Reflections on the Rosary: The Joyful Mysteries

“Madonna dell Granduca” – A painting by Raphael (1483-1520).

by Jayson M. Brunelle

With Labor Day upon us, the “unofficial” end of summer and the beginning of the truly beautiful season of autumn, Holy Mother Church, in her liturgical calender, presents us with two consecutive months dedicated to Our Lady: September – the Month of Our Lady of Sorrows, and October – the Month of the Most Holy Rosary.  Moreover, within these two months are numerous magnificent feasts of our Lord, our Lady, and many very popular, patron saints to keep in mind.  For instance, in September we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 8th, the Most Holy Name of Mary on the 12th, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the 14th, Our Lady of Sorrows on the 15th,  St. Robert Bellarmine (Doctor of the Church) on the 17th, St. Joseph of Cupertino on the 18th, St. Matthew on the 21st, Padre Pio on the 23rd, St. Vincent de Paul on the 27th, and the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael on the 29th.  Additionally, in October, we begin the month with a number of significant feasts and commemorations: The Little Flower – St. Therese of Lisieux on the 1st, the Holy Guardian Angels on the 2nd, the great St. Francis of Assisi on the 4th, and the great St. Faustina Kowalska (Secretary of Divine Mercy) on the 5th.

This brings us to the great feast to which this series of articles is devoted; namely, the feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, formerly, Our Lady of Victory, celebrated on October 7th.  Wikipedia, the very reputable online encyclopedia,  quite possibly among the largest of information databases in the world, provides a very succinct history of the evolution of this particular feast: “In 1571 Pope Pius V instituted “Our Lady of Victory” as an annual feast to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Lepanto.[1][2][3] The victory was attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a rosary procession had been offered on that day in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the success of the mission of the Holy League to hold back Muslim forces from overrunning Western Europe. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of this feast-day to “Feast of the Holy Rosary”. This feast was extended by Pope Clement XI to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1716, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October. Pope Pius X changed the date to 7 October in 1913, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays” (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_the_Rosary). Continue reading

Pope Benedict XVI: “Mary Suffers With Those Who Are in Affliction”

Our Lady’s Two Popes Embracing

On February 11, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI offered the following reflection on the profound interconnectedness of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Eucharist and salvific suffering.  Continuing in the tradition of his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI underscores the totality of Mary’s “fiat,” or “yes,” to the divine will of the Father concerning her unique participation in the redemption of humanity with her Son, beginning at the annunciation and brought to completion at the foot of the cross.  It is precisely for this reason that Holy Mother Church ascribes to Mary the exalted title of “Co-Redemptrix,” standing, as it were, at the foot of each sick child’s cross.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen ‘The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick’: the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering, is offered to us. Continue reading

The Holy Eucharist: The Central Sacrament

by Jayson M. Brunelle

Christ’s institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist was and is the single greatest gift He left to His Church.  For, it is the fulfillment of His promise to truly be always among us, as he states in Matthew 28:20, “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”  While there are, indeed, multiple and varied presences of Christ, such as when two or three are gathered in His name, when the People of God gather to celebrate the Liturgy, when Sacred Scripture – the Word – is proclaimed, or when the priest acts in Persona Christi while administering and/or officiating at anyof the sacraments, etc., the abiding Eucharistic presence of Christ, with the fullness of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is truly singular in its reality, intensity, substance and fullness.  While the accidents of bread and wine remain, the substance is completely transformed into the Second Person of the Trinity.   This process whereby bread and wine are transformed into the true presence, flesh and blood of Christ is referred to as transubstantiation.  This occurs during the second half of the Sacred Liturgy, or the Liturgy of the Eucharist, specifically during the priest’s prayer of consecration and immediately following the Epiclesis.  Regarding the wholly unique presence of Christ contained within the pre-eminent sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Catechism of th Catholic Church has this to say:  “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all sacraments tend.” In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” Continue reading

Forgiveness: The key to psycho-spiritual freedom

by Jayson M. Brunelle

St. Paul exhorts us to get rid of all envy, jealousy, bitterness and anger.  This admonition ought to be taken quite seriously, as each of these states is profoundly detrimental to the psychological, spiritual and even physical wellbeing of the human person.  The only way to rid ourselves of such negativity, however, is through authentic, sincere forgiveness and prayer.  It is only natural, given our fallen state, to experience such negative emotions and sentiments when we have been wronged or when life has seemingly been unfair to us.  In order to preserve our psycho-spiritual equilibrium, it is absolutely imperative that we learn to forgive, and leave it to God to bring about justice.  Continue reading

Reflections on the Incarnation

by Jayson M. Brunelle

As I mentioned in a previous post, the two most fundamental and foundational mysteries of Christianity are the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation.  I have already reflected on the mystery of the Trinity, pointing out how the earthly family is truly a reflection of the divine family life of God.  Let us now turn our attention to the dogma of the Incarnation, a timely topic as we approach one of the holiest days of the year: Christmas day. Continue reading

A Reflection on the Trinity

by Jayson M. Brunelle

Two of the most fundamental, foundational tenets or dogmas of our Catholic faith are the dogma of the Trinity and the dogma of the Incarnation.  It should be stated from the outset that these truths of the faith are mysteries – that is to say, while we know that they are, we don’t quite know what they are in their fullness.  For as long as we remain pilgrims on this earth, we will never be able to wrap our minds around these two most mysterious truths that lie at the very heart of our beloved faith.  Let’s take a moment to reflect on the first of these mysteries, the Trinity, insofar as human reason will enable us to do so.  The mystery of the Incarnation shall be explored in a future post. Continue reading