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 follows this obedience and 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.
Obedience and the Joyful Mysteries
As we pray the rosary, meditate on Mary’s 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. In the Second Joyful, 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 love and 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 spiritual poverty, which gives room to God Our Father to provide for our true needs.
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).
From the last Joyful Mystery, we pass to the First Sorrowful, which we just discussed in our post, In the Garden of Olives, a Prayer. This First Sorrowful Mystery carries through the theme of obedience as Jesus echoes His Mother’s words at the Annunciation with ” … not as I will but as Thou wilt”. In fact, the entire Sorrowful Mysteries are a most vivid example of the virtue of obedience by the Master Himself. Sin came into the world by the “Non serviam” of the very first disobedient servant, Satan, and its power over us was only broken by the Suffering (Obedient) Servant who was wounded for our iniquities, He “was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His bruises we are healed.” (Isaiah 53)
Although Our Lord bore the chastisement of our peace that we may be freed from original sin and saved, we shall not receive our peace until we ourselves have followed Him up that path of blood soaked stones to our own cross. For as surely as the Glorious Mysteries follow the Sorrowful, the Resurrection can only follow the Crucifixion. It is only through the fullness of obedience that the fullness of peace may be achieved.
Obedience and the Passion of the Church
As we look around at this poor Church of ours, we cannot but think of that 53rd chapter of Isaiah, ” … there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him.” The visible structure of the Church, as reflected in its shepherds is now made exceedingly unsightly, and we the members carry this burden, our cross.
To the extent that we refuse this burden of reparation for the disobedience of our own shepherds, that is, to the extent that we prefer actions of our own choosing to those obedient and penitential actions commanded by the Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lord Jesus Christ, we fail in obedience.
This is why Sister Lucia told Father Fuentes, “if you despise and repulse this ultimate means, we will not have any more forgiveness from Heaven, because we will have committed a sin which the Gospel calls the sin against the Holy Ghost. This sin consists of openly rejecting, with full knowledge and consent, the salvation which He offers.”
Today, He offers us His Cross, as He proclaimed those many centuries ago,
“And He said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9, 23)
Obedience and the Scourging
Every one of the Sorrowful Mysteries teaches us how very much God’s justice is outraged by sin. The Scourging at the Pillar is a perfect example. Our Savior’s pure and perfectly chaste body was ripped to bloody shreds for our sins of self-indulgence, lust and especially perversion.
Father Groenings reminds us of the many instances in the Old Testament where God proved His hatred for sins of impurity:
“He destroyed the inhabitants of Sodom by fire from heaven. He caused 24,000 men to be put to the sword for having sinned with the daughters of the Moabites. Almost the entire tribe of Benjamin was violently rooted out in punishment of lustful abominations.”
“But how the vice of impurity appears in the eyes of God is shown more clearly by Christ, scourged for us than by all the Divine Judgments of the Mosaic Law itself.” (Groenings, “The Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning)
We shall write more on the meanings of Our Lord’s sufferings in His Passion and their relation to the sufferings of the Church today, Deo volente.
The Obedience of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts
Since our Lord Jesus Christ suffered in His own pure and perfect body the greatest of pains, humiliations and ignominies in order to free us from sin, we too, must be obedient and accept whatever chastisement God’s justice demands of us, for by our obedient submission to sufferings, we unite our hearts with His Sacred Heart, not only for our own salvation, but for all sinners, especially those most in need of His mercy.
It is this generous response that is needed today. We are Mary’s Children first and so we follow her Divine Child to the Cross this holy Lent. And we recall her promise,
“To whoever embraces this devotion (to her Immaculate Heart) I promise salvation. These souls shall be dear to God, as flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.”
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!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies!