With Our Lady's Weapon Held High
by Thomas A. Droleskey
Saint Dominic de Guzman, O.P., was born in 1170, seventeen years after the death of the great Cistercian, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who was so devoted to the Mother of God. As Saint Bernard, a son of the elder daughter of the Church, France, fought heretics and schismatics in his own day, invoking the powerful intercession of Our Lady, so would Saint Dominic, a Spaniard from Caleruega in Castile, rely upon Our Lady's maternal intercession to crush the heretics of his own day, the Albigensians. In the case of Saint Dominic, however, Our Lady herself provided a special weapon to use as he combated the heresy of the latter-day Manicheans who were actually killing faithful Catholics in southern France. That special weapon was, of course, her Psalter, her Most Holy Rosary, consisting of one hundred fifty Hail Marys in honor of each of the Psalms composed by St. David.
Saint Dominic was ordained in the year 1194 or 1195 in Osma, not far from where he was born, and became a Canon Regular according to the Rule of Saint Augustine as was the desire of the Bishop of Osma at that time, Martin Bazan, so that priests would live a more austere life in community as they chanted the Divine Office. Father Dominic de Guzman would be called out of his life at the cathedral in Osma about eight years later to accompany the new Bishop of Osma, Diego de Acebo, on a diplomatic mission to Denmark in 1203. It was when crossing into southern France that he encountered the hateful Albigensians. Father Dominic de Guzman, then thirty-three years old, and his bishop became convinced that it was necessary to fight this heresy.
As they passed through the south of France, the frightful character and extent of the Albigensian heresy which then infected the whole of the southern provinces first came under their notice. Upon their arrival at Toulouse, where they meant to stop but one night. Dominic discovered that their host was a heretic. Although their time was short, he was unwilling to go away without doing something for the soul of the innkeeper. Being a man of action as well as prayer, he promptly engaged the man in argument and continued all night with his exposition of Catholic truth. Before their early departure in the morning, he had the joy of seeing in the innkeeper renounce his errors and pledge his belief in the truth. Dominic, moved by this conquest and by the sad knowledge that there were thousands of others who shared the innkeeper's ignorance, began to dream of some religious body to the defense of the Church and the exposition of truth. (Saint Dominic, Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P., originally published in 1959 by B. Herder Book Company, republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1982, p. 8.)
That one conversation changed the life of Father Dominic de Guzman. It also changed the life of the Church Militant on earth as a new community of priests, the Order of Preachers, was officially approved by Pope Honorius III on December 22, 1216, thus bringing to a formal, canonical birth the group of men and women that had formed around Saint Dominic de Guzman after he had spent over ten years in southern France, principally in Prouille, to combat the gnostic, neo-Manicheans who attracted a following to their heretical gnostic beliefs by means of their skillful use of arguments clouded in half-truths and obscurities.
To aid in his spiritual combat as he provided a shelter to women who fled from the Albigensian heresy, Saint Dominic received the Holy Rosary from Our Lady in the year 1208 in Prouille. Oh, sure, some rationalists and revisionists who want "proof" for everything do not believe that this took place. Catholics, however, know the truth of the matter, as Saint Louis de Montfort wrote in his The Secret of the Rosary:
Since the Holy Rosary is composed, principally and in substance, of the Prayer of Christ and the Angelic Salutation, that is, the Our Father and the Hail Mary, it was without doubt the first prayer and the first devotion of the faithful and has been in use all through the centuries from the time of the Apostles and disciples down to the present.
But it was only in the year 1214, however, that Holy Mother Church received the Rosary in its present form and according to the method we use today. It was given to the Church by Saint Dominic who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a powerful means of converting the Albigensian's and other sinners.
I will tell you the story of how he received it, which is found in the very well-known book "De Dignitate Psalterii" by Blessed Alan de la Roche . Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people's sins was hindering the conversion of the Albingensians, withdrew into a forest near Toulouse where he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights. During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma.
At this point Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said:
"Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"
"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."
Then Our Lady replied:
"I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."
So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal, for the conversion of the people in that district he made straight for the Cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together and Saint Dominic began to preach.
At the very beginning of his sermon an appalling storm broke, out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much afraid. Even greater was their fear when looking at a picture of Our Lady exposed in a prominent place they saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God's vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives, and seek the protection of the Holy Mother of God.
God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the new devotion of the Holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.
At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm came to an end, and he went on preaching. So fervently and compellingly did he explain the importance and value of the Holy Rosary that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs. In a very short time a great improvement was seen in the town; people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits. . De Dignitate Psalterii. The importance and Beauty of the Holy Rosary, by Blessed Alan de la Roche, O.P., French Dominican Father and Apostle of the Holy Rosary.
