us remember Jesus Christ in the Garden of Olives, and like Him. Let us say to God: “Father if thou art willing remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my will , but thine be done”. Even if our distress is great, let us reflect that the anguish of Jesus was greater, because his face was covered with “great drops of blood which fell to the ground”.

Oh! If only I could have been there beside the Lord at that moment, to wipe his face with a soft towel and then to keep such a relic of the Blood of my God! But what I could not do then, I want to do today, because every day, from his wounded face, from his pierced hands and feet, from his open heart, flows the blood of our redemption, present in the consecrated bread and wine on the altar of sacrifice; and I have the happiness of being nourished on that Body and Blood.
Ave Maria!

Second Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus is taken prisoner.

In this second sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, we recall the arrest of Jesus Christ. The Gospel tells us that, instigated by the devil and by the love of money, Judas, one of the twelve whom the Lord had chosen to be with Him, under took, in return for thirty wretched coins, to deliver the Master into the hands of his enemies who wanted to get hold of Him in order to put Him to death.

Judas, knowing that Jesus used to go to the Garden of Olives to pray, left the supper room before the other disciples and went to the chief priest to tell them that the opportune moment to seize the Master had come. Then, accompanied by the escort which the high priest had prepared for the occasion, the traitor went to find the Lord in Gethsemane.

In the meantime “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen”, arose from his prayer and went to meet his enemies. When he came near them, Judas advanced to salute the Master with the treacherous kiss. It was the sign he had given the soldiers so that they would recognize Him. “The one I kiss, he is the man. Arrest him, and see he is well guarded when you lead him away”!

Then Jesus said to them: ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered him ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. Jesus said to them, ‘I am he (...)’ When he said to them ‘I am he’ they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ And they said ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. Jesus answered ‘I told you that I am he; so if you seek me let these men go’. This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken ‘Of those whom thou gavest me I lost not one’ (...) So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas; for he was the father-in -law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year’ (Jn 18, 4-13). Then ‘Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest’ (Jn 18, 24).

The sacred text says that Jesus ‘knew all that was going to happen to Him’ - He had already spoken of it several times! He could have taken advantage of that long period of prayer to hide himself, but He did not. He allowed Himself to be given up to martyrdom and to death, since that was the Father’s will.

He had assumed our human nature in order to be able, in this way, to bring about our redemption by allowing Himself to be immolated on the cross, thus offering to the Father a worthy reparation for our sins. Those pure animals which were sacrificed in the Old Law, as expiatory victims for the sins of the people of God, were merely figures of Christ, the only victim of infinite merit, capable of offering adequate reparation and this making satisfaction for our iniquities.
Ave Maria!

Third Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns.

In this mystery, we recall Christ scourged and crowned with thorns. After He had given Himself into the hands of his enemies to be a victim immolated for our sins. He was condemned by the Sanhedrin, presided over by the high priest Caiaphas, and brought to the Praetorium of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. He was insulted, mocked, acclaimed king in jest, scourged and then crowned with thorns. The Gospel says that Pilate, having recognized that Jesus was innocent, gave Him over to be scourged: ‘Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him saying ‘Hail King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands (Jn 19, 1-3).’

Before ordering Him to be scourged, Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Jesus answered “My kingship is not of this world (...) I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of truth hears my voice” (Jn 18, 36-37). It was this answer which gave the soldiers a pretext for making fun of Him as king.

The soldiers left Him in a pitiable state. Pilate, seeing Him like this and still wanting to save Him, brought Him out once more before the people, declaring that Jesus was innocent: “Behold I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him’ (...) They cried out ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘ We have no king but Caesar’. Then he handed him over to them to be crucified” (Jn 1 9, 4. 15 -16).

If some day, God allows us to be victims of the injustice of men, let us look at Jesus and follow Him in faith.
Ave Maria!

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus carries His Cross to Calvary.

In this fourth sorrowful mystery, we think of Jesus Christ with his cross on the way to Calvary.

After Pilate had delivered Jesus to be crucified, the soldiers obliged Him to walk the road to Calvary amid the insults and taunts of the people to which He was to be nailed. St. John describes all this as follows “So they took Jesus, and he went out bearing his own cross, to the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him” (Jn 19, 17-18).

Following the example of Jesus Christ, who for us bore the cross of suffering, let us tread in his footsteps, carrying our daily cross with faith, hope and love.
Ave Maria!

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus dies on the Cross.

In this last sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, we recall the death of Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross. When He arrived at the summit of Mount Calvary, led by the soldiery who ill-treated Him, He was nailed to the cross, where for several hours, He suffered and agonized until He died. It was three O’clock in the afternoon.

