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The Holy Rosary vs Sloth

In this article I would like to answer to another one of many objections made by a member of a certain anti-Catholic sect. I already answered other objections previously made by this sect in my articles called "The Papacy and the Papal States", “God is the Father of all men”, “God is the Father of all men. Part 2”, “WHO MAY PREACH” and “Pope Pius IX about Holy Mass”.

Objection:

“Sloth is one of the deadly sins. This pertains to laziness in studying the Faith. We must study the Faith and avoid the deadly sin of sloth.

- The Fatima Rosary includes a prayer between decades,. The Blessed Virgin Mary's Rosary does not include a prayer between decades.

- It is NOT the same Rosary used by St. Dominic that defeated the Albigensian heresy in the 1200's with St. Dominic.

- The Fatima rosary, with the prayer between decades was NOT the same Rosary that was used to defeat the Moors (African Muslims) that was going to invade Rome at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.”

Reply:

Yes, we must study the Faith and avoid the deadly sin of sloth, but I should say that the author of the objection acts like a student infected by a microbe of sloth, neglecting to study the Faith, preferring instead to spread insults against Blessed Virgin Mary and Her devoted servants. This ‘student’ spends all of his energy to move in any direction other than the one that leads to God. Such behavior “dries him up, wears him out, till life goes out like a lamp without oil”, as Rev. John H. Stapleton says.

Now, let's read the Catholic Teaching about sloth:

EXPLANATION OF CATHOLIC MORALS
BY REV. JOHN H. STAPLETON:

SLOTH

NOT the least, if the last, of capital sins is sloth, and it is very properly placed; for who ever saw the sluggard or victim of this passion anywhere but after all others, last!

Sloth, of course, is a horror of difficulty, an aversion for labor, pain and effort, which must be traced to a great love of one's comfort and ease. Either the lazy fellow does nothing at all and this is sloth; or he abstains from doing what he should do while otherwise busily occupied - and this too, is sloth; or he does it poorly, negligently, half-heartedly - and this again is sloth. Nature imposes upon us the law of labor. He who shirks in whole or in part is slothful.

Here, in the moral realm, we refer properly to the difficulty we find in the service of God, in fulfiling our obligations as Christians and Catholics, in avoiding evil and doing good; in a word, to the discharge of our spiritual duties. But then all human obligations have a spiritual side, by the fact of their being obligations. Thus, labor is not, like attendance at mass, a spiritual necessity; but to provide for those who are dependent upon us is a moral obligation and to shirk it would be a sin of sloth.

Not that it is necessary, if we would avoid sin, to hate repose naturally and experience no difficulty or repugnance in working out our soul's salvation. Sloth is inbred in our nature. There is no one but would rather avoid than meet difficulties. The service of God is laborious and painful. The kingdom of God suffers violence. It has always been true since the time of our ancestor Adam, that vice is easy, and virtue difficult; that the flesh is weak, and repugnance to effort, natural because of the burden of the flesh. So that, in this general case, sloth is an obstacle to overcome rather than a fault of the will. We may abhor exertion, feel the laziest of mortals; if we effect our purpose in spite of all that, we can do no sin.

Sometimes sloth takes on an acute form known as aridity or barrenness in all things that pertain to God. The most virtuous souls are not always exempt from this. It is a dislike, a distaste that amounts almost to a disgust for prayer especially, a repugnance that threatens to overwhelm the soul. That is simply an absence of sensible fervor, a state of affliction and probation that is as pleasing to God as it is painful to us. After all where would the merit be in the service of God, if there were no difficulty?

The type of the spiritually indolent is that fixture known as the half-baked Catholic - some people call him "a poor stick" - who is too lazy to meet his obligations with his Maker. He says no prayers, because he can't; he lies abed Sunday mornings and lets the others go to mass - he is too tired and needs rest; the effort necessary to prepare for and to go to confession is quite beyond him. In fine, religion is altogether too exacting, requires too much of a man.

And, as if to remove all doubt as to the purely spiritual character of this inactivity, our friend can be seen, without a complaint, struggling every day to earn the dollar. He will not grumble about rising at five to go fishing or cycling. He will, after his hard day's work, sit till twelve at the theatre or dance till two in the morning. He will spend his energy in any direc tion save in that which leads to God.

Others expect virtue to be as easy as It is beautiful. Religion should conduce to one's comfort. They like incense, but not the smell of brimstone. They would remain forever content on Tabor, but the dark frown of Calvary is insupportable. Beautiful churches, artistic music, eloquent preaching on interesting topics, that is their idea of religion; that is what thev intend religion - their religion - shall be, and they proceed to cut out whatever jars their finer feelings. This is fashion able, but it is not Christian: to do anything for God - if it is easy; and if it is hard, - well, God does not expect so much of us.

