Greetings Rosary lovers! In this post, we will think about the Rosary and the Holy Spirit!
The Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit of late. I met with my priest recently because I had some issues impacting my faith. He very helpfully reminded me to return to the teachings of the Apostle Paul.
So for the last few days, every night I’ve been reading Paul’s letters, particularly Galatians and Romans. Highly, highly recommended!!
It’s fascinating that when Paul comes to talk about how we are to live as Christians, we don’t primarily or in the first place find him moralising. Of course, Paul does teach morals, mainly the obligation we all have to love.
But what’s fascinating is that before Paul sketches a picture of what a holy Christian looks like, he first tells us that we MUST walk according to the Holy Spirit.
Romans 7 Meaning
There are a lot of debates about Romans 7 in Christian circles, and there have been for centuries. You know Romans 7? ‘The good I desperately want to do, I find myself not doing it! Rather, I find myself doing evil instead, which I do not want to do!’
And so on. It is Paul bemoaning the fact that he is mortal and in a mortal body subjected to sin, which weighs him down and presents a major challenge to his life.
We can all relate to that, surely?
But did you know that there’s a popular debate about Romans 7?
Some say: ‘Paul wrote Romans 7 referring to himself BEFORE he got saved!’ Those who say this are concerned to show that Romans 7 is Paul the sinner, whereas Romans 8 is Paul the Christian.
Others say: ‘No, Paul is writing Romans 7 as a Christian, and he’s claiming this is sadly as good as it gets down here.’ Those who say this are concerned to show that Romans 7 is the standard life of a Christian.
I don’t find either of these interpretations satisfactory. Instead, I read Paul to be saying in Romans 7 that he is definitely a Christian, BUT he is describing his experience of being a Christian BEFORE discovering the greatest secret of the Christian life.
What is that secret?
Paul gives us the answer in Romans 8: we have to learn as Christians to live by the Holy Spirit, to obey the Holy Spirit, to prioritise the Holy Spirit and to follow the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Answer
The Holy Spirit is the answer we all need as Christians.
Paul often says things like: ‘We don’t serve in the old way of a written code, but in the NEW WAY OF THE SPIRIT.’
The New Covenant is all about how God has now given us his laws and will and desires written ON OUR HEARTS!
This means that the very law of God which we so desperately want to obey (Romans 7), we will find impossible to obey if after becoming Christians we simply try to follow God’s rules and laws IN OUR OWN POWER.
It makes no sense, does it? And yet, so many of us do it.
What possible sense does it make for us to enter the life of salvation and justification by FAITH, and then to try to obey God’s wishes and laws by our own flesh and power? That makes no sense.
The very way we entered Christ is the very same way we must live the Christian life: BY FAITH.
The Catholic Church teaches that faith is the source of all our good works. Without it, we can do nothing.
The Council of Trent taught that we can only fulfil God’s will in and through Christ, without whom we can do nothing.
And Paul reminds us in Romans 1:17 that the righteous live by faith, and that in the Gospel God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith. The Gospel is all about faith through and through, from the beginning to the end of Christian life.
Faith, Christ and the Holy Spirit. This above all.
Does this mean we don’t need the Church’s teachings? Of course not! In the same way we NEED Paul’s moral commands and exhortations as to how we should live as Christians, so we NEED an authoritative Church to teach us how to live.
But we can only obey the teachings of the Church by the Holy Spirit, by following the Spirit of God in the Church and in our hearts.
The Rosary’s Place
Now, where does the Rosary come into all of this? Well, the Rosary is crucial to all of this, because the Rosary is devotion to Mary: the Spouse of the Holy Spirit!
As St Louis de Montfort teaches us, it is MARY through whom ALL of God’s blessings and graces are poured out upon us, most especially and mainly the Holy Spirit.
It is through MARY that the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all believers. It is through MARY that we find the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the inspirations of the Spirit in our lives.
It is therefore through MARY that we will find the Spirit, who alone can ensure that we obey God’s will and laws.
Therefore, without Mary, we will find it harder to obey God, because she is the one through whom the Spirit comes to us.
