dimanche, octobre 07, 2007

The rosary: a way to spiritual childhood

Sermon for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Gaudeamus! Today’s liturgy begins with an invitation to rejoice. Gaudeamus! Let us rejoice in the Lord! What a beautiful feast is the celebration of Our Lady of the Rosary! It is a feast of heaven in which the angels participate.
Let us rejoice, dear Brethren, but I would say let us rejoice well and for a good reason. The reason of our joy should be a supernatural one. Gaudeamus in Domino “Let us rejoice in the Lord!” It is the joy of the Redemption and the joy of knowing that we are loved. It is the joy that a heart burning with love gives to the soul. It is the joy of God’s children.
Today we honor, Our Lady of the Rosary. I think that the Rosary helps us to be God’s children, at least if it is said well, or rather prayed well. Saying the Rosary is not in itself a sign of holiness, but truly praying it. As Saint Louis de Montfort says, it is a mark of predestination. The Rosary helps us to be God’s children, because the prayers are for humble and simple people. It is the prayers of those who live with all their hearts the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! It is really a prayer for the poor in spirit. It is a prayer for us who do not know how to pray.
We don’t know how to pray. If you think you know, you don’t understand what praying is. The disciples did not think they knew: Lord, teach us how to pray! And He taught them the most beautiful and the most perfect of prayers which begins with these two words: Our Father! This prayer taught by the Savior Himself was a true revolution for the whole history of humanity. No one before this time, not even the Jews of the Old Covenant, had the notion that God is our Father. It is really a new revelation.
It is also a relief. God is not only the One that we have to fear, but also the One that we have to love. We have to love Him not in an abstract manner like we love an idea or a concept, but we have to love Him as a Father. We are not only the creatures and the subjects of God, but we are also his children. Thus, simplicity, smallness and the spirit of childhood suits the spiritual life. They are the marks of a deep intimacy with God that we can clearly see in the lives of the Saints.
Let us take a look at these three attributes of the spiritual life. Simplicity! God is absolutely simple. He is. He is not this or that, but He simply is. He is simple by His very nature. We are not. We are not simple by nature, but we have to tend to the simplicity of life, simplicity of mind and of heart. As Father Louis Charlier puts in, we have to strip ourselves in order to let our real personality appear, as we strip an old piece of furniture in order to set the oak wood in which it is made. So many times we are not ourselves, but we play a character. There is a lack of truth and of sincerity in this. We are not ourselves but another whose mask we wear. It is seeming and not being. It is simulation and not authenticity. When you do it consciously, when deliberately attempting to act in such a way, it is duplicity and hypocrisy.
But, as Father Charlier explains, simplicity is a part of the virtue of truth which opposes duplicity. It makes our secret intention in harmony with our behavior. It honors sincerity and rightness and it abhors lies and trickeries. Simplicity is not naivety, but it is spontaneous and makes us natural because it makes us true.
The spirituality of a child of God is simple, because it always brings him back to the only essential thing, which is God Himself. What can make our life simple if it is not charity? Charity makes us love God as He is and since a true love tends to unite wills and persons, it tends to make us simple like God. Above all the creatures, Father Charlier says again, the masterpiece of simplicity is Mary. In her, human nature rediscovers its original purity and has its fullness of authenticity.
The Gospel mentions in different passages the little ones. I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. (Luke 10:21) There are things that the wise and the prudent according to the spirit of the world cannot know. They cannot understand because they don’t have the soul of a child and a humble heart. I am always impressed and touched when teaching catechism to young children. You think about how can you explain the mysteries of faith and wonder if they can understand something of what you say. Then, you realize that what is difficult for us to comprehend is not so hard for children. God is God. He is almighty and can do whatever He wants. For children it is obvious, probably because they have the simplicity we were talking about in the Beatitudes. Blessed are they!
Evangelical smallness disposes us to a certain intimate familiarity with God. It includes reverence and delicacy while banning servile fear.
It gives us confidence in God, the same confidence that a little child has with his parents. He is entirely dependant on them, but he knows that they take care of him and provide for everything he needs.

Our meditation about smallness brings us to the crèche of Bethlehem and the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. Everything is marked by simplicity, smallness and humility in these mysteries. From the Fiat of Mary to the finding of the child Jesus in the temple, it is a magnificent and beautiful teaching of what spiritual childhood is. When you pray your rosary, look at Jesus and Mary and contemplate them with the eyes of your soul. See how they show us the way. It is a way of spiritual poverty, of renouncement, of smallness; it is the way of the little ones and of humble hearts. This way leads necessarily towards Calvary and the sorrowful mysteries, as the crèche anticipates the Cross. But if you go on this way of the Cross with simplicity and a child like spirit, you have nothing to fear and everything to hope, because the sorrowful mysteries are just a step toward the glorious mysteries, those which we can only fully comprehend in heaven. But meditating on them, especially through the prayer of the rosary, makes us desire them with more ardor and more intensity. And when we have to struggle in this life, when we have to suffer and when the cross seems to be too heavy, then we can turn our sight towards heaven. There is a place for us there. There is a place for each one of us; a place where we can sing the eternal Magnificat of Love with Mary to the Glory of God.
The daily rosary that we should really pray and not only say is a powerful help on our way to heaven. It is the prayer of the pilgrims who are on their way. As much as we walk toward God, this prayer changes us day after day, little by little. It is the prayer of the little souls which makes them great in the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
May Our Lady teach us how to pray it well so that it can not only be an instrument of piety but also and mainly an instrument of sanctification that molds our souls into the image of Our Lord. It will make us true children of God.

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