The Secret of the Rosary – Third Decade

cover of the ebook 'The Secret of the Rosary, by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort'The surpassing merit of the holy Rosary as a meditation on the life and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Twenty-First – The Fifteen Mysteries

A mystery is a sacred thing which is difficult to understand. The works of our Lord Jesus Christ are all sacred and divine because he is God and man at one and the same time. The works of the Blessed Virgin are very holy because she is the most perfect and the most pure of God’s creatures. The works of our Lord and of his blessed Mother can rightly be called mysteries because they are so full of wonders, of all kinds of perfections, and of deep and sublime truths, which the Holy Spirit reveals to the humble and simple souls who honour these mysteries.

The works of Jesus and Mary can also be called wonderful flowers, but their fragrance and beauty can only be appreciated by those who approach them, who breathe in their fragrance, and who discover their beauty by diligent and serious meditation.

Saint Dominic divided the lives of our Lord and our Lady into fifteen mysteries, which stand for their virtues and their most important actions. These are fifteen pictures whose every detail must rule and inspire our lives. They are fifteen flaming torches to guide our steps throughout this earthly life; fifteen shining mirrors to help us to know Jesus and Mary, to know ourselves and to light the fire of their love in our hearts; fifteen fiery furnaces to consume us completely in their heavenly flames.

Our Lady taught Saint Dominic this excellent method of praying and ordered him to preach it far and wide so as to reawaken the fervour of Christians and to revive in their hearts a love for our Blessed Lord. She also taught it to Blessed Alan de la Roche and said to him in a vision, “When people say 150 Hail Marys, that prayer is very helpful to them and a most pleasing tribute to me. But they will do better still and will please me more if they say these salutations while meditating on the life, death, and passion of Jesus Christ, for this meditation is the soul of this prayer.” For the Rosary said without the meditation on the sacred mysteries of our salvation would almost be a body without a soul, excellent matter, but without the form, which is the meditation, and which distinguishes it from other devotions.

The first part of the Rosary contains five mysteries: the first, the Annunciation of the archangel Gabriel to our Lady; the second the Visitation of our Lady to Saint Elizabeth; the third, the Nativity of Jesus Christ; the fourth, the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the purification of the Blessed Virgin; the fifth, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple among the doctors.

These are called the Joyful Mysteries because of the joy which they gave to the whole universe. Our Lady and the angels were overwhelmed with joy the moment the Son of God became incarnate. Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist were filled with joy by the visit of Jesus and Mary. Heaven and earth rejoiced at the birth of the Saviour. Holy Simeon felt great consolation and was filled with joy when he took the holy child into his arms. The doctors were lost in admiration and wonderment at the replies which Jesus gave; and who could express the joy of Mary and Joseph when they found Jesus after three days’ absence?

The second part of the Rosary is also composed of five mysteries, which are called the Sorrowful Mysteries because they show us our Lord weighed down with sadness, covered with wounds, laden with insults, sufferings and torments.

The first of these mysteries is our Lord’s prayer and his Agony in the Garden of Olives; the second, his Scourging; the third, his being Crowned with thorns; the fourth, his Carrying of the Cross; the fifth, his Crucifixion and death on Calvary.

The third part of the Rosary contains five more mysteries, which are called the Glorious Mysteries, because when we say them we meditate on Jesus and Mary in their triumph and glory. The first is the Resurrection of Jesus; the second, his Ascension into heaven; the third, the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles; the fourth, our Lady’s Assumption in glory; the fifth, her Coronation.

Such are the fifteen fragrant flowers of the mystical Rose-tree, on which devout souls linger, like discerning bees, to gather their nectar and make the honey of a solid devotion.

Twenty-Second Rose – Likens to Christ

The chief concern of the Christian should be to tend to perfection. “Be faithful imitators of God, as his well-beloved children,” the great Apostle tells us. This obligation is included in the eternal decree of our predestination, as the one and only means prescribed by God to attain everlasting glory.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes a delightful comparison when he says that we are all artists and that our souls are blank canvasses which we have to fill in. The colours which we use are the Christian virtues, and the original which we have to copy is Jesus Christ, the perfect living image of God the Father. Just as a painter who wants to do a life-like portrait places the model before his eyes and looks at it before making each stroke, so the Christian must always have before his eyes the life and virtues of Jesus Christ, so as never to say, think or do anything which is not in conformity with his model.

