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THE MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY: Meditations by Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Please pray the Rosary everyday and remember the Holy Father and his intentions in your prayers. Please remember my daughter and I and those in our lives in your prayer too (thanks!!) May Our Lady lead you to a deeper conversion to Christ Our Lord, Her Divine Son, and may she keep you and all those in your life under her protective mantle of love and grace. May Jesus Christ be Praised!
Omnia Pro Jesu Per Mariam!!
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(Seen in the light of the principle: The fullness of grace in Jesus and Mary

served as a source of peace and of reparative suffering)

Meditations by Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.


1. The Annunciation

“Ave, gratia plena." From the moment of her immaculate conception, Mary received an initial plenitude of grace excelling that given to all the saints and angels together. Her soul outshone all others, a diamond among lesser jewels. The plenitude of faith, of hope, and of charity that never left off growing in her was given to Mary because of her unique mission in the world as the Mother of God, her divine motherhood surpassing the order of grace and attaining in a sense to the hypostatic order constituted by the personal union of the humanity of Jesus with the Word of God.

This mystery of the Incarnation was announced to Mary and, enlightened by God, she spoke her Fiat with great faith, great peace, and great courage, for she had a presentiment of what sufferings her Son would undergo in fulfilling what the prophets had foretold. After the Fiat, at the moment when the mystery of the Incarnation was realized, the coming of the Word greatly increased Mary's initial fullness of charity. Mary therefore participated and will always participate more fully than anyone else in the effects produced by the yet higher fullness of charity received into Christ's sacred soul at the time of His incarnation. The Word became incarnate to save us by dying on the cross for us. In His sacred soul and in Mary's the fullness of grace produced two apparently contrary but intimately united effects, a deep peace which should find its reflection in us, and a desire for the cross which would continue to heighten until the hour of the Consummatum est.

2. The Visitation

Mary saluted Elizabeth and, as St. Luke recounts, as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the infant which she bore leapt in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Ghost. Lifting up her voice she cried: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy."

Mary, who was to give birth to the Saviour, brought grace to Elizabeth and to the unborn precursor. Mary herself had been redeemed in an absolutely exceptional manner by the future merits of her Son and she concurred in the redemption of us all. From the moment of her immaculate conception she had been redeemed by a sovereign redemption, being preserved from original sin instead of being healed of it. It was fitting that a perfect Redeemer should accomplish a sovereign and preservative redemption in at least one soul, and in that soul more closely associated with Him than any other in the work of man's salvation. Truly, what Jesus merited for us in justice, Mary has merited for us with Him in Him and by Him through the merit of congruity. In this sense it has pleased our Lord that no one should be saved except in consideration of the merits of His Mother. In the same sense it has pleased Him to sanctify the precursor by Mary's words.

3. The Nativity

The Blessed Virgin's fullness of grace increased still more with the birth of the Saviour, when she had the immense joy of giving Him to the world.

Let us relinquish joys which are often all too human and sometimes even dangerous, joys which estrange us from God, that we may live in the high and pure joy springing from the good news of the gospel. The angel said to the shepherds who were guarding their flocks at night: "Behold, I bring to you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: for, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David." The mystery of the Incarnation brings us the joy of the real presence of God among us, of God who continues to live in our midst in the Eucharist. The first effect of grace then begins to radiate upon us all: "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will."

4. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

On the day of the annunciation Mary said her Fiat in peace, with both joy and grief, having some foreknowledge of the Saviour's sufferings, so plainly foretold by Isaias. The Blessed Virgin's grief increased when she was directly enlightened by the prophecy of the aged Simeon clearly predicting: "Behold this Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed."

Presenting her Son in the Temple, Mary offered Him for .us in sorrow; her suffering was, however, intimately united to the profound joy which she experienced when she heard Simeon's words of peace: "Now thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace: because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel."

5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

Our Lord said to Mary and Joseph: "How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" Mary accepted in the obscurity of faith what she could not yet understand, the meaning and depth of the mystery of the Redemption being progressively revealed to her. To find Jesus was a joy, but a joy that carried a foreboding of much suffering.