This miraculous way in which the devotion to the Holy Rosary was established is something of a parallel to the way in which Almighty God gave His law to the world on Mount Sinai and obviously proves its value and importance.
Inspired by the Holy Ghost, instructed by the Blessed Virgin as well by his own experience, Saint Dominic preached the Holy Rosary for the rest of his life. He preached it by his example as well as by his sermons, in cities in country places, to people of high station and low, before scholars and the uneducated, to Catholics and to heretics.
The Holy Rosary which he said every day was his preparation for every sermon and his little tryst with Our Lady immediately after preaching.
One Day he had to preach at Notre Dame in Paris, and it happened to be the feast of St. John the Evangelist. He was in a little chapel behind the high altar prayerfully preparing his sermon by saying the Rosary, as he always did, when Our Lady appeared to him and said:
"Dominic, even though what you have planned to say may be very good, I am brining you a much better sermon."
Saint Dominic took in his hands the book Our Lady proffered, read the sermon carefully and when he had understood it and meditated on it, he gave thanks to the Blessed Mother.
When the time came, he went up into the pulpit and, in spite of the feast day, made no mention of Saint John other than to say that he had been found worthy to be the guardian of the Queen of Heaven. The congregation was made up of theologians and other eminent people who were used to hearing unusual and polished discourses; but Saint Dominic told them that it was not his wish to give them a learned discourse, wise in the eyes of the world, but that he would speak in the simplicity of the Holy Spirit and with His forcefulness.
So he began preaching the Holy Rosary and explained the Hail Mary word by word as he would to a group of children and used the very simple illustrations which were in the book Our Lady had given to him.
Carthagena, the great scholar, quoting Blessed Alan de la Roche in "De Dignitate Psalterii," describes how this took place:
"Blessed Alan writes that one day Father Dominic said to him in a vision: 'My son, it is good to preach; but there is always a danger of looking for praise rather than the salvation of souls. Listen carefully to what happened to me in Paris so that you may be on guard against this kind of mistake: I was to preach in the great church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and I was particularly anxious to give a brilliant sermon, not out of pride, but because of the high intellectual stature of the congregation.
'An hour before the time I had to preach, I was recollectedly saying my Rosary - as I always did before giving a sermon - when I fell into ecstasy. I saw my beloved friend the Mother of God coming towards me with a book in her hand.
'"Dominic," she said, "'your sermon for today may be very good indeed, but no matter how good it is I have brought you one that is very much better."
'Of course I was overjoyed, took the book and read every word of it. Just as Our Lady had said, I found exactly the right things to say in my sermon, so I thanked her with all my heart.
'When it was time to begin, I saw that the University of Paris had turned out in full force as well as a large number of noblemen. They had all seen and heard of the great things that the good Lord had been doing through me. So I went up into the pulpit.
'It was the feast of Saint John the Apostle but all I said about him was that he had been found worthy to be the guardian of the Queen of Heaven. Then I addressed the congregation:
"'My Lords and illustrious Doctors of the University, you are accustomed to hearing learned sermons suited to your aesthetic tastes. Now I do not want to speak to you in the scholarly language of human wisdom but, on the contrary, to show you the Spirit of God and His Greatness.'"
Here ends the quotation from Blessed Alan, after which Carthagena goes on to say in his own words:
"Then Saint Dominic explained the Angelic Salutation to them, using simple comparisons and examples from everyday life."
Blessed Alan, according to Carthagena, mentioned several other times when Our Lord and Our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic to urge and inspire him to preach the Rosary more and more in order to wipe out sin and to convert sinners and heretics.
In another passage Cathagena says:
"Blessed Alan said Our Lady revealed to him that after she had appeared to Saint Dominic, her Blessed Son appeared to him and said:
'Dominic, I rejoice to see that you are not relying upon your own wisdom and that, rather than seek the empty praise of men, you are working with great humility for the salvation of souls.
'But many priests want to preach thunderously against the worst kinds of sin at the very outset, failing to realize that before a sick person is given bitter medicine he needs to be prepared by being put in the right frame of mind to really benefit by it.
'This is why, before doing anything else, priests should try to kindle a love of prayer in people's hearts and especially a love of my Angelic Psalter. If only they would all start saying it and would really persevere, God, in His mercy, could hardly refuse to give them His grace. So I want you to preach my Rosary.'
