"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
These are some of the readings
from the office of Matins for the feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed
When the heresy of the Albigenses was making head against God in
the County of Toulouse, and striking deeper roots every day, the holy Dominick,
who had but just laid the foundations of the Order of Friars Preachers, threw
his whole strength into the travail of plucking these blasphemies up.
That he might be fitter for the work, he cried for help with his
whole soul to that Blessed Maiden, whose glory the falsehoods of the heretics
so insolently assailed, and to whom it hath been granted to trample down every
heresy throughout the whole earth. It is said that he had from her a word,
bidding him preach up the saying of the Rosary among the people, as a strong
help against heresy and sin, and it is wonderful with how stout an heart and
how good a success he did the work laid upon him.
This Rose-garden (or Rosary) is a certain form of prayer, wherein
we say one-hundred-and-fifty times the salutation of the Angel, and the Lord's
Prayer between every ten times, and, each of the fifteen times that we say the
Lord's Prayer, and repeat tenfold the salutation, think of one of fifteen great
events in the history of our Redemption. From that time forth this form of
godly prayer was extraordinarily spread about by holy Dominick, and waxed
common. That this same Dominick was the founder and prime mover thereof hath
been said by Popes in divers letters of the Apostolic See.
From this healthy exercise have grown up numberless good fruits in
the Christian Commonwealth. Among these deserveth well to be named that great
victory over the Sultan of Turkey, which the most holy Pope Pius V, and the Christian
Princes whom he had roused, won at Lepanto, (on the 7th day of October, the
first Lord's Day in the month, in the year of our Lord 1571).
The day whereon this victory was gained was the very one whereon
the Guildbrethren of the most holy Rosary, throughout the whole world, were
used to offer their accustomed prayers and appointed supplications, and the
event therefore was not unnaturally connected therewith. This being the avowed
opinion of Gregory XIII, he ordered that in all Churches where there was, or
should be, an Altar of the Rosary, a Feast, in the form of a Greater Double,
should be kept forever upon the first Lord's Day of the month of October, to
give unceasing thanks to the Blessed Virgin, under her style of (Queen of) the
(Most Holy) Rosary, for that extraordinary mercy of God. Other Popes also have
granted almost numberless Indulgences to those who say the Rosary, and to those
who join its Guilds.
In the year 1716, Charles VI., Elect- Emperor of the Romans, won a
famous victory over countless hordes of Turks, [near Temeswar] in the kingdom of Hungary, upon the day when the Feast of
the Dedication of the Church of St Mary of the Snows was being kept, and almost
at the very moment when the Guildbrethren of the most holy Rosary were moving
through the streets of Rome in public and solemn procession, amid vast
multitudes, all filled the deepest enthusiasm, calling vehemently upon God for
the defeat of the Turks, and entreating the Virgin Mother of God to bring the
might of her succour to the help of the Christians.
A few days later, (upon the Octave of the Feast of the
Assumption,) the Turks raised the siege of Corfu. These mercies Clement XI devoutly
ascribed to the helpful prayers of the Blessed Virgin, and that the memory and
the sweetness of such a blessing might for all time coming endure gloriously,
he extended to the whole Church the observance of the Feast of the most holy
Rosary, for the same day and of the same rank, (as it had already been in the
places before mentioned.)
Benedict XIII commanded the record of all these things to be given
a place in the Service-book of the Church of Rome; and Leo XIII, in the most
troublous times of the Church and the cruel storm of long pressing evils, by
fresh Apostolic letters vehemently urged upon all the faithful throughout the
earth the often saying of the Rosary of (the Blessed Virgin) Mary, raised the
dignity of the yearly festival, added to the Litany of Loretto the Invocation
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and granted to the whole Church a special Office
for this solemn occasion. Let us all then be earnest in honouring the most holy
Mother of God in this form which she liketh so well, that even as the
entreaties of Christ's faithful people, approaching her in her Garden of Roses,
have so often won her to scatter and destroy their earthly foes, so she may
gain for them the victory over their hellish foes likewise.
Homily by St Bernard, Abbot (of Clairvaux) Homily
on Holy Mary
To commend His Own love towards us, and to bring to nought the
wisdom of men, God was pleased to take flesh of a woman, albeit a virgin, that
He might bring like against like, heal by opposites, pluck out the poisonous
thorn, and blot out mightily the handwriting of our sin that was against us.
Eve was a thorn, Mary is a rose. Eve is a thorn that pierceth, Mary is a rose
that charmeth all the senses. Eve was a thorn that fixed death into all, Mary
is a rose that bringeth health to all. Mary was a white rose through her
virginity, and a red rose through her love. She was white in her flesh, red in
her mind; white in that she followed the path of grace, red in that she trod
down sin; white by the purity of her affections, red by the mortification of
her body; white by her love for God, red by her compassion for her neighbour.
on the water course.
The Word was made flesh, and dwelleth even now among us. He
dwelleth in our memory. He dwelleth in our thought. He hath come down even unto
our imagination; and how sayest thou doth he so? By lying in the manger, by
nestling in His mother's breast, by preaching upon the mountain, by remaining
all night in prayer to God, by hanging upon the Cross, by turning pale in
death, by going down free among the dead and triumphing in hell, by rising
again the third day, by showing to the Apostles the places of the nails the
marks of his victory, by ascending up into heaven while they all beheld Him, of
which of these things think we not with truth, with godliness, with holiness?
If I think of any of these, I think of God, and He is my God
through them all. To think of these things I have decreed to be wisdom, and to
set forth the memory of their sweetness I have judged to be prudence. The rod
of Aaron the Priest brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded
almonds; but these things are the almonds of that Rod which came forth out of
the stem of Jesse, the Rod whereof sprang the flower, a Rod which was raised in
Mary into places higher than the earthly tabernacle, higher indeed, even into
places higher than angels, since she received the Word into herself out of the
very heart of the Eternal Father.