Saturday, September 30, 2017

Praying The Entire Rosary Each Day a Decade at a Time

A photo of St. Louis De Montfort's book, "The Secret of the Rosary."
Saint Louis De Montfort's book, The Secret of the Rosary, Tan Book's pamphlet on How to Pray the Rosary, and Rosary beads from Medjugorje blessed by Jesus at St. James Church and Our Lady during one of Our Lady's apparitions

If you have been following my blog for any serious length of time, you have probably come across my Rosary label and the several posts dedicated to it. With October being the "Month of the Rosary," I thought it fitting to publish today's post adding to that list, drawing encouragement and inspiration from Saint Louis De Montfort's book, The Secret of The Rosary.

The Secret of the Rosary, is an especially important read for anyone who is serious about understanding the Rosary and its proper recitation. The book is comprised of four main sections: a Preface, that instills in the reader the power of the Rosary and how effective it was in St. Louis De Montfort's life and ministry (1673-1716); a Dedication to priests, sinners, devout souls, and little children; and the two main sections of Part 1: What is the Rosary; and Part II: How to Recite it

Saint Louis De Montfort includes many intriguing and informative chapters or "Roses" that will greatly aid and guide the reader to a more devout recitation of the Rosary: a brief history of the origin of the Rosary and how it was given to the Church by Our Lady in 1214, to Saint Dominic; the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary that arose from this devotion; the miracles of the Rosary; how it is a means of perfection and a wealth of sanctification; the numerous benefits; its power as a weapon against the Evil One and his demons; and how to pray the Rosary with attention, reverence, and devotion.

For those who are just discovering the Rosary or have been struggling to pray all four Mysteries—the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous and Glorious Mysteries—it can seem somewhat daunting to include two hours of prayers a day dedicated to the Rosary alone, to what is already a very busy schedule. It is a daily challenge that we all face, but there is a way to achieve this: praying the Rosary a decade at a time.

The effort to pray the Rosary a decade at a time is explained in chapter, Forty-Fifth Rose: With Reverence, which St. Louis De Montfort dedicated to employing an effective method for the reverent and complete recitation of the Rosary each and every day.

Saint Louis De Montfort first begins by recommending that the Rosary be recited reverently and as much as possible, on our knees with hands joined, clasping the Rosary. Exceptions can be made for those who are: bedridden; travelling; or if infirmity prevents people from kneeling, they can recite it seated or standing.

As to the effective method to successfully complete the entire Rosary each day, St. Louis De Montfort advises the reader to segment the recitation into "three" different times of the day—to which we can add a fourth for the additional Luminous Mysteries introduced to the Church through Saint Pope John Paul II in 2002—each dedicated to one set of the Mysteries.

Further to this Saint Louis De Montfort further suggests that if we cannot find the time to pray a "quarter" of the Rosary all at one time, then we should recite a decade, "here and there," so that as he put it, "...[I]n spite of your work and all the calls upon your time, you will have said the whole Rosary before going to bed." (95)

As to how to accomplish this in today's busy world with our hectic schedules imposing upon our time and energy, it really is a matter of rethinking our daily calendar.

If due consideration is given to Rosary, it won't take long to discover that there are several opportune times throughout the day to pray a decade or two, "here and there."

The consideration to pray the entire Rosary can start from the effort of an earlier morning rise for dedicated prayer time, which could be extended to the commute to and from work. 

There may even be opportunities at work—depending on what you do for a living—to add a few decades. Those who make such an effort, can expect a reward from Our Lady as St. Louis De Montfort notes:
Of course, since the soul has its limitations and can only do so much, when we are concentrating on manual work we cannot give our undivided attention to things of the spirit, such as prayer. But when we cannot do otherwise this kind of prayer is not without value in Our Lady's eye's and she rewards our good will more than our external actions. (95)
If you start to take advantage of those five-to-ten minutes throughout the day, you will discover even more time and eventually come to realize that the recitation of the entire Rosary was never an additional two hours to your day, but in lieu of many things that were not really necessary in the first place.

