Sunday, October 01, 2017

Fr. Perrone on God's greatest weapon - one of very humble means

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, October 1, 2017):
October is the Month of the Holy Rosary.

Have you ever noticed that ever since the Incarnation, God has scaled down His ways? Unlike the days of old Israel when God manifested Himself in grandiose manner and by impressive miracles, since the time of Christ He's generally preferred to work more subtly -- though the cures and signs our Lord performed did amaze people in order to lead them to belief. But the thundering God of the Old Testament did seem to give way to a more gentle countenance in the New Testament. Our Lord presented Himself as one meek and humble of heart. He lived in poverty and showed favor to the underclass, the sick, and to foreigners. His law was the twofold commandment of charity, indicating an interiority not fully known in the laws of the old religion. The most notable instance of Christ's modest self-presentation in the New Testament era was the Holy Eucharist by which He would abide among men in the meanest form of ordinary-looking bread and wine. A certain reserve has thus been characteristic of the Christian religion, despite notable exceptions which have proved the fallibility of many of its adherents. The accent on humility, charity, chastity, kindness and many other related virtues is characteristically Christian and finds its source in the life of Christ Himself and His teaching. But it is also dominant in the person and influential moral presence of the Virgin Mary in the Church. If in the presence of a lady base tendencies are readily restrained and good manners showed, that most Blessed Lady's presence in the Church inspires a vast culture of goodness, virtue, and loveliness to flourish in the lives of men and in the literature, art and architecture of the Church.

The means by which Holy Mary has made Her far-reaching and blest impact upon the church is, like Christ's, modest and unassuming. I'm thinking here in particular about Her rosary, that simplest and most popular prayer which has been the prayer of preference of Christian people in the western part of the Church for many, many centuries, with devotees among clergy, religious, and laity. The illiterate pray it equally well as the learned. Human reason can't adequately account for the universal appeal of the rosary. Its power fascinates and attracts Catholics (and many non-Catholics as well) to it. The rosary has proved to be a mighty spiritual force that converts sinners, obtains miraculous favors, and steadies the moral lives of its devotees. This prayer specifically has been repeatedly requested by the Mother of God Herself as an effective remedy for sin, war, and infidelity. It has calmed turbulent souls, inspired genuine devotion, restrained evil, and obtained particular graces and favors which, one may assume, would not otherwise have been obtained. The efforts that were put forth after the revolutionary "reforms" that followed the Second Vatican Council to discourage Marian devotion generally and the rosary particularly were largely unsuccessful. The rosary has persisted in the devotional life of many Catholics and for some time it has been their enduring lifeline to the Church when impiety and scandal have beset her in modern times. The rosary is a steadying counter force to the ecclesiastical turbulence that has done so much harm to the spiritual sensitivities of people.

This month will be the windup the centenary celebrations of the Fatima apparitions. October 13, 1917 was the time when the spectacular miracle of the sun took place in Portugal, just as Our Lady had predicted that a sign would be forthcoming. The sun appeared to the onlookers to be spinning out of control and heading towards the earth in a destructive descent. Initial wonder gave way to a panicking fear which served to reawaken faith in the witnesses. Thus God at times has reverted to His Old Testament methods of imposing display to reanimate the spiritual life when the more gentle persuasive admonitions are ineffective. Perhaps the recent natural disasters, the threat of international war, and the civil unrest of our times may have a similar effect to bring us to our moral senses. The rosary was offered as a way to avoid the harsh measures of divine governance. In its modest way, the rosary offers an easier way to awaken us from our slothfulness and to cultivate the interior life of grace and holiness. This is that New Testament kind of power by which God makes saints.

Take up the daily rosary and join with your fellow parishioners in saying it after holy Mass.

Fr. Perrone

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