At Knock

For the whole month of August, 2012, I am helping out at Our Lady’s Shrine, Knock, in the West of Ireland.  The Shrine Bookshop have just run out of copies of my new book, entitled Heaven Sent and have ordered 100 copies and have invited me to sign them for visitors.

At 91 years of age  and in the late evening of life, I felt that it was time to set down my considered thoughts and experience concerning the Rosary.  I have not done so in any kind of scholarly or theoretical way. Instead I have tried to weave my own story through its pages. The Publishers– Veritas thought that this approach would make it more appealing and more readable.

It was they who chose the unusual title: Heaven Sent, as the meditations and the vocal prayers are far from being man made or self-centred. We have plenty of Gurus and other experts who give out their own home-spun mantras, and that is fine as far as it goes.  The Lord’s own prayer and the Heaven-sent Hail Mary come from above.

Here at Knock, it is wonderful to sit in stillness and behold Jesus, the Lamb of God who is the central character of the Apparition. One is drawn to rest in the Holy Name at the centre of each Hail Mary.  Mary, who stands as Queen with hands uplifted seems to be drawing us upward — to the throne of the Lamb in the heavenly places. Knock brings together in perfect harmony the various aspects of the Rosary.

By way of PS, I find in the figure of John the beloved disciple, with the Scriptures in his hand, a good illustration of the Dominican tradition that the Rosary is simply the Gospel on its knees. An old writer put it this way: The Rosary is not only a method of prayer, it is a means of proclaiming the Gospel. I have mentioned all this in my book, which I pray may be in its own simple way–Heaven-Sent!

The photo with this piece is taken from the chapter of the book which tells of my visit to St.Simeon Skete in Kentucky USA. It shows Fr. Seraphim humbly kneeling at my feet, asking to be given the Dominican gift of preaching the Rosary in it fulness.

Gabriel Harty, OP, Dominican Priory, Tallaght, Dublin 24

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Heaven Sent

Veritas Publications have just brought out my most recent work on the Rosary: They gave it the title Heaven Sent, to indicate that the meditations and the vocal prayers of the Rosary are gifts from above. Unlike the meditation and mantras of of the Gurus of other religions, Rosary meditation is Christ-centred and if you could liken the Paters and Aves to the Eastern mantras, they are not man-made, but divinely inspired.

I have tried in this book to profit by my  experience of the John Main Christian meditation Group here in the Priory to make the Rosary more accesible and helpful to those who might have grown a little weary of their usual round of the beads and their struggle with the complications of their meditation.

When I sent the draft to the publishers, I had not felt confident that they would accept it and in any event had a kind of hope of getting it to America as I had included a chapter on my visit to St. Simeon Skete in Taylorsville, Kentucky. However, I had the good fortune of a beautiful reply from Caitriona Clarke who was Publications Manager. She liked it, she said, “because it is not just a straight essay on the Rosary itself, but was interwoven with your own story and personala testimony.”  So I hope, dear reader that this may entice you to get in touch with Veritas Publications, 7/8 Lr Abbey St. Dublin 1,  Ireland or with myself: Fr. Gabriel Harty, Dominican Priory, Tallaght, Dublin 24

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The Liturgy of the Word

The General Instruction on the Missal (No. 9)  states: When the Scriptures are read in church, God Himself is speaking to his people, and Christ, present in his word, is proclaiming the Gospel. Hence the readings from God’s word are among the most important elements in the liturgy, and all who are present should listen to them with reverence.” Of great importance also is the homily. It is a necessary part of the Mass on Sundays and Holy-days, while on other days it is desirable that there be a homily. By its means the homilist explains the sacred text in the light of the Church’s teaching for the building up of the faith of those present.

I am highlighting four points in the above statement:

1 God himself speaking: Listen with reverence: As we participate in the celebration of the word, Our Lady is our model for she is “the attentive Virgin who receives the word of God with faith, that faith which in her case was the gateway and path to the divine motherhood”. (MCul 17)

2 Christ present: The famous Parish Priest of Ars in France made the daring statement,  that to let the word fall idly by the way, was equivalent to letting the Sacred Host lie neglected on the floor. There is a real presenmce also in the proclamation of the word.

3 Proclaiming the Gospel: Not just information, but declaration, Speaking forth with boldness and efficacy for the building up of faith.

4 The Word is creative: It brings things into being.  As at the dawn of creation, God spoke a word: Let there be light. Let there be living things, so the word of God spoken with divine authority is life-giving:   Hebrews: 4,12 reminds us of the spiritual strength and sharpness that is inherent in the liturgy of the word:   For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Isaiah: 55,11 states:  So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

With Mary then we respond: Be it done unto me according to your word. Lets be open not only to what the word is saying to us but still more to monitoring what the word is actually effecting in our lives.

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Bible and Beads

Vicki of St. Simeon Skete has just sent this splendid picture of the Bible and the Beads to show how the two are linked. The Rosary is often called The Gospel on its knees

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Stretch out your hand

Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger and deep sadness, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 3:1-6

The Sabbath Day: Much of Our Lord’s healing was done on the Sabbath and little wonder as it is the day of rest and re-creation. The book of Genesis is a witness to this: Thus the heavens and earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work which He had done in creation.

The Sabbath is a time for rest and recovery. If the all-powerful, all-knowing God needs rest, then we His tiny creatures need rest too. If we think and act like we do not need rest, then we are placing ourselves above God.We need to do essentially the same thing. It is no coincidence that the relationship between Sabbath and healing is highlighted.