It was because our Lady wanted to help us in the great task of working out our salvation that she ordered Saint Dominic to teach the faithful to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. She did this, not only that they might adore and glorify him, but chiefly that they might pattern their lives and actions on his virtues.

Children copy their parents through watching them and talking to them, and they learn their own language through hearing them speak. An apprentice learns his trade through watching his master at work; in the same way the faithful members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary can become like their divine Master if they reverently study and imitate the virtues of Jesus which are shown in the fifteen mysteries of his life. They can do this with the help of his grace and through the intercession of his blessed Mother.

Long ago, Moses was inspired by God to command the Jewish people never to forget the graces which had been showered upon them. The Son of God has all the more reason to command us to engrave the mysteries of his life, passion and glory upon our hearts and to have them always before our eyes, since each mystery reminds us of his goodness to us in some special way and it is by these mysteries that he has shown us his overwhelming love and desire for our salvation. “Oh, all you who pass by, pause a while,” he says, “and see if there has ever been any sorrow like to the sorrow I have endured for love of you. Be mindful of my poverty and humiliations; think of the gall and wormwood I took for you in my bitter passion.”

These words and many others which could be given here should be more than enough to convince us that we must not only say the Rosary with our lips in honour of Jesus and Mary, but also meditate upon the sacred mysteries while we are saying it.

Twenty-Third Rose – A Memorial

Jesus Christ, the divine spouse of our souls and our very dear friend, wishes us to remember his goodness to us and to prize his gifts above all else. Whenever we meditate devoutly and lovingly upon the sacred mysteries of the Rosary, he receives an added joy, as also do our Lady and all the saints in heaven. His gifts are the most outstanding results of his love for us and the richest presents he could possibly give us, and it is by virtue of such presents that the Blessed Virgin herself and all the saints are glorified in heaven.

One day Blessed Angela of Foligno begged our Lord to let her know by which religious exercise she could honour him best. He appeared to her nailed to his cross and said, “My daughter, look at my wounds.” She then realized that nothing pleases our dear Lord more than meditating upon his sufferings. Then he showed her the wounds on his head and revealed still other sufferings and said to her, “I have suffered all this for your salvation. What can you ever do to return my love for you?”

The holy sacrifice of the Mass gives infinite honour to the most Blessed Trinity because it represents the passion of Jesus Christ and because through the Mass we offer to God the merits of our Lord’s obedience, of his sufferings, and of his precious blood. All the heavenly court also receive an added joy from the Mass. Several doctors of the Church, including Saint Thomas, tell us that, for the same reason, all the blessed in heaven rejoice in the communion of the faithful because the Blessed Sacrament is a memorial of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and that by means of it men share in its fruits and work out their salvation.

Now the holy Rosary, recited with the meditation on the sacred mysteries, is a sacrifice of praise to God for the great gift of our redemption and a holy reminder of the sufferings, death and glory of Jesus Christ. It is therefore true that the Rosary gives glory and added joy to our Lord, our Lady and all the blessed, because they cannot desire anything greater, for the sake of our eternal happiness, than to see us engaged in a practice which is so glorious for our Lord and so salutary for ourselves.

The Gospel teaches us that a sinner who is converted and who does penance gives joy to all the angels. If the repentance and conversion of one sinner is enough to make the angels rejoice, how great must be the happiness and jubilation of the whole heavenly court and what glory for our Blessed Lord himself to see us here on earth meditating devoutly and lovingly on his humiliations and torments and on his cruel and shameful death! Is there anything that could touch our hearts more surely and bring us to sincere repentance?

