Most important passages from The Secret of the Rosary
…use it as a means to convert the most hardened sinners and the most obstinate heretics.
When the Holy Spirit has revealed this secret to a priest and director of souls, how blessed is that priest! For the vast majority of people fail to know this secret or else only know it superficially . If such a priest really understands this secret he will say the Rosary every day and will encourage others to say it. God and His Blessed Mother will pour abundant grace into his soul, so that he may become God’s instrument for His glory;
and his word, though simple, will do more good in one month than that of other preachers in several years .
Therefore, my dear brethren and fellow priests , it will not be enough for us to preach this devotion to others; we must practise it ourselves. Even if we firmly believed in the importance of the Holy Rosary but never said it ourselves, people could hardly be expected to act upon our advice, for no one can give what he does not have: “Jesus began to do and to teach.”
If you say the Rosary faithfully until death , I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins “you shall receive a never fading crown of glory.” Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practise black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul , if—-and mark well what I say—-if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.
If it is carefully watered and properly attended to every day it will grow to such a marvelous height …
So please do not scorn this beautiful and heavenly tree, but plant it with your own hands in the garden of your soul, making the resolution to say your Rosary every day. By saying it daily and by doing good works you will be tending your tree, watering it, hoeing the earth around it.
“I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter .”
THIS MIRACULOUS WAY in which the devotion to the Holy Rosary was established is something of a parallel to the way in which Almighty God gave His law to the world on Mount Sinai and obviously proves its value and importance .
One day he had to preach at Notre Dame in Paris….So he began preaching the Holy Rosary and explained the Hail Mary word by word [this shows the necessity of learning the Ave Maria’s deep significances word by word] as he would to a group of children and used the very simple illustrations which were in the book Our Lady had given him.
‘But many priests want to preach thunderously against the worst kinds of sin at the very outset, failing to realize that before a sick person is given bitter medicine he needs to be prepared by being put in the right frame of mind to really benefit by it.
“This is why, before doing anything else , priests should try to kindle a love of prayer in people’s hearts and especially a love of my Angelic Psalter . If only they would all start saying it and would really persevere, God, in His mercy, could hardly refuse to give them His grace. So I want you to preach my Rosary.’ ”
In another place Blessed Alan says: “All priests say a Hail Mary with the faithful before preaching, to ask for God’s grace. They do this because of a revelation that Saint Dominic had from Our Lady. ‘My son,’ she said one day ‘do not be surprised that your sermons fail to bear the results you had hoped for . You are trying to cultivate a piece of ground which has not had any rain. Now when Almighty God planned to renew the face of the earth He started by sending down rain from Heaven—-and this was the Angelic Salutation. In this way God made over the world.
‘So when you give a sermon, urge people to say my Rosary, and in this way your words will bear much fruit for souls.’
… since people have neglected this gift from Heaven, all kinds of sin and disorder have spread far and wide. [Let us be careful not to neglect this gift from Heaven; otherwise all kinds of sin and disorder will reign in our souls]
… the wicked scheming and jealousy of the devil were largely responsible for getting people to neglect the Holy Rosary, and thus block the flow of God’s grace which it had drawn down upon the world.
Thus, in 1349, God punished the whole of Europe and sent the most terrible plague [Black Plague] that had ever been known into every land.
This scourge of God was quickly followed by two others: the heresy of the Flagellantes and a tragic schism in 1376.
“… You are crucifying Me again now because you have all the learning and understanding that you need to preach My Mother’s Rosary, and you are not doing so. If you only did this you could teach many souls the right path and lead them away from sin—-but you are not doing it and so you yourself are guilty of the sins that they commit.”
“See the wonderful results I have had through preaching the Holy Rosary! You and all those who love Our Lady ought to do the same so that, by means of this holy practice of the Rosary, you may draw all people to the real science of the virtues.”
The rose is the queen of flowers, and so the Rosary is the rose of all devotions and it is therefore the most important one.
EIGHTH ROSE: MARVELS OF THE ROSARY
IT WOULD HARDLY be possible for me to put into words how much Our Lady esteems the Rosary. Neither can I sufficiently express how highly she rewards those who work to preach the devotion, to establish it and spread it, nor on the other hand how firmly she punishes those who work against it.
ELEVENTH ROSE: THE CREED
Whosoever wishes to come to God must first of all believe , and the greater his faith the more merit his prayer will have, the more powerful it will be , and the more it will glorify God.
