Sunday, May 16, 2010

Over at St. Blogs

St. Blogs was kind enough to welcome this blog over there, where the company is more apropos.

Please, use the new URL, http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com.

+JMJ+

Monday, April 12, 2010

OCDS Profession

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Profession of
Evandro of the Good Shepherd
in the
Secular Order of
Discalced Carmelites

Sunday, April 18, 2010
at 11:00 in the Chapel

Cedarbrake Retreat Center
5602 N Hwy. 317, Belton, TX



Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Please, pray that Our Lord grants me the graces to live out the Evangelical Counsels in the spirit of the Beatitudes as a son of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.

Pax Christi,

Evandro Menezes

St. Albert of Jerusalem Presents the Rule to the Carmelites

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lady Poverty

Detail of a triptych by Sano di PietroDetail of Gérard's 'St. Teresa'In the second chapter of St. Teresa of Avila's "Way of Perfection", she refers to how St. Clare of Assisi described the Evangelical counsel of Poverty as providing tall walls around a community.

I had never thought of the Evangelical Counsels as protection. Against what can they protect? Even today Our Lord recommended the young, rich man Poverty in order to tend towards perfection (Mt 19:21). Of course, Our Lord has never recommended anything that He Himself hadn't embraced. However, as Jesus said, following His commandments already opens the doors of Heaven to us. Yet, He proposes something extra to be perfect. Although we are creatures, the Lord, Who is all-perfect, calls us to the same perfection, as Our "Father in Heaven is perfect" (Mt 5:48), to "be holy… for I AM holy" (Lv 19:2).

In striving to be more like Jesus, it seems that St. Clare climbed a mountain where the fowler would not lay his snares so easily. As though the Evangelical Counsels set up a perimeter that the enemy dares not trespass. According to Scripture, the enemy doesn't want to have anything with Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Conversely, Jesus doesn't want do have anything to do with the wealth of kingdoms, or with the lust of abundant food, or with tempting the Father (Mt 4). The Evangelical Counsels do raise a wall too tall for the enemy, as Jesus demonstrated.

But if the Evangelical Counsels perfect something, it has got to be the work of grace in us, the life in the Spirit through the infusion of the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity at Baptism. Since the exercise of these virtues are necessary and sufficient to enter Heaven, Jesus however calls us to live Faith perfectly through Obedience, Hope through Poverty, Charity through Chastity, just like He has done since ever.

When Jesus calls us to be like Him, it certainly is not something that we can do on our own. He Himself told the young man to follow Him after embracing Poverty, because in itself it is naught. The Lord will complete the work provided that we say "yes": "fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (Lk 1:38).

Jesus became man so that men can be made divine, to be welcome not only to God's Kingdom, but before Him, face to face.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Lord and my God!

Detail of Caravaggio's 'Incredulity of St. Thomas'+JMJ+

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Christ Is Risen!

Detail of Bloemaert's 'The Emmaus Disciples'Whenever Holy Thursday comes and the Triduum starts, Lent ends with the apex of the Last Supper, immediately followed by the nadir of the removal of the Blessed Sacrament from the church. Then, the church is not the House of God anymore, our contemporary House of Bread (Bethlehem), but an empty shell immersed in darkness and drabness.

Come Good Friday and the gloom is overwhelming at the memorial of that dreaded moment when the Sun had refused to shine. Like Jesus' disciples on that day, I am confused and afraid. Perhaps not for the same reasons as the Apostle's , but still deeply troubled by my sinfulness that I see piercing the Lord's hands, feet and eventually his side too.

It's only on the Easter Vigil that everything becomes clear, as the Light of the World conquers death for ever! It takes me a while to realize how merciful the Lord is and to recognize His gifts. Now as then, He offers His body and blood as the new Manna to feed me on the road out of Egypt toward Jerusalem. By His grace, all my fears are cast aside and my heart is inundated with hope, for His body was not marred and His blood, spilled in vain, but are offered to nourish me and to wash me.

He is truly risen!

+JMJ+

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Imagery

Frame of Botticelli's 'Annunciation' at CestelloThere are some films and paintings that have left an impression in my imagination even after years having last seen them. I cherish to recall some of these works of art, in particular when saying the Rosary to deepen my appreciation of its Mysteries.

I can find in the Gospels a lot about these events, especially about the context in which they took place. Through its text, it's then feasible to picture in my mind these events as they unfold before the eyes of my imagination. What follows sometimes is that my soul finds itself in awe before such Mysteries.

