Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Through Her Eyes

A Journey to Jesus

When I met Catholic singer/songwriter Mark Mallett, I had the opportunity to chat with Mark and his wife, Léa, about their ministry and about mine (as the then youth minister at St. Andrew Church, in Oakville. Mark kindly blessed me with a double CD of the Rosary, titled "Through Her Eyes: A Journey to Jesus." I wanted to share with you a bit about that album, and I encourage you to get it (it's available here). And no, I don't get anything from this promotion except the opportunity to return the blessing to Mark Mallett.

"Through Her Eyes" is a great CD set, and a wonderfully helpful way to pray the Rosary (for more on the Rosary, read the article I Shall Not Walk Alone). The album and rosary on it are dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the CD begins by telling of how in AD 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Mexican Native named St. Juan Diego, and told him that she wanted a church built on the hill where he was. However, the bishop didn't believe Juan, and Our Lady appeared to him again, and sent him to the top of the mountain, and told him he would find flowers growing there, in the middle of December! He did, and he tucked the roses in his cloak and went to show the Bishop. When he let the flowers fall out of the cloak, an image of the Virgin remained imprinted on the cloak! This cloak still exists today and has been tested by experts numerous times throughout the years. Their conclusions? They have absolutely no idea how the image was made! Because of these events, a church was built on that site, and within ten years of Our Lady appearing to St. Juan, 9,000,000 people converted to Christianity!

The album continues with the Rosary itself, going through all four sets of mysteries, with a sung Creed, Our Father, and Glory Be kicking off each Rosary, and a sung Hail Holy Queen to conclude. Before each mystery, a text of Scripture describing the mystery is read by Mark with music acting like a soundtrack in the background. When the mystery is meditated on, Mark and Fr. Ray Guimond recite the Hail Marys, while the same music that played during the Scripture plays again, in order to help us meditate! This is amazingly effective, because the music helps create the images of the reading in our heads!

In the Liner Notes to the CD, Mark has this to say about the Rosary and about this project:

The Rosary may be the most misunderstood of Christian prayers.

Pope John Paul II correctly identifies one reason as being an "impoverished" method of praying it (Rosarium Virginis Mariae). I also believe it is because the goal of the Rosary has been largely confused.

The Rosary is all about Jesus. Jesus--and union with Him--is its goal. It is about getting to know Him, love Him, and open ourselves to Him. We do this by meditating on the mysteries of His life, from His conception to His ascension into Heaven (They are called mysteries because how else can you describe God becoming flesh and dwelling among us?) Thus, the Rosary is really just meditating on the Gospels--but doing so in the school of Mary. We look, as it were, through her eyes. We see what she saw, feel what she felt, and hopefully imitate her response, which was perfect. If we surrender ourselves to Jesus as she did, we too shall receive our reward, as expressed in the last Glorious Mystery.

But what about all those repetitious words? Besides the fact we are praying words found in Scripture (and supplicated with "Pray for us sinners..."), it is important to understand their role. Jesus warned against those who supposed multiplication of words would win favour with God. So why 200 Hail Mary's? Think of them this way: as a drum keeps the beat for a song, so too do the Hail Mary's give our meditation a rhythm, allowing our minds to focus on the mystery at hand.

Imagine the mystery to be meditated on as a flower; and the cascade of words as though they were the constant sound of a gentle waterfall behind you. Your focus is on the flower, while the waterfall gently occupies your other senses. The goal is not to think about the words you are saying, but to contemplate the face of Jesus in the mystery.

But even so, this can be difficult. Which is why this album was created: to help focus the mind and intellect on each mystery through music. Unlike other fine musical Rosaries in which the music forms a part of the "waterfall", the scores beneath the Scriptures and decades here are written to aid the imagination in forming a mental picture of the events taking place. The music is the stem of the flower, supporting the beauty of the petals--of Christ's life. For this reason, it sits more prominently against the decades helping to lift the meditations to the foreground. That is, the music may at times seem to compete with the Hail Mary's; rather, it is there to draw your attention from them toward Jesus.

You'll also notice that the music accompanying each Scripture repeats again during the decade--this is the key to praying with this album: as you are saying the Hail Mary's, the music will help you to recall and enter into the events of that mystery. Listen to the music, and allow it to form the meditation in your mind.

Lastly, this album was created to honour our dear Mother (Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of all America and my [i.e. Mark's] ministry), the perfect embodiment of the Christian life. By joining our prayer to hers, she makes it more perfect and even her own, offering it to her Beloved Son, the only mediator between us and the Father.

In making an act of consecration to Mary, I had bought her a bouquet of carnations and placed it at the feet of her statue in the little country church where I married my wife. When I came back later that day, I found the carnations missing. I assumed the cleaner had thrown them out. Instead, I found them at the feet of the statue of Jesus, perfectly arranged in a vase.

This is what Mary does with our prayers, indeed with our very souls if we entrust them to her. She picks us up, brushes us off, wraps us in her mantle of love, and places us gently at the feet of our Brother and Lord. If we let her, she will not only accompany us, but carry us in her arms... on our journey to Jesus.
I love that final illustration, and it was the reason that I asked Mark if I could publish the liner notes here. I really encourage you all to pray the Rosary--get the cd, it's a great help--because through it, I have experienced my own walk with Jesus to be closer, and my understanding and love for Him to be deeper. It's one of the most effective things that we can do as Catholics to grow closer to our Lord. Don't just shrug it off, but make use of this great gift from our Mother!

Pope John Paul II, on the Rosary:
Rediscover the rosary as a simple but very profound prayer. When it is recited well, the rosary leads one into the living experience of the Divine Mystery and brings to hearts, families, and the whole community that peace which we need so much. --Pope John Paul II, summer 2003

The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer....By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way, the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed.

Dear brothers and sisters! A prayer so easy and yet so rich truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian community....I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian families, to you, the sick and elderly, and to you, young people: confidently take up the Rosary once again. Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives....May this appeal of mine not go unheard! --Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae
Let us heed the call!

God bless

(Category: Catholic Devotions: The Rosary.)

1 comment:

Adamgv said...

Check out this new Traditionalist Catholic band that just released their first album.

From what I heard on the samples site, they sound really good.

Introducing the new Christian National Anthem: Guns & Jesus.