The added benefit of praying the Rosary a decade at a time, is that, it not only begins to develop consistent prayer habits, but it also helps to develop your prayer endurance. The analogy of training for a marathon comes to mind.

Much in the same manner as preparing for a marathon, the daily recitation of the entire Rosary cannot be something you embark on without proper training. As one trains for a marathon by building up one's endurance by running a few kilometres, and increasing that distance over time, so too does praying the Rosary a decade at time, build up your "prayer endurance." Eventually, you will be able to pray many decades completing the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries so that by the end of your day, before you lay your head down to sleep at night, you will have crossed the "spiritual finish line," and completed the "Marathon of Grace."

The Rosary is such an important prayer, the second most powerful next to the Holy Mass. Its faithful recitation will result in many graces and blessings bestowed upon those who pray it and promote it, as stated in the second and twelfth promises respectively of Fifteen Promises given by Our Lady to Christians who recite the Rosary, "2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary," and "12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities."

There have been many other saints throughout the history of the Catholic Church who have demonstrated a great love for and devotion to Our Lady through the Rosary: the Dominican Father Alan de la Roche, who was given the task by Our Lady of reviving the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, which he began in 1460; the well-known Jesuit, Brother Alphonsus Rodriguez who was known to pray the Rosary with such fervor; we know from the chronicles of Saint Francis of a Franciscan friar who prayed the Rosary so fervently each day, before dinner; Saint Francis de Sales (Bishop and Doctor of the Church) who refused to let exhaustion be an excuse from the complete recitation of the Rosary; Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa); Father Patrick Peyton; and Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) who prayed thirty-six Rosaries a day.

We also know of Pope Leo XIII, the "Rosary Pope," who wrote many documents promoting the Rosary and encouraging its recitation; in particular the encyclical, Supremi Apostolatus Officio, to which I dedicated a blog post,The Rosary: An Effective Weapon Against the Evils of Society.

In more recent times, we have Saint Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, a document that was issued in 2002, not only to promote the recitation of the Rosary and to facilitate a better understanding of its purpose and daily inclusion in our lives, but to also introduce a new, fourth set of mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries.

So significant was this new addition that Saint Pope John Paul II declared October 2002 to October 2003, "The Year of The Rosary," which I also blogged about with my postSaint Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

In addition to the many saints, Our Lady has also encouraged us to pray the Rosary at her apparitions in Fatima and Medjugorje.

There are other resources on the importance and significance of the Rosary and yet with all this—and access to it via the internet for several years—so many Catholics still do not pray the Rosary, and those that do, many do not pray all four Mysteries.

The world would be a much better place if Catholics prayed at least one decade of the Rosary each day; even that would make a difference!

One can only imagine the peace and many blessings bestowed upon the world—not to mention the halting of chastisements upon mankind for participating and promoting evil—if all four sets of Mysteries were prayed, fervently and devoutly, each day.

May many Catholics be inspired to do just that.













Thursday, September 14, 2017

Where The Cross Stands: The Last Chance to Reclaim America

Michael H. Brown's book, Where The Cross Stands
Michael H. Brown's book, Where The Cross Stands
If you found the title of this blog post somewhat intriguing, it borrows from a book entitled, Where The Cross Stands, written by Michael H. Brown from SpiritDaily.com.

I recently finished reading this book, one that had been on my reading list since May of this year when I attended the Marian Day Retreat here in Toronto, where Brown gave four talks, one of which was dedicated to Reclaiming North America's Christianity.

It seemed fitting to publish today's post on the feast of the Triumph (Exaltation) of the Cross to honour Jesus and in part to honour Our Blessed Mother, whose recent birthday of September 8, was also the day that the huge cross at Saint Augustine, Florida was dedicated in 1965—displayed on the front cover of the book—the location of the first documented Mass (September 8, 1565) in the United States and the first permanent American settlement, Nombre de Dios (Name of God); the official spot where Catholicism entered America.