More than one film or painting was made about the birth, life, passion and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and some are stand out above others in their depictions of different Mysteries, having indeed touched my soul. Then recalling these film scenes or other works of art is quite helpful to place myself before the Savior in prayer:

+JMJ+

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Pater and the Beatitudes

I must say that after the previous post I refrained from adding new ones until I could jog down my thoughts on the remaining four petitions of the Pater. But it never happened and this journal ended up neglected.

After reading Morton Kelsey's "Adventure Inward", I confirmed how helpful journaling is to my spiritual life. So let me get this "impediment" out of the way and resume posting.

Instead of my usual musings, I'll let my patron saint, St. Augustine, expand on the Pater in a parallel with the Beatitudes (hat tip to Mike Aquilina of "The Way of the Fathers" for his help finding the source):
The sevenfold number of these petitions also seems to me to correspond to that sevenfold number out of which the whole sermon before us has had its rise.

For if it is the fear of God through which the poor in spirit are blessed, inasmuch as theirs is the kingdom of heaven; let us ask that the name of God may be hallowed among men through that “fear which is clean, enduring for ever” (Ps. xix. 9).

If it is piety through which the meek are blessed, inasmuch as they shall inherit the earth; let us ask that His kingdom may come, whether it be over ourselves, that we may become meek, and not resist Him, or whether it be from heaven to earth in the splendour of the Lord’s advent, in which we shall rejoice, and shall be praised, when He says, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. xxv. 34). For “in the Lord,” says the prophet, “shall my soul be praised; the meek shall hear thereof, and be glad.” (Ps. xxxiv. 2.).

If it is knowledge through which those who mourn are blessed, inasmuch as they shall be comforted; let us pray that His will may be done as in heaven so in earth, because when the body, which is as it were the earth, shall agree in a final and complete peace with the soul, which is as it were heaven, we shall not mourn: for there is no other mourning belonging to this present time, except when these contend against each other, and compel us to say, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind;” and to testify our grief with tearful voice, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. vii. 23, 24).

If it is fortitude through which those are blessed who hunger and thirst after righteousness, inasmuch as they shall be filled; let us pray that our daily bread may be given to us to-day, by which, supported and sustained, we may be able to reach that most abundant fulness.

If it is prudence through which the merciful are blessed, inasmuch as they shall obtain mercy; let us forgive their debts to our debtors, and let us pray that ours may be forgiven to us.

If it is understanding through which the pure in heart are blessed, inasmuch as they shall see God; let us pray not to be led into temptation, lest we should have a double heart, in not seeking after a single good, to which we may refer all our actings, but at the same time pursuing things temporal and earthly. For temptations arising from those things which seem to men burdensome and calamitous, have no power over us, if those other temptations have no power which befall us through the enticements of such things as men count good and cause for rejoicing.

If it is wisdom through which the peacemakers are blessed, inasmuch as they shall be called the children of God; let us pray that we may be freed from evil, for that very freedom will make us free, i.e. sons of God, so that we may cry in the spirit of adoption, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. viii. 15 and Gal. iv. 6).

Nor are we indeed carelessly to pass by the circumstance, that of all those sentences in which the Lord has taught us to pray, He has judged that that one is chiefly to be commended which has reference to the forgiveness of sins: in which He would have us to be merciful, because it is the only wisdom for escaping misery. For in no other sentence do we pray in such a way that we, as it were, enter into a compact with God: for we say, “Forgive us, as we also forgive.” And if we lie in that compact, the whole prayer is fruitless. For He speaks thus: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

(in St. Augustine, "Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount", Book II, Chapter XI)

+JMJ+

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Three Desires

St. Thomas Aquinas refers to the first three verses of the Pater as desires. But desires for what? For things that only God can give: graces. But which graces?

The three desires that begin the Pater are:
  1. Hallowed be your name.
  2. Your kingdom come.
  3. Your will be done.
As St. Augustine said, it is not that God's name is not holy, but rather it expresses our recognition of God as god. In other words, it is an expression of faith in God.

God's kingdom is where His throne resides, Heaven itself. One cannot desire that Heaven comes to him, as the subject cannot impose on the King, rather one can only desire to be brought to Heaven. Therefore, it is an expression of hope in God's mercy.