In the life story of souls, joy comes at the beginning with the glimpse of the desired and distant goal, but afterward our Lord makes us understand that we must adopt austere means to reach it. There should be three great acts in the life of a soul: the joyous desire for the happiness of heaven, the continually renewed choice of the means leading there, al- though they may often be painful, and the possession of the end achieved. These great acts correspond to the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the Rosary, a school for contemplation leading us gently to the living, enlightening, and activating contemplation governing all action.


1. The Agony in the Garden

In His overwhelming sorrow, Jesus remained in perfect conformity to God's will: "My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

Let us compare Jesus' sorrow with ours. We often fashion our own griefs, which lack reason and foundation. At other times our imprudent actions and faults have painful and well merited consequences against which we rebel. It also happens that our Lord sends us very afflicting trials for our purification, and these too, sad to say, are rarely borne well. Let us contemplate our two great models, Jesus and Mary, and we shall understand that the real evil which should give us concern is to be found in the sins that we have committed and in their consequences, wrongdoing which results in the loss of souls. Our Lord suffered because of them according to the measure of His love for His offended Father and for us who have offended Him.

Let us beg Him to teach us how to suffer in a way profitable not only for ourselves but for others as well. Out of something apparently useless, suffering, Christ's love once fashioned something aboundingly fruitful for good. He now in a sense continues His agony until the end of the world in His mystical body, in His cross-bearing members; and the mystical body can no more dispense with reparative suffering, a reflection of Christ's own, than our eyes can do without the light of the sun.

In Gethsemane Jesus wept because of our sins; they made Him suffer a bloody sweat. Let us ask Him for deep and true sorrow for our sins, the holy tears of contrition, spoken of in the beatitude, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."

2. The Scourging

By His wounds Jesus expiated for the guilty voluptuous- ness of men. He is struck, and we are healed. Mary, who saw her Son scourged for us, was not healed but preserved by Him from original sin and its blighting effects. She never knew our sad concupiscence. Sovereignly redeemed by Him, she gave Him the pure blood now shed under the lashes of His executioners that we may be cured of the concupiscence of the flesh, which turns us frol11 God, brings families to ruin and nations to desolation.

Pro peccatis suae gentis

Vidit Jesum in tormentis

Et flagellis subditum.

3. The Crowning of Thorns

Jesus was crowned with thorns in cruelty and derision but the painful crown by which He expiated for our sins of pride flowered into a crown of glory for Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. And Mary, who saw Him go by bearing His crown of thorns, became associated with Him in His glory. “And the king loved her more than all … and he set the royal crown on her head" (Esther 2: 17). Before having her share in His final victory, our Lord allied her with Him in His sufferings, in the intimate peace that continued in the depth of their hearts in spite of everything, and in His desire to be immolated as a perfect holocaust for the salvation of men. The peace of our thorn-crowned Lord not only remained in the depth of His own soul but for two thousand years has radiated on all who meditate in their hearts on His passion and on the humility of both Mother and Son. As Blessed Grignon de Montfort says, the demon, who is pride personified, suffers more by being vanquished by Mary's humility than if he were immediately put down by the all-powerful God.

The humble and thorn-crowned Jesus will be uplifted above all. "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above all names: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."

4. The Carrying of the Cross

"If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

We ought to carry our cross in union with our Saviour. When we bear it holily, it brings us a sweetness which the world cannot know. If we never come to carry our cross as we should, it is because our desire for eternal life wants for strength, life, and ardour. If we recoil before the harshness of the means, it is because our desire for the end lacks energy. We must reanimate our desire, asking the Blessed Virgin to increase it in us, together with our faith, hope, and charity. Then our crosses, because they are carried with more love, have less pain and more merit for us. Charity, the principle of merit, lightens the Saviour's yoke upon us.

Lord, transform our trials. So often they weigh us down profitlessly; let them bring us onward to our end and become for us and for others a pledge of eternal salvation.

