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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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...


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.