A Christian who does not meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary is very ungrateful to our Lord and shows how little he cares for all that our divine Saviour has suffered to save the world. This attitude seems to show that he knows little or nothing of the life of Jesus Christ, and that he has never taken the trouble to find out what he has done and what he went through in order to save us. A Christian of that kind ought to fear that, not having known Jesus Christ or having put him out of his mind, Jesus will reject him on the day of judgment with the reproach, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.”

Let us meditate, then, on the life and sufferings of our Saviour by means of the holy Rosary; let us learn to know him well and to be grateful for all his blessings, so that, on the day of Judgment, he may number us among his children and his friends.

Twenty-Fourth Rose – Means of Perfections

The saints made our Lord’s life the principal object of their study; they meditated on his virtues and his sufferings, and in this way arrived at Christian perfection.

Saint Bernard began with this meditation and he always kept it up. “At the very beginning of my conversion,” he said, “I made a bouquet of myrrh fashioned from the sorrows of my Saviour. I placed this bouquet upon my heart, thinking of the lashes, the thorns and the nails of his passion. I applied my whole mind to the meditation on these mysteries every day.”

This was also the practice of the holy martyrs; we admire how they triumphed over the most cruel sufferings. Where could this admirable constancy of the martyrs come from, says Saint Bernard, if not from the wounds of Jesus Christ, on which they meditated so frequently? Where was the soul of these generous athletes when their blood gushed forth and their bodies were wracked with cruel torments? Their soul was in the wounds of Christ and those wounds made them invincible.”

During her whole life, our Saviour’s holy Mother was occupied in meditating on the virtues and the sufferings of her Son. When she heard the angels sing their hymn of joy at his birth and saw the shepherds adore him in the stable, her heart was filled with wonder and she meditated on all these marvels. She compared the greatness of the Word incarnate to the way he humbled himself in this lowly fashion; the straw of the crib, to his throne in the heart of his Father; the might of God, to the weakness of a child; his wisdom, to his simplicity.

Our Lady said to Saint Bridget one day, “Whenever I used to contemplate the beauty, modesty, and wisdom of my Son, my heart was filled with joy; and whenever I considered his hands and feet which would be pierced with cruel nails, I wept bitterly and my heart was rent with sorrow and pain.”

After our Lord’s Ascension, our Blessed Lady spent the rest of her life visiting the places that had been hallowed by his presence and by his sufferings. There, she meditated on his boundless love and on his terrible passion.

Saint Mary Magdalene continually performed the same religious exercises during the last thirty years of her life, when she lived at Sainte-Baume.

Saint Jerome tells us that this was the devotion of the faithful in the early centuries of the Church. From all the countries of the world they came to the Holy Land to engrave more deeply on their hearts a great love and remembrance of the Saviour of mankind by seeing the places and things he had made holy by his birth, his work, his sufferings, and his death.

All Christians have but one faith and adore one and the same God, and hope for the same happiness in heaven; they know only one mediator, who is Jesus Christ; all must imitate their divine model, and in order to do this they must meditate on the mysteries of his life, of his virtues and of his glory.

It is a great mistake to think that only priests and religious and those who have withdrawn from the turmoil of the world are supposed to meditate upon the truths of our faith and the mysteries of the life of Christ. If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation is just as much incumbent on the laity, because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might cause them to lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues, and sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which are presented to us in the fifteen mysteries of the holy Rosary.

Twenty-Fifth Rose – Wealth of Sanctification

Never will anyone be able to understand the marvellous riches of sanctification which are contained in the prayers and mysteries of the holy Rosary. This meditation on the mysteries of the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ is the source of the most wonderful fruits for those who make use of it.

Today people want things that strike and move them, that leave deep impressions on the soul. Now has there ever been anything in the history of the world more moving than the wonderful story of the life, death, and glory of our Saviour which is contained in the holy Rosary? In the fifteen tableaux, the principal scenes or mysteries of his life unfold before our eyes. How could there be any prayers more wonderful and sublime than the Lord’s Prayer and the Ave of the angel? All our desires and all our needs are found expressed in these two prayers.