You will see at a glance that this sort of a thing is fatal to the sense of God in the soul; it has for its first, direct and immediate effect to weaken little by little the faith until it finally kills it altogether. Sloth is a microbe. It creeps into the soul, sucks in its substance and causes a spiritual consumption. This is neither an acute nor a violent malady, but it consumes the patient, dries him up, wears him out, till life goes out like a lamp without oil. (1)

But before I begin to reply to the objection claiming that the Holy Rosary used by St. Dominic and the small shepherds in Fatima were not the same, I would say, that only a slothful and negligent person can make such a false claim.

It is important to know that there are probably hundreds of prayers approved by the Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and every prayer is correct and good.

Let’s look into the Hail Mary in the Latin and Byzantine Rites.

The Hail Mary in the Latin Rite:

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Hail Mary in the Byzantine Rite:

Hail, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the Lord is with thee. Blessed Thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for Thou hast given birth to Christ, the Savior and Deliverer of our souls.

In the book THE MEANS OF GRACE by Rev. HERMAN ROLFUS, D.D., and Rev. F. J. BRANDLE, you can read an excellent explanation and story of the 'development' of the Hail Mary where the Church made some additions to the Angelic Salutation without changing the meaning. The Church rather ‘enriched’ and ‘beautified’ it.

Perhaps you will be surprised by the historical fact that only in 431 A.D. at The Council of Ephesus the Church added to the Angel's salutation the words: ''Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

Also, it is no less surprising that in fact, only in 1262 A.D. the name of Jesus had been added by Pope Urban IV to the words of St. Elizabeth, "blessed is the fruit of thy womb".

You will also see that the great Saints of the Byzantine Rite had expressed the Angelic Salutation like an exciting eastern poetry.

Therefore, it is totally wrong to say that one version is correct while another is incorrect.

All versions of the prayer Hail Mary are equally valuable and beautiful because all of them lead us to Jesus through Mary.

THE MEANS OF GRACE
By Rev. HERMAN ROLFUS, D.D., and Rev. F. J. BRANDLE,
BY Rev. RICHARD BRENNAN, LL.D.:

The Angelical Salutation in General

To the recital of the Lord's Prayer we Catholics usually add the Angelical Salutation or Hail Mary. This is becoming and proper; for if we would be assured that we are to obtain from God what we asked for in the Lord's Prayer, we should turn to Mary as to our mother, that by her powerful intercession she may strengthen our feeble prayer before the throne of her divine Son. "You know," writes St. Cyril, "that those persons have access to the court whose queen receives them, and that they receive all they pray for. And so shall we obtain all we ask for and all we desire if, we have the Mother of God for our advocate before the King Whom she implores earnestly for us."

The Hail Mary is a most excellent form of prayer, and deserves frequent repetition on our part.

This excellence of the Hail Mary we may discover from its subject-matter, from its effect, and its power.

The subject-matter of the Hail Mary consists of a prayer of praise and a prayer of petition. The prayer of praise consists, again, 1. of the words of the angel Gabriel, "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1. 28); and, 2. of the words of St. Elizabeth, "And blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Luke 1. 42); to which we add the word "Jesus." The prayer of petition consists of the addition made by the Church: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

We are indebted, then, for this beautiful prayer to the holy archangel Gabriel, to the heaven-favored St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John, and to the infallible Church. Hence whenever we say the Hail Mary we do nothing but what the angel did and said, and what St. Elizabeth did and said. We praise Mary's excellence and dignity, and with the approbation of our holy mother, the Church, we add our supplication for Mary's help in life and at the hour of death. Certainly, an excellent mode of prayer.

Furthermore, whoever has addressed this prayer with childlike confidence to the Mother of God must have discovered that it contains a holy and heavenly power. Thomas a Kempis, that profound ascetic, thus speaks on the subject: "Whenever I salute our blessed Lady in the words of the angel: 'Hail Mary full of grace!' heaven rejoices, the earth wonders, the devil shudders, hell trembles, sadness disappears, joy returns, the heart smiles in charity and is penetrated with a holy fervor, compunction is awakened, hope is revived. Indeed, so profound is my happiness that I cannot find words to describe it." And Marchantius writes: "Would you know the power and effect of the Angelical Salutation? Well, then, know it is a heavenly antidote which preserves the soul against the deadly bite of the serpent, and protects it against his strength; it is a rod with which thou canst strike this destructive serpent on the head and overcome its hostile attacks."