In another place Blessed Alan says:
"All priests say a Hail Mary with the faithful before preaching, to ask for God's grace. They do this because of a revelation that Saint Dominic had from Our Lady. 'My son,' she said one day
'do not be surprised that your sermons fail to bear the results you had hoped for. You are trying to cultivate a piece of ground which has not had any rain. Now when Almighty God planned to renew the face of the earth He started by sending down rain from heaven - and this was the Angelic Salutation. In this way God made over the world.
'So when you give a sermon, urge people to say my Rosary, and in this way your words will bear much fruit for souls.'
"Saint Dominic lost no time in obeying, and from then on he exerted great influence by his sermons."
This last quotation is from the "Book of Miracles of the Holy Rosary" (written in Italian) and it is also to be found in Justin's works (143d Sermon).
I have been very glad to quote these well-known authors word for word in the original Latin  for benefit of any priests or other learned people who might otherwise have doubts as to the marvelous power of the Holy Rosary.
As long as priests followed Saint Dominic's example and preached devotion to the Holy Rosary, piety and fervor thrived throughout the Christian world and in those religious orders which were devoted to the Rosary. But since people have neglected this gift from heaven, all kinds of sin and disorder have spread far and wide.
Yes, it is no wonder that "all kinds of sin and disorder have spread far and wide" in our day, especially since the false "pontiff" has refused on most occasions, other than a few isolated instances here and there, to exhort the large numbers of people who turn out for his "papal" extravaganza "Masses" to pray Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary, whose perfect number of one hundred fifty Hail Marys was, of course, altered by the insidious master of novelty and sacrilege and blasphemy named Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, who claimed to be devoted to the Rosary! Saint Dominic made no compromises with error or blasphemy. He dared not "improve" Our Lady's Psalter.
Indeed, it was with the weapon of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary that Saint Dominic, who began gathering his little group of followers at around the exact same time that the great Saint of Assisi, Giovanni di Bernadone, Pietro di Bernadone's little "Francesco" (Francis), was gathering his little group of followers to shore up the Church Militant on earth at a time of the spread of heresy and the prevalence of clerical corruption. Saint Dominic's use of the Rosary and of sound preaching combined with Saint Francis's embrace of evangelical poverty and severe bodily mortifications to make it possible for the Thirteenth Century, at whose beginning they founded their religious communities and during which they died before the century was even a quarter spent, to be the apex of Christendom despite the troubles caused in each era by the ravages of fallen human nature.
Sister Mary Jean Dorcy related the founding of the Order of Preachers in Saint Dominic:
In the autumn of the same year , Foulques of Toulouse set out for Rome to attend the approaching Council of the Lateran. Eleven years had passed since Dominic's first visit in company with the Bishop of Osma; they had been years of hard and solitary labor, and the work which he had visualized then was only now developing. Surely he was a man of tremendous faith or he might well have been discouraged as, coming for the second time within sight of the Eternal City, he remembered the years of his life that lay behind him, so full of patient work and seemingly blessed with so little fruit. It took more than mere human enthusiasm to visualize the task of reforming the world, when the only materials he had yet gathered for the struggle were the six companions of Toulouse. Innocent III still sat in the papal chair, and the Council of the Lateran formed almost a closing scene of a pontificate which must be held as one of the greatest even given to the Church. On the eleventh of November, 1215, nearly five hundred bishops and eight hundred abbots and friars, plus the representatives of all the royal houses of Europe, met in that ancient church to discuss the problems of the world. Few Councils, excepting that of Trent, have higher claims on our veneration, for in it were defined some of the greatest articles of Catholic faith. The Albigenses, like so many other heretics, were the involuntary means of drawing forth an explicit declaration of the Church's doctrine and discipline and defining regulations of reform and Christian observance. The energy displayed by this Council and the nature of the decrees are sufficient evidence of the state in which the world and the Church were then found. There was everywhere a decay and a falling off. Old institutions were weakening, while indications were everywhere of an extraordinary activity and restlessness of mind. Europe had taken centuries to shake off the barbarian invasions, and during the thirteenth century the new growth was beginning. It was one of those junctures in world history when God raises up great men to shape the world anew. Among those who built a new world at that time were the founders of the friars.
