THE Order of Preachers has a particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and rejoices in her protection as patroness of the Order.
As October is a month traditionally devoted to the Holy Rosary and Our Lady, it seems an appropriate time to reflect upon her significance for us as Dominicans.
It would be hard for any objective observer to doubt the sincerity of the devotion towards the Mother of God among the friars of the Order.
We sing various Marian anthems every day after Vespers; we chant the Marian Litany once a week in Latin after Compline; we are constitutionally required to pray the Rosary every day and it is ever tied to our habit as a sign of its intrinsic place within our life of prayer.
Indeed, the motto of the Order – Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare (to praise, to bless, to preach) – is taken from a medieval Preface of the Blessed Virgin, which is still contained in the Missal today, though in a slightly amended form.
Moreover the Rosary itself is traditionally held to have been given to St Dominic by Our Lady herself, and each Dominican Province throughout the world has a friar especially assigned to the work of promoting the Rosary and fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of its manifold mysteries.
In light of all this I am sure it comes as no surprise to learn that the Australasian Province of the Order is the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so called because it was established in the year that Pope Pius XII proclaimed the self-same dogma.
Equally unsurprising, I am sure, will be the fact that the Province in which we are currently undertaking our Novitiate here in Hong Kong – a province which covers an enormous swathe of Asia and parts of South and Central America – is the Province of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin, founded in 1592.
“A much underrated prayer, Sebastian” – a certain friar addressed those wise words to me during my postulancy in Adelaide, regarding the Rosary.
And he was quite right. Consider, for instance, that the Rosary is both exceedingly simple and infinitely complex.
A child can learn the prayers entailed by rote and find inspiration in its beautiful words.
Yet the intricately overlapping structure of the various mysteries – once explained – expose a doctrinal superstructure as complex as that of any Gothic Cathedral, drawing one up into contemplation of the divine mysteries as readily as any of those magnificently vaulted and light-dappled testaments to faith.
The mysteries, as concrete doctrinal points of focus within the life of Christ, reflect not only the three great mysteries of our salvation – the Incarnation, Redemption and Eternal Life – they also mirror what are most often described as the three “stages” of our progress towards God in the spiritual life: the illuminative, the purgative and the unitive phases.
Each mystery is a lesson in some virtue, and yet they are all so apparently simple that each can be called to mind in succession without disturbing the sublime flow of prayer.
So, my brothers and sisters, in this month of October – in this month of Our Lady – I would ask you to pray the Rosary.
So that, by the Grace of God and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, we may all be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
By Br Sebastian Condon
Br Sebastian Condon is from Brisbane. He is undertaking a novitiate with the Dominican order in Hong Kong.