St. John described the end of the Lord’s earthly life in these words; ‘Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, (..) . When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ’Woman behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ’Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this Jesus knowing that all was now finished, said, (to fulfill the scripture), ’I thirst’. A bowl full of vinegar stood there, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus received the vinegar, he said, ’It is finished’. And he bowed his head and gave up his spirit’. (Jn 19, 25 -30).

The death of Jesus Christ is our life, because He died to give us eternal life. Sometime earlier, He had said, ’I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down, and I have power to take it again: this charge I have received from my Father’ (Jn 10, 17-18).

In His passion and death, what the prophet Isaiah had said about Him was fulfilled to the letter: “He was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he opened not his mouth like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people (...) because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is 53, 7-8. 12).

Therefore, on the cross, Jesus Christ asked the Father to pardon his enemies: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk 23, 34).



Contemplation of the Glorious Mysteries

We have looked at the events in the life of Jesus which we recall in the first two parts of the Rosary: now we will look at those in the third part, the Glorious Mysteries.

First Glorious Mystery: the Resurrection of Jesus.

In this first glorious mystery of the Rosary, we recall the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the end of the previous decade, we reflected on these words of Jesus: “I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received form my Father.” (Jn 10, 17-18). this reference to his Father’s commandment and to his own power to lay down his life and take it up again, forms part of the various predications which Jesus made to his disciples during his public life, when He warned them that He would die, as the prophets have foretold, but that He would rise from the dead on the third day. Jesus made the first of these predications immediately after having heard from the lips of Peter the confession of faith whereby Peter recognized Jesus as “the Christ, Son of the living God”. The Evangelist says: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Mt 16, 21).

In the Upper Room, He had celebrated with the Apostles the Passover of the Old Covenant and afterwards instituted the sacred rite which was to perpetuate the New Covenant. And, “when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “you will all fall away; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. (Mt 14, 26-28).

The truth of the Lord’s Resurrection rests on historical signs and events which are absolutely authentic. First, the fact that it was clearly predicted by Jesus Himself, a fact which prompted the Jews themselves to place a guard at the tomb where his body lay. When the Resurrection took place, the empty tomb attested the face and, in particular, the many witnesses who saw Him after He had risen from the dead. The ate at table with Him, they touched the wounds on his hands and his side, they lived with Him for forty days, during which the Risen Jesus instructed them and gave them the powers necessary for the Church. The Apostles, and many disciples were so sure of this that they gave their lives in defense of the truth they proclaimed.

The first announcement that the Resurrection had taken place was made to women who, unable to anoint the Lord’s body properly the evening before, came early on Sunday morning to pay Him this last homage. The announcement was made to them by the Angel who rolled back the stone from the sepulcher. St. Matthew tells us this fact as follows: “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.

His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment as white as snow. And for the fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, and he is going before you to Galilee; There you will see him. Lo, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Hail!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’ (Mt 28, 1-10).

In St. Mark’s gospel we have an account of the same fact: “And when the Sabbath was passed, Mary Magdalene, and Mary mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen, (...) And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, and tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’” (Mk 16, 1-7).

We also have the same announcement of the Resurrection to the women, from the pen of St. Luke, with some details of his own: “The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid; then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. (...) On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body.

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel (...) the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.” (Lk 23, 55-56, 24, 1-2).

When we compare these three gospel accounts, we see the different details proper to each one. There is nothing strange about that! The same thing happens when a number of people witness the same event. The account which they give of it afterwards contains the details which most struck each one; and even when the same person relates the same fact on different occasions, he or she does so with different details, because our memory does not register everything at the same time, sometimes recalling some details, sometimes others. And the gospel originated in the accounts narrated by the actual witnesses when founding, or visiting, the earliest Christian communities. After these witnesses had departed, the account was preserved in the memory of each community, whence the Evangelist collected and put them together, naturally with whatever details they contained. And this is a further proof of the truth of the Resurrection: it was not something carefully worked out to be told in a mathematical fashion, always with the same words, the same full stops and commas, but rather as an event which had been witnessed.

St. John describes the appearance of Jesus to the Apostles, who were gathered together in the Upper Room with the doors firmly closed. The Lord “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’(Jn 20, 26-28)

However, Thomas, the apostle, was absent on that occasion, and later he stubbornly refused to believe what the other Apostles told him. Eight days afterwards, Jesus came back to visit them, “Jesus came and stood among them, and said, ‘peace be with you’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20, 26-28)

Some days later, in the very early morning, the disciples, who had spent the night fishing without having caught anything, saw Jesus who, from the shore, asked them: “Children, have you got any fish!” They answered him, “No.” He said to them: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. (...) When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of that fish that you have just caught.” (...) “Come and have breakfast.” (...) Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. (Jn 21, 5-13)

But let us return to the day of the Resurrection and look at the story of the two disciples of Emmaus who, disheartened and saddened by the events of the passion and death of the Master, decided to go back home. They were on their way when a traveler - Jesus Himself though they did not recognize Him - overtook them and began to talk to them, asking them what had happened in Jerusalem and how they themselves had been affected by it. “And he said to them, ’What things!’ And they said to him, ’Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. (...)