One desires that God's will be realized, but it already is in the whole universe since the beginning. Except in those beings which He created to love Him. As only free beings can love, one desires that the God's will to be loved back is realized. Thus, it is an expression of love for God.

Faith, Hope and Love, the Theological Virtues, the virtues which have as object God Himself. And as such, they are gifts that only God can give: graces.

In conclusion, one starts the Pater desiring that God will give him the fundamental graces that make a creature a child of God, so that one can call Him Father.

+JMJ+

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Our Father in the Garden

I really like the way that St. Thomas Aquinas subdivided the Pater: three desires and four petitions. In these three desires we were taught to approach God as His children, asking to live in His house according to His love.

As St. Matthew tells us, Jesus taught us the Pater from atop the Mt. of Olives. As His hour approached, He went with His friends to the garden at the foot of the same mount. There, He prayed in a way that takes us back to the three desires in the Pater. Twice He prayed that the will of God be done, not His. He desired at that grueling hour what He taught us to desire. As we carry our own crosses, Jesus taught us in the Gethsemane to embrace them and to trust in God's will, giving Him glory as we pace on to His kingdom.

+JMJ+

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bouquets

St. Paul tells us that it's necessary to pray always (1 Th 5:17) and this sentence has mesmerized me, not unlike how the Pilgrim was mesmerized by it in The Way of a Pilgrim, where I first read about it. The Pilgrim called this prayer Prayer of the Heart. But I soon found out that I'd easily fall into mechanic repetition. It wasn't until I made aquaintance with Br. Lawrence's Practicing the Presence of God that I realized about another way of following St. Paul's precept. Not by the Pilgrim's vocal prayer, but by a brief contemplation of Jesus right beside us.

Many saints have warned about the danger of praying in the expectation of being caressed by Jesus, or of receiving consolations, as St. Teresa of Avila called them. Perhaps the best remedy for such a temptation is instead to pray in order to carress Him, to take a look at Him with the heart filled of love for all His graces that He bestows on us.

The Gospel readings this past week focused on the life-giving love of Jesus and I liked particularly His image as the vine with us as branches (Jn 15:1-8). I recently watched a program on PBS which shwoed one of the earliest images of Jesus found and it depicted exactly this passage, with Him in the center as the trunk of a vine which sprouted branches with children arranged along them (I wish I could find a picture or a reproduction of it). In these passages, Jesus repeated several times that we love one another just as He loves us, in a way telling us that this is how He wants His love to be responded.

St. Francis of Sales teaches us to gather a "spiritual bouquet" in his daily meditations, and I am thinking of trying to gather a daily spiritual bouquet to offer to jesus, a bouquet of blossoming charity, loving my neighbor as I love myself.

+JMJ+

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Going On

Only now I realize that it's been about a year since I've started to pray the Rosary daily. A Lent later, I can say that it's been like a new Easter for me.

Jesus calls all of us to holiness, to love Him as He loved us. He loves us first and patiently awaits us to love Him back. By grace we find out about His love and, though imperfectly, we try to correspond. We yearn to know Him intimately and to do what pleases Him. We open our ears and our hearts to His loving words and caresses. He wishes to give us so much if only we ask (1 Jn 3:22) and He himself taught us how to ask (Mt 6:9-13), by turning to Him to give Him glory and to present our petitions.

But sometimes, we have nothing to ask for, all we want to do is to be with Jesus, to caress Him with tender and loving words. And He invites us to do this more often, daily, every few hours even. This is when I guess we can say that we have a prayer life.

Without prayer, it's virtually impossible to grow closer Jesus. It's as though the soul is not watered and remains in the shade, away from His refreshing infusions and from His life-giving light.

+JMJ+

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Divine Mercy Sunday

After a very long hiatus, a friend encouraged me to post again. I thank him very much, for, as someone suggested me before I started this blog, it is quite profitable to me to collect my thoughts when writing here, though I often fail translating them in words here.

Today, when we celebrated the feast of Divine Mercy, after the visions of St. Faustina, I was granted a very special gift, one I had never asked for specifically, yet one that I have always prayed for. God knows I am not worthy of it, yet He chose today to show me His Mercy and Grace, a lovely gaze to this wretched soul, lighting me up and rekindling the embers of love for Him.

O, how I wish I were able to love Him back as He loves me and all of His children! By His Grace, with His Mercy, for His Love, that my life becomes an eternal song of praise and thanksgiving.