I shall not take time here to explain the Creed word for word but I cannot resist saying that the first few words “ Credo in Deum ” ( “I believe in God” ) are marvelously effective as a means of sanctifying our souls and of putting devils to rout, because these three words contain the acts of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.
The Holy Rosary contains many mysteries of Jesus and Mary , and since faith is the only key which opens up these mysteries for us , we must begin the Rosary by saying the Creed very devoutly , and the stronger our faith the more merit our Rosary will have.
This faith must be lively and informed by charity; in other words, to recite properly the Rosary, it is necessary to be in God’s grace [state of grace as opposed to state of perdition] , or at least in quest of it . This faith must be strong and constant, that is, one must not be looking for sensible devotion and spiritual consolation in the recitation of the Rosary; nor should one give it up because his mind is flooded with countless involuntary distractions or one experiences a strange distaste in the soul and an almost continual and oppressive fatigue in the body. Neither feeling, nor consolation, nor sighs, nor transports, nor the continual application of the imagination are needed; pure faith and good intentions are quite enough. Sola fides sufficit .” Faith alone suffices.” [This quote is from the Pange Lingua compsed by St. Thomas Aquinas]
TWELFTH ROSE: THE OUR FATHER, PART 1
THE OUR FATHER or the Lord’s Prayer has great value—-above all because of its Author Who is neither a man nor an Angel, but the King of Angels and men, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we get into, made His Prayer short and easy to say, so that if we say it devoutly and often we can be sure that Almighty God will quickly come to our aid.
People who say Our Lord’s Prayer carefully , weighing every word and meditating upon it, may indeed call themselves blessed for they find therein everything that they need or can wish for .
Among Catholics, those who bear the sign of reprobation hardly care for the Chaplet or for the Rosary, neglecting to say it or saying it only with tepidity and with haste.
Even if I did not believe what was revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche, even then my own experience would be enough to convince me of this terrible but consoling truth. I do not know, nor do I see clearly, how it can be that a devotion which seems to be so small can be the infallible sign of eternal salvation, and how its absence can be the sign of God’s eternal displeasure; nevertheless, nothing could be more true .
My Hail Mary, my Rosary of fifteen or of five decades, is the prayer and the infallible touchstone by which I can tell those who are led by the Spirit of God from those who are deceived by the devil. I have known souls who seemed to soar like eagles to the heights by their sublime contemplation and who yet were pitifully led astray by the devil. I only found out how wrong they were when I learned that they scorned the Hail Mary and the Rosary which they considered as being far beneath them.
The Hail Mary is a blessed dew that falls from Heaven upon the souls of the predestinate. It gives them a marvelous spiritual fertility so that they can grow in all virtues. The more the garden of the soul is watered by this prayer the more enlightened one’s intellect becomes, the more zealous his heart, and the stronger his armor against his spiritual enemies. [ when we make sign of the cross let us think of these three effects]
The Hail Mary is a spear piercing and inflamed which, joined to the Word of God, gives the preacher the strength to pierce, move and convert the most hardened hearts even if he has little or no natural gift for preaching .
As I have already said, this was the great secret that Our Lady taught Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan so that they might convert heretics and sinners.
Saint Antoninus tells us that this is why many priests got into the habit of saying a Hail Mary at the beginning of their sermons. [St. Alphonsus recommends praying the Ave before and after every action]
One day Saint Gertrude had a vision of Our Lord counting gold coins. She summoned the courage to ask Him what He was doing. He answered: “I am counting the Hail Marys that you have said; this is the money with which you can pay your way to Heaven.”
It has but few words but is exceeding rich in mystery; it is sweeter than honey and more precious than gold. We should often meditate upon it in our hearts and have it ever upon our lips so as to say it devoutly again and again.”
Blessed Alan also relates that a nun who had always had a great devotion to the Rosary appeared after her death to one of her sisters in religion and said to her, “If I were able to return in my body to have the chance of saying just a single Hail Mary, even without great fervour , I would gladly go through the sufferings that I had during my last illness all over again, in order to gain the merit of this prayer” It is to be noted that she had been bedridden and suffered agonizing pains for several years before she died.
59. No one could help admiring the excellence of the holy Rosary, made up as it is of these two divine parts: the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation. How could there be any prayers more pleasing to God and to the Blessed Virgin, or any that are easier, more precious, or more helpful than these two prayers? We should always have them in our hearts and on our lips to honour the most Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ our Saviour and his most holy Mother.