As yet the Church possessed only ancient forms of monasticism, with some institutes of later foundation which had a purely local influence, plus the military orders which were limited both in place and time. The Friars Minor were in fact several years older than the Preachers in their foundation, but they had not yet been formally established as a religious order; in fact it was a long time before even St. Francis himself would consider his followers as any more than a humble band of wandering poor folk dedicated to Lady Poverty. Dominic's ideal included a much wider field than any founder before or since has visualized. Practically speaking, he designed his Order for preaching and teaching throughout the whole world. To preach and teach presupposed that one was, first of all, a skilled theologian--hence the Order was clerical; secondly, that one would reach the thinkers among the heretics and deal with them in their own coin, which was at the time public disputation; and that the foes of truth should be fought wherever and whenever they were to be found. The motto Veritas is a good expression of the scope of Dominic's apostolate, for truth is universal and has no limits of time and place. With the Order bearing that motto, he could attack the enemy in places and situations that no man of the thirteenth century could visualize. (Saint Dominic, Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P., originally published in 1959 by B. Herder Book Company, republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1982, pp. 39-40.)
The rapid spread of the Order of Preachers--and their dispersal throughout Europe--was a fruit of Saint Dominic's deep devotion to Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary. Although he would base himself in the order's headquarters in Rome during most of the years following Pope Honorius III's final approval of the his new community, Saint Dominic returned on foot to Toulouse, France, in 1217 to send his friars off on their preaching missions throughout Europe:
During this time also Dominic made a friend who was to be intensely loyal to him and to his Order and to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. This was Cardinal Ugolino (Hugh) Conti, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and afterwards Pope Gregory IX. He was a man of advanced age, but he understood and dearly loved Dominic and Francis, whose whole ideal was one of youth and progress. He counted his friendship with these two men as the greatest privilege of his life, and never lost an opportunity to help the two founders. A friend of Cardinal Hugh gives us the charming picture of St. Dominic, whom he met at the Cardinal's home. He tells us: "At that time Brother Dominic, the founder and first master of the Order of Preachers, was at the Roman Court and often visited my Lord of Ostia. . . . Many a time did we speak together of the eternal salvation of our own souls and those of all men. I never spoke to a man of equal perfection, or one so taken up with the salvation of mankind, although indeed I have talked to very many holy religious." This man and several others of note became interested in following Dominic, and some did so.
Not until May, 1217, was Dominic allowed to return to Toulouse. His return was very welcome to his children; yet their joy was sobered when, almost immediately on his arrival, he gathered them together and told them he was going to scatter them to begin their missions in the many countries where they were needed. Nearly everyone advised him against it. In other situations he had quietly accepted the judgment of others; in this he was firm. "Do not oppose me," he said, "for I know very well what I am doing." The seed will moulder if it is hoarded up; it will fructify if it is sown." His followers, whatever were their feelings on the subject, had too profound a veneration for his person and character to oppose him, and soon yielded the point. In the preparations that he made for the dispersion of his children he showed his anxiety for the observance and spirit of their rule. The convent of Toulouse he designated to be the model which was to be followed in all later foundations. Since he thought it well that the brethren should meet from time to time for mutual counsel and encouragement, he had two large rooms added to the convent, one for their meetings and one for their habits. Until now they had no rooms but their cells and refectory. He exhorted them to observe the spirit of poverty, and forbade all elegances and curiosities, even in the chapel. The cells of the brethren were models of poverty; a little cane bedstead and a miserable bench were the only furniture allowed, and the cells had no doors, being open like the wards of the hospitals at that time.
The Feast of the Assumption of 1217 was chosen by Dominic as the day for launching his new apostolate; it is significant that he chose a feast of our Lady for such an important event. He called the brethren to the little church of Our Lady of Prouille so that for one time--in many ways the first and the last time--all the various elements of his apostolate might be together under one roof. He had decided upon the missions, and his choice is indicative of the long road he had marked for his sons. Prouille and Toulouse, the cradle of the venture, came first; then the great university centers of Paris and Bologna; Rome, the center of Christendom; and Spain, his homeland. He himself was letting his beard grow so that he might go to Tartary when things were settled, if he could get permission to do so.
On the appointed day not only the brethren and the nuns were present, but great numbers of people from Toulouse and Prouille who had heard rumours of the dispersal. One of the spectators was Simon de Montfort [a leader of the Albingensians]. If legends are correct (as they sometimes are) there must also have been members of the "Militia of Jesus Christ" among the layfolk who crowded into the church to observe the ceremonies of departure. There were also a number of Cistercians present.
