Monday, 16 May 2011

The Mysteries of Light

It is good to hear from Ian. Looks like he has been very busy on all fronts. As for me, this is not my favourite time of the year. I spend my days marking exam scripts – possibly the least spiritual work on the entire planet! I am so pleased that Ian is working on the `Mysteries of Light’ or the ‘Luminous’ mysteries. I said this last Thursday – the day allocated in the Rosary cycle. Actually, I said it on the underground – which I think was rather appropriate ( using my ipod) and I naturally thought of Ian labouring away in Anjara. But, contrary to what Ian says, I think that the Mysteries of Light have a considerable relevance for the project: yet another coincidence since, for Teilhard, the Sacred Heart is all about light. His thought is wholly rooted in St John’s Gospel and in St Paul and I have no doubt that he would have been much excited by the addition of these mysteries to the Rosary in 2002. The Rosary also has an important relationship to the Divine Mercy – discussed earlier - as the Mysteries of Light were also introduced by Blessed John Paul.

I am not sure about how Teilhard viewed the Rosary. He had, of course, a great devotion to Mary, but I am in the dark about if he said the Rosary regularly. That does not matter so much: but what is clear is that he always stressed the importance of light within the gospels. And, the Sacred Heart is an expression – or rather the ultimate expression of this. With this in mind I have been reflecting on ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE - the encyclical by Blessed John Paul which sets out the teaching on the Mysteries of light. Blessed John Paul states that :
The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation. Developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the “prayer of the heart” or “Jesus prayer” which took root in the soil of the Christian East.

For many, however, the Rosary is something of a puzzle as a form of prayer, but when we read ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE carefully we can better understand why Rosary is such an important part of Catholic life. It is, he says, ‘ a way of assimilating the mystery’ of Christ. And, the process of repetition - which some find boring and tedious - is a vital dimension of the Rosary:

Meditation on the mysteries of Christ is proposed in the Rosary by means of a method designed to assist in their assimilation. It is a method based on repetition. ... If this repetition is considered superficially, there could be a temptation to see the Rosary as a dry and boring exercise. It is quite another thing, however, when the Rosary is thought of as an outpouring of that love which tirelessly returns to the person loved with expressions similar in their content but ever fresh in terms of the feeling pervading them.
In Christ, God has truly assumed a “heart of flesh”. Not only does God have a divine heart, rich in mercy and in forgiveness, but also a human heart, capable of all the stirrings of affection. If we needed evidence for this from the Gospel, we could easily find it in the touching dialogue between Christ and Peter after the Resurrection: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Three times this question is put to Peter, and three times he gives the reply: “Lord, you know that I love you” (cf. Jn 21:15-17). Over and above the specific meaning of this passage, so important for Peter's mission, none can fail to recognize the beauty of this triple repetition, in which the insistent request and the corresponding reply are expressed in terms familiar from the universal experience of human love. To understand the Rosary, one has to enter into the psychological dynamic proper to love.
One thing is clear: although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to be conformed ever more completely to Christ,… The Rosary helps us to be conformed ever more closely to Christ until we attain true holiness.

Of course, from the standpoint of this project, it is significant that John Paul directly links the Rosary – as a method of prayer to the Sacred Heart in this passage. And, in introducing the Mysteries of Light he argues that: ‘ Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light.’ For Teilhard, the whole mystery of the Sacred Heart is a mystery of light. I think, therefore, that when we reflect on what Blessed John Paul says about the Sacred Heart, and the Divine Mercy in conjunction with what he says about the Rosary as a way of ‘assimilating’ their mysteries we can understand how they are inter-connected. So, I think there could be NO BETTER preparation for writing an image of the Sacred Heart than working on the Mysteries of Light!! From here on in, the Mysteries of Light will be my daily prayer for the Sacred Heart icon.

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