IV. The Excellence of the Various Parts of the Rosary – The Sign of the Cross.

IV. The Excellence of the Various Parts of the Rosary – The Sign of the Cross.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

IV. The Excellence of the Various Parts of the Rosary – The Sign of the Cross.

“The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains.”–Ps. lxxxvi, I.

Dear brethren, we have seen in our previous discourses upon the rosary how for more than six centuries the rosary has proved itself a great, indeed a marvelous, power and help in times of stress. This, of course, was apparent from its very origin. It was a special instrument of divine Providence in troublous times of Church and Society. The various parts of the rosary are admirably adapted to exercise such great power and efficacy. The Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Creed, the Glory be to the Father, and the Sign of the Cross, which are said in reciting the rosary, are the most beautiful, the holiest and most excellent of prayers, and for this reason also the most potent and efficacious. The mysteries of our holy faith, which are at the same time meditated upon, embrace the entire work of our redemption, in its work (joyful mysteries), its accomplishment (sorrowful mysteries), and in its fruits (glorious mysteries). Meditation combined with prayer as it is contained in the rosary renders it a perfect prayer. The rosary furthermore is the best means of honoring Mary, and therefore it is the best means for obtaining Mary’s powerful intercession.

That we may understand and perceive the whole beauty and excellence of the rosary let us closely view its component parts, and we will begin to-day by considering the opening of the rosary, namely the sign of the Cross. This has a most sublime meaning, and has of itself great power and efficacy. It is a sign of honor, of blessing and of power. In this threefold aspect let us consider it to-day.

I. The sign of the Cross is, first of all, a mark of honor. It reminds us of the holy Trinity and of our relation to the triune God. The Father has created us, the Son redeemed us, and the Holy Ghost has sanctified us. God the Father created us after His own image, and therefore we bear a resemblance to God in our souls. Our soul is a spirit, as God is a spirit. It has understanding and free will; it can be holy; it can become perfect, since our heavenly Father is perfect. Our soul is immortal, as God is immortal, and it is destined to partake in heaven of divine glory and happiness. Is there not in this resemblance and likeness to God an unspeakably high dignity and glory for man? We are reminded of this by the sign of the Cross. The Son of God redeemed us through the Cross. After sin had reduced the human race to a state of ignominious bondage the Son of God, moved by infinite love, became incarnate for us, in order to make satisfaction for our sins and to remove from us their awful consequences. From slaves of sin and of the devil, He has made us just and children of God. Having been redeemed, we now call God our Father; and Jesus, the Son of the eternal Father, calls us His brethren. Of all this we are reminded by the Cross, for we were redeemed through the Cross, and became children of God and heirs of heaven. Thus the Cross is the glorious sign of our redemption. The Holy Ghost sanctifies us by dwelling in us and making of us His temples. What an honor for us! The sign of the Cross reminds us of this honor.

In truth is therefore this sign a mark of the highest honor, and the Christian’s greatest glory. In this sense the Apostle wrote to the Galatians: “But God forbid that I should glory, but in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. vi, 14). This means, according to Saint Chrysostom: “I glory only in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, namely, in the faith, in grateful remembrance and contemplation of the benefactions of the Cross, through which we were redeemed and have received the grace to lead a devout life and to strive for eternal happiness. In the Cross we recognize thoroughly the enormity of our guilt and the boundless love of God.”

With what love and devotion should we, then, make the sign of the Cross! As often as we sign ourselves with the Cross we profess our belief in the holy Trinity, and in the merciful and blessed work of the redemption, and express our gratitude to the holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It is hard to believe that there are Christians who are ashamed to make the sign of the Cross; and yet: there are many such nowadays. Some act so from motives of cowardly human respect; others because their faith is dead. But to be ashamed of the Cross means a denial of our faith. At all times the sign of the Cross has served as a public and solemn profession of the Christian faith. Thus did in the days of persecution the faithful profess their belief in Christ, and seal their profession with their blood, as the acts of the martyrs record. When the holy Bishop Polycarp was brought before the heathen judge, who said to him, “Deny Christ and you will be free!” Polycarp’s reply was worthy of a true Christian. “It is now over sixty years that I have served Him, and He never did me any harm. How, then, can I deny my beloved Master, King and Saviour?” So speaks the true Christian when an attempt is made to make him deny his God and Redeemer. The sign of the Cross also serves as a mark of distinction from those sects, which centuries ago separated themselves from the mother Church and abandoned the beautiful custom of making the sign of the Cross. It is a great crime, then, to be ashamed of a sign which serves for our honor and distinction. And Jesus Christ says, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his majesty, and of his father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke ix, 26). “But whosoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father, who is in heaven” (Matt, x, 33). Thus does Jesus Christ express Himself concerning those who are ashamed of the glorious sign of the true Christian, and those who reject this sign with contempt.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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