It was Dominic himself who sang at the Mass, and at the end of the Mass preached a sermon which, almost unique among his sermons, was a model of severity in tone. Generally his words were gentle and encouraging, his theme the Gospel and its every lovely message. But the people of Languedoc had finally exhausted the patience of this great man and saint. He was not the first preacher to have trouble reaching the better nature of the easy-going Southerners; Bernard before him had scolded and exhorted, and even cursed one of the cities which had proved adamant to his teaching. Even gentle Bishop Diego had observed wryly that "it is at least clear that the people of Verfeil have no common sense." Now, after more than ten years among then, Dominic was forced to realize that though his Order had begun here, it must look elsewhere for an apostolate. He prophesied to the started congregation that great misfortunes would come upon them. It was a sad farewell, and could not have made the parting easier.
After the address to the people, Dominic turned to the brethren. He reminded them of the purpose of their foundation and exhorted them to confidence in God and to unflinching courage in the cause of truth. After the sermon, according to some accounts, the brethren made their vows into his hands. Then the nuns of Prouille likewise made their vows, promising also by vow of enclosure to remain at the Prouille cloister. Then the Saint scattered the seeds that were to yield so great a harvest in the years to come, and the people listened weeping while he told the brethren where they were to go. (Saint Dominic, Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P., originally published in 1959 by B. Herder Book Company, republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1982, pp. 52-55.)
Saint Dominic returned to Rome, walking from southern France to Italy on foot once again, and became famous there for his preaching and his prodigies, including raising the nephew of Cardinal Orsini from the dead. It was an account on that report that Bishop Ivo Odrowatz of Krakow, Poland, told his two nephews, Hyacinth and Ceslaus, whom he had recently ordained to the priesthood, that they should take the time to meet with Father Dominic (known as "Brother" Dominic) before they returned to the northland:
A soft glow stole into Hyacinth's eyes. "Maybe we should also pray for another favor," he suggested. "What do you think, Uncle Ivo? Could you use some of Father Dominic's friars in Cracow?
Such was Father Hyacinth Konski's zeal for souls that he desired to help his brother Poles to have the best priests possible to teach them the Faith from which they had, for the most part, fallen away over the course of time. Father Dominic de Guzman had no priests to send to Poland. He did, however, suggest that Hyacinth and Ceslaus, ordained priests, join his own novitiate and then return to their homeland to preach to their own people. Bishop Ivo Odrowatz was a little amazed at the suggestion:
Now Ivo Odrowatz, who had come to Rome for one purpose only: to be confirmed in his new post as Bishop of Cracow, was somewhat stunned at the sudden turn of events. Could it be that these nephews whom he had trained and encouraged for years in God's service were being rather too hasty in their decision to follow the Spanish friar?
"Ceslaus has degrees in theology and law from the University of Bologna," he said slowly. "He's been a priest at the Cathedral in Cracow for about five years. . ."
"And this younger brother? What of him?"
The bishop gazed fondly at Hyacinth. "He, too, has a good education, Father Dominic. First at the University of Prague, then at Bologna. Like Ceslaus, he is now a canon of the Cathedral in Cracow. But do you really think. . .?"
Dominic smiled--undestandingly, affectionately. "Do I really think that men who are already priests can take to living as simple friars without a struggle? Oh, Your Lordship, have no fear! You have asked for workers, for apostles in the North. Soon you will have them. And not only in Hyacinth and Ceslaus. There are others in your retinue whom God intends for His service."
The Bishop stared, "Others, Father Dominic?"
"Yes, I see one now--standing by the window. And a second at the door. Come here, my sons. Tell me if it is not true that God has suddenly touched your heats with His grace--that now you are both convinced you must give yourselves to Him completely.
All eyes turned to where Dominic pointed, and the Bishop gasped. Advancing toward the Spanish friar were two of his lay attendants--Herman, who hailed from Germany, and a young Czech named Henry. They were good souls, honest and hard-working, but never had the Bishop suspected that they might be interested in the religious life. Indeed, until this very moment they had seemed quite content to spend their days as servants in the episcopal household.
Dominic was smiling. "Well, Herman? Well, Henry? What do you ask?"
With one accord the two fell upon their knees. Yes, they also wanted to be clothed in the habit of the Friars Preachers."
Miss Windeatt went on to describe Bishop Ivo Odrowatz's continued amazement at all of this:
"Bishop Ivo watched the little scene with a fast-beating heart. What an amazing day this was! He had come to beg for missionaries from Father Dominic de Guzman. Instead, the holy man had claimed both nephews and servants for his preaching Order. Yet even as he thought on this, reassuring words echoed in Ivo's ears:
"Why not give me some of these young men who have accompanied you here to Rome? In just a little while I would return them to you as true apostles."
Apostles! Apostles for Poland. God willing, the holy friar was right, thought the Bishop. Ceslaus and Hyacinth, even Herman and Henry, would do great things in the cause of Christ!" (Mary Fabyan Windeatt, Saint Hyacinth: Apostle of the Northland.)
