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River of Wisdom: First Meditation
Many stories about the Rosary adorn Church history.
A particularly moving one comes from Scotland, in the year 1615.
On March 10 of that year, at the famous intersection of Glasgow Cross, in the city of Glasgow, a Catholic priest was executed. He was hung, drawn, and quartered, according to the practices of a bloody and violent era.
The priest was St. John Ogilvie, a Jesuit, who had snuck into the country in disguise, in order to minister to Scottish Catholics, who were being persecuted. After less than a year of clandestine preaching and sacraments, he was betrayed and arrested. Then he was imprisoned and tortured in order to force him to reveal information about his collaborators; but even torture wouldn’t
make him talk. Eventually he was condemned to death for treason, because he refused to accept the king’s supposed authority over religious worship and teaching.
So they marched him through the streets and up
the gallows, where he was publicly hanged and disemboweled, as a warning to other undercover Catholics. Somehow, throughout his imprisonment and torture, he had managed to keep possession of his rosary. Maybe it was praying the Rosary that had given him the strength to endure so much suffering. In any case, on the day of his execution, he still had his rosary with him, hidden from view.
When they pushed him off the stairs of the gallows, as the noose tightened around his neck, he managed to toss that rosary out into the dense crowd of spectators. Tradition tell us that the beads were caught by one of the saint’s anti-Catholic enemies, who from that moment on began a spiritual journey that eventually led him into the Catholic Church, where he lived a devout and exemplary faith for the rest of his life.
Certainly it wasn’t the physical rosary that changed that man’s heart — only God’s grace can do that. But the Rosary was clearly one of the channels of God’s grace for him, as it has been for millions of Catholics over the course of the centuries, from popes to paupers.
It can be a powerful instrument of grace. It is a powerful form of prayer, tried and true. To appreciate and benefit from the Rosary more fully, we have to locate it within Marian devotion in general. And that’s what this Retreat Guide, River of Wisdom: A Retreat Guide on the Rosary, will try to do.
In the first meditation, we will look at the essence of Marian devotion, and one fundamental form of that devotion.
In the second meditation, we will look at two other basic forms of Marian devotion.
And in the conference, we will talk about the practical activities – including praying the Rosary — that can help us develop and benefit from this devotion in our daily lives.
But now, before we dive in, take a few moments to remind yourself that the person most interested in you having a good experience of this Retreat Guide is God himself. He is eager to spend this time with you, and has something to say to you.
Thank him for that, and ask him for all the graces you need to grow in your relationship with him, especially the grace to take a refreshing drink from our very own River of Wisdom.