And he said to them, “(...) Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is nor far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” (Lk 24, 19-31)

With these facts and many others that are related in the Scriptures, the resurrection of Jesus is emphatically authenticated. It is not a matter of a figment of the imagination, still less of a collective suggestion, because the incidents took place with different people, on various occasions, and were quite dissimilar.

In these appearances, Jesus Christ presents Himself as He is: true God and true man. The disciples touch Him and can thus verify that He is the same Jesus who was crucified, since He makes them see and touch the scars of the wounds in his hands caused by the nails, and the wounds in his side where the lance pierced it. The Lord thus invites them to convince themselves of his reality, seeing for themselves that He is flesh and blood and that He still has the marks of his martyrdom. Thus, He says to Thomas, in the presence of other disciples: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20, 27-28)

On the shore by the Sea of Tiberius, Jesus shows Himself to the disciples as a companion who goes to meet them and offers His help, pointing out where they will find the best catch. In the meantime, on the shore, He prepares a meal for them: fish cooked on a charcoal fire and bread, which He himself serves, distributing it to them, like a father who prepares and serves food to his children.

To the disciples of Emmaus, Jesus shows Himself as an ordinary traveler on the same road as themselves, He takes part in their conversation, enlightens them about the destiny of the Messiah, patiently points out and opens up for them the prophecies concerning Him in the Scriptures. He accepts the invitation to spend the night, and shares their meal. At table, He uses gestures which reveal his identity, since the two disciples had often seen the Master doing just this: He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them. It was this gesture that made them realize that their companion on the road had been the Lord Himself.

So, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and his resurrection is the reason for ours: “He who believes has eternal life (...) and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn 6, 47.54)

The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven.

In this mystery, we recall the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven
After his Resurrection, Jesus Christ stayed with his apostles and disciples for forty days, during which He lived and talked with them familiarly and told them about his approaching departure to Heaven. The Lord also appeared to Mary Magdalene, one of the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection. When she threw herself at his feet as if to detain Him, Jesus said to her: “Do not hold me, for I have not yet descended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (Jn 20,17)

The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven is described by St. Mark in these words: “After he had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand side of God” (Mk 16,19).

In the Gospel of St. Luke, the Ascension of Jesus is described as follows: “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” (Lk 24, 50-52).

It was also St. Luke who, in Acts of the Apostles, in a sense, fills out the details of the story: “And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said, ’you heard from me,’ (...) You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.’ And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ’Men of Galilee, why do you stand and look into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’ (Ac 1, 4-11)

St. Peter, speaking to the crowd after the coming of the Holy Spirit, said: “Men of Judea and all who dwelling Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to me words. (...) the patriarch David both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Act 2,14. 29-36)

Thus there can be no doubt that Jesus really did ascend into Heaven. Therefore, we believe it and, with the Church, we confess our faith, saying: “On the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven; is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” (The Apostles’ Creed).

The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit.

In this decade of the Rosary, we recall the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.
The Acts of the Apostles tell us what happened. After the Lord’s Ascension into Heaven, the Apostles and disciples left the Mount of Olives and returned to Jerusalem: “When they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus (...) When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Ac 1, 13-14. 2, 1-4).

In the discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus Christ spoke several times about the Holy Spirit, which He was to send from the Father when He had returned there, to teach them all truth, whose fullness they were not yet sufficiently prepared to understand. He said to them: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (...) “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for will not speak own his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Jn 16, 7-15).

As we see by the use of the word “My”, there is a full communion and reciprocity between the Father, Jesus Christ and the Paraclete. Jesus also said: “I came from the Father and have come into this world; again I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” (Jn 16, 28). On another occasion, He declared: “I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” (Jn 8, 42), without, however, ever separating from each other, because as Jesus says: “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10, 30).

He stripped Himself of the glory which He had with the Father as his only-begotten Son and came into the world, becoming man through the action of the Holy Spirit, as the Angel explained to the Virgin Mother: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born, will be called holy, Son of God.” (Lk 1, 35). In any action or initiative of one of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, the other two, also, are always involved.

And it was in their name that Jesus sent the Apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28, 19).

In our faith we proclaim one God in three persons: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; with the Father and the Son He is adored and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.” (Nicene Creed).

Fourth Glorious Mystery: The assumption of Our Lady into Heaven.

