To Live the Faith
“Pray always and never lose heart…” (Lk. 18:1)
by H. Lyman Stebbins
This article originally appeared on page 15 of the April 1982 issue of Lay Witness.
Last month we began considering a little schema of intentions for the fifteen decades of the Holy Rosary. For those who didn’t see it, or who may have forgotten, we present them in summary:
First Decades: for our dead
Second Decades: for the Holy Father
Third Decades: for CUF
Fourth Decades: for all who want or need our prayers
Fifth Decades: for those nearest and dearest to us
We considered the three First Decades last time. Today we will consider the three Second and Third Decades.
The Second Decades: for our Holy Father. How beautiful it is that St. Therese of Lisieux, who spent her entire religious life in the enclosure of a small Carmel, is the Patron
of the Missions! In differing and particular ways we are all sent to bring Christ to the world; and the Popes are sent in a preeminent degree. They, like St. Therese, have usually gone forth in those messengers those—“angels”—whom they have commissioned to go while themselves remaining at their station. For all missionaries—those who send and those who are sent—the Holy Virgin is the exemplar in THE VISITATION, going in haste to bring the Good News to her cousin and to be a channel of grace to her and the son of her old age.
In like manner our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has also been going (like Mary, with Mary) all over the world as the principal messenger of his Lord. May the Holy Virgin, who brought him healing, protect him so that, once again and together, they can in great haste resume their journeys of mercy.
Like his Master, though, the Pope has to suffer in his own person the great mystery of iniquity, has to bear the wounds of those who answer his love with hatred, like those who, in THE SCOURGING, did not recoil from tearing the flesh of their Savior. May God give His angels charge over him and bear him up in his labors and sufferings!
Our Lord promised that He would not leave us orphans; and at THE ASCENSION we remember with deepest thankfulness that He has indeed kept His promise, leaving us Himself in the Eucharist, leaving us His Holy Spirit, His Holy Mother Mary, Queen of His Angels and Saints, and leaving us our Holy Father the Pope, as His Vicar on earth. May He grant us the grace to be always what we have promised to be: unshakeably loyal to the Pope, and thus to the Church, and thus to Christ!
The Third Decades: for Catholics United for the Faith. In the NATIVITY of the Lord Jesus we see the fruit of Mary’s unconditional submission and openness to the workings of
the Holy Spirit in her immaculate soul. At one time, when a voice from the crowd cried out: “Blessed is the womb that bore thee,” Jesus replied: “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and do it.” What is Our Lord teaching us by that word, “Rather”? Surely He is not contradicting the voice from the crowd. He is saying that Mary’s obedient acceptance of God’s will for her was anterior to her having brought the Son of God into the world.
It was for Mary, as it is for all, the indispensable pre-condition for bringing Christ to the world, for bringing “to all men that light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church” (Lumen Gentium, no. 1). That serves admirably as a definition of the apostolate of Catholics United for the Faith; therefore, when we pray this mystery, we pray that God may grant us the grace to have some part of Mary’s humble and fruitful obedience so that we
too may fulfill our mission to bring Christ to birth again and again in this world which so often either hates Him or knows Him not.
In trying to do that work in this world, we soon learn that “the servant is not above his Master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (Jn. 15:30). For members of CUF, the word “persecution” is still, mercifully, too strong; but not by much in some cases. Heart-chilling persecution, torture and death, there surely is in our days. So far, we are asked to endure merely the thorns of false witness, misunderstanding, thanklessness. THE CROWNING OF THE SACRED HEAD WITH THORNS was a devil’s masterpiece of mockery, pain, and desecration. As for us, there is much in our foolishness that invites mockery; we ourselves have given so much pain during our lives that we fully deserve to suffer it; and there is so little of the truly sacred in us that the word desecration has little application.
But having said that, it remains true that we are trying to be His witnesses. We knew in advance that we would incur the hostility of His enemies; we did not know that we would incur also the stubborn displeasure and the endless distortions of many who call themselves His friends. And so, in this third of the Sorrowful Mysteries we beg Him Who bore all suffering for our sakes to give all members of CUF the grace to bear these pinpricks lovingly, with joy that perhaps we are accounted worthy to suffer even the smallest reproach for the name of Jesus (cf. Acts 5:41).
The third of the Glorious Mysteries is the SENDING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, Who is Father of the Poor, Giver of Gifts, Light of our hearts, Repose in our labors, Comfort in sorrow. That sending was indeed a glory: the divine remedy for our lost innocence. “Without the coming of Your Spirit there is nothing dependable in man, nothing that is not poisoned” (cf. Sequence for the Mass of Pentecost). We who work in the CUF apostolate have had proof of this: proofs piled upon proofs. We have had to learn for ourselves by experience what we already knew: that of ourselves we can do nothing: sometimes less than nothing.
So we pray this third Glorious Mystery with the constant, urgent, confident longing that the Holy Spirit may be sent also into our hearts, purifying them, putting right all that is wrong in them, healing them, letting them in turn be bearers of the Spirit to others, bearers of His healing balm for His Church.