Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Da rosas, nam Regina! ~ Give roses, for the Queen! And The First Joyful Mystery ~ The Annunciation


DATING BACK TO THE MIDDLE AGES, a rosarium is a garden where only roses are collected and cultivated. Roses are considered to be the most beautiful, elegant and prized of all the flowers. A rosarium is most often enclosed by a fence, stone wall or hedge, inviting privacy, quiet, contemplation and the enjoyment of beauty. The word rosary has come to mean the string of beads one uses to pray while considering the lives of  Jesus and Mary.

So here is a link of unusual delicacy - that while we're praying the rosary, we're offering Our Lady roses! Indeed, each Hail Mary (the prayer which echoes the words of the Archangel Gabriel and Mary's relative, Elizabeth) can become a rose selected from your own inner enclosed rosarium.

Here then are three collections of meditations which I have composed, each set containing five scenes from the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. The Luminous Mysteries can be found in the posts just prior to this one. Each of the scenes contains a collection of ten very short meditations for us to consider, so that our prayer will remain focused and thoughtful.

The rose at the head of the reflections serves to remind us that the Hail Mary is our gift. A decade then (the groups of ten) is a bundle of roses: white for Joyful Mysteries, red for Sorrowful Mysteries, yellow for Glorious Mysteries.

Mary calls herself, servant (Luke 1:38), while we call her queen. And we've all seen pictures of queens coming to pay visits to towns and villages. Long lines of people, with children up front, stand waiting to give small bouquets of flowers to the queen. Even a little child with the tiniest bouquet waits with excitement and anticipation, hoping the queen will pass and the gift can be made person, in humility and joy. The prayer-bouquet then mustn't be put together sloppily or hurriedly. I must consider what I'm doing in my prayer, like placing flowers together nicely, giving each consideration. This will help us to put away that praying of the rosary which is often made ugly by racing - "rattling" Jesus says (Matthew 6:7-8).

The whole rosary doesn't need to be prayed in one sitting; it can be spread out over the course of the day or longer. Prayer should refresh, not exhaust us, and so a few moments of silence can be introduced between the reflection and the Hail Mary.


The First Joyful Mystery

The Annunciation



John Collier painted this Annunciation in 2000 for the Church of Saint Gabriel in McKinney, Texas. Isn't it wonderful that someone is interested in painting the Annunciation in a contemporary setting? This indicates that Mr. Collier understands that the Mysteries of God - the bright closeness of God - is for every age in every place - that these things are  forever and not moments lost in time. What makes the painting so reflective is that Mr. Collier has included some traditional elements, like the lily placed on the porch, that the angel has wings and is wearing a robe, that Mary is dressed in blue. But there are other elements that are surprising and delightful: that Mary is wearing saddle shoes which suggests she is quite young, that there is a breeze against her dress reminding us of the breath of God in the story of our creation, that the light indicates it is morning (the start of something new), that the neighborhood is one we might know from our own American experience. We might read the gospel account of the Annunciation before praying this decade ( Luke 1:26-38).




Our Father, Who art in heaven...

Coming from heaven, an angel must be terrifying. And so in kindness, Gabriel said to Mary, Don't be afraid. Why would I be frightened at the appearance of an angel? Perhaps fearful of what God might ask of me?

Hail Mary, full of grace...

As the angel appeared to Mary and invited her not to fear, I'm to think of the other angel, at the end of the gospel-story, at the tomb of Easter morning. Already the gospel is getting me ready for the Resurrection of Jesus: Love that refuses to lose me!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

I should acknowledge that Mary likely had her own life-plans. But she put these aside as God revealed His urgent request. As I ponder my own life-plans, am I open, Mary-like, to what God surely has in mind for me?

Hail Mary, full of grace...

I must remember too that Mary is going to have to tell Joseph of her pregnancy and that the expected baby is not his! Talk about trusting that things will work out; that God is in charge!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The baby will be great, the angel told Mary. He'll be great in having followers down through the ages. He'll be great in his miracles and in his teaching that can turn a life around. He'll be great in His promises and in how far He'll go to get us back for Himself. And I want to be great too: great in love.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The baby will be called Emmanuel, the angel told Mary. Is this like a nick-name? The name means: God is with us. The best any friend can do in the sorrows, struggles, disasters and joys of life, is to be with me.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The name Jesus means: Yahweh saves. Yahweh is the Hebrew people's name for God. But saves us from what? Saved from the downward spiral of wrong choosing that seems to have been going on since soon after humans were created. Saved from our worst selves. Saved from our ultimate undoing. Saved from death's hold on me.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Often in pictures of the Annunciation scene the painter places a lily near Mary: a symbol of her purity. Blessed are the pure of heart, Jesus says, they will see God. Do I know that I can see God, that I can reach out and even touch God? That's not nonsense. But it will never happen if I don't first have a pure heart.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Saint Augustine wrote: Before Mary conceived Jesus in her womb, she conceived Him in  her heart. Oh, I want a heart like Mary's: all YES to Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

A disciple isn't just a follower. The word follower can connote a weak tag-a-long, someone with nothing better to do. But a Christian disciple is the one who pursues Jesus in the adventure of obedience and friendship. This Christ-Adventure promises joy, like nothing to be found elsewhere.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Glory be to the Father...

2 comments:

  1. Hey this is interesting. I didn't know other people (besides me) riffed on the Rosary. Folks tend to assume it's set in stone, but it isn't.

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  2. These things don't belong to the Church like a piece of property. The Church serve as promoters and guardians - but not owners with the last word. The Capuchins came up with the meditation idea between each Hail Mary, and in these posts I've moved it along for the sake of the young people I was ministering too. The tempation with repetitive prayer is that it become so routinized we start "rattling" it. Jesus warned us. So these mysteries help us (I hope) to slow down, consider and keep focus. Maybe this means the rosary can only be prayed in smaller bits. But the goal is never to "just get through it all" so we can claim "I SAID the WHOLE rosary." Religion is tedious when lived on that level.

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