The meditation on the mysteries and prayers of the Rosary is the easiest of all prayers, because the diversity of the virtues of our Lord and the different situations of his life which we study, refresh and fortify our mind in a wonderful way and help us to avoid distractions. For the learned, these mysteries are the source of the most profound doctrine, while simple people find in them a means of instruction well within their reach.

We need to learn this easy form of meditation before progressing to the highest state of contemplation. That is the view of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the advice that he gives when he says that, first of all, one must practice on a battlefield, as it were, by acquiring all the virtues of which we have the perfect model in the mysteries of the Rosary; for, says the learned Cajetan, that is the way we arrive at a really intimate union with God, since without that union contemplation is nothing but an illusion which can lead souls astray.

If only the Illuminists or the Quietists of these days had followed this piece of advice, they would never have fallen so low or caused such scandals among spiritual people. To think that it is possible to say prayers that are finer and more beautiful than the Our Father and the Hail Mary is to fall a prey to a strange illusion of the devil, for these heavenly prayers are the support, the strength and the safeguard of our souls.

I admit it is not always necessary to say them as vocal prayers and that interior prayer is, in a sense, more perfect than vocal. But believe me, it is really dangerous, not to say fatal, to give up saying the Rosary of your own accord under the pretext of seeking a more perfect union with God. Sometimes a soul that is proud in a subtle way and who may have done everything that he can do interiorly to rise to the sublime heights of contemplation that the saints have reached may be deluded by the noonday devil into giving up his former devotions which are good enough for ordinary souls. He turns a deaf ear to the prayers and the greeting of an angel and even to the prayer which God has composed, put into practice, and commanded: Thus shall you pray: Our Father. Having reached this point, such a soul drifts from illusion to illusion, and falls from precipice to precipice.

Believe me, dear brother of the Rosary Confraternity, if you genuinely wish to attain a high degree of prayer in all honesty and without falling into the illusions of the devil so common with those who practice mental prayer, say the whole Rosary every day, or at least five decades of it.

If you have already attained, by the grace of God, a high degree of prayer, keep up the practice of saying the holy Rosary if you wish to remain in that state and by it to grow in humility. For never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil. This is a statement which I would sign with my blood.

On the other hand, if God in his infinite mercy draws you to himself as forcibly as he did some of the saints while saying the Rosary, make yourself passive in his hands and let yourself be drawn towards him. Let God work and pray in you and let him say your Rosary in his way, and that will be sufficient for the day.

But if you are still in the state of active contemplation or the ordinary prayer of quietude, of the presence of God, affective prayer, you have even less reason for giving up the Rosary. Far from making you lose ground in mental prayer or stunting your spiritual growth, it will be a wonderful help to you. You will find it a real Jacob’s ladder with fifteen rungs by which you will go from virtue to virtue and from light to light. Thus, without danger of being misled, you will easily arrive at the fullness of the age of Jesus Christ.

Twenty-Sixth Rose – Sublime Prayer

Whatever you do, do not be like a certain pious but self- willed lady in Rome, so often referred to by speakers on the Rosary. She was so devout and fervent that she put to shame by her holy life even the strictest religious in the Church.

Having decided to ask Saint Dominic’s advice about her spiritual life, she made her confession to him. For penance he gave her one Rosary to say and advised her to say it every day. She excused herself, saying that she had her regular exercises, that she made the Stations of Rome every day, that she wore sack- cloth as well as a hair-shirt, that she gave herself the discipline several times a week, that she often fasted and did other penances. Saint Dominic urged her over and over again to take his advice and say the Rosary, but she would not hear of it. She left the confessional, horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who had tried so hard to persuade her to take up a devotion for which she had no taste.

Later on, when she was at prayer she fell into ecstasy and had a vision of her soul appearing before the Supreme Judge. Saint Michael put all her penances and other prayers on one side of the scales and all her sins and imperfections on the other. The tray of her good works were greatly outweighed by that of her sins and imperfections.

Filled with alarm, she cried for mercy, imploring the help of the Blessed Virgin, her gracious advocate, who took the one and only Rosary she had said for her penance and dropped it on the tray of her good works. This one Rosary was so heavy that it weighed more than all her sins as well as all her good works. Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her servant Dominic and for not saying the Rosary every day.