+JMJ+

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Shower Us

Someday this past week, I don't really know how, I found myself meditating on the Pater when saying the Rosary. I'm sure I didn't find out anything new about the Lord's Prayer, but I thought I'd share my thoughts here.

I think that it started when I started thinking on what others had said about it. St. Augustine once wrote a beautiful meditation on this prayer which can be found almost in its entirety in the Catechism. St. Thomas Aquinas also wrote on the Pater and the Angelic Doctor divided it in two parts: the part comprising the first three verses are desires and the other part, comprising the remaining four verses, are petitions. But it was not until now that I realized that these petitions are for graces to attain those wishes.

In other words, the Pater is the road map to holiness, the universal call to be perfect with the Father through His grace (Mt 5:48). Not by coincidence, after stating this call, Jesus teaches us the Pater (Mt 6:9), or how to set sail to the breeze of the Holy Spirit, as St. Augustine said.

+JMJ+

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Variations

It's not that I am preoccupied with the order of the Mysteries of the Rosary to bring it up again, but this week I had an idea that I wanted to give a try: repeat the traditional order on Thursday and on Friday and say the Luminous Mysteries on Saturday, and then the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday, as usual.

I was wondering what went through between the Apostles and other followers of Jesus' in the upper room on the first Easter Vigil. They were probably crushed by Jesus' death on Good Friday and perhaps were seeking consolation in their thoughts and with each other.

What do we ourselves do when mourning the passing of a loved one? After the tears have dried out, we typically start recalling memorable events of one's life. Particularly those who met Jesus in His public ministry, but also the Apostles, perhaps recalled His baptism, His first miracle, His teaching, His transfiguration, His gift of Himself to us...

On the other hand, there was one woman in the upper room who most likely had different recollections: Mary, as she had just experienced the last and greatest of sorrows. Which mother wouldn't be recalling her child's conception, pregnancy, birth, dedication to God, maturation?

It seems to me then that by saying the Luminous Mysteries on Saturday, I'm putting myself in the upper room with the Apostles. And if instead I say the Joyful Mysteries, I'm letting my Mother open her heart to me.

Jesus called the Apostles to follow Him, but no one followed Him so perfectly as His mother, even before knowing Him. Yet, all of them found unspeakable joy on Easter Sunday at His resurrection and then were filled with the Holy Spirit by the Son of God.

+JMJ+

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Reigning my Pride

I said before that I've struggled with keeping my mind in the mysteries and developed some techniques to help. Perhaps I'm not unlike others, however, when it comes to humility though. I'm tempted to say that I'm the champion of pride, but that would be boasting. :-)

Lately I've been trying to pay attention to my actions and thoughts in order to weed out pride. For example, I've been trying to enhance my charity on the road by gently pacing behind a slow car.

I've also tried a change in an ejaculation I said during the Sorrowful Mysteries to get more up close and personal with the sacrifice of my Lord:
  • His Agony: "... Jesus, Who sweat blood for me."
  • His Scourging: "... Jesus, Who was scourged for me."
  • His Crowning with Thorns: "... Jesus, Who was crowned with thorns for me."
  • His Sentencing: "... Jesus, Who carried the heavy cross for me."
  • His Crucifixion: "... Jesus, Who was crucified for me."
May He forgive me and receive me back in His embrace on the cross.

+JMJ+

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Good Tidings and a Happy New Year

As I write this, I'm recalling the special coincidence on Christmas and now on the eve of the New Year: as I pray the 4 sets of mysteries of the Rosary, meditating on the Joyful mysteries on Christmas Eve and on the Glorious mysteries on Christmas Day was particularly fitting. The expectation of the coming of the Lord, the miracle of His conception, His birth among us and then His growing in wisdom (Lk 2:52); then, the reason why He took flesh, human flesh, to lead the way to true life for all of us (Jn 14:6), for no one has loved more (Jn 15:13).

I can't help seeing the coming year through the same eyes: on its eve, with joyful expectation about the many graces that Our Lord blesses us with every day and, once 2006 has started, with jubilant confidence on the Master's love for His children.

I hope that y'all had a blessed Christmas and have a New Year filled with the peace that only Jesus can offer.

+JMJ+

Sunday, December 25, 2005

God with Us

The greatest Christmas gift is Jesus Himself, "for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son." (Jn 3:16) And Jesus gave us life through His Spirit. God fulfilled in Him all His promises through the centuries and made with us a new covenant, always out of His mercy for His beloved creatures.