These facts are among hundreds that Brown includes in his book, which is partly a lesson in US history that begins at America's Catholic origins and continues throughout the centuries that followed where he illustrates how there has been a cultural shift into darkness—in large part due to New Age and occult practices, Hollywood, the turbulent sixties, and other aspects of the Spiritual War waged against America by the demonic—that together with the waning of faith and a nation's descent into moral disorder, has resulted in today's state of affairs: a society that can be aptly described as a "Culture of Death."

As to the further significance of the cross at St. Augustine and its location, Brown suggests that, "Some day in the future—perhaps the not so distant future—this Cross and this area will play a role in the spiritual and temporal survival and revival of America." (1)

In Where The Cross Stands, Brown's latest book, he explains in detail why that revival is so necessary.

America's Catholic Origins and Growth as a Nation

Brown began his timeline of America's Catholic origins with Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America in 1492, who as Brown notes, "...[C]onsidered the evangelization of the New World his primary goal." (13)

So important is Columbus's discovery of America that Brown not only dedicates an entire chapter to it, but provides details in the preceding chapter of how historical events—the finding of Pope Gregory's statue of Our Lady at a location in Spain referred to in the local dialect as, "Guadalupe" or hidden channel—in Spain aided in the eventual discovery of the New World.

It is well known that Columbus was a very devout Catholic, who had a deep devotion to Our Lady. So devout was Columbus that his ship was named, Santa Maria, and on board his ship were fellow Catholics who recited the Hail Mary, and upon arrival in America (New World) they sang the Salve Regina in thanksgiving.

Columbus's arrival in the New World paved the way for other Spanish explorers—Columbus was Italian by birth, but sailed with Spanish ships—to discover other parts of what is now the United States; namely, Florida, which Brown dedicates four chapters to as part of an elaboration of America's Catholic origins.

Florida was originally discovered by Ponce de León in 1513—who had on board his ships, Augustinian, Dominican, and Franciscan clerics—around Easter, and is the reason why he named the land, "La Florida," in recognition of the Paschal flowers and the landscape rich in vegetation. 

Others soon followed such as Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano (who had Dominican priests with him) and Hernando De Soto, who had named the bay he entered, "Espiritu Santu" or "Bay of the Holy Spirit," which was eventually changed to Tampa Bay.

Many of the newly discovered parts of America were originally given Christian names, but eventually changed to something secular: the "Bay of St. Mary" is now the Chesapeake Bay; "Lake of the Blessed Sacrament" is now Lake George; and the mighty "River of the Immaculate Conception" is now the Mississippi.

Another explorer, Menéndez, also arrived on the scene whose central and only goal was to establish a Christian nation. His fleet consisted of nineteen ships and on board were: four Catholic priests, 1500 soldiers, sailers, millers, sheepshearers, hunters, and farmers. One of the priests, Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, is depicted in the cover photo of Brown's book: the statue of a man with his arms raised up.

By including these and other facts, Brown makes it crystal clear—a point that he reiterated more than once—that Catholics were the first to settle the United States and establish Christianity. The new-found-land was being sanctified by Catholics decades before Jamestown and eighty years before the Puritans at Plymouth Rock. It is an important point which Brown highlights by asking, "How many modern classrooms would dare to teach this?" (29)

Brown provides many other historical references that illustrate how America continued to develop as a Christian nation: Christianity was reflected in constitutions, laws, and practices; and God was acknowledged, praised and worshipped. Here are some interesting facts worth mentioning.

