Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Light From the Rosary (Part 4)

Light From the Rosary (Part 4)

Light From the Rosary (Part 1)
Light From the Rosary (Part 2)
Light From the Rosary (Part 3)
Light From the Rosary "back cover"

Chronology – the Primary Structure
Clearly there is a chronological relation tying all the twenty mysteries together in a chain. I use this word with emphasis, as John Paul II quotes Blessed Bartolo Longo as saying the Rosary is the "sweet chain which unites us to God." [Rosarium Virginis Mariae 43] This word "chain" is very curious, for in Latin it is catena, which gives rise to the word "catenary" – the mathematical shape in suspension bridges – and also "concatenation" – which, in a computer, is the action of chaining characters together to form words. This idea is important, as in the computer the characters are merely placed side by side, and this adjacency in itself forms their relation within the word or string. [This relation is so simple it is easy to overlook, and therefore hard to teach; strangely enough it is quite ancient, going back through Rome, Greece and even to the most ancient Semitic scripts.] In a similar way, in chemistry and molecular biology, simple chemicals called "monomers" can be chained together to form a polymer or macromolecule. In this case, however, the relation is a physical one as chemical bonds are formed between the adjacent monomers. In the case of the macromolecules called DNA, RNA, or proteins, the simple linear shape which names the various monomers in their order is called the primary structure of the compound. it is a strange source of delight to me that this adjacency is exactly the same as the letters in a word, or as in the characters within the computer!

So we can write out the chronological relation of the mysteries of the Rosary in the following manner:
(J1 J2) (J2 J3) (J3 J4) (J4 J5) (J5 L1) (L1 L2) (L2 L3) (L3 L4) (L4 L5) (L5 S1) (S1 S2) (S2 S3) (S3 S4) (S4 S5) (S5 G1) (G1 G2) (G2 G3) (G3 G4) (G4 G5)

Note that the appearance within parentheses of two mystery codes indicates that these two mysteries are "related" to each other in a particular way. In this "primary" case, the relation (a b) is simply "mystery a is followed by mystery b." In the following discussion, other relations will be indicated. The complete list of relations can be found at the end of this booklet, and the diagram is shown on the back cover. (I have given the link to the diagram elsewhere. The "primary structure" is the outer lines which link the twenty nodes in an arc from J1 counterclockwise to G5.)

The Secondary Structure of the Rosary

Now things will start to get interesting, as we begin to investigate the additional relations among the mysteries. These recall the associations between non-adjacent monomers in DNA or RNA or protein, and are called its secondary structure. The Rosary, with the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, has a large number of these associations. (You can follow along, with a colored marker if you like, and draw in edges between the nodes as we examine each linkage.)

The Dormition
A friend of mine, Dale Ahlquist, pointed out that L4 (the Transfiguration) has a strange harmony with G4 (the Assumption). His observation is something like this: "In L4 we see Moses and Elijah – Moses who died (Deut 34:5), and Elijah who was 'taken up' (4 Kings 2:11); in G4 we see Mary who was 'assumed' – whether she died or was taken up is unresolved, even in the proclamation of the dogma!"
(L4 G4)


Three mysteries mark this holy day: today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ; today water is changed into wine for the wedding feast; today Christ wills to be baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation. [Magnificat Antiphon, Evening Prayer II of Epiphany]

In this antiphon from the Divine Office for the Epiphany, we see that the visit of the Magi (J3) is also linked with the Baptism in the Jordan (L1) as well as the Wedding at Cana (L2). Each has been seen, in the writing of theologicans and liturgists, as an "epiphany" or a revelation of Jesus the God-Man: the light of a star calls the pagans to acknowledge the new-born King; the dove and voice from heaven mark the One baptized as the Giver of Baptism; the water-become-wine reveals the supreme authority of divinity over creation held by a human being. But no less an authority than St. Thomas Aquinas also links the Epiphany where the star led the Magi with the epiphanic announcement of the angels to the shepherds at Christmas.[Summa Theologica III Q36 A3, A5]
(J3 L1) (J3 L2)

