Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tradition: Series on Pope Leo XIII and the Rosary

Starting December 1st, 2007 (to coincide with the next liturgical year), the Mount Carmel Catholic Bloggers [now defunct] (for which I am now a contributor) will have a series on the 13 encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII that deal with the Rosary. That blog has voted to make 2008 a Marian Year.

I will be writing the first article, and I have also written the introduction to the series:

Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary: Introduction to the series

As the year 2007 has been deemed a Marian Year here at Mount Carmel Catholic Bloggers, I thought it would be fitting to present a series on the writings of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary. Pope Leo -- born in 1810, elected to the papacy in 1878, died in 1903 -- wrote a series of encyclicals between the years 1883 and 1898: twelve on the Rosary itself, and one on devotion to St. Joseph to be fostered in conjunction with the standard October devotion to the Rosary:
  1. Supremi Apostolatus Officio (September 1, 1883) - The rosary and Litany of Loreto recited in churches "for the month of October of this year."
  2. Superiore anno (August 30, 1884) - The reception of the previous year's October devotions warranted their continuation.
  3. Quod auctoritate (December 22, 1885) - Exhortation to a greater spirit of penance and devotion to the rosary during the upcoming extraordinary jubilee year (the 50th anniversary of Pope Leo's ordination).
  4. Vi è ben noto (September 20, 1887) - On the Rosary and Public Life.
  5. Quamquam pluries (August 15, 1889) - On devotion to St. Joseph.
  6. Octobri mense (September 22, 1891) - The power of prayer and the efficacy of the rosary.
  7. Magnae Dei Matris (September 8, 1892) - The relation of the rosary to faith and morality.
  8. Laetitiae sanctae (September 8, 1893) - The social benefits of the rosary.
  9. Iucunda semper expectatione (September 8, 1984) - The rosary as witness to Mary's intercession.
  10. Adiutricem (September 5, 1895) - Mary's universal motherhood; the rosary as the way to unity.
  11. Fidentem piumque animum (September 20, 1896) - The rosary's influence on Christian faith and life.
  12. Augustissimae Virginis Mariae (September 12, 1897) - Mary's association with Christ; the rosary confraternities, and "living rosary."
  13. Diuturni temporis (September 5, 1898) - A summary of the pope's teaching on the rosary; notice of the constitution on the rosary sodalities.
Of these encyclicals, Bl. Pope John XXIII wrote:
Among the pleasant recollections of Our younger days are the Encyclicals which Pope Leo XIII used to write to the whole Catholic world as the month of October drew near, in order to urge the faithful to devout recitation of Mary's rosary during that month in particular. (Grata recordatio, n. 1 [September 26, 1959])
In the series to come, there will be an article written about each of these encyclicals (and perhaps some of the other documents Pope Leo XIII wrote on the subject), starting with Supremi Apostolatus Officio (to be presented on December 1, 2008, the new liturgical year's eve). Before the series commences, though, I would like to provide a bit of background information so that the series can be understood in its context.

Although the Rosary is commonly considered a primarily Marian devotion, Pope Leo XIII continually framed it in its proper (and original) Christological setting: "meditation on the salvation obtained for Us by Him" (Supremi Apostolatus Officio, n. 8). He brings to mind St. Dominic's intention of composing the Rosary "to recall the mysteries of our salvation in succession ... interlaced with the Angelic salutation and with the prayer addressed to God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ." (ibid.)

Although it is a prayer "particularly pleasing to the Blessed Virgin" (ibid., n. 5), the Holy Father puts this in the context of the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession for us before Jesus Christ, she who "has a favour and power with her Son greater than any human or angelic creature has ever obtained". (ibid., n. 2) In this way, the Rosary works in multiple ways: as a meditation on the events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, it is a summary of the Gospel (summa evangelicae doctrinae) and a sure way to nourish the faith and protect it from error; and as a prayer of supplication to "obtain the favour of the great Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the guardian of our peace and the minister to us of heavenly grace" (ibid., n. 1), so that we might find refuge and help when "endangered by the violence of heresy spread abroad, or by an intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies." (ibid., n. 3)

During his papacy, Pope Leo XIII made two additions to the Litany of Loreto: the title of "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary" (Regina sacratissimi rosarii) in December of 1883 (via Salutaris Ille) and the title of "Mother of good counsel" (Mater boni consilii) in April of 1903.

With that preface and background, the series is ready to begin. Look for the first installment around the hour of evening prayer on December 1st.

Information for this post was gathered from: the Vatican's collection of Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals, the University of Dayton's The Popes and the Rosary, the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on Pope Leo XIII, the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the Litany of Loreto, and EWTN's copy of the Litany of Loreto.


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful news; I had been largely ignorant of all these beautiful documents by Leo XIII, but look forward to reading them!

japhy said...

Yeah... I need to actually get on top of this series. The first one was done, but I didn't post it on my blog. I'll copy it over.

I'll do them soon, throughout the year.