60. A mystery is a sacred thing which is difficult to understand. The works of our Lord Jesus Christ are all sacred and divine because he is God and man at one and the same time. The works of the Blessed Virgin are very holy because she is the most perfect and the most pure of God’s creatures. The works of our Lord and of his blessed Mother can rightly be called mysteries because they are so full of wonders, of all kinds of perfections, and of deep and sublime truths, which the Holy Spirit reveals to the humble and simple souls who honour these mysteries.
The works of Jesus and Mary can also be called wonderful flowers, but their fragrance and beauty can only be appreciated by those who approach them, who breathe in their fragrance, and who discover their beauty by diligent and serious meditation.
61. St. Dominic divided the lives of our Lord and our Lady into fifteen mysteries, which stand for their virtues and their most important actions. These are fifteen pictures whose every detail must rule and inspire our lives. They are fifteen flaming torches to guide our steps throughout this earthly life; fifteen shining mirrors to help us to know Jesus and Mary, to know ourselves and to light the fire of their love in our hearts; fifteen fiery furnaces to consume us completely in their heavenly flames.
Our Lady taught Saint Dominic this excellent method of praying and ordered him to preach it far and wide so as to reawaken the fervour of Christians and to revive in their hearts a love for our Blessed Lord.
Rosary said without the meditation on the sacred mysteries of our salvation would almost be a body without a soul, excellent matter, but without the form, which is the meditation, and which distinguishes it from other devotions .
65. The chief concern of the Christian should be to tend to perfection . “Be faithful imitators of God, as his well-beloved children,” the great Apostle tells us. This obligation is included in the eternal decree of our predestination, as the one and only means prescribed by God to attain everlasting glory.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes a delightful comparison when he says that we are all artists and that our souls are blank canvasses which we have to fill in. The colours which we use are the Christian virtues, and the original which we have to copy is Jesus Christ, the perfect living image of God the Father. Just as a painter who wants to do a life-like portrait places the model before his eyes and looks at it before making each stroke, so the Christian must always have before his eyes the life and virtues of Jesus Christ, so as never to say, think or do anything which is not in conformity with his model.
66. It was because our Lady wanted to help us in the great task of working out our salvation that she ordered Saint Dominic to teach the faithful to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. She did this, not only that they might adore and glorify him, but chiefly that they might pattern their lives and actions on his virtues.
67. Long ago, Moses was inspired by God to command the Jewish people never to forget the graces which had been showered upon them. The Son of God has all the more reason to command us to engrave the mysteries of his life, passion and glory upon our hearts and to have them always before our eyes, since each mystery reminds us of his goodness to us in some special way and it is by these mysteries that he has shown us his overwhelming love and desire for our salvation.
71. The saints made our Lord’s life the principal object of their study; they meditated on his virtues and his sufferings, and in this way arrived at Christian perfection .
Let us meditate, then, on the life and sufferings of our Saviour by means of the holy Rosary; let us learn to know him well and to be grateful for all his blessings , so that, on the day of Judgment, he may number us among his children and his friends.
If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation is just as much incumbent on the laity, because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might cause them to lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues, and sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which are presented to us in the fifteen mysteries of the holy Rosary.
If by chance your conscience is burdened with sin, take your Rosary and say at least a part of it in honour of some of the mysteries of the life, passion, and glory of Jesus Christ, and you can be sure that, while you are meditating on these mysteries and honouring them, he will show his sacred wounds to his Father in heaven. He will plead for you and obtain for you contrition and the forgiveness of your sins. One day our Lord said to Blessed Alan, “If only these poor wretched sinners would say my Rosary often , they would share in the merits of my passion, and I would be their Advocate and would appease the justice of God.”
84. This life is a continual war and a series of temptations; we do not have to contend with enemies of flesh and blood, but with the very powers of hell. What better weapon could we possibly use to combat them than the prayer which our great Leader has taught us, than the Angelic Salutation which has put the devils to flight, destroyed sin and renewed the world? What better weapon could we use than meditation on the life and passion of Jesus Christ? For, as Saint Peter tells us, it is with this thought that we must arm ourselves, in order to defend ourselves against the very same enemies whom he has conquered and who molest us every day.