Full Authority
One of the very last statements of our Lord just before His Ascension (G2) is given in Matthew 28:18: "Full authority (or all power) is given to Me in heaven and on earth." But where was this authority given? In two places: (1) At the wedding at Cana (L2), Mary says "Do whatever He tells you." (Jn 2:5) which, though addressed to the waiters at the feast, are her own last recorded words and as such take on additional power. It is the authorization "on earth." (2) At the Transfiguration (L4), the voice from the cloud states "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him." (Mt 17:5) This is the authorization "in heaven." This bestowal was ratified – or, better, was revealed, in the Resurrection.
(G2 L2) (G2 L4)

Pneumatic Action
When Mary gave her consent at the Annunciation (J1), the Holy Spirit "came upon her" (Lk 1:35) and she conceived the Incarnate God Who was made a single living human cell in her womb. At the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan (L1), John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit coming "in the form of a dove" (Jn 1:32) upon the human body of Jesus. At Pentecost (G3), the Holy Spirit came in the form of "tongues as of fire" (Acts 2:3-4) descending upon the Mystical Body of Christ in the Upper Room. So in three mysteries in particular we see the Holy Spirit at work:
(J1 L1) (J1 G3) (L1 G3)

I Am With You Always
The most comforting of all the words of Jesus are His very last words (G2) to His apostles: "Behold I am with you always." (Mt 28:20) But this was not to be some mere abstract or intangible presence. The Word "through Whom all things came to be" (Jn 1:3) said "I am the Bread of Life" (Jn 6:35); He also said "This is My Body" and commanded the repetition of His actions: "Do this in memory of Me." (Lk 22:19) So Jesus is with us always because of the Holy Eucharist (L5).
(L5 G2)

Beloved Son
Twice the voice from heaven is heard, saying the same thing: "This is My beloved Son" – at the Jordan (L1), and on the "high mountain" (L4). (See Mt 3:17 and Mt 17:5)
(L1 L4)

The Aqueduct of Rome
Chesterton liked to joke about his size (he was a very large man) and began his autobiography by mentioning that he was baptized opposite a large Waterworks Tower in Kensington, England, but, he added, "I indignantly deny that the church was chosen because it needed the whole water-power of West London to turn me into a Christian." [G. K. Chesterton, Autobiography, CW16:21] In speaking elsewhere on baptism, he said "I know only one scheme that has thus proved its solidity, bestriding lands and ages with its gigantic arches, and carrying everywhere the high river of baptism upon an aqueduct of Rome." [G. K. Chesterton, The Thing, CW3:156] That scheme began in the waters of the Jordan (L1) "with water made holy by the One baptized" [See the Preface for the Baptism of the Lord] and has been carried on by the Church at the express command (G2) of our Lord: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." (Mt 28:19)
(L1 G2)

Go Forth and Teach
In Luke 10:1-16 we see Jesus sending out the 72 disciples to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom (L3); later, just before His ascension (G2), He extends this order and endows it with the principle of self-propagation: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations ... Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20)
(L3 G2)

Sumit Unus Sumunt Mille
The great miracles (L3) of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mk 6:34-44 and Mk 8:1-9), demonstrated not only the authority of Jesus over creation but also His compassion and His concern for human needs. They were only a tiny hint of the greater Multiplication of Bread which Jesus explained in John 6 – in the institution of the Eucharist (L5), we see our Lord demonstrating His supreme authority over ontology as well as His tender compassion, given in His final orders to Peter: "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep." (Jn 21:15, 17)
(L3 L5)

Note added in proof: with that final reference to Jn. clearly I should also have added: (L3 G2) and (L5 G2). But then you will have to change the diagram yourself!

LogoV Sarx
In the famous prologue of the Gospel of St. John, we read that the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh (in Greek: ‘o LogoV sarx egeneto). This, the greatest event in history – or perhaps the start of a new history – happened at the Annunciation (J1), subsequent to Mary's "fiat." (Lk 1:38) Jesus explained (Jn 6) that eternal life depends upon eating His flesh, and drinking His blood – which was made possible at the Last Supper (L5). (Lk 22:19 and parallels)
(J1 L5)

Mary Helps
It is interesting to note some of the less well-known actions of our Lord; things which show His concern for even very little things – things like cooking food for the disciples (Jn 21:9-12). Mary also did things for others, and there are two notable instances: the first (J2) when she went to help Elizabeth, her pregnant relative (Lk 1:39-40, 56) and the second (L2) when she assisted at a wedding feast (Jn 2:1-11).
(J2 L2)

(to be continued...)


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