The carrying of the cross reminds us, as it has been said, that life holds but one real misfortune, more evident in times of sorrow and danger than at others, the misfortune of not being a saint. We are absolutely sure of not having to bear more than we are able, God's grace aiding us. We are also sure of our guide and have but to follow in His footsteps.

5. The Crucifixion

Jesus is going to die in terrible physical and moral suffering, and the apostles, with the exception of St. John, have left Him. The Mother of Sorrows stands at the cross making the greatest act of faith and hope that has ever existed. The Crucified has more than faith and hope: He preserves even in His anguish the vision of the divine essence. But He limits its glory to the apex of His intellect that He may give Himself up to sorrow. He seems overcome, His work appears destroyed, even His disciples have all fled. Not for an instant, however, does Mary cease to believe that He is the Saviour, the Word of God made flesh, and that He will arise again in three days as He foretold. She has a greater understanding of the seven words that He spoke than anyone else could ever have. She offers to the Father a Son whom she not only cherishes but rightly adores. With all the love which she is capable of she offers to the Father the still greater love of Him who hangs dying on the cross for us. Because of this offering she has received a final plenitude of grace constituting her more than ever the Mother of men, the co-redemptrix, the universal mediatrix.

To Mary who "bore the death of Christ within her" let us say Fac ut portem Christi mortem. Let us ask her to share with us the two great effects of her fullness of grace: peace and the desire for the cross. May she help us to love the cross as all the saints have loved it; may she obtain for us an ever livelier and deeper understanding of the mystery of the Redemption and of the infinite value of the Mass by which it is perpetuated upon our altars.


1. The Resurrection

Jesus is victor over death because on the cross He vanquished sin and Satan. He could say to His apostles, "I have overcome the world," for He had overcome that spirit of the world which is compounded of concupiscence and pride. We have in the resurrection a striking evidence of this victory. Is not death the result and punishment of sin? Victory over death then follows as the result of victory over sin, a fact which led St. Paul to say, "And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins."

Such is the meaning of the resurrection and of the glorious mysteries following after it. The joyful mysteries speak the delight springing from the first eager desire for the end seen afar off; the sorrowful mysteries remind us of the severe means that we must use in daily carrying our cross; the glorious mysteries tell us of our final conquest, introducing us into eternal life, our destination and last end. Toward this glory all our joys and sorrows should be directed, as Jesus and Mary directed all the joys of His childhood and all the sorrows of His passion, uniting in offering the same holocaust. Let us contemplate these two great models and consider how we ought to imitate them every day of our lives, striving always more generously toward the end to which they desire to bring us.

2. The Ascension

Jesus was lifted up to heaven and placed on the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever over the minds and hearts of men. With Him the souls of the just entered heaven to enjoy the beatific vision according to the measure of their merits and the degree of their charity. The Blessed Virgin had a degree of charity higher than that of all the saints together. Why did she not follow her Son immediately? She remained with the Church militant as its animating, suffering, meriting heart, sustaining the apostles in their difficult labours. Our Lord deprived the apostles of His visible presence, but He left them His mother for their consolation. The new-born Church owed its development to the past merits of the Saviour and also in Him, by Him, and with Him, to the prayer and suffering love of the Blessed Virgin, the spiritual mother of all men.

3. Pentecost

The Holy Ghost descended visibly in the form of tongues of fire on the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. Let us think of this new increase of grace produced in Mary's soul. As the falling stone drops earthward with greater and greater speed as the earth's attraction increases, the Blessed Virgin's soul was drawn more strongly to God as she drew nearer to Him. The initial plenitude of charity which she received at the moment of her immaculate conception surpassed that of all the great saints. What a marvelous upsurge of love she must have known as her life went on! The law of gravity is only a kind of reflection of an incomparably higher law ruling the tendency of all creatures, especially spirits, to God. If they freely follow the double inclination of nature and of grace, spirits tend toward God with ever increasing love until they reach Him, their journey's end. The nearer they come to God, the more He attracts them: a truth we see verified on the day of Pentecost in the souls of the apostles but especially in Mary's soul for no sin or imperfection held back the flight of her charity.

