The Rosary Light and Life - Current Announcements - May-June 2014


A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR

With this issue of Light and Life we have the immense good fortune to share the first of a two-part reflection on the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, prepared by Br. Thomas Aquinas Pickett, one of the Dominican students whom friends of the Rosary Center support with their prayers and generous gifts. The rosaries he distributes in his unique ministry of evangelization are also your gift!

Fr. Reginald Martin, O.P.

 

THE POWER OF THE HEART

Br. Thomas Aquinas Pickett, O.P.

"I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security." These challenging words of Pope Francis inspired me to take up the ministry of "street evangelization." On the sidewalks of Berkeley and San Francisco, a group of young Dominican friars, walking with brisk enthusiasm, hands out rosaries, engages in conversations with strangers, and seeks to bring the light of Christ to one of the more densely secular strongholds in the American West. Surprisingly, we have encountered almost no negativity, aggression, or hostility.

What I have found on the street is that beneath the veneer of secular indifference to matters divine, minds and hearts are open to, if not bluntly inquisitive, the topic of God. However, the sad fact is, no Christians are there to engage them in rational, compassionate discussion. It seems the Church in the United States after Vatican II has, indeed, opened plenty of windows and doors, but has been afraid to step out and invite others in!

Among the many surprises of my ministry, what has struck me most is the startling honesty and curiosity of people who are willing to discuss their personal lives, faith, and doubts with absolute strangers dressed in our outlandish, medieval, white Dominican habits. One young woman, tearing up while revealing her loneliness in the urban labyrinth, explained she tries to pray to God, but was unsure whether it "counted." A middle-aged man going through AA, who the previous night had been left completely unscathed in a devastating car crash, expressed his fearful amazement in the fact God had allowed him to live. He wondered why, despite all his faults, God would choose to keep him safe. A woman, sitting on the ground in her driveway with a cigarette, knees tucked up to her chest, broke down in tears and told us that she was "a little heart-broken." She gratefully accepted the rosary we gave her, and explained she had stopped by the nearby Catholic church several times just to have some "quiet and peace."

If you want to find the "real world," the world where the hearts of men and women are open, raw, and exposed, you will find it on the sidewalks of our towns and cities. The reality of this world is that people are lonely, hurt, unsure, and in need of something greater than themselves. One does not need familiarity with the doctrine of Original Sin to know human life is characterized by messiness and failure. We see this in the shattering of families and marriages, the countless numbers addicted to alcohol, drugs, pornography and masturbation. We see the same failure in the abuse of children, spouses, and the elderly, in senseless crime, violence and war, as well as scandal in the Church and the political realm. The rise of depression, anxiety, and suicide are among the many other manifestations of our brokenness. Every man and woman, Christian or not, is susceptible to sin and guilty of perpetuating it. Each man and woman is affected by the sins of others, and all affect others through their own sins. Especially with the drastic devastations to human life, dignity, morality and faith wrought by the last century, we might easily sympathize with certain Reformation theologians who described the "total depravity" of human nature.

Despite its glaring presence, though, the reality of sin and the necessity of conversion is an issue our contemporaries seem to avoid. The frequency of confession provides a quick and simple demonstration of this. A study in 2008 by the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) states, "[t]hree- quarters of Catholics report that they never participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation or that they do so less than once a year." What an unimaginable fact! To deny the reality of sin in our lives is to deny Christ who died on the cross for our sins. Not to avail oneself of Christ's forgiveness and mercy is unthinkable if one intellectually and existentially grasps the damage of sin, and the necessity of a savior.

For Catholics not to have recourse to Reconciliation demonstrates something fundamental is broken in the understanding and living of the Faith. It seems easier for us to recognize sin in the world than to see it in ourselves. It is easier, for example, to get involved in protesting social injustice than to become an activist against the sins that hold us captive. We obliviously ignore St. Paul's stinging words:

By your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works. (Rom 2:5-6).

Ironically, by denying sin, we likewise deny God's mercy. This is an atrocity of the greatest order! As Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M.Cap., Preacher of the Papal Household, said during the Good Friday service at St. Peter's this spring, "Judas' greatest sin wasn't having betrayed Jesus, but having doubted his mercy."

We need a way of balancing sin and mercy. On the one hand we can err, like certain Protestants, in relying solely on God's mercy and grace (cf. Antinomianism) regardless of our actions. On the other, we can err, like Pelagius, in relying solely on what we can do ourselves to right the sins of the world. We must take the Catholic middle course and say that sin is, indeed operative in us, and in the world. But, on the other hand, God's mercy is also at work, and is necessary for our salvation.

In a perfect world, we would simply have scores of Dominicans preach the doctrine of sin and mercy to attentive, rapt droves of well-formed and catechized Catholics. But, as this is far from the reality, we must find another way, a more expedient way, to proclaim simultaneously the gravity of sin and the profundity of mercy. I believe we find a solution in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Church itself, in the Collect for the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, makes this connection between sin and mercy:

O God, who in the Heart of your Son, wounded by our sins, bestow on us in mercy the boundless treasures of your love, grant, we pray, that, in paying him the homage of our devotion, we may also offer worthy reparation.

To have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means to serve God, to grow in love of God, in and through a particular understanding of the relation of sin, mercy, and love as they pertain to the salvific mission of Jesus, and the participation of Mary in that same mission. The devotion to the Sacred Heart, lauded by virtually every Pope since Leo XIII, leads its devotees to a fuller, experiential living out of the mystery of redemption. Devotees serve God through intentional reparation for their sins and those of the whole world. Meditating on the hearts of Jesus and Mary, one marvels at the stupendous love of God for sinful humanity, and, consequently is lead to act as a co-worker (cf. 1 Cor 3:9) in God's plan to "draw all things to Myself" (John 12:32).


LOOKING FOR A NEW CHILD'S BOOK?

We are quite pleased to offer The Miracle of the Dancing Sun at Fatima, an interactive, devotional and doctrinal book designed to broaden the faith of young people. Although it is presented as a "companion" to the animated film The Day the Sun Danced, the book can be enjoyed by itself, and its clever question and answer format is quite engaging. In the course of her encounters with the young children at Fatima, the Blessed Mother instructed them in the necessity of receiving the Eucharist and the value of praying the Rosary. The text makes clear and simple presentations of these truths, and follows each of them with quizzes and prayers to help the message "stick."


2 Novenas of Masses in honor of

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and
Immaculate Heart of Mary

June 19 - 27 | Jun 28 - July 6

to be offered for your intentions.

Novena Prayer


Mailing Address:
The Rosary Center
PO Box 3617
Portland, OR 97208 USA
+1-503-236-8393