I can't express in words my awe at God's plan as it unfolds before the eyes of my soul. I look at His mother, my mother, to find the way to thank Jesus for so many blessings. Yet, it's not words that I find, but a tender and deep joy towards God.

Let me borrow the words of the Psalmist:
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
...
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
+JMJ+

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bead #10

After about nine months praying the Rosary daily, today I found out that my memory rosary has only nine Ave Maria beads!

I'm puzzled how this could be... Perhaps a bead broke off, I suspect when I stepped on the rosary once.

I'm now considering the choices of just adding an Ave Maria or buying a new memory rosary (they work pretty well for me). Adding an imaginary bead is no big deal, but I'll have to try to see how it goes.

Getting a new memory rosary is cheap, but letting go of the current one poses some pondering. First, I've never disposed of a sacramental before and I can't decide between burying it or burning it. Secondly, I really like my rosary, worn by my fingers going over the beads...

+JMJ+

Saturday, December 10, 2005

In Focus, Blurred

As I said before, in order to keep my attention focused, even if only for a few moments, I repeat an ejaculation based on the Mystery being meditated on as I say the Ave Maria. It indeed helps when I pray the Rosary while driving, but praying also helps my driving.

It's not only the way of driving that's helped, becoming a more fluid conduct on the road, but also where and when driving takes place. I trace my route and shift my schedule to avoid heavier traffic, so that more of my attention is available to meditation.

It's easy to tell when not much attention is left when I say the Gloria after the Pater or when I can't remember that I said the Fatima Prayer. That's when I consider my options between changing my route or even finding the slowest moving lane, so that I can drive more relaxed and autonomously.

On the other hand, I've found that the ejaculations may be a bit counter-effective when I pray the Rosary in a stationary place. Then, I'm able to meditate more deeply if I picture the events surrounding the Mystery in question. Among the telling signs, saying the ejaculations tends to be a bit mechanical and time drags.

Of course, this is what happens to me. And I suspect that this is what happens to me now. But the Lord is merciful and I shall not want.

+JMJ+

Where Was I?

I've been posting new entries less often than I'd like.

I prefer to post not long after a Confession and always after some time of prayer, but my busy days eat up all time.

I could probably post from work, but I'd rather not. I try to give my employer a full day's worth of work.

I could probably post from home, but I'd rather not. After a whole day spent in front of a computer, I refrain from having one in front of me in the evening.

Only weekends are left then.

Then again, it's not like I realize something new everyday. Actually, I can't say that I realize about something every week either. As time goes by, I've actually notices that some past realizations get deeper and others are, regretfully, forgotten. I'd like to think that such forgotten insights would be absorbed in the soul as food is in the body, but I can't really say. Yet, I pray that the Good Shepherd will provide my soul with all the sustenance it needs to grow towards Him.

+JMJ+

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Before Him

Acquiring the habit of prayer does not make me holier. On the contrary, it makes me more aware of my sinfulness.

My proud little soul is then tempted to recoil from prayer out of a misguided sense of shame. Yet, the Lord keeps calling it back to Him, although it's unworthy. Or if there's anything it deserves is eternal damnation, for there is where it'll end up if it is to follow my ways. But its hope is in His mercy and in His love for such a brat.

As I hesitantly lay my soul before Him, I await for His command. Although I am not always faithful, He always is faithful.

+JMJ+

Saturday, November 19, 2005

In the Meanders

As I said before, I have great affection for some mysteries. However, some of them are indeed mysterious to me. Not that this makes them a chore to meditate on, quite the contrary, they invite deeper reflections, even if I'm still left unaware of their spiritual depth.

One such mystery is that of the Transfiguration. I know the significance of those involved in that event and the words by God, the Father from Our Lord's baptism being repeated here, yet, somehow, it still doesn't strike a chord in me. Then again, says who all of them should? As St. Teresa of Avila said, we must approach prayer with a faithful and humble spirit, for prayer is a grace, not a skill.

On the other hand, I relate to other mysteries in an indirect way. Their significance still eludes me, but they come easy with fruitful reflections because they relate to other devotions close to my heart. For instance, the Presentation of Jesus, which I associate with through the first sorrow of Our Lady's.

