Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fr. Antonio Royo Marin on the Body of the Rosary

[One reason why] the Rosary occupies the first place among all other Marian devotions is because of its structure and theological content.

In effect the Rosary—and this applies solely to the Rosary above all other Marian devotions—contains the benefits of mental and vocal prayer in the most objectively perfect degree possible. The reason is because among other vocal prayers there are none more perfect than the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, which constitute the body of the Rosary, and among themes for meditation the great mysteries of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ occupy the first place and which constitute the soul of the Rosary.

The Body of the Rosary

The Rosary is formed, as we have said, of the most beautiful and sublime prayers of Christianity, including naturally the liturgical prayers that form the most important part.

I. The Our Father. The Our Father, having sprung from the divine lips of Christ, is, without any possible discussion, the most beautiful prayer of Christianity. Its recitation for the Christian people constitutes the culminating moment during the liturgical prayers of the Holy Mass. [...]

Saint Thomas, following Saint Augustine, demonstrates in the marvelous article of his Summa how the Lord's Prayer is most perfect and how it contains all things for which we must ask and in the order for which we must ask them (IIa-IIæ, q. 83, a. 9). The Saint explains such in the following words:
The Lord's Prayer is most perfect, because, as Augustine says (ad Probam Ep. cxxx, 12), "if we pray rightly and fittingly, we can say nothing else but what is contained in this prayer of our Lord." For since prayer interprets our desires, as it were, before God, then alone is it right to ask for something in our prayers when it is right that we should desire it. Now in the Lord's Prayer not only do we ask for all that we may rightly desire, but also in the order wherein we ought to desire them, so that this prayer not only teaches us to ask, but also directs all our affections. Thus it is evident that the first thing to be the object of our desire is the end, and afterwards whatever is directed to the end. Now our end is God towards Whom our affections tend in two ways: first, by our willing the glory of God, secondly, by willing to enjoy His glory. The first belongs to the love whereby we love God in Himself, while the second belongs to the love whereby we love ourselves in God. Wherefore the first petition is expressed thus: "Hallowed be Thy name," and the second thus: "Thy kingdom come," by which we ask to come to the glory of His kingdom. 
To this same end a thing directs us in two ways: in one way, by its very nature, in another way, accidentally. Of its very nature the good which is useful for an end directs us to that end. Now a thing is useful in two ways to that end which is beatitude: in one way, directly and principally, according to the merit whereby we merit beatitude by obeying God, and in this respect we ask: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"; in another way instrumentally, and as it were helping us to merit, and in this respect we say: "Give us this day our daily bread," whether we understand this of the sacramental Bread, the daily use of which is profitable to man, and in which all the other sacraments are contained, or of the bread of the body, so that it denotes all sufficiency of food, as Augustine says (ad Probam Ep. cxxx, 11), since the Eucharist is the chief sacrament, and bread is the chief food: thus in the Gospel of Matthew we read, "supersubstantial," i.e. "principal," as Jerome expounds it. 
We are directed to beatitude accidentally by the removal of obstacles. Now there are three obstacles to our attainment of beatitude. First, there is sin, which directly excludes a man from the kingdom, according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, etc., shall possess the kingdom of God"; and to this refer the words, "Forgive us our trespasses." Secondly, there is temptation which hinders us from keeping God's will, and to this we refer when we say: "And lead us not into temptation," whereby we do not ask not to be tempted, but not to be conquered by temptation, which is to be led into temptation. Thirdly, there is the present penal state which is a kind of obstacle to a sufficiency of life, and to this we refer in the words, "Deliver us from evil." (English Fathers trans.)
 [...] It is absolutely impossible to ask for more things, more excellently, or in a better order than how we ask in the Our Father. There is the primary end (the glory of God), the secondary end (our own salvation), the fundamental means to obtain salvation (following the will of God) and the secondary means (all that is necessary for life, symbolized by bread). And after the positive part follows the negative part or the removing of the obstacles, from the greater to the lesser: sin, temptation, and all the evils of life. We repeat that it is impossible to think of anything more perfect, more complete, or more exhaustive.

The Our Father forms an essential part of the holy Rosary. [...] It is not possible to think of a more perfect or fitting beginning to all of the rest of this sublime Marian prayer.

2. The Hail Mary. The Hail Mary, or angelic salutation, is, again without any possible discussion, the most beautiful and sublime of all Marian prayers. Every time we recite it devoutly, we remind Mary of the culminating moment of her life: the Incarnation of the Word in her virginal womb. [...] We have already commented amply [on the meaning of the prayer elsewhere, so we will not repeat it here....] As Lacordaire said most beautifully, "Love has only one word, which it is always speaking but never repeating" because it always has a perennial beauty and freshness. [...]

3. The Glory Be. This precious doxology constitutes the principal formula which the Church has used from her earliest times to glorify the Most Holy Trinity. With it, she renders to the Most Blessed Trinity a homage of recognition, love, adoration, and praise of Its infinite excellence. The Church uses this prayer constantly in her liturgy and its recitation is obligatory to end each psalm in the recitation of the Divine Office. There is no other better way to close each one of the mysteries of the Rosary than with the recitation of the Glory Be since we ought not to forget that the ultimate and absolute end of all prayer and of all creatures, including Mary and Jesus as man, is the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity. The Rosary reminds us of this, how, if we must go to Jesus through Mary, the final end cannot be other than the one and triune God, according to that saying of Saint Paul: "All things are yours..., whether the world, or life, or death, or the present, or things to come, all is yours; but you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:21-23).

As seen, the bodily material of the Rosary, consisting of the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be, cannot be more sublime and perfect. 


Source: Fr. Antonio Royo Marín, La Virgen María, trans. by R. Grablin (Madrid, Spain: BAC, 1996), 467-471.

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