As soon as she came to herself she rushed and threw herself at the feet of Saint Dominic and told him all that had happened, begged his forgiveness for her unbelief, and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she rose to Christian perfection and finally to the glory of everlasting life. You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and the importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.

Few saints have reached the same heights of prayer as Saint Mary Magdalene, who was lifted up to heaven by angels each day, and who had the privilege of learning at the feet of Jesus and his holy Mother. Yet one day, when she asked God to show her a sure way of advancing in his love and arriving at the heights of perfection, he sent the archangel Saint Michael to tell her, on his behalf, that there was no other way for her to reach perfection than to meditate on our Lord’s passion. So he placed a cross in the front of her cave and told her to pray before it, contemplating the sorrowful mysteries which she had seen take place with her own eyes.

The example of Saint Francis de Sales, the great spiritual director of his time, should spur you on to join the holy confraternity of the Rosary, since, great saint though he was, he bound himself by vow to say the whole Rosary every day for as long as he lived.

Saint Charles Borromeo also said it every day and strongly recommended this devotion to his priests and clerics in seminaries and to all his people.

Blessed Pius V, one of the greatest popes who have ever ruled the Church, used to say the Rosary every day. Saint Thomas of Villanova, Archbishop of Valencia, Saint Ignatius, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Teresa and Saint Philip Neri, as well as many other great men whom I do not mention, were greatly devoted to the Rosary.

Follow their example; your spiritual directors will be very pleased, and if they are aware of the benefits which you can derive from this devotion, they will be the first to urge you to adopt it.

Twenty-Seventh Rose – Benefits

To encourage you still more in this devotion practised by so many holy people, I should like to add that the Rosary recited with the meditation of the mysteries brings about the following marvellous results:

1) it gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ;

2) it purifies our souls from sin;

3) it gives us victory over all our enemies;

4) it makes the practice of virtue easy;

5) it sets us on fire with the love of our Lord;

6) it enriches us with graces and merits;

7) it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow-men, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God.

The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the science of Christians and the science of salvation; it surpasses, says Saint Paul, all human sciences in value and perfection:

1) because of the dignity of its object, which is a God-man, compared to whom the whole universe is but a drop of dew or a grain of sand;

2) because of its utility to us; human sciences only fill us with the wind and emptiness of pride;

3) because of its necessity; for no one can be saved without the knowledge of Jesus Christ, while a person who knows absolutely nothing of any other science will be saved as long as he is enlightened by the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Blessed is the Rosary which gives us this science and knowledge of our Blessed Lord through our meditations on his life, death, passion and glory.

The Queen of Sheba, lost in admiration at Solomon’s wisdom, cried out, “Blessed are your attendants and your servants who are always in your presence and hear your wisdom.” But happier still are the faithful who carefully meditate on the life, virtues, sufferings and glory of our Saviour, because by this means they can gain perfect knowledge of him, in which eternal life consists.

Our Lady revealed to Blessed Alan that no sooner had Saint Dominic begun preaching the Rosary than hardened sinners were touched and wept bitterly over their grievous sins. Young children performed unbelievable penances, and everywhere he preached the Rosary such fervour was aroused that sinners changed their lives and edified everyone by their penances and the amendment of their lives.

If by chance your conscience is burdened with sin, take your Rosary and say at least a part of it in honour of some of the mysteries of the life, passion, and glory of Jesus Christ, and you can be sure that, while you are meditating on these mysteries and honouring them, he will show his sacred wounds to his Father in heaven. He will plead for you and obtain for you contrition and the forgiveness of your sins. One day our Lord said to Blessed Alan, “If only these poor wretched sinners would say my Rosary often, they would share in the merits of my passion, and I would be their Advocate and would appease the justice of God.”