Then there also those mysteries such as the Crowning of Mary, whose theological depth leave me in awe, and additionally shed new meaning to the words of the prayers of the Rosary. In this case, the second part of the Ave Maria, when we direct our petition to the Queen of Heaven:
Hail Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death.
+JMJ+

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Reigning My Attention

As I said earlier, I try to mean the words of the Rosary I pray. However, oftentimes I find myself having to wrangle the wandering mind back to the task. It seems that it's sometimes easier for the heart to command the body than the mind, for the latter can be fairly presumptuous about the importance of its doings. For instance, yesterday when the mind was mulling about this present entry while I prayed the Rosary.

It became clear to me that the mind needed a hook to remain in the works of the heart. As the Ave Maria is the most frequent prayer of the Rosary, I stopped at His Holy Name, "Jesus", to reign the mind by picturing (imagination being one of the favorite faculties of the mind) the events of each mystery. It came as a natural progression to meditate briefly on the role of the other Persons of the Holy Trinity in each mystery during the Gloria. Somehow, the mind obeys the heart during the Pater and the Fatima prayer, likely because it knows that, along with the heart, it too needs God's mercy.

Knowing pretty well that it would be impossible to be original about a centuries-old devotion, I posted my recent findings in Catholic Answers' Forums for a "peer review" and was graced with wonderful feedback by devout people. A particular suggestion popped out above others and I immediately printed it, folded it and slipped it into my wallet for the week's daily Rosary. It was a blessing to be able to pray the Rosary with both the heart and the mind together for as long as never before.

Similarly to the technique I mentioned above on going back to the each mystery at His Name, this technique inserts the mystery or an ejaculation on it right after the Holy Name of Jesus:
  • Joyful Mysteries
    1. The Annunciation: "... Jesus, Whose birth the angel announced."
    2. The Visitation: "... Jesus, Who you carried near your heart."
    3. The Nativity: "... Jesus, to Whom you gave birth."
    4. The Presentation: "... Jesus, Who you dedicated in the temple."
    5. The Finding: "... Jesus, Whose loss you sorrowed for three days."
  • Luminous Mysteries
    1. The Baptism: "... Jesus, Who was baptized for us."
    2. The Miracle of Cana: "... Jesus, Who turned water into wine for us."
    3. The Proclamation of the Gospel: "... Jesus, Who preached the Gospel to the poor."
    4. The Transfiguration: "... Jesus, Who was transfigured on the mount."
    5. The Institution of the Eucharist: "... Jesus, Who gave us the Eucharist."
  • Sorrowful Mysteries
    1. His Agony: "... Jesus, Who sweat blood for us."
    2. His Scourging: "... Jesus, Who was scourged for us."
    3. His Crowning with Thorns: "... Jesus, Who was crowned with thorns for us."
    4. His Carrying the Cross: "... Jesus, Who carried the heavy cross for us."
    5. His Crucifixion: "... Jesus, Who was crucified for us."
  • Glorious Mysteries:
    1. The Resurrection: "... Jesus, Who rose from the dead."
    2. The Ascension: "... Jesus, Who ascended to Heaven."
    3. The Pentecost: "... Jesus, Who sent us the Holy Spirit."
    4. The Assumption of Mary: "... Jesus, Who will return again in glory."
    5. The Crowning of Mary: "... Jesus, Whose kingdom will have no end."
I'm sure this is nothing new to many, as some have already pointed out some writings by saints on the Rosary, but I'm just a novice.

+JMJ+

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In a Journey

When my soul looks back, it's like it's been with its eyes shut as a babe's. As it shyly starts opening its eyes, it can see the light of the day at last. A day illuminated by Our Lord's light, a light which doesn't glare, not even its babe's eyes.

As it wonders at the just unveiled reality, the soul soon looks at itself. Not anymore in the dark, it can now see many stains and mends on it, when it feels ashamed finding itself in this state before the King of Kings. Yet, at the same time, it's joyful to see them, for it now knows it needs cleansing and asks for it and the Lord Himself cleans it and mends it.

The soul is now careful to avoid muddy paths which can stain it and thorny ones which can tear it. Not because it is any wiser, rather because it now recognizes its ignorance, choosing the company of His friends to point it the way which leads to Him. The road to Him is smooth and pleasantly lit, but the soul still struggles to remain in it, as it falls on the wayside every so often. But its Master is faithful and lends it His hand whenever it calls out for Him. As a merciful Father, He gears the soul up so it will be able to see ever more clearly and to be able to walk with better command of its steps. The soul knows that it cannot trust itself completely, so it relies on the favors of the Spirit to keep it on the path.

