Monday, November 3, 2014

The Month of the Holy Rosary at Tynong

The month of the Holy Rosary has always been a time of special spiritual joy for Dominican religious communities and their associates, and is crowned by the beautiful feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7. It is the patronal feast of Rosary Convent and a first-class liturgical celebration for the entire Dominican order, and it was certainly greeted with much anticipation by our sisters.

The Office for this day recounts in detail each of the various mysteries of the holy Rosary as well as some of the glorious prerogatives that crown our Blessed Mother; namely her Divine Maternity and position as Mediatrix of all graces.

“Approach, ye nations; roses rare to gather from these mysteries fair; and thus plait crowns in heaven above for her, the Mother of fair love. Glory be given to the Trinity, Who through each sacred Mystery, on those who pray may graces rain, that they to glory may attain.” (From the Vespers hymn of October 7 from the Dominican breviary). 

 Pope St. Pius V (a Dominican) instituted this feast, under the title of "Our Lady of Victory," in thanksgiving for Our Lady's response to the Christian nations who had been tirelessly reciting the Rosary for the intention of a victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. 

In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title to the "Feast of the Holy Rosary” and appointed the first Sunday of October for its celebration. Later on, Pope Leo XIII, moved by the sorrowful trials under which the Church groaned during his pontificate, raised this feast to one of the second Class with a new Mass and Office. 

Commonly known as the Pope of the Rosary, he wrote thirteen eloquent encyclicals on this devotion and encouraged its devout recitation as a means to combat the diverse moral and political evils that plagued societies and families in his day.

Additionally, the familiar tradition of the Holy Rosary being entrusted to St Dominic as a fruitful weapon in his attempts to extinguish heresy and immorality highlights the character of this devotion as an essential weapon in spiritual warfare. This devotion and feast day were clearly instituted and celebrated for centuries in honour of Our Lady's protection over the Church both from heresy within and from insidious attacks without.  

May we then turn to our Immaculate Queen in these times marked by countless assaults against the Catholic Church and the true faith, entrusting ourselves to the Blessed Virgin's intercession.

A whole array of saints also surrounded our Blessed Mother during this grace-filled month. On October 3rd, we delighted in the feast day of St Thérèse of Liseux, patroness of the missions and of our very own Sister Marie Thérèse. A celebratory cake in the shape of a Cross served as the feast day centrepiece and a reminder of the countless loving sacrifices made by St Thérèse in her desire to aid the divine work of Redemption. We hope fervently that this Carmelite nun, one of the greatest saints of modern times, would intercede for our humble missionary efforts down under in Australia, which until recently has been classified as a missionary country. 

The celebrations continued on October 4th, the feast day of the Seraphic Patriarch St Francis of Assisi. He is especially honoured by the Dominican order as a beloved friend of St Dominic and a fellow labourer in Christ’s vineyard, and we greatly rejoiced with Sister Mary Francis on the occasion of her first name day.

 A chocolate-covered cake ingeniously put together into the shape of a Cathedral was a lovely surprise for Sister Francis, who, like her glorious predecessor, is called to labour in the apostolate and rebuild the Church of Christ (albeit, we presume, in a more obscure and hidden manner).

October 23rd witnessed another new development in the construction process of our new convent. Our superiors journeyed down to the town of Sale for the relatively enjoyable task of selecting new colour schemes for the buildings. Black, cream and various shades of white were the dominant hues chosen alongside timber for the flooring, reflecting the colours of our order as well as fulfilling the requirements of tasteful simplicity.

 An in-house rosary crusade also began at this time as we urgently pleaded for the intercession of the Queen of the Rosary. This took the form of a novena which ended on the feast of Christ the King. Realising all too well the great need for more donations, for dry weather to finish the foundations and for the approval of our building permit, we recited our beads and had recourse to the unfailing aid of prayer.  We ask too for our dear readers and benefactors to continue their prayers and generosity in this campaign to finish the Mother-house in time, especially as we welcome at least 4 new postulants for 2015. In the meantime, new cells and a new refectory will have to be carved out from the existing space we now have. 

 The homage paid to the Queen of Heaven this month culminated in the feast of Christ the King. For the first time ever at Rosary Convent, we attempted to pay a magnificent homage to Our Lord with…. heaps of paint covered sawdust!

This dusty material duly formed the basis of a simple but elegant Agnus Dei design on the grounds of the convent in preparation for the procession which was to stop outside our chapel. 

On the Friday and Saturday before the feast day, creative hands and eyes painstakingly dyed and sprinkled the coloured sawdust into an intricate design that took its inspiration from the Book of the Apocalypse. It honoured Christ as the Lamb who was slain for our salvation, as well as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all creation. 

Fides the dog took a great liking to the lamb motif and to the soft sawdust

Other sisters with green thumbs took to turning the numerous and messy piles of roses, chrysanthemums, orchids (and other species too unfamiliar to be named by us!) into arrangements that surrounded the throne of Our Eucharistic Lord. The rose bushes at the Church and at the College in particular duly surrendered their spring blossoms to adorn the altar of repose.

At the Sung Mass on the festal day, Fr. Stephens gave a memorable sermon on the Kingship of Our Lord and neatly arranged his main points under the acronym of KING, which served as a most useful mnemonic. He exhorted the faithful to devote themselves more and more to His service by getting to know and imitate their Divine Master with promptitude and while relying on the abundant grace offered by God. The Mass was followed by a Eucharistic procession to and back from the convent.

“If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire.

He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God. If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection.” (The Encyclical Quas Primas, by Pope Pius XI).

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