This life is a continual war and a series of temptations; we do not have to contend with enemies of flesh and blood, but with the very powers of hell. What better weapon could we possibly use to combat them than the prayer which our great Leader has taught us, than the Angelic Salutation which has put the devils to flight, destroyed sin and renewed the world? What better weapon could we use than meditation on the life and passion of Jesus Christ? For, as Saint Peter tells us, it is with this thought that we must arm ourselves, in order to defend ourselves against the very same enemies whom he has conquered and who molest us every day.

“Ever since the devil was crushed by the humility and the passion of Jesus Christ,” says Cardinal Hugues, “he has been practically unable to attack a soul that is armed with meditation on the mysteries of our Lord’s life, and, if he does trouble such a soul, he is sure to be shamefully defeated.” “Put on the armour of God so as to be able to resist the attacks of the devil.”

So arm yourself with the arms of God, with the holy Rosary, and you will crush the devil’s head and stand firm in the face of all his temptations. That is why even a pair of rosary beads is so terrible to the devil, and why the saints have used them to fetter him and drive him from the bodies of those who were possessed. Such happenings have been recorded more than once.

Blessed Alan relates that a man he knew had tried desperately all kinds of devotions to rid himself of the evil spirit which possessed him, but without success. Finally, he thought of wearing his rosary round his neck, which eased him considerably. He discovered that whenever he took it off the devil tormented him cruelly, so he resolved to wear it night and day. This drove the evil spirit away forever because he could not bear such a terrible chain. Blessed Alan also testifies that he delivered a great number of those who were possessed by putting a rosary round their necks.

Father Jean Amet, of the Order of Saint Dominic, was giving a series of Lenten sermons in the Kingdom of Aragon one year, when a young girl was brought to him who was possessed by the devil. After he had exorcised her several times without success, he put his rosary round her neck. Hardly had he done so when the girl began to scream and cry out in a fearful way, shrieking, “Take it off, take it off; these beads are tormenting me.” At last, the priest, filled with pity for the girl, took his rosary off her.

The very next night, when Father Amet was in bed, the same devils who had possession of the girl came to him, foaming with rage and tried to seize him. But he had his rosary clasped in his hand and no efforts of theirs could wrench it from him. He beat them with it very well indeed and put them to flight, crying out, “Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, come to my help.”

The next day on his way to the church, he met the poor girl, still possessed; one of the devils within her started to jeer at him, saying, “Well, brother, if you had been without your rosary, we should have made short shrift of you.” Then the good Father threw his rosary round the girl’s neck without more ado, saying, “By the sacred names of Jesus and Mary his holy Mother, and by the power of the holy Rosary, I command you, evil spirits, to leave the body of this girl at once.” They were immediately forced to obey him, and she was delivered from them.

These stories show the power of the holy Rosary in overcoming all sorts of temptations from the evil spirits and all sorts of sins, because these blessed beads of the Rosary put devils to rout.

Twenty-Eighth Rose – Salutary Effects

Saint Augustine assures us that there is no spiritual exercise more fruitful or more useful than the frequent reflection on the sufferings of our Lord. Blessed Albert the Great, who had Saint Thomas Aquinas as his student, learned in a revelation that by simply thinking of or meditating on the passion of Jesus Christ, a Christian gains more merit than if he had fasted on bread and water every Friday for a year, or had beaten himself with the discipline once a week till blood flowed, or had recited the whole Book of Psalms every day. If this is so, then how great must be the merit we can gain from the Rosary, which commemorates the whole life and passion of our Lord?

Our Lady one day revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche that, after the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which is the first and most living memorial of our Lord’s passion, there was indeed no more excellent devotion or one of greater merit than that of the Rosary, which is like a second memorial and representation of the life and passion of Jesus Christ.

Father Dorland relates that in 1481 our Lady appeared to the Venerable Dominic, a Carthusian devoted to the holy Rosary, who lived at Treves, and said to him:

“Whenever one of the faithful, in a state of grace, says the Rosary while meditating on the mysteries of the life and passion of Christ, he obtains full and entire remission of all his sins.”