The soul now treads a merry way; it doesn't find itself alone anymore. It knows it can stop at inns along the way to be fed and to rest, strengthened to follow on in its journey. The soul doesn't know when the journey will end, but it knows to Whom it leads, for Himself leads the soul.

+JMJ+

Monday, October 24, 2005

In Order

Wow, it's been a while since my last entry here! I've actually had to contain myself as I set the house in order.

As I said before, I started praying the Rosary including John Paul II's Luminous Mysteries. However, at one point, I started to become intrigued by the order of the Mysteries through the week. Evidently, it's not easy to fit 4 Mysteries in 7 days, particularly when Fridays are reserved for the Sorrowful Mysteries.

The traditional oder follows the chronological order of the events in the life of Jesus Christ: Joyful (Nativity), Sorrowful (Passion) and Glorious (Resurrection), starting on Mondays and again on Thursdays. On Sundays, the Mysteries are alternated according to the Liturgical Calendar: Joyful through Advent, Sorrowful through Lent and Glorious form Easter to Advent. This order makes a lot of sense and is a beatifully ordinated rhythm.

John Paul II's order kept the same sequence starting on Monday, but inserted the Luminous Mysteries on Thursdays, moved the Joyful ones to Saturdays and fixed the Glorious ones on Sundays.

Again, I was intrigued, not annoyed by the different orders. So I decided to give the traditional order a try for a week to see if it would make any difference. After a week, it just felt strange not to meditate on the beautiful Luminous Mysteries. I missed them very much, particularly the miracle at Cana, one of my favorites. I was eager for the next Thursday to come to spend some time along side Mary meditating on Our Lord's public ministry.

The Luminous Mysteries complete the Rosary in a very beautiful way and is the most sacramental of the Mysteries, if anything for including the institution of the Eucharist. May God reward John Paul II, world without end.

+JMJ+

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

At home

My routine praying the Rosary works pretty well on weekdays, but I still struggle to find a routine that would work on weekends. Perhaps it's got to do with the fact that I don't have any deliberate routine on weekends, except baking home-made pizza on Saturday and going to Sunday Mass. I haven't tried many new routines, but I've often found myself late in the evening with the Rosary yet to be said.

I've tried walking around the neighborhood in the evening, but it's not too convenient. Particularly negotiating night critters and other "night owls": the former ones creep me out, the latter ones can be spooked by a tall guy coming in their direction...

What seems to have worked fairly well is taking a walk in the greenbelt in the afternoon. It's quiet enough that I don't have to focus so much on where I'm going and so I can lend a bit more of my mind to meditating on the mysteries. But I'll need to give it more tries to see if I settle in this habit.

Praying the Rosary sitting still doesn't quite work for me. Somehow, I can't hold the same position for too long without being overly preoccupied with it. If there's one place where I can say the Rosary in the same position is in church, at least sitting down, but I believe that kneeling too. I guess it's because of how other senses are catered to in a sanctuary: our vision is blessed with holy images and architecture and our hearing enjoys silence, inviting that gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).

+JMJ+

Friday, October 07, 2005

In the Church

Yesterday there was a Rosary service in the church as part of the Respect Life month. It was the first time that I've ever prayed the Rosary along with the community, but, most important, it was also the first time that I've ever prayed the Rosary with my wife!

Men and women, boys and girls were present. Both the pastor and the associate pastor were there too, as well as a permanent deacon candidate. Colored candles were lit at the sanctuary entrance and the altar was decorated with a statue of Our Lady of Graces.

A Scripture passage was read before each mystery and every other mystery an ode would be sung led by the soloist with the organist accompanying. I also understood how some can pray the Rosary in mere 15min or so: the second part of Ave Maria was said in one breath! But praying as a group helped rounding out some details. As I said before, I know some prayers in my native Portuguese, others in my adopted English and some I don't know at all. Interestingly enough, so I thought.

Privately, I said the Nicean Credo instead of the Apostle's Credo beginning the Rosary for the simple reason that I learned the former following Mass. So I was lost for a couple of seconds as the group start the Rosary with the Apostle's Credo, when its words started coming out of my mouth quietly in Portuguese. I was amazed that I still remembered them since my childhood.