Apostles, indeed! The novitiate having been completed, the friars set out for their 750 mile journey to Cracow, unaware that God would separate them on different paths to evangelize different peoples as they walked. Father Dominic accompanied them part of the way, resisting the temptation to proceed onto Poland himself, aware that he was going to die a little over a year from then, on August 6, 1221. Father Dominic did get Father Hyacinth to relate the history of Poland to him while they were walking, learning that the Poles fought a lot and were in need of being taught the Faith well.
"There have been feuds and battles without number in such cases," said Hyacinth sadly. "Brother kills brother and seizes his lands, so that he may be more powerful. Soon he meets a man who has done just the same thing. They fight each other, taxing the people to provide for their armies. Then thousands upon thousands of young men are killed. Many sins are committed, homes are destroyed, and there is no time to think about God, to provide training and education for the poor. Oh, my friends! Don't you see why apostles must hurry to the North? The nobles there must be taught to see Christ in other human beings! The peasants, fighting and dying in a foolish cause, must be taught the same!
Dominic's eyes shone. What an immense field for good lay in northern Europe! And how fine if he could go there with these zealous young disciples! It would be as fruitful a trip as the one he had longed to make to Asia in his early manhood. But even as he thought on this, a shadow crossed his face. Sixteen years ago, by express command of Pope Innocent the Third, Asia, had been denied him as a missionary field. He had been forced to set aside the glorious thought of dying as a martyr at the hands of the barbarian Tartars living there and to concentrated instead on rooting out the Albigensian heresy in southern France. Now, it would seem that, with the same spirit of abandonment to God's Will, he must set aside the thought of going to Poland. What strength he had should be spent in training others to be missionaries, not wasted in foolish day-dreams.
"By my spirit will go forth with Hyacinth and his friends," he thought. "God will grant this one favor at least. And He will also grant another. Someday Poland will be one of the truly Christian countries of the whole world. Many saints and martyrs will rise up there to love and bless the Holy Name of God. I know it! "(Mary Fabyan Windeatt, Saint Hyacinth: Apostle of the Northland.)
The two brothers, Fathers Hyacinth and Ceslaus, were raised to altars of Holy Mother Church themselves along with their holy founder, Saint Dominic. Saint Hyacinth spent himself tirelessly in behalf of souls in Central and Eastern Europe. His own feast day is commemorated this year on the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 17.
The Dominican Rite calendar, which we were privileged to observe during our time at Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Monroe, Connecticut, is full of marvelous exemplars of the spirit of Saint Dominic de Guzman. Indeed, Saint Dominic's religious family would give birth in the Thirteenth Century not only to Saints Hyacinth and Ceslaus but to Saint Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great) and his student, the Angelic Doctor himself, Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose Scholasticism is so, so despised by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and his successor as the head of the counterfeit church of conciliarism, Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Francis.
The Fourteenth Century gave us Saint Catherine of Siena, a Third Order Dominican, and the beginnings of the work of Saint Vincent Ferrer, who died in 1419, who sought the unconditional conversion of Jews and Mohammedans in the Iberian Peninsula and in the same districts of southern France where Saint Dominic had been given the Rosary by Our Lady as he worked to combat the heresies of the Albingensians. And the Americas were blessed with Saint Rose of Lima, first native born saint of the Americas, and Blessed Martin de Porres, both of whose lives straddled the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Oh, yes, the sons and daughters of Saint Dominic spread far and wide into the far quarters of the world.
Each of the Dominican saints has held Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary high as they fought battles for the sanctification and salvation of their own souls and as they sought to do battle all of the various wiles of the devil in the world (heresies, scandals, tepidity, worldliness, etc.). Pope Saint Pius V, a member of the Order of Preachers, commanded that this Heavenly weapon that was given to Saint Dominic be prayed for the success of the combined Christian fleets in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turkish Mohammedans in 1571. And it was the weapon used by King John Sobieski of Poland to defeat the Turks yet again one hundred twelve years later in the Battle at the Gates of Vienna. Our Lady herself has pleaded with us to pray her Most Holy Rosary in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world, doing so especially as she appeared to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917. Can we dare ignore the Heavenly weapon that was given by Our Lady to Saint Dominic de Guzman to serve as the means to fight heresy and to convert souls unconditionally to the true Church that her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.
