Compiled and edited by Fr. Mark Higgins
Catholic Way Publishing, 2019
Paperback CDN$13.08 on Amazon.ca
In modern-day Marian apparitions, Our Blessed Mother repeats her urgent message: pray, fast, make reparation for the sins committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. With every approved appearance, Our Lady exhorts us to pray the rosary daily. Many saints through the ages have testified to the salvific power of the rosary.
In these times of great confusion, the Holy Rosary remains our greatest weapon. The faithful who daily pray the rosary, whether the mysteries of each day or all the sets of mysteries, understand its power against evil. This book enriches our prayer as we reflect on each mystery through the eyes of Bl. Anne Catherine.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (September 8, 1774 – February 9, 1824), an Augustinian nun, was a German mystic who, from an early age, received sensory visions of the lives of the Holy Family, of Jesus, His apostles, other saints and events of salvation history. Not only did she see past and future events, she also sensed the thoughts and feelings of the people involved.
In 1811, secularization forced the close of the convent of Agnetenberg and Blessed Anne Catherine found lodging as housekeeper at the home of Abbe Lambert. Shortly thereafter a mysterious illness confined her to bed. At this time, she received the stigmata after having already endured its pains for a long time. Her friend, Clemens Brentano, dutifully recorded volumes of her daily visions which he published after her death.
Fr. Mark Higgins has compiled and edited a wealth of her visions to be pondered while praying the rosary. Each bead is assigned a brief part of a revelation related to the mystery. We are presented with a depth of detail that is not included in Scripture but gives us insight into the lives of Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother while remaining true to Sacred Tradition and Scripture.
In the Joyful Mysteries, as in all the mysteries, there is a supernatural element to the revelations that render some details remarkable. We ponder with greater spiritual depth the events from the Annunciation to finding 12-year old Jesus in the temple. We are given a glimpse into the righteous character of Saint Joseph and the life of the Holy Family.
The scourging and crucifixion as well as the agony and desolation that Our Lord willingly suffered for our salvation become increasingly profound as we ponder the Sorrowful Mysteries. In contemplation, we receive a greater sense of the savagery of the scourging and crucifixion. We perceive the anguish of His spiritual desolation and we are told that Our Lord would have died before reaching Calvary had the angels not assisted Him every step of the way.
We reflect on the excitement and confusion of Mary Magdalen, the Holy Women and apostles, even the soldiers in each bead of the Glorious Mysteries. We are given to ponder the brightness of the glory of the Lord at His Ascension and how the Holy Spirit descended with a rushing wind “full of power to refresh and invigorate.” At the close of the Glorious Mysteries, Bl. Anne Catherine describes her visit to Heaven. She explains Our Lady’s role as the Mediatrix of all graces and “powerful Advocate with God, the mother of grace and mercy.”
As we contemplate the Lord’s public life through the Luminous Mysteries, we understand with greater depth His encounters with the scores of people He met, admonished, healed, converted. We are given intimate details of the Last Supper and how “every action indicated the institution of the Holy Mass.”
Fr. Higgins has further compiled a set of five Hopeful Mysteries that contain revelations of salvation history before the Joyful Mysteries. He includes Bl. Anne Catherine’s details of Creation, the fallen angels, Adam and Eve, the “mystery of Redemption from the Promise down to the fullness of time,” and “counteracting influences at work.” In the Hopeful Mysteries, we contemplate Bl. Anne Catherine’s revelations of the Catholic Church as the bearer of salvation of the whole world. Fr. Higgins includes the description of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, the glorious outpouring of graces and blessings at Mary’s Presentation in the temple, and insights into Our Lady’s perfect humility. These mysteries end with explanations of St. Joseph’s chastity, humility and piety.
We know that the Holy Rosary is the most efficacious prayer after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In contemplating its mysteries through divine revelation the reader might be inspired, as was I, to study more closely Bl. Anne Catherine’s visions in order to deepen their faith, hope and charity – supernatural virtues that are showered upon those devoted to the Holy Rosary.
May this treasure of a book inspire us, as Fr. Higgins writes, to “pray for Our Lady’s intentions, for the conversion of the whole world to the one true Catholic Faith, for the sanctification of the clergy and for the relief of the suffering souls in Purgatory.”