She also said to Blessed Alan, “I want you to know that, although there are numerous indulgences already attached to the recitation of my Rosary, I shall add many more to every five decades for those who, free from serious sin, say them with devotion, on their knees. And whosoever shall persevere in the devotion of the holy Rosary, with its prayers and meditations, shall be rewarded for it; I shall obtain for him full remission of the penalty and the guilt of all his sins at the end of his life.

“And let this not seem incredible to you; it is easy for me because I am the Mother of the King of heaven, and he calls me full of grace. And being filled with grace, I am able to dispense it freely to my dear children.”

Saint Dominic was so convinced of the efficacy of the Rosary and its great value that, when he heard confessions, he hardly ever gave any other penance, as we have seen in the story I told you of the lady in Rome to whom he gave only a single Rosary. Saint Dominic was a great saint and other confessors also ought to walk in his footsteps by asking their penitents to say the Rosary with meditation on the sacred mysteries, rather than giving them other penances which are less meritorious and less pleasing to God, less likely to help them to advance in virtue, and not as efficacious in helping them to avoid sin. Moreover, while saying the Rosary, people gain numerous indulgences which are not attached to many other devotions.

As Abbot Blosius says, “The Rosary, with meditation on the life and passion of Christ, is certainly most pleasing to our Lord and his blessed Mother and is a very successful means of obtaining all graces; we can say it for ourselves as well as for those who have been recommended to our prayers and for the whole Church. Let us turn, then, to the holy Rosary in all our needs, and we shall infallibly obtain the graces we ask for from God to attain our salvation.

Twenty-Ninth Rose – Means of Salvation

There is nothing more divine, according to the mind of Saint Denis, nothing more noble or agreeable to God than to cooperate in the work of saving souls and to frustrate the devil’s plans for ruining them. The Son of God came down to earth for no other reason than to save us. He upset Satan’s empire by founding the Church, but the devil rallied his strength and wreaked cruel violence on souls by the Albigensian heresy, by the hatred, dissensions and abominable vices which he spread throughout the world in the eleventh century.

Only severe remedies could possibly cure such terrible disorders and repel Satan’s forces. The Blessed Virgin, protectress of the Church, has given us a most powerful means for appeasing her Son’s anger, uprooting heresy and reforming Christian morals, in the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, as events have shown. It has brought back charity and the frequent reception of the sacraments as in the first golden centuries of the Church, and it has reformed Christian morals.

Pope Leo X said in his bull that this Confraternity had been founded in honour of God and of the Blessed Virgin as a wall to hold back the evils that were going to break upon the Church. Gregory XIII said that the Rosary was given us from heaven as a means of appeasing God’s anger and of imploring the intercession of our Lady.

Julius III said that the Rosary was inspired by God that heaven might be more easily opened to us through the favours of our Lady.

Paul III and Blessed Pius V declared that the Rosary was given to the faithful in order that they might have spiritual peace and consolation more easily. Surely everyone will want to join a confraternity which was founded for such noble purposes.

Father Dominic, a Carthusian, who was deeply devoted to the holy Rosary, had a vision in which he saw heaven opened and the whole heavenly court assembled in magnificent array. He heard them sing the Rosary in an enchanting melody, and each decade was in honour of a mystery of the life, passion, or glory of Jesus Christ and his holy Mother. Father Dominic noticed that whenever they pronounced the holy name of Mary they bowed their heads, and at the name of Jesus they genuflected and gave thanks to God for the great good he had wrought in heaven and on earth through the holy Rosary. He also saw our Lady and the Saints present to God the Rosaries which the Confraternity members say here on earth. He noticed too that they were praying for those who practice this devotion. He also saw beautiful crowns without number, which were made of sweet-smelling flowers, for those who say the Rosary devoutly. He learned that by every Rosary that they say they make a crown for themselves which they will be able to wear in heaven.

This holy Carthusian’s vision is very much like that which the Beloved Disciple had, in which he saw a great multitude of angels and saints, who continually praised and blessed Jesus Christ for all that he had done and suffered on earth for our salvation. And is not this what the devout members of the Rosary Confraternity do?