If the sacerdotal character was not given to her, she did receive the fullness of the spirit of the priesthood, the spirit of the redeeming Christ, and this she transmitted to the apostles, whom her prayer and interior immolation were to sustain in their great labours and struggles.

Through the hands of the most Blessed Virgin, let us consecrate ourselves to the Holy Ghost, asking Him to make us henceforth docile to His precious inspirations, which we have so often wasted. Let us also ask for apostles, strong priestly vocations, begging for many, but above all, for generous workers. Our Lord desires more than we do to perpetuate His priesthood and to save souls; we shall greatly please His divine heart by obtaining through Him, with Him, and in Him efficacious graces for the formation of a chosen and faithful following who will continue worthily the apostolate of His first disciples and apostles, using the same supernatural means which they used.

4. The Assumption

The Blessed Virgin died of love, her soul ravished out of her body by the strength of her love for God. Swept up to heaven by the flight of her charity, her soul was not long separated from her body, which had no contact either with original or actual sin and was not to become acquainted with the corruption of the tomb. Our Lord advanced the day of resurrection for His Blessed Mother, making her His companion in His victory over death because she was more closely associated with Him than anyone else in His victory over sin on Calvary.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Through the merits of thy Son and through thy intercession for us we can work out our salvation. Make us understand that for those who love the Lord and love Him unto the end, all things work together unto good, omnia cooperantur in bonum. Make us to be numbered among those who continue to love until the end; obtain for us the grace of final perseverance, the grace of a good death. Then we shall see that through God's goodness, the merits of thy Son, and thy prayers, everything in our lives has turned into good; everything−natural qualities, efforts, all the graces received since baptism, all the absolutions and Communions, all the defeats and crosses and contradictions, and even all the sins, for, as St. Augustine says, the Lord permits sin in the life of His elect only that He may bring them to a deeper knowledge of themselves, to true humility, that rising again after their fall, they may go on to greater gratitude and love.

5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Blessed Mother is exalted above the choirs of angels: “exaltata est super choros angelorum, ad celestia regna." As we can form no idea of the final plenitude of charity which her holy soul possessed at the hour of death, neither can we determine the corresponding brilliance of the light of glory which she received nor the intensity of her vision into the most holy depths of the divine essence. She is queen of angels, of patriarchs, of prophets, of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins, and of all saints, but she ever remains more our mother than our queen.

Let us keep asking her continually until death for the grace of the present moment. This is the grace that we beg of her when we pray, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now.... We plead for this most particular grace, which changes with each changing moment, makes us equal to the duties of the whole day, and opens our minds to the greatness of all those small things that bear a relationship to eternity. When we say "now" even if we may be distracted, Mary is not and listens to us, graciously receiving our prayer, and the grace necessary for us to continue praying, suffering, or doing at the present moment comes to us like a breath of air. Let us ask for the grace to live to the full the richness of the passing moment, especially the time of prayer. We can fall into a hasty and mechanical way of saying the Rosary and the Divine Office that militates against contemplation. Preserve us, O Mary, from such materialism. During the present escaping moment not only our body and its impressionable appetites exist but our spiritual soul lives too and Christ lives and exerts His influence over us and the Blessed Trinity lives and dwells within us. Let us abandon to God's infinite mercy everything in our past and in our future and live practically and sublimely in the present moment, seeing in this fleeting now, whether it be dull or joyful or full of pain, a distant image of the unique instant of changeless eternity and, because of the actual grace which it contains, a living proof of God's fatherly goodness.

Deign, O Blessed Virgin, to make us recognize the holy demands of God's love for us at the present moment of our lives: He requires more of us now than before, because grace is meant to go on increasing until the time of death and, if we follow the divine plan, our whole life will be a direct journey to eternity, travelled ever more and more quickly as God draws us more and more strongly to Himself.
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