85. So arm yourself with the arms of God, with the holy Rosary, and you will crush the devil’s head and stand firm in the face of all his temptations. That is why even a pair of rosary beads is so terrible to the devil , and why the saints have used them to fetter him and drive him from the bodies of those who were possessed. Such happenings have been recorded more than once.
86. Blessed Alan relates that a man he knew had tried desperately all kinds of devotions to rid himself of the evil spirit which possessed him, but without success. Finally, he thought of wearing his rosary round his neck , which eased him considerably. He discovered that whenever he took it off the devil tormented him cruelly, so he resolved to wear it night and day . This drove the evil spirit away forever because he could not bear such a terrible chain. Blessed Alan also testifies that he delivered a great number of those who were possessed by putting a rosary round their necks.
88. St. Augustine assures us that there is no spiritual exercise more fruitful or more useful than the frequent reflection on the sufferings of our Lord. Blessed Albert the Great, who had St. Thomas Aquinas as his student, learned in a revelation that by simply thinking of or meditating on the passion of Jesus Christ, a Christian gains more merit than if he had fasted on bread and water every Friday for a year, or had beaten himself with the discipline once a week till blood flowed, or had recited the whole Book of Psalms every day. If this is so, then how great must be the merit we can gain from the Rosary, which commemorates the whole life and passion of our Lord?
Our Lady one day revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche that , after the holy sacrifice of the Mass , which is the first and most living memorial of our Lord’s passion, there was indeed no more excellent devotion or one of greater merit than that of the Rosary, which is like a second memorial and representation of the life and passion of Jesus Christ.
“Now that we are forced to speak, we must also tell you that nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins by which they obtain pardon and mercy.”
Then St. Dominic had all the people say the Rosary extremely slowly [(necessity of saying the Rosary extremely slowly. St. Francis de Sales recited a chaplet (5 decades) in one hour everyday)] and with great devotion…
113. I, who write this, have learnt from my own experience that the Rosary has the power to convert even the most hardened hearts. I have known people who have gone to missions and heard sermons on the most terrifying subjects without being in the least moved ; and yet, after they had, on my advice, started to say the Rosary every day , they eventually became converted and gave themselves completely to God.
When I have gone back to parishes where I had given missions, I have seen tremendous differences between them; in those parishes where the people had given up the Rosary, they had generally fallen back into their sinful ways, whereas in places where the Rosary was said faithfully I found the people were persevering in the grace of God and advancing in virtue day by day.
Dear reader, if you practice and preach this devotion, you will learn more, by your own experience, than from spiritual books. [The only ‘book’ of St. Germaine — an incorrupt saint — was the Rosary]
116. It. is not so much the length of a prayer as the fervour with which it is said which pleases God and touches his heart. A single Hail Mary said properly is worth more than a hundred and fifty said badly. Most Catholics say the Rosary, either the whole fifteen mysteries or five of them, or at least a few decades. Why is it then that so few of them give up their sins and make progress in virtue, if not because they are not saying them as they should. [Most Catholics are saying the Rosary unworthily]
1. Firstly, to say the holy Rosary with advantage one must be in a state of grace or at least be fully determined to give up sin… “These people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6).
… because sinners, of course, need to pray far more than good people.
…These presumptuous and impenitent devotees, hiding under her mantle, with the scapular round their necks and the rosary in their hands, cry out, “Blessed Virgin, good Mother, Hail Mary,” and yet at the same time they are crucifying Jesus Christ and tearing his flesh anew by their sins.
119. In order to pray well, it is not enough to give expression to our petitions by means of that most excellent of all prayers, the Rosary, but we must also pray with great attention , for God listens more to the voice of the heart than that of the mouth. To be guilty of deliberate distractions during prayer would show a great lack of respect and reverence; it would make our Rosaries unfruitful and make us guilty of sin .
People who do that forfeit God’s blessing, which is changed into a curse for having treated the things of God disrespectfully: “Cursed be the one who does God’s work negligently.” Jer. 48:10.
120. Of course, you cannot say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions … you must take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination.
To do this, put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that God and his Blessed Mother are watching you, and that your guardian angel is at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys , if they are well said , and using them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. But remember that at your left hand is the devil, ready to pounce on every Hail Mary that comes his way and to write it down in his book of death, if they are not said with attention, devotion, and reverence . Above all, do not fail to offer up each decade in honour of one of the mysteries, and try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with that mystery.