‘Hang on!’ I hear you say. ‘The Holy Spirit comes to us through Jesus!’
I hear you, I hear you. But perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Holy Spirit comes to us FROM Jesus, through Mary. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit from the Father, and Jesus sends the Spirit to us through his Mother, the Mediatrix of all graces.
This is why most pictures you find of the Holy Spirit falling on the Apostles (Pentecost) have the Spirit falling FIRST OF ALL on Mary, and then on the others. Have a look at pictures of Pentecost now on the internet.
Remember: God in Christ first came to us through the Virgin, the Mother of God. God doesn’t alter his methods. In the age of the Church, God STILL comes to us through the Virgin, in the Holy Spirit.
The Rosary, therefore, is a tremendous way – an absolute GUARANTEE really – that we WILL discover the Holy Spirit’s will in our lives. Those who are devoted to the Rosary can hardly fail to walk according to the Holy Spirit, and thus obey everything God wants them to do.
Spiritual Results of Devotion to Mary and the Rosary
The Rosary is a mighty start to all things to do with the Holy Spirit. The Christian life requires so much from us: Mass attendance, truth-telling, forsaking the pleasures of the world, fasting, not taking revenge on anyone, abstinance from all sexual pleasure before marriage, etc.
All of this would be very difficult for us without the help of the Holy Spirit. But through Mary and her Rosary, we can find the Holy Spirit very powerfully in our lives. And he leads us, through Mary, to do all that God requires of us.
Obedience actually becomes easy, or easier. Life becomes easier. It becomes easier not to lose our temper. It becomes easier not to sin, and easier to love and serve and obey.
We will find we WANT to go to Mass, and we WANT to visit the Church to adore Jesus in the blessed Sacrament.
We WANT to spend time with other Catholics, and we WANT to go to Confession. We WANT to die to ourselves, and we WANT to do anything really that God asks of us, that we know for sure he requires of us.
All of this is the result of devotion to Mary and her Rosary. And all of this is also the result of walking according to the Holy Spirit.
The Rosary and the Holy Spirit go hand-in-hand. Again: Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the Rosary is the best devotion to Mary. The guaranteed Fruit of the Rosary is the Holy Spirit.
Of course, one doesn’t have to employ the Rosary in order to walk according to the Holy Spirit. One could just as easily use the Jesus Prayer in order to find the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The VITAL thing is that we learn how to live in the Holy Spirit and walk in the Spirit.
Walk in the Spirit!
So far as I can tell, Paul never explicitly explains HOW Christians can walk in the Spirit. Sure, he tells us repeatedly to walk in the Spirit, but never (so far as I can see) does he spell out clearly how we can do this.
Many Christians then are left confused: ‘Well, ok, I get that I must walk in the Spirit, but how on earth am I supposed to do that?’
Perhaps we overthink things, and perhaps Paul meant it to be really simple to understand: just commune with the Holy Spirit and get to know him.
But given that he doesn’t really explain himself in this in the New Testament, all I can say is: thank God there is a Church in the world which can show us HOW to walk in the Holy Spirit. And that Church is the holy Catholic Church, who says everyday throughout the world: ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit’! (Apostles Creed).
There are surely many different ways to get to this point of walking in the Spirit, but the vital thing is definitely to get there. When we die, it will be too late, and we will have found the Christian life a terrible burden and struggle if we haven’t found the secret Paul discovered in his Christian life.
So I encourage you, dear friend: discover the Holy Spirit in your life. Discover this great Means God has given you to obey ALL that he could ever require of you.
I recommend you devote yourself to the Rosary, because this is one of the best ways to discover the Spirit of God, but you could just start praying to the Holy Spirit now, perhaps like this:
‘Holy Spirit, I believe you are in me because I believe and have been baptised. I love and adore you, and worship you as one of the most Holy Trinity, with the Father and the Son. I beg you to reveal yourself to me, that I may know you, grow in you, and walk in you always. Amen.’
God help us all, and God bless us all, through Mary immaculate.