Meditation such we have in the Rosary is an on-going Sabbath rest when we stretch out our souls to the healing touch of Jesus. Without even being aware of it—we are touching the edges of eternity.  Power is going out from the Lord, as happened with the woman who had the issue of blood.

The hand is a figure of power of direction of helping, or strength; physical and spiritual. We speak of showing your hand revealing your intention.. Of opening or closing clenching the hand

Jesus tells the man to Stand in the centre—in the middle. Clearly he was standing back on the margins—and hiding his withered hand. We need to be open to aacknowledge ou weakness and our withered lives.

Luke says that it was his right hand.:The withered right hand, because all of these things, I think, have spiritual significance? Tradition says that he was a stonemason, and he asked the Lord Jesus to heal him in order that he might not have to spend his life as a beggar.  We picture someone unable to work.  In the spiritual sphere that would mean that he is unable to please God by anything that he does.

Paralyzed hand: The thing about being paralysed is that you just can’t stretch out. The man was  incapable of obeying a command like that by his own power.  Yet, our Lord Jesus addressed him with a command that he could not, of himself, perform. The Lord doesn’t call the able. He enables those whom he calls. God often lays obligations upon us which we cannot perform in order that we might turn to him and ask him to perform things that we cannot of ourselves perform. Jesus gave him some power that enabled him to stretch forth my hand, and he did, and was healed. If you would like to receive a copy of The Healing Light of the Rosary, contact me at Dominican Priory, Tallaght Village, Dublin 24, Ireland or

Stand up in front of everyone. Imagine Jesus, just after he has stared at the crowd around you in utter discouragement, He looks directly in your eyes and says, “Stretch out your hand.”

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How I met with Our Lady

My mother went to Lourdes and brought us back beautiful glass rosary beads. She also brought a Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and placed it in the room where we would say the Rosary every night. I could not see clearly the difference between my mother and Our Lady herself. They seemed to be mystically entwined. It may have been something to do with the fact that her birthday was August 15th. Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven.

The first spiritual book put into my hands was about the True Devotion to Mary as expounded by St Louis Marie de Montfort. All my priestly life, I have been associated with the Legion of Mary and its True Devotion to Mary. As I pondered the words of Scripture: In me is all grace of the way and of the truth,  I wanted to join a Marian movement that preached the grace of the way an the truth. This led me to the Dominican Order:

As a young friar, returning from studies in Rome on the eve of the Marian Year, 1954, the Master of the Order, gave an order: “Send this man to Lourdes on his way back to Ireland, so that he can prepare himself to preach the rosary.” When I got there, a railway strike intervened and I was grounded in Lourdes for the six weeks of the industrial dispute.  There were no planes to Lourdes at that time and  now there was no train either. Pilgrimages were halted and I had the place almost to myself. Each day I would kneel on the marked spot where Bernadette herself knelt and recall her account of the Vision in the Grotto:  The Lady looked at me. She smiled at me  and said: Come closer.

Sweet Mother, remember how in my youth, I knelt entranced before your sacred Grotto and how you looked upon me and smiled as you did on Bernadette. Look on me this day and smile on me. And now that I am old and grey and nearing the end of life’s pilgrimage, I ask you to speak to me and to all I love and care for, those same words “Come closer…” 
Gabriel Harty O.P
Dominican Priory, Tallaght Village, Dubin 24
Tel 01— 4048100

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Rosary Fraternity

The Rosary Fraternity— Become an Elder Brother/Sister!

The Rosary beads come as a cord or a chain and fall into the shape of a circle. We speak of doing the round of the beads. As we hold the beads and ponder the mysteries we are gathered together in the Body of Christ. We are in touch with heaven and hold infinity in the palm of our hand while at the same time we are held firm in the chains of a sacred covenant.  For the eight hundred years of its history, Domninicans have named this society, the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary.  In prsent-day times it might be better to call it simply the Fraternity of the Rosary,–a Brother/Sisterhood of covenant love and service.

One of the Gospel stories used to describe this union from the earliest days of the fraternity was that of the two brothers in the parable of the Prodigal. Special emphasis was place on the role of the Elder brother.  He was angry wanting to have nothing to do with his younger brother and answered his father: “For all these years I have been working like slave for you and have never given me even a  young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.”

Not that the father had ever wanted any son of his to consider himself a slave. Rather does he  make the magnanimous statement “Son you are always with me and all that is mine is yours.”  In other words: You yourself  my precious son have the freedom  and even the duty to enter my treasure house and do as I do, that is: Bring out the best robe and put it on your brother. Clothe him in your mercy. Put the ring of love and mutual trust on his finger.  Place sandals of freedom and security on his feet that he may no longer have to go bearfoot as a slave.

These three: the cloak of mercy, the ring of  love and the sandals of freedom are symbols of the spiritual blood-bond that should bind brothers together in covenant trust. This is the model that held up to prospective members of the ancient Rosary fraternity.

The essence of any Brother/Sister society is the idea of belonging to the one house-hold the one family sharing resources with each other. Members of the Rosary fraternity are asked to place in Our Lady’s hands their own spiritual riches, that she may bestow them on whoever is in need. She is at once Queen of the heavenly household and Elder Sister in the very  best sense of that term.  She is the one who is preminently with the King and who invites the members of her Rosary family to act as true elders to each other.

If you wish to know more about this way of life and to enjoy the freedom and authority of this Rosary-elderhood, write to me: Fr. Gabriel of the Rosary, Dominican Priory, Tallaght Village, Dublin 24, Ireland

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