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The Rosary: A School of Holiness

The Second Vatican Council reminded all the faithful, clergy, religious and laity that we are called to holiness. Holiness is not an option just for a few! Every baptized person is called to holiness, which means to be a saint! And one of the means of achieving sainthood is through the Rosary. Many saints throughout the history of the Church give testimony to the power of the Rosary of transforming souls into Christ from whom our holiness gets its source.

That is why the great Franciscan Mystic and Stigmatist, St. Padre Pio called identified this prayer as “the living Rosary.” One day his superior asked him how many Rosaries he prayed that day. The answer was thirty four. When asked what inheritance he wished to leave his spiritual children, he said: “The Rosary.” (Robert Feeney, 94)

In his wonderful book “Jesus King of Love,” the saintly priest, and the great apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fr. Matero Crawley, once asked a child who after his First Communion, was wont to spend whole hours in an ecstasy of happiness before the Blessed Sacrament: “What would you like to be? An angel? St. Gonzaga? Without a moment’s hesitating and with a heavenly expression on his face, he replied, pointing to the tabernacle, “To be changed into Jesus!” Such is also the simplest and most exact definition of sanctity- to be changed into Jesus. (Fr. Mateo Crawley, 52)

I love Fr. Mateo’s definition of Sanctity: “Sanctity is Jesus assimilated, ever growing and developing in us, supplanting our poor fallen nature and giving us His own. It is Jesus as principle: of our thoughts, our soul, our will, foundation of our joys and source of strength; it is, in short, the practical realization that “to me to live is Christ.” In proportion as we disappear he fills our whole being. This transformation is begun in a mystery of intense faith and it is consummated in a mystery of burning charity.” (Fr. Mateo Crawley, 53)

Thus, sanctity is in a sense the Christian life consisting of imitating of Christ as we participate in His Divine Life. The mystical writers and the saints all say, when we talk of “imitation of Christ,” it simply means: “to put on Christ”, to be transformed into His image, to grow in Him, to live in Him, to be conformed to Him, and to identify with Him. In his book, “The Art of Mental prayer”, Reverend Bede Frost writes: “all these are only different expressions of the same thing. It is less the direct imitation of Jesus than the effort to assimilate to ourselves always more and more the Divine nourishment of grace which makes the Christian another Christ. St. Paul is not afraid to propose to us Jesus Christ as a model in His Divine pre-existence (2 Cor. 8. 9; Phil. 2. 5-7). Why should he not do so, since he exhorts us to imitate God? (Eph. 5. 1 ).

Therefore, the Christian life is not an external, human imitation of a life external to itself, but a participation Jesus’ life upon which human perfection depends and in which it rests. ' So be imitators of God, as beloved children’ (Eph. 5:1), that is, as possessing some real relationship, some real communication with the Life of God. The adoption God’s children resembles that participation in natural filiation,' says St. Thomas. We are able to imitate God since He has made that imitation possible by the gift of His own Life in and through Jesus Christ. (Rev. Bede Frost, 21) In a nutshell, a Christian becomes another Christ. His life is a continuation and extension of the Divine Human life of Jesus, who, as the Council of Trent says,' communicates His own virtue to those who are justified.'(Bede Frost, 21)

All what this means is, the perfect Christian life is that which relives perfectly the life of Christ. This incorporation is accomplished in Mary and Through Mary, Mother of Christians, the divine mold of the sons of God. The Rosary is a most efficacious means of conforming the soul to Mary and to Christ. It presents them models in the entire course of their lives, which have to be relived by the soul.”

And in the words of Dietrich Von Hildebrand, Christ is the Dispenser of a new divine life which transform us and turn us into new men: “Put off the old man who is corrupted according to the desire of error, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” Though we receive this new life in Baptism as a free gift of God, it may not flourish unless we cooperate. “Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste,” say St. Paul. (Dietrich Von Hildebrand, p.4)

Apart from the Sacrament of the Eucharist, there is no other suitable way to unite of ourselves with Christ than the Holy Rosary which is nothing more than Mental and Contemplative prayer. By way of this deep and interior prayer, we are being conformed to Christ, assimilated into His life, transformed into His image and likeness, and we abide Him and He abides in us. St. Augustine had tis mind when he said: “The soul that knows how to pray right knows how to live right.” (Rev. Marc Tremeau, 52) In fact all the masters of the spiritual life teach the practice of constant prayer is an essential characteristic of holiness. It is an indispensable means for the soul to become absorbed in God so that all its thoughts, its decisions, and its activities reflect and manifest its life in God. (“Rev. Marc Tremeau, 52)

So, pray and become what the Rosary is, a holy way of life lived in Jesus, through Jesus and with Jesus by way of Mary’s intercession and her motherly direction.

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Michael Seretny
Michael Seretny
Jun 28, 2020

This is exactly what I love about our vow of Conversatio Morum-the daily conversion to Christ. I am happy to know that in addition to the Eucharist (Mass) and the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary is the third leg of my contemplative life. It is my chance to float in reflection much like Lectio. Thanks for this many layered reflection on imitating Christ. Peace

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