Then let us often repeat the Hail Mary with love and devotion, for whenever we salute Mary, she returns the greeting, and with genuine consolations and benefits. (p. 499-500)

THE COUNCIL OF EPHESUS

In the fifth century of the Church, Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, a proud and haughty man, who concealed much impiety under an appearance of zeal and piety, displayed at length the venom of his heart by preaching publicly in the Church that it was not permitted to call Mary the Mother of God. The people heard this impiety with the greatest consternation. All Constantinople was excited; and the faithful were indignant at the insult offered to Mary, by attempting to deprive her of a title which had been given her from the days of the apostles. Venerable old men, who in the desert had spent their lives in the practice of the severest austerities, now abandoned their retreats, and appeared in the streets and public assemblies, to defend the honor of the Queen of Heaven, and to caution the people against the errors of the impious Nestorius. The bishops and pastors of the Church, well knowing that the whole history of human redemption would be annihilated if the error of Nestorius prevailed, undertook the defense of Mary's dignity with the greatest zeal. A general council was held at Ephesus in 431, at which bishops from various countries assisted, and over which St. Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria, presided, as legate of Pope Celestine. The error of Nestorius was condemned, and he himself anathematized as an innovator. It is difficult to describe the joy and exultation which this decision excited in the Church in Ephesus and throughout all Christendom. On the day in which the decree of the council on the nature of Mary's dignity was solemnly announced, almost the whole city gathered before the church where the bishops were assembled. The people awaited patiently the whole day, as if nothing was more important or dearer to their hearts than the determination of this question. At length, the doors being thrown open, St. Cyril appeared at the head of more than two hundred bishops, and announced to the people the condemnation of Nestorius and his impious doctrine. Scarcely had he ceased to speak when the multitude burst into exclamations of joy, and the whole city resounded with hymns and congratulations to Mary. "The enemy of Mary is overcome!" they exclaimed. "Joy to Mary, the great, the sublime, the glorious Mother of God!" The Fathers of the council were received by the people with loud praises, and conducted home, accompanied by innumerable torches. Costly perfumes were burned in the streets through which they passed; the whole city was illuminated; and nothing was omitted to render the triumph of Mary complete. It was on this occasion that the Church added to the angel's salutation the words: ''Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

High Antiquity of the Hail Mary

From an early age it was a universal practice in the Church to address the Blessed Virgin in the words of the angelical salutation. This we learn partly from the ancient liturgies, partly from the writings of the holy Fathers who lived in the early ages of the Church.

In that very old liturgy ascribed to the apostle St. James we find the following form of prayer to Mary: "Whilst with all the saints and just we celebrate the memory of our most holy, immaculate, and glorious Lady, Mary, the ever-unblemished Virgin, and Mother of God, we recommend ourselves and our whole life to Christ our God." It continues: "Let us honor the memory of our most holy, immaculate, glorious, and blessed Lady, the Mother of God and ever a virgin, and of all the saints and just, that through their intercession we may obtain all mercy." Then follow the words of the angelical salutation: "Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women; and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls. It is becoming that we praise thee, ever-blessed Mother of God raised above all reproach, Mother of our God, grander than the cherubim, more brilliant than the seraphim, thou who without detriment to thy virginity hast borne God the Word. In thee, who art full of grace, do all creatures rejoice; the choirs of the angels and the human race congratulate thee, who art a sacred temple," etc.

St. Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, who lived in the fourth century, and who on account of his eloquence was called the golden-mouthed, in his Liturgy or Mass in honor of Mary prays in the following words, which are very similar to those above quoted: "It is truly just and proper that we glorify thee, Mother of God, the ever-blessed and immaculate Mother of our God, who art more worthy than the cherubim, and without comparison more glorious than the seraphim, and who, without detriment to thy virginity, didst bring forth the Lord: thee, true Mother of God, we praise. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls."

Also St. Athanasius, Bishop and Patriarch of Alexandria, a mighty defender of the Catholic faith against the Arians, used to address the Blessed Virgin in the following words: "We praise thee, Mary; again and again and always and everywhere blessed. On thee do we call, remember us, O most blessed Virgin, who although thou didst bring forth, didst remain a virgin. Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. The hierarchies of all the angels and children of earth praise thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Pray for us, O Lady and Mistress, Queen and Mother of God." (p. 502-505)

“AND BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF THY WOMB, JESUS”

The proposition ''and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus" is uttered in the Hail Mary to signify that the honoring of Mary is inseparable from the worshipping of Christ, and that we venerate the tree for its fruit, and the Mother on account of the Son.