Consider these reflections contained in Saint Louis de Montfort's The Secret of the Rosary:
Our Lady one day revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche that, after the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which is the first and most living memorial of our Lord's passion, there was indeed no more excellent devotion or one of greater merit than that of the Rosary, which is like a second memorial and representation of the life and passion of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Dorland relates that in 1481 our Lady appeared to the Venerable Dominic, a Carthusian devoted to the holy Rosary, who lived at Treves, and said to him:
"Whenever one of the faithful, in a state of grace, says the Rosary while meditating on the mysteries of the life and passion of Christ, he obtains full and entire remission of all his sins."
She also said to Blessed Alan, "I want you to know that, although there are numerous indulgences already attached to the recitation of my Rosary, I shall add many more to every five decades for those, who free from serious sin, say them with devotion, on their knees. And whosoever shall persevere in the devotion of the holy Rosary, with its prayers and meditations, shall be rewarded for it; I shall obtain for him full remission of the penalty and the guilt of all his sins at the end of his life.
"And let this not seem incredible to you; it is easy for me because I am the Mother of the King of heaven, and he calls me full of grace. And being filled with grace, I am able to dispense it freely to my dear children."
St. Dominic was so convinced of the efficacy of the Rosary and its great value, that when he heard confessions, he hardly ever gave any other penance, as we have seen in the story I told you of the lady in Rome to whom he gave only a single Rosary.
St. Dominic was a great saint and other confessors also ought to walk in his footsteps by asking their penitents to say the Rosary with meditation on the sacred mysteries, rather than giving them other penances which are less meritorious and less pleasing to God, less likely to help them avoid sin. Moreover, while saying the Rosary, people gain numerous indulgences which are not attached to many other devotions.
As Abbot Blosius says, "The Rosary, with meditation on the life and passion of Christ, is certainly most pleasing to our Lord and his blessed Mother and is a very successful means of obtaining all graces; we can say it for ourselves as well as for those who have been recommended to our prayers and for the whole Church. Let us turn, then, to the holy Rosary in all our needs, and we shall infallibly obtain the graces we ask for from God to attain our salvation.
There is nothing more divine, according to the mind of St. Denis, nothing more noble or agreeable to God than to cooperate in the work of saving souls and to frustrate the devil's plans for ruining them. The Son of God came down to earth for no other reason than to save us. He upset Satan's empire by founding the Church, but the devil rallied his strength and wreaked cruel violence on souls by the Albingensians heresy, by the hatred, dissensions and abominable vices which he spread throughout the world in the eleventh century.
Only severe remedies could possible cure such terrible disorders and repel Satan's forces. The Blessed Virgin, protectress of the Church, has given us a most powerful means for appeasing her Son's anger, uprooting heresy and reforming Christian morals, in the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, as events have shown. It has brought back charity and the frequent reception of the sacraments as in the first golden centuries of the Church, and it has reformed Christian morals.
Pope Leo X said in his bull that this Confraternity had been founded in honor of God and of the Blessed Virgin as a wall to hold back the evils that were going to break upon the Church.
Gregory XIII said that the Rosary was inspired by God that heaven might be more easily opened to us through the favors or our Lady.
Paul III and Blessed Pius V declared that the Rosary was given to the faithful in order that they might have spiritual peace and consolation more easily. Surely everyone will want to join a confraternity which was founded for such noble purposes.
Father Dominic, a Carthusian, who was deeply devoted to the holy Rosary, had a vision in which he saw heaven open and the whole heavenly court assembled in magnificent array. He heard them sing the Rosary in an enchanting melody, and each decade was in honor of a mystery of the life, passion, or glory of Jesus Chris and his holy Mother. Fr. Dominic noticed that whenever they pronounced the holy name of Mary they bowed their head, and at the name of Jesus they genuflected and gave thanks to God for the great good that he had wrought in heaven and on earth through the holy Rosary. He also saw how our Lady and the Saints present to God the Rosaries which the Confraternity members say here on earth. He noticed too that they were praying for those who practice this devotion. He also saw beautiful crowns without number, which were made of sweet-smelling flowers, for those who say the Rosary devoutly. He learned that by every Rosary that they say they make a crown for themselves which they will be able to wear in heaven.
This holy Carthusian's vision is very much like that the Beloved Disciple had, in which he saw a great multitude of angels and saints, who continually praised and blessed Jesus Christ for all that he had done and suffered on earth for our salvation. And is not this what the devout members of the Rosary Confraternity do?