“What you have just said is worthless. It is useless for you to say the Rosary. You had better get on with other things. It is only a waste of time to pray without paying attention to what you are saying; half-an-hour’s meditation or some spiritual reading would be much better. Tomorrow, when you are not feeling so sluggish, you’ll pray better; leave the rest of your Rosary till then.” By tricks of this kind the devil gets us to give up the Rosary altogether or to say it less often , and we keep putting it off or change to some other devotion.
Always remember that the best Rosary is the one with the most merit, and there is more merit in praying when it is hard than when it is easy. Prayer is all the harder when it is, naturally speaking, distasteful to the soul and is filled with those annoying little ants and flies running about in your imagination, against your will, and scarcely allowing you the time to enjoy a little peace and appreciate the beauty of what you are saying.
[It is to be noted that there is no merit when the difficulty could have been prevented by preparation.]
125. Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary, be sure to fight well, arms in hand: that is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is difficult to say and you have no sensible devotion . It is a terrible battle, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul. If you put down your arms, that is, if you give up the Rosary, you will be admitting defeat and then the devil, having got what he wanted, will leave you in peace, and on the day of judgment will taunt you because of your faithlessness and lack of courage. “He who is faithful in little things will also be faithful in those that are greater.” Luke 16:10.
He who is faithful in rejecting the smallest distractions when he says even the smallest prayer, will also be faithful in great things. Nothing is more certain, since the Holy Spirit has told us so.
Do not let the multitude of flies (as I call the distractions that make war on you during prayer) make you abandon the company of Jesus and Mary, in whose holy presence you are when saying the Rosary.
126. After you have invoked the Holy Spirit, in order to say your Rosary well , place yourself for a moment in the presence of God and make the offering of the decades in the way I will show you later.
Before beginning a decade, pause for a moment or two, depending on how much time you have, and contemplate
the mystery that you are about to honour in that decade. Always be sure to ask, by this mystery and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, for one of the virtues that shines forth most in this mystery or one of which you are in particular need.
Take great care to avoid the two pitfalls that most people fall into during the Rosary. The first is the danger of not asking for any graces at all, so that if some good people were asked their Rosary intention they would not know what to say. So, whenever you say your Rosary, be sure to ask for some special grace or virtue , or strength to overcome some sin.
127 . It is a pity to see how the majority say their chain or their Rosary. They say it with an astonishing precipitation and they eat even a part of the words. One would not like to make a compliment in this ridiculous way to the last of men, and one thinks that Jesus and Mar y will be honoured with it!
After that, should one be astonished if the holiest prayers of the Christian religion remain without any fruit, and if, after thousand and ten thousand Rosaries recited, one is not more holy?
I beg you to restrain your natural precipitation when saying your Rosary, and make some pauses in the middle of the Our Father and Hail Mary , and a smaller one after the words of the Our Father and Hail Mary which I have marked with a cross, as follows:
Our Father who art in heaven, + hallowed by thy name, + thy kingdom come, + thy will be done + on earth as it is in heaven. + Give us this day + our daily bread, + and forgive us our trespasses + as we forgive those who trespass against us, + and lead us not into temptation, + but deliver us from evil. Amen. +
Hail, Mary, full of grace, + the Lord is with thee, + blessed art thou among women, + and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. +
Holy Mary, Mother of God, + pray for us sinners, now + and at the hour of our death. Amen. +
At first, you may find it difficult to make these pauses because of your bad habit of saying prayers in a hurry; but a decade said recollectedly in this way will be worth more than thousands of Rosaries said in a hurry, without pausing or reflecting.
Even if you suffer from dryness of soul, distaste for prayer and interior discouragement, never give up the least part of your Rosary; this would be a sign of pride and infidelity; but like a brave champion of Jesus and Mary, say your Our Fathers and Hail Marys in your dryness, without seeing, feeling, or appreciating, and concentrating as best you can on the mysteries.
You have a long way to travel, there will be bad times to weather, many difficulties to overcome, and many enemies to defeat before you will have stored up enough treasures for eternity, enough Our Fathers and Hail Marys with which to buy your way to heaven and win the glorious crown .
147. Believe me, it is only the violent who take it by force. These crowns are not for the timid who are afraid of this world’s ridicules and threats, neither are they for the lazy and indolent who only say their Rosary carelessly, or hastily, just for the sake of getting it over with. The same applies to people who say it intermittently, as the spirit moves them. These crowns are not for cowards who lose heart and lay down their arms as soon as they see hell is let loose against their Rosary.