Mary would never have been blessed among women if she had not brought forth so blessed a fruit, who is Jesus Christ, true God of true God.

Christ is not styled blessed among men as Mary is termed blessed among women: He is called generally, absolutely, and without limitation the Blessed One, in order thereby to signify that He is supremely honored and adored in heaven and on earth, and that there is no comparison between the Creator and the creature.

In the year 1262 Pope Urban IV ordered that to the words of St. Elizabeth, "blessed is the fruit of thy womb," the adorable name of Jesus should be added, in order that the faithful might know who is the blessed fruit of Mary's womb, and what is the basis of the honor we show to her. (p. 514) (2)

The same is with the prayer used between decades of the Holy Rosary taught by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the small children in Fatima.

PRAY THE ROSARY
By REV. J. M. LELEN, Ph.D.
Preface by Rev. Patrick Peyton C.S.C.:

"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, take all souls to heaven, and help especially those most in need of Your mercy." (3)

This prayer in no way changes the meaning, format or effectivity of the Rosary of St. Dominic because neither St. Dominic nor the small children-shepherds in Fatima had any 'copyright' to it. The Holy Rosary is the ownership of Our Lord Jesus Christ through His Mother, Blessed Virgin Mary.

If anyone says that it is wrong to ask Our Lord Jesus Christ to take all souls to Heaven, he does not know the Will of God Who wants all people to believe in Him and be saved:

“For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not His Son, into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by Him.” (St. John 3:16-17)

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 TO TIMOTHY 2:3-4)

Therefore, the prayer “O my Jesus” between decades in the Holy Rosary is in full accordance with the Will of God.

Conclusion

The baseless objection by a member of the anti-Catholic sect is totally inconsistent with the Will of God, Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition of the Catholic Church, and consequently, should be unambiguously rejected.

Fr. Valerii

References:

The quotes from the Holy Scripture taken from: THE HOLY BIBLE PUBLISHED WITH THE APPROBATION OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF IRELAND. The Douay Version of the Old Testament of 1609, and with the Rhemish Version of the New Testament of 1582, Given at Dublin, May 4th, 1857.

(1) EXPLANATION OF CATHOLIC MORALS
A CONCISE, REASONED, AND POPULAR
EXPOSITION OF CATHOLIC MORALS
BY REV. JOHN H. STAPLETON
NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO:
BENZIGER BROTHERS
PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE
PUBLISHERS OF BENZIGER'S MAGAZINE
Nihil Obstat: REMY LAFORT, Censor Librorum.
Imprimatur: + JOHN M. FARLEY, Archbishop of New York.
NEW YORK, March 25, 1904.
Copyright 1904, by BENZIGER BROTHERS.
pp. 65-68

(2) THE MEANS OF GRACE
ADAPTED FROM THE GERMAN OF
Rev. HERMAN ROLFUS, D.D., and Rev. F. J. BRANDLE,
BY Rev. RICHARD BRENNAN, LL.D.,
Late Pastor of the Church of the Holy Innocents, New York.
NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO.
BENZIGER BROTHERS
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See
1894
Imprimatur: + Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York.
New York, June 20, 1893
Copyright 1894, by Benziger Brothers
Approbations:
The German original of this work has received the approbation
of the following dignitaries of the Church:
His Eminence Cardinal Maximilian Joseph of Tarnoczy,
Archbishop of Salzburg, Primate of Germany;
His Grace Most Rev. Martin Henni, Archbishop of Milwaukee;
His Grace Most Rev. Gregory von Scherr, Archbishop of Munich-Freising;
And the Right Rev. Bishops of
Fort Wayne, Marquette, Detroit, Green Bay, Kansas City, Rottenburg, Brunn,
Budweis, Breslau, Paderborn, Ermland, Luxemburg, Laibach, Trier, Munster,
Chur, Limburg, Eichstadt, St. Polten, Basel, Augsburg, St. Gall, Leitmeritz.
pp..499-500, 502-505, 514

(3) PRAY THE ROSARY
FOR PRIVATE RECITATION
FAMILY ROSARY
FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS
ROSARY NOVENAS
By REV. J. M. LELEN, Ph.D.
Preface by Rev. Patrick Peyton C.S.C.
Catholic Book Publishing Co.
New York, N. Y.
NIHIL OBSTAT: John M. Fearns, S.T.D. Censor Librorum
IMPRIMATUR: + Francis Cardinal Spellman, D.D. Archbishop of New York
Feast of the Assumption
August 15, 1953
Copyright 1953
Catholic Book Publishing Co., N. Y.
United States and Canada
Printed and Bound in U.S.A.

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