It must not be imagined that the Rosary is only for women, and for simple and unlearned people; it is also for men and for the greatest of men. As soon as Saint Dominic acquainted Pope Innocent III with the fact that he had received a command from heaven to establish the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, the Holy Father gave it his full approval, urged Saint Dominic to preach it, and said that he wished to become a member himself. Even Cardinals embraced the devotion with great fervour, which prompted Lopez to say, “Neither sex nor age nor any other condition has kept anyone from devotion to the Rosary.”

Members of this Confraternity have come from all walks of life: dukes, princes, kings, as well as prelates, cardinals and Sovereign Pontiffs. It would take too long to list them in this little book. If you join this Confraternity, dear reader, you will share in their devotion and their graces on earth and their glory in heaven. “Since you are united to them in their devotion, you will share in their dignity.”

Thirtieth Rose – Confraternity Privileges

If privileges, graces and indulgences of a confraternity make God alone it valuable to us, then that of the Rosary is the one to be most recommended, since it is the most favoured and enriched with indulgences, and ever since its inception there has hardly been a pope who has not opened the treasures of the Church to enrich it with further privileges. And since example is more persuasive than words and favours, the Holy Fathers have found that there was no better way to show their high regard for this holy Confraternity than to join it themselves.

Here is a short summary of the indulgences which they wholeheartedly granted to the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, and which were confirmed again by our Holy Father Pope Innocent XI on 31st July 1679, and received and made public by the Archbishop of Paris on 25th September of the same year:

1) Members may gain a plenary indulgence on the day of joining the Confraternity;

2) A plenary indulgence at the hour of death;

3) For each rosary of five decades recited: ten years and ten quarantines;

4) Each time that members say the holy names of Jesus and Mary devoutly: seven days’ indulgence;

5) For those who assist with devotion at the procession of the holy Rosary: seven years and seven quarantines of indulgence;

6) Members who have made a good confession and are genuinely sorry for their sins may gain a plenary indulgence on certain days by visiting the Rosary Chapel in the church where the Confraternity is established. This may be gained on the first Sunday of every month, and on the feasts of our Lord and our Lady;

7) To those who assist at the Salve Regina: a hundred days’ indulgence;

8) To those who openly wear the rosary out of devotion and to set a good example: a hundred days’ indulgence;

9) Sick members who are unable to go to church may gain a plenary indulgence by going to confession and Communion and by saying that day the whole Rosary, or at least five decades;

10) The Sovereign Pontiffs have shown their generosity towards members of the Rosary Confraternity by allowing them to gain the indulgences attached to the Stations of the Cross by visiting five altars in the church where the Rosary Confraternity is established, and by saying the Our Father and Hail Mary five times before each altar, for the well-being of the Church. If there are only one or two altars in the Confraternity church, they should say the Our Father and Hail Mary twenty-five times before one of them.

This is a wonderful favour granted to Confraternity members, for in the Station Churches in Rome plenary indulgences can be obtained, souls can be delivered from purgatory, and many other important remissions can be gained. and these are available to members without trouble, without expense, and without leaving their own country. And even if the Confraternity is not established in the place where the members live, they can gain the very same indulgences by visiting five altars in any church. This concession was granted by Leo X.

The Sacred Congregation of Indulgences drew up a list of certain definite days on which those outside the city of Rome could gain the indulgences of the Stations of Rome. The Holy Father approved this list on March 7th, 1678, and commanded that it be strictly observed. These indulgences can be gained on the following days:

All the Sundays of Advent; each of the three Ember Days; Christmas Eve, and the Masses of midnight, of the Dawn and of the Day; the feasts of Saint Stephen, Saint John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, the Circumcision and the Epiphany; the Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, and every day from Ash Wednesday to Low Sunday inclusively; each of the three Rogation days; Ascension; the vigil of Pentecost, and every day of its octave; and the three days of the September Ember Days.

Dear brothers and sisters of the Confraternity, there are numerous other indulgences which you can gain. If you want to know about them, read the complete list of indulgences which have been granted to the members of the Confraternity. You will see there the names of the popes, the year in which they granted the indulgence, and many other particulars which I have not been able to include in this little summary.