  • In 1776, all European Americans (except for 2500 Jews) identified themselves as Christian. Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, if not overly devout, were greatly influenced by their Christianity." (53)
  • In 1777, the Continental Congress spent $300,000 for bibles to be distributed throughout the thirteen colonies (56)
  • Christianity formed the very concept of freedom; university law lectures were quoting Saint Thomas Aquinas. (55)
  • In 1782, the United States Congress declared, "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools." (56)
  • The concept of "separation of Church and state" was not meant to prevent religion from influencing government, but the opposite: from government trying to control religion. As Brown stated, "When there were arguments that involved religion, it was usually about how government could best serve the Christian faith." (53)
  • In 1789, George Washington, in his famous Thanksgiving Day Proclamation stated, " '[I]t was the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor,' and recommended '[T]he people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be...' "(55) 
  • The first communities in the Northeast were Bible-based commonwealths. (56)
  • Maryland was a haven for Catholics fleeing persecution by the English government. (56)
  • All but two of the 108 universities were Christian, including Yale and Harvard. (56)
  • George Washington on his inauguration day not only kissed the Bible openly after being sworn in office, but gathered Congress and his first Cabinet at the Chapel of St. Paul and consecrated the United States under the protection of the Almighty. (57)

America's Cultural Shift Into Darkness

Brown dedicates several chapters to America's cultural shift into darkness that begins with chapter fifteen, where he highlights the Spiritual War of the "Bell Witch" case in Tennessee: the demonic infestation of the homestead of John, Jesse, and Drewry Bell; all three of whom fought for Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans.

Expanding upon the demonic influence, he referred to Mormonism, feminism, American Freemasonry and Spiritualism and how it began in Upstate New York; how the era came to be known as the Age of the Medium.

In chapter eighteen, Brown included a short segment of one of America's darkest occultists, Alex Crowley—referred to as "the Beast" by his own mother—who was the inspiration behind the Church of Satan, established in 1966. Devotees included John Whiteside Parsons, a known rocket scientists and close friend of L. Ron Hubbard, the man who started Scientology in 1954, the New Age belief system that is followed by Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise.

At chapter nineteen, Brown introduces the reader to Margaret Sanger, who as he put it, "...[W]as to champion the most dangerous and dark trend of the coming era...the right to abortion." (103)

It was at the same chapter that Brown revealed the truth about the name "Hollywood," and how it refers to "holly" (not holy) wood; a wood that was considered sacred to ancient wizards, used in magic wands with its beginnings traced to pagan rituals in Nordic times. Brown had also mention and elaborated on this during his talk in Toronto: The Current Prophet Pulse.

Chapter twenty spotlights "Godless technology"; that is, the failure of mankind to work with God in the creation of products. Many of today's products do not dissolve back into nature and; thus, are not apart of God's plan because they "hurt" His creation. This in stark contrast to all that God has created which was made to dissolve back into nature.

Brown further elaborated on "Godless technology" by paraphrasing the Venezuelan mystic, Maria Esperanza, "[W]ith God, ingenuity would exceed the imagination while solving problems and disrupting nothing. Instead, our scientists were going their own way without even believing in Him. For years, Esperanza had warned that such misuse of technology—Godless technology, especially human cloning—would be a disaster." (112)

Chapter twenty-one focussed on the warning coming from LaSalette regarding a world that only thinks about amusements. Some of those "amusements" that Brown cited were from the last century, in particular with respect to rock and roll music. 

Further in this same chapter, Brown went on to point out that much of modern rock and roll found its wellspring in a blues singer named Robert Johnson; the significance of which is in the legend of the singer's apparent pact (a classic Faustian pact) with the Devil near the Dockery Plantation in Mississippi. Here is how Brown partly described the midnight meeting in the Deep South, "...[H]e was met by a 'man' who took his guitar, tuned it, and in exchange for his soul, granted him the gift of blues." (115)

Regardless of the veracity of this story, other rock stars such as, Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Eric Clapton, admitted to having gone to that same spot, with success following in their respective careers.