It must not be imagined that the Rosary is only for women, and for simple and unlearned people; it is also for men and for the greatest of men. As soon as St. Dominic acquainted Pope Innocent III with the fact that he had received a command from heaven to establish the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, the Holy Father gave it his full approval, urged St. Dominic to preach it, and said that he wished to become a member himself. Even Cardinals embraced the devotion with great fervor, which prompted Lopez to say, "Neither sex nor age nor any other condition has kept anyone from devotion to the Rosary."
Members of the Confraternity have come from all walks of life: dukes, princes, kings, as well as prelates, cardinals, and Sovereign Pontiffs. It would take too long to list them in this little book. If you join this Confraternity, dear reader, you will share in their devotion and their graces on earth and their glory in heaven. "Since you are united to them in their devotion, you will share in their dignity."
Whether we are Dominicans by profession or not, each us is called to live as Saint Dominic did by using Our Lady's Psalter, her Most Holy Rosary, to sanctify our own souls as we seek to do reparation for our sins and those of the whole world--and as we seek to fight the pernicious heresies and sacrileges and blasphemies of conciliarism in our own day that have tampered with that Holy Rosary as with Holy Mass itself.
May we make Dom Prosper Gueranger's prayer to Saint Dominic de Guzman our own this day and every day:
How many sons and daughters surround thee on the sacred cycle! This very month, Rose of Lima and Hyacinth keep thee company, and thy coming has long since been heralded in the liturgy by Raymond of Pennafort, Thomas Aquinas, Vincent Ferrer, Peter the Martyr, Catherine of Siena, Pius V and Antoninus. And now at length appears in the firmament the new star whose brightness dispels ignorance, confounds heresy, increases the faith of believers. O Dominic, thy blessed mother, who preceded thee to heaven, now penetrates in all its fulness the happy meaning of that mysterious vision which once excited her fears. And the other Dominic, the glory of ancient Silos, at whose tomb she received the promise of they blessed birth, rejoices at the tenfold splendour given by thee for all eternity to the beautiful name he bequeathed thee. But what special welcome dost thou receive from the Mother of all grace, who heretofore, embracing the feet of her angered Son, stood surety that thou wouldst back the world to is Saviour! A few years passed away; and error, put to confusion, felt that a deadly struggle was engaged between itself and they family; the Lateran Church saw its walls, which were threatening to fall, strengthened for a time; and the two princes of the apostles, who had bidden thee to and preach, rejoice that the word has gone forth once more into the whole world.
Stricken with barrenness, the nations, which the Apocalypse likens to great waters, seemed to have become once for all corrupt; the prostitute of Babylon was setting up her throne before the time; when, in imitation of Eliseus, putting the salt of Wisdom into the new vessel of the order founded by thee, thou didst cast this divine salt into the unhealthy waters, neutralize the poison of the best so soon risen up again, and, in spite of the snares which will never cease, didst render the earth habitable once more. How clearly thy example shows us that they alone are powerful before God and over the people, who give themselves up to Him without seeking anything else, and only give to others out of their own fulness. Despising, as thine historians tell us, every opportunity and every science where eternal Wisdom was not to be seen, thy youth was charmed with her alone; and she, who prevents those that seek her, inundated thee from thy earliest years with the light and the anticipated sweetness of heaven. It is from her that overflowed upon thee that radiant serenity, which so struck thy contemporaries, and which no occurrence could ever alter. In heavenly peace thou didst drink long draughts from the ever-flowing fountain springing up into eternal life; but while thine inmost soul was thus shaking the thirst of of its love, the divine source produced a marvellous fecundity; and its streams becoming thine, thy fountains were conveyed abroad in the streets, thou didst divide thy waters. Thou hadst welcomed Wisdom, and she exalted thee; not content to adorn thy brow with the rays of the mysterious star, she ave thee also the glory of patriarchs, and multiplied thy years and thy works in those of thy sons. In them thou has not ceased to be one of the strongest stays of the Church. Science has made thy name wonderful among the nations, and because of it their youth is honoured by the ancients; may it ever be for them, as it was for their elders, both the fruit of Wisdom and the way that leads to her; may it be fostered by prayer; for thy holy order so well keeps up the beautiful traditions of prayer as to approach the nearest, in that respect, to the ancient monastic orders. To praise, to bless, and to preach will be to the end its loved motto; for its apostolate must be, according to the words of the Psalm, the overflowing of the abundance of sweetness tasted in communication with God. Thus strengthened in Sion, thus blessed in its glorious role of propagator and guardian of the truth, thy noble family will ever deserve to hear, from the mouth of our Lady, herself, that encouragement above all praise: "Fortiter, fortiter, viri fortes!--Courage, courage, ye men of courage!
Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for us.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?