In the fourth glorious mystery of the Rosary, we recall the Assumption of Our Lady, Mother of God, into Heaven.
The Church, having studied this event for many years, and being enlightened by the Holy Spirit, declared as a dogma of the faith the “assumption of Mary, Mother of God, body and soul, into Heaven.”

Preserved from original sin from the first moment of her conception by a singular privilege of God, Mary was exempt also, by His grace, from the punishment, which condemned the human race to the corruption of the grave. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gn 3, 19). This was the sentence imposed by God in consequence of, and as a punishment for, the sin of Adam and Eve. Mary did not inherit this sin and so she did not incur its punishment.

Even before pronouncing this sentence, God declared that there was to be an exceptional woman in whom and with whom He would realize the purpose He had in mind when He created man. God could not be thwarted in his plans for creation! Having created man and destined him for eternal life, He could not leave him forever in the death of sin and the dust of the earth. So He thought of Mary, a humble daughter of the human race but, by reason of the singular privileges with which He had endowed her, raised above every other creature and free from the stain of original sin. He thought of Mary, pure and immaculate, from whom He would assume his human nature, something which He needed to do in order to accomplish the work of our Redemption. God clearly could not take to Himself and unite to his divine nature a human nature stained by sin.

As soon as the first sin which brought condemnation on human beings had been committed, God speaking to the Devil who had taken the form of a serpent and who had incited the first human beings to do evil, said to him: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gn 3, 15).

This woman, predestined by God to give Christ a human nature and to be, with Him, co-Redemptrix of the human race - “I shall put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers” - this woman, He said, could not remain in the shadow of death, because she did not incur the sentence of punishment. Hence Mary is the first fruit of the Redemption wrought by Christ; and, through his merits, she was carried up to Heaven in body and soul, where she lives and reigns, in God, with her Son and his.

In fact, her Son, Jesus, true God and true man, is the source of that life to which we shall all rise one day, because God created us for life, and cannot leave us in the shadow of death. This is what Jesus said of Himself to Martha in Bethany: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (Jn 11, 25-26) And He confirmed the truth of his words with the resurrection of Lazarus. Moreover, in the discourse on the Bread of Life, in Capharnaum, He said: “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn 6, 40).

But the final result depends on our faith and our attachment to Christ: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (...) For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (Jn 5, 24-29).

Thus we believe and thus we hope while with the Church we sing: “Assumpta est Maria in Caelum!”, Mary has been assumed into Heaven.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven.

In the very last mystery of the Rosary, we recall the Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven as Queen of the Angels and Saints. God alone is King, and his kingdom has no end.

When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a King, the Lord answered “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship was of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world (...) I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (Jn 18, 36-37).

The kingdom of Jesus is a kingdom of truth. And even if Pilate did not bother to wait for the answer to the question, which he himself had asked, about the nature of truth, at least he acknowledged the accusation which the Jews had made about Jesus, that He had claimed to be king. Accordingly, Pilate ordered an inscription to be affixed to the cross with these words: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (Jn 19, 19).

Jesus often spoke of the kingdom of God. About its irruption into time, He said: “The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently.” (Lk 16, 16). But not everyone will inherit it: “The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Mt 13,41-43).

When the Angel announced to Mary the incarnation of the Word, he said to her: “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk 1, 31-33). God is the one and only eternal king; Son is made man and is born in order to allow humanity to have access once more to the eternal kingdom of God: “I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world.,” (Jn 18, 37), and his kingdom will have no end.

In giving birth to the Son of the Most High, everlasting king with the Father and the Holy Spirit, having conceived by his intervention: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy” (Lk 1, 35).

Thus Mary, in virtue of being Mother of God and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is, we might almost say, by right, Queen. Hence, God could not fail to bring her to Heaven in body and soul, and crown her as queen of the Angels and Saints.

In the Apocalypse, St. John tells us that He saw, in Heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12, 1). We believe that Mary is this woman, crowned by God.

And the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady, Queen and Mother, on 22nd August. With the whole Church, we venerate her and proclaim her the Queen of heaven and earth! Daily, we salute her and invoke her as we sing these words: “Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail our life, our sweetness and our hope!”.

25th March, 1997. With the help of God and in order to carry out his will, I have today finished this humble work of explaining and interpreting the appeals of the Message of Fatima. I place it in the pure hands of Mary, for Her to present to the Lord, begging Him to make use of it for his glory, and for the good of souls and of his Church.

The End





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Fatima, in Lucia's own words, Part 2 Fatima, in Lucia's own words, Part 3
The book "Calls" "Calls" Part 2 "Calls" Part 3 "Calls" Part 4
The three secrets Fatima, The Images
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort
Walking with Jesus




"Typed by: Sue Burton
@Copy right Sue Burton. & Marianne Eichhorn.