Fr. Joseph Sergott, O.P., Director – Sept-Oct 2018, Vol 71, No 5 – A Publication of the Western Dominican Province
A Letter to Rosary Confraternity Members from the Master of the Dominican Order
by Br. Bruno Cadoré, O.P.
[On September 5, 2010, Fr. Bruno Cadoré, O.P. was elected as the Master of the Dominican Order, i.e., of the Order of Preachers. He is the 86th successor of St. Dominic, who founded the Order in 1216. Fr. Bruno was born in Le Creusot, France in 1954. He entered the Order in 1979, made profession of vows in 1980, and was ordained a priest in 1986. Br. Bruno, as he prefers to be called, became a medical doctor before entering the Order, with specialization in the field of bioethics. He earned a doctorate in moral theology in 1992. Prior to his election as Master of the Order, he served as Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of France.]
The Church is a community. In the heart of humanity, for twenty centuries, it has been a community of men and women held by God’s love for them, manifested by Christ who gathers them together as brothers and sisters. It is a fraternal community, given to the world as a witness and guardian of man’s hope. These are men and women – following the Son, the Word, Who has come among men – who discover how much this love transforms them to the point of giving them the grace to become brothers and sisters. The Church is a community of brothers and sisters who are the sign in the world that their diversity is rooted in the unity of this love. This love makes them adopted daughters and sons of the Father. Rooted in the life of Christ, carried by him to the heart of the world as they experience the joys and sorrows of humanity, dreaming of the victory of Christ over the evil that destroys and alienates humanity, joyful in the hope of the coming Kingdom that is promised. The Church is a community of brothers and sisters, of sons and daughters. The Church is a family – the family of God’s friends.
This is, I believe, the mystery that Mary has been contemplating since she heard the announcement of the Angel and kept “all these words in her heart.” A humble young woman from Nazareth, Mary intimately understood that the Angel was coming to announce to her that she had been chosen to give birth in the world to the One who – since before all time – was to be sent by the Father to accomplish in the history of humanity this transfiguration of fraternity. Certainly, time and time again, she would become upset, worried, astonished, and helpless, when, along with Joseph, she saw her son Jesus grow up among men. No doubt she was surprised at the maturity of his understanding of the mystery of God – an understanding that even scholars could not explain. Perhaps she was timid in witnessing his emergence as a preacher when, at the Synagogue, he began to proclaim the fulfillment of a promise that overturned the false certainties of the world. Thus he wanted to “weave” humanity into a seamless garment, from those believed to be lost, excluded, neglected.
Probably, her heart was heavy when she realized how total and unwavering was the love of her Son in God the Father of mercy, creator of time and history. She had to accept that he would belong to everyone, as much as to herself. Surely, she was seized with horror when she began to see the contempt, hostility, treachery, and violence directed toward her Son by those who wanted to eliminate him because he questioned their claims to power over the people, a power which they had justified by an appeal to a god they had made in their own image, suiting their own desires. Perhaps she would have preferred that he stop his mission for truth and unity before being silenced, when she sensed that it would lead him to face humiliation, a dishonest trial and sentence, and death. But through all this she kept in her heart the words that were spoken to her. Moreover, she kept in her heart the deep conviction that had always wholeheartedly animated her, that the “God of the promise” was faithful and trustworthy, forever, and that communion with God was the future of humanity, because its origin was in Him.
Meditating on these words of the announcement, listening to the words of her Son, discovering how Jesus, proclaiming the nearness of the Kingdom – changed the world. She understood – from that understanding of the heart so much deeper than that of reason – that what had been given to her was the grace to give birth to the One who is the Savior of the world. This is the One who, raised from the dead, sent Mary Magdalene and the disciples “to tell your brothers” that he would open the way for them to go to the Father.
In the midst of his people, among the disciples, Mary understood that this fraternity was – in a history both beautiful and disordered – the way toward Him, the sign of fulfillment of the promise. These first fruits of the Kingdom were sown in the earth by his coming into the world, his life, his trial, his proclamation of the truth of the Father, his confrontation with evil and the Devil, his death and resurrection – by Him Whom she had received from God as her son through her humanity, Whom she gave to the world as Savior, the firstborn among all the brothers and sisters in Him.
She understood – or, rather, she believed, humbly, mysteriously – that she was thus Mother of the Church, this family of adopted sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of the only Son of the Father, this family established, consoled, and strengthened by the power of the Spirit who had taken her under the shadow of his wings, this humble girl from Nazareth. This is the family in the world that is the sacrament of salvation whose promise she had received from the mouth of the angel.
This is why the Confraternities of the Rosary are, in the mystery of the unfolding of the Church, a grace offered for evangelization. This is the grace to live as brothers and sisters of Christ whose meditation of the mysteries that form the framework of their prayer and the basis for their unity, the grace to contribute to the proclamation of these mysteries, and the grace to receive from this prayer the joy of being more and more converted by the Word, to become “evangelizers”.