Being a Thursday, it was the day of the Luminous Mysteries, which I like very much. I have a particular joy asking for Mary's prayers as I meditate on the wedding at Cana, where she was for the first time our Intercessor with the Lord Jesus. We were blessed for having John Paul II as pope for so long, and I believe that he'll be remembered for centuries by the laity for adding these mysteries to the Rosary.

I and my wife sometimes stumbled together and also helped each other if one would miss the rhythm. It was lovely to meditate on the events of Salvation alongside her, asking for Mary's intercession to not only guide us through them, but also for the grace to live out the work of Salvation (Phil 2:12). It was a joy indeed.

+JMJ+

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

I couldn't let this day pass by without adding an entry to this journal, a feast established almost 5 centuries ago, even then it was already a centuries-old popular devotion.

There's nothing I can add about the origins of the Rosary that isn't already extensively documented. I can only say that, to me, praying the Rosary is witnessing the mystery of our salvation by Jesus through Mary's eyes. Mother Mary extends her hand to me and she leads me through her Son's life, death and resurrection.

But I have to confess that I hold Mary's hand as a bratt with a very short attention span, yet she never fails to offer her hand to me again after I let go of it. She invites me to ponder these misteries in my heart, as she herself did (Lk 2:19), so that I grow in love for her Son, Christ Jesus.

+JMJ+

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

On the road

Fully equipped to then pray the Rosary, I went about it.

I have to say that praying the Rosary didn't change my routine of stopping at that small parish to say my morning prayers. So I figured it'd be better if I prayed the Rosary on my commute back home late in the afternoon, when it's more relaxed.

My commute takes 30min, give or take. However, I found myself getting home with a few beads yet to pray. Granted, I try to mean the words I pray and to turn my mind to the mysteries, at least as much as I can while driving, but I often see people taking as little as 15min to pray the Rosary!

That's when I figured that perhaps the language in which I prayed it might have something to do with my time. My first language is Portuguese and it was just more natural for me to pray a private devotion using the words I had learned since an early age. I gave English a try at the Ave Marias and, lo and behold, I could make it home with a whole Rosary prayed!

Unlike in English, which is mostly monosyllabic, the words in Portuguese, as in other Romance languages, have a few syllables. I found out that a decade in Portuguese took about 7min each, whereas in English, about 5min each. But this is my engineer's approach...

+JMJ+

Sunday, October 02, 2005

In the beginning

I can't say I've ever prayed the Rosary before in a regular basis. As a matter of fact, at all only a couple of times before.

Over 15 years ago, I thought I prayed the Rosary daily, or almost. I had bought a Rosary ring but I just said the Pater and the decades of Ave Marias, skipping the introduction, the closing and announcement of the mysteries. The intention was good, but was I misinformed or what? For many reasons, it didn't last for too long.

Fast-forward to 2004 and I find myself yearning for more intimacy with Jesus Christ outside of Sunday Mass. I decided to aquire the habit of praying in the morning.

Believe it or not, it took me over 5 years to notice a small parish in my commute. I decided to stop by, when I found out that it had a pietà in a grotto outside. So, there I found a place and a time to pray every morning. I came back to my old routine of saying the Pater and a decade of Ave Marias.

Soon after, I decided to add a Salve Regina as well, just to find out that I had forgot it. I looked it up in the Internet and printed it small enough to fit in my wallet until I knew it by heart.

After a while of saying these prayers, it started dawning on me that, as I was at it, I might as well pray as so many saints did: the Rosary. I had already collected a few rosaries which had come in the mail, along with panphlets teaching how to pray the Rosary.

It was a Saturday morning when I said a Rosary by myself for the first time in my life. I was using a panphlet which happened to be up to date including the Luminous mysteries and provided related Scripture passages for each mystery, which I'd rotate every Saturday.

Then Lent 2005 came. It was actually the second Lent in my life which I was going to observe. Having a lot to catch up in Catholic traditions, in spite of being a cradle Catholic, since my first observed Lent I've decided to take the opportunity to get a new pious habit. In 2004 was saying grace before meals, especially family meals. In 2005 I figured that praying the Rosary daily would be a worthy goal.

The only question I had was when? I figured that I could pray the Rosary in my commute... Perhaps not the best place or time to pray the Rosary, but neither a bad place nor a bad time.

Of course, the regular beads don't lend themselves to being held along with the wheel. That's when I came across the "memory rosary", which worked pretty well twofold: easy to hold and, as my commute is not so long, I could stop at any point and get back to it later. I had it blessed and was then ready to start.

+JMJ+