The list of musical artists that have been involved or taken interest in New Age and occult practices might surprise some: John Lennon (The Beatles) had a personal tarot-card reader; Aleister Crowley is among those on the cover of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album; the Rolling Stones entitled one of their albums, Their Satanic Majesties Request; Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) has stated that the band received inspiration for their songs at seances.

It gets a little darker with people like Jim Morrison of The Doors, who claimed that the spirit of an Indian boy entered him. Jimmy Hendrix believed he was possessed by a demon. Phoebe Snow claims to have talked to "aliens" via the ouija board.

Brown also includes a segment on how promiscuity was being normalized through such developments as the publishing of pornographic magazines like Playboy, which started in the early 50s, with others that would follow in the decades to come.

It was Playboy magazine that helped to popularize Marilyn Monroe, who was already posing nude for calendars, and whose "career" promoted and injected "free sex" and multiple marriages into mainstream society.

What Brown makes abundantly clear is that American society has changed substantially, not only from its Christian origins, but also from the past century when society was much more family orientated and decent.

So evident is this change today, that Brown asks the question, "Where did you go Ward and June Cleaver?" (283)

Our Lady's Prophetic Warnings and Messages

With America's descent into darkness came the prophetic warnings (chastisements) and messages from Our Lady and the lessons to be learned from them; that is, if enough people pray (the Rosary in particular) and fast—which can stop wars and suspend the laws of nature—America can stave off the chastisements, prevent the unravelling of society, and recover from the damage already done.

To date, many have heeded Our Lady's requests which Brown suspects is the reason why so many chastisements have not come to pass. As he states in chapter forty-two, "In fact, all the judgements can be averted. The whole purpose of God's warning is to turn the wicked to repentance and obedience. There are enough righteous ones in Sodom-America to make the difference, but these must not remain passive." (262)

Our Lady stated to Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil in the 50s, "What happens to the world depends on those who live in it...There must be much more good than evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching." (305)

A common thread that runs throughout Our Lady's warnings and messages is to pray the Rosary. Brown notes the importance, drawing from the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, where he highlighted Our Lady's warning about Satan's attempts to conquer mankind and how through prayer and fasting, we can be victorious.

Brown went on to ask, "Could America be reclaimed?" The answer comes from Our Lady, "Advance against Satan by means of prayer. Put on the armour for battle and with the Rosary in your hand defeat him!" (263)

If there was ever a time in history to begin a devotion to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, now is certainly that time. So important is this devotion that Brown dedicated an entire chapter to it; a devotion that has proven to be quite effective in American history.

We could all learn from the faithful Ursuline Sisters of New Orleans, who have on numerous occasions implored the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Most noteworthy is when Our Lady saved the people of New Orleans in an extraordinary way on two separate occasions: the first was the extinguishing of a raging fire that threatened to destroy the Ursuline Convent in 1812; and the second was the surprising military victory of General Andrew Jackson in 1815, against a larger, better equipped invading British force.

This in addition to the countless times Our Lady has come to the aid of individuals in Louisiana, which as the National Shrine notes on its History of the Devotion page, is so numerous that "We will never know them all."

Brown highlighted the importance of this devotion when he stated, "Such events show us that nothing is beyond the reach of prayer, no problem, no disaster." (66)

As for the future, Brown considers the time frame between 2020 to 2040, as a critical period, which he also mentioned during his Toronto talk; a time frame that also includes mercy!

We can better understand mercy through the Divine Mercy Devotion, in which we not only seek God's mercy, but fulfill the main requirement of the devotion; that is, we too must be merciful with others, always and everywhere.

It was interesting how, at the end of his book, Brown reiterated the potential, future significance of St. Augustine, Florida. He shared his thoughts from an outing, while kayaking past the Cross, that St. Augustine must become America's refuge; a place of pilgrimage. Perhaps others will be encouraged by the original settlers to, as Brown suggests, "...[M]arch across our land and plant crosses again where once they stood..." (318) He goes on to further encourage his fellow Americans, "Come back, America! Pray goodness back." (318)

God bless America.