Eight hundred years ago, St. Dominic himself was seized by an intuition very much like this confidence of Mary. For him, the Word of promise had the face of Jesus, the preacher of the coming Kingdom. Jesus’ family – those who have become his brothers and sisters – had to continue this preaching. And this family would find strength and joy in this evangelization by entrusting itself to the intercession of the one who first had lived – in her flesh, in her life, and in her heart – this astounding approach of a God who drew so near to men, and became so open, familiar, and fraternal with them, that one day everyone could feel in themselves the desire and joy of drawing near to God in return.
In their own way, with their limits but also with all the variety of their gifts and the strength of their faith, the brothers and sisters of a Rosary Confraternity choose a certain way of receiving this prayer of the Rosary as one grasps the hand of the one who, at Cana, said to the servants, with the authority of a humble servant, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Because he allowed himself to be guided by this Mother, Dominic knew that in order to respond to this request, he needed – like Mary – to meditate on the Word and the mystery of the life of the Son. He knew – with an understanding heart, that is to say, with faith – that the true light of this mystery revealed itself in full clarity from the top of the Cross, from that place where men, corrupted by their own lies, had thought they could put an end to the Word that had overthrown their false claims to authority. But this place was also the place where, from the depths of the earth and its darkness, the path toward the Father’s light was opened: the Cross, planted in the ground, which burst open the heavens.
So, indeed, to proclaim this magnificent mystery of salvation, to continue the “preaching of the Son” to Whom the humble handmaid had given birth, Dominic knew that he could – he must – rely on the intercession of the one he gave to his Order as “Mother of Preachers,” the Mother of a family where the Confraternities of the Rosary have their place.
Confraternities of the Rosary are to live from this same faith and share it, in the Church, animated by the same apostolic zeal that carried Dominic. They are to serve the Church, the family of the brothers and sisters of the Son, that grows up proclaiming the good news of the coming Kingdom, constantly meditating, in the school of Mary, on the mysteries of the life of Him who is, definitively, the face and the truth.
To be a Confraternity of the Rosary is to be preachers of the Gospel!
(May 20, 2018) [Translated by Fr. Bryan Kromholtz, O.P.]
Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary tends to exult in her virtues pertaining to what scholastics fastidiously classify as the concupiscible appetites. This means that commonly we hold Mary up as a model of the qualities connected with the cardinal virtue of temperance: the virtue that moderates, guides, and restrains our pursuit of pleasure. In the case of Mary, the virtues of chastity and humility appear in all their glory.
However, it is quite rare to think of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a master of the irascible appetites. These are the powers of the soul that help us to seek goods that are difficult to obtain, or to avoid evils that are difficult to avoid. The main virtue that guides this aspect of our lives is fortitude (coming from “strength” in Latin). Fortitude strengthens us to have boldness in hope and to avoid despair when faced with fear. We have few Scriptural insights about the emotional state of Mary during the flight to Egypt, while she searched for the child Jesus in the Temple, as she gave directions during the Wedding at Cana, when she stood at the foot of the Cross, or while gathered with the Apostles in the upper room. But it is doubtful that a person without the virtue of fortitude, without resolute hope and daring, without a mastery over fear and despair, could have accomplished what Mary did. While humble, we acknowledge the strength of Mary in the Litany of Loretto as Virgo Potens, Powerful Virgin.
What Mary would say about St. Dominic? I think that she would see in him a kindred spirit. She would recognize in St. Dominic not only temperance (St. Dominic’s chastity is renowned), but she would also see a fellow champion of fortitude. Having lived a year in Toulouse, France, where St. Dominic founded the Order, I was struck by the boldness of St. Dominic. Imagine the difficulty of trying to convince a Yankees fan to support the Red Sox; or convincing someone to switch political parties; or goading a vegan to eat a turducken. These are child’s play next to the overwhelming difficulty, the staggering danger, and the personal sacrifices that St. Dominic faced in trying to convince the Cathar heretics to become Catholic. And yet, boldness in trying to accomplish a difficult good comes from the virtue of fortitude.
If St. Thomas Aquinas is right that “likeness is the cause of love”, then I think that the Blessed Virgin Mary would see St. Dominic as a true friend. It is little wonder, then, that we have the pious tradition that St. Dominic received the Rosary from our Lady. Our challenge, as devotees of the Rosary, is to imitate the fortitude of Our Lady and of St. Dominic in living lives of hope, dispelling the darkness of fear and despair by the light of truth.
This issue of “Light and Life” contains a sheet on which to list the names of deceased family and friends you would like us to remember in our Masses during November, the month of the Holy Souls. Our printing schedule does not allow us to mail these memorial sheets in November, so we ask you to use them now and to return them to the Rosary Center before November 1st. Prayer for the dead is a hallowed tradition, and we can offer no greater tribute of our love than prayers for the happy repose of the souls of those who have died. For those viewing this on-line, the souls list area is at the bottom of the Novena Enrollment page.
After decades of constant use, the Rosary Center is greatly in need of renovation. Please consider making a special gift to help make badly needed repairs and to refurbish the offices, chapel and kitchen. Thank you for your generosity!