Among the many things to love about the rosary, is the way the various mysteries interconnect and thereby reinforce and enrich each other. In general, the Joyful Mysteries emphasize the virtue of obedience. This obedience is reinforced by the Sorrowful Mysteries. Mary’s “Be it done unto me according to thy word”, in the Annunciation is echoed by Christ’s, “Yet not My will, but Thine be done.” in the Agony in the Garden. And then the Glorious Mysteries reveal the joyful glory of our heavenly reward, which is eternal!
St. Augustine tells us, “And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith” (Apology, Book II, Chapter XII).
Regarding obedience, St. John Bosco was given a horrible vision of Hell in which his guide told him that the most serious sin causing people to be damned in Hell is the sin of disobedience. He explained that while pride is the root of sin, its practical application is disobedience, in other words, prideful disobedience causes the most people to fall from grace and be doomed to Hell. And so between St. Augustine and St. John Bosco, we see that a key to disobedience is the refusal of faith. Had Eve accepted the virtue of faith offered to her, she would not have disobeyed. There is a lesson here for disobedient prelates, but I digress…
St. John tells us in his First Epistle, Chapter Two, “For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever.” Now, it has always been the teaching of the Church, from the earliest times that the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience counteract these sins.
Although these counsels are vowed by those in the consecrated life, we of the lay faithful are urged to practice them according to our state. The lust of the flesh can thereby be counteracted by modesty and faithfulness to one’s spouse, the lust of the eyes, that is greed and consumerism can be counteracted by moderation, humility and self-denial such as fasting and abstaining. But it is with our obedience, which defeats pride, that we progress the best, no matter our state in life. The very best teacher of obedience is Mary, Our Mother.
As we pray the rosary, meditate on her obedience as shown in her humble acceptance of God’s will at the Annunciation. Her generous obedience enabled the Incarnation, which in turn made possible Our Savior’s obedience even unto death on a cross, that we may be freed from sin. Mary’s obedient visit to Elizabeth allowed the Christ Child to sanctify St. John the Baptist while he was yet within his mother’s womb. The Visitation shows that obedient love of God, allowing ourselves to be filled with His love, totally surrendering our wills to Him, overflows naturally to service to our neighbor.
The Nativity exemplifies the obedience of the Holy Family; by obeying the civil law to go to Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary also fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus would be born there. The Holy Family’s poverty models for us humble obedience manifesting itself as abject poverty, which gives room to God Our Father to provide for our true needs. In these dark times, people spend so much time and effort trying to provide for their family’s needs without Our Father’s help, they are too exhausted to have time for Him at all.
In the Presentation, we consider how Jesus, the Son of the Father, all pure, all perfect, yet accepted circumcision and the first shedding of His Precious Blood in obedience to the Mosaic Law. And in the last Joyful Mystery, we see how Jesus, after reminding Mary and Joseph that He “must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2, 49), returned to Nazareth with them and “was subject to them.” (Luke 2, 51).
Obedience is not exactly in fashion these days, but that is precisely why it is so necessary for us, in our spiritual battle, to cultivate it. During this Lent, keep in mind that our obedience is an excellent way to offer sacrifice to Our Lord Jesus Christ for His hierarchy’s disobedience. In these times of confusion, when Church leaders do not teach clearly, we have our Queen’s assurance that she will lead us safely home to her dear Son. Now this assurance from Our Blessed Mother is predicated on our obedience to her commands. This life is but a brief span, eternity is our true home and humble obedience to Mary’s requests is our safest, surest path there.
So there you have it! Pray the Rosary, confound the devil!
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~ evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary