Pillar No.7: The Rosary

The rosary (from Latin rosarium, meaning “rose garden”) or “garland of roses” is a traditional Catholic devotion. The term denotes the prayer beads used to count the series of prayers that make up the rosary. The prayers consist of repeated sequences of the Lord’s Prayer, followed by ten prayings of the Hail Mary and a single praying of “Glory Be to the Father” and is sometimes accompanied by the Fatima Prayer; each of these sequences is known as a decade. The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall the life of Jesus Christ.

It is said that the Holy Rosary is one of the most important gift to the world from Mama Mary. Basically, it is a combination of silent and verbal prayers. We can see the importance of the Rosary to most Roman Catholics as most of them are doing this every day. Some catholic homes have dedicated a special place for a shrine or an altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Places have been made famous as a site for Marian apparition such as Lourdes and Fatima wherein the blessed Mary has strongly requested the importance of the rosary in salvation. The importance of the Rosary is its emblematic symbol of a Catholic’s strong devotion. In one of his Apostolic Letters, Pope Leo XIII said that “As the various mysteries present themselves one after another in the formula of the Rosary, for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also make clear what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation.” Pope Leo XIII is also known as the Rosary Pope because of his strong devotion to the Rosary that he issued twelve Apostolic Letters and five encyclicals purely devoted to the development and propagation of praying using the rosary.

Pope Leo XIII also influenced our present-day devotion of the whole month of October as the Marian Month. During this time, Roman Catholics around the world are expected to recite the rosary every day. In this event, the Catholic Church also suggested an importance of Marian devotion. It was Pope Leo XIII who can be credited for the popularity of the Rosary at present times.

Pope John Paul II devoted October 2002 to October 2003 as the Year of the Rosary, to strongly emphasize and promote the recital of the Rosary in the whole Roman Catholic world. For most Catholics, it was an invitation to deepen Marian Devotion, in order to fulfill salvation and the apostolate of Mary for Jesus Christ. In this way, the catholic world brings this devotion to the rest of us. For most Catholics around the world, the contemplation and devotion of prayer using the Rosary leads to a natural desire for reconciliation and peace.

The importance of the Holy Rosary can be countless. It could be numerous as the number of individuals who recite the Rosary religiously and with strong devotion. The addition of the Luminous Mysteries by Pope John Paul II in 2002 created another way of Marian devotion as cited in his Apostolic Letter entitled Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

First of all, one of the most important things that we must do as Christians is to pray, and beginning prayer is meditation. Realize that Christian meditation has absolutely nothing in common with Eastern meditation. That are completely different things and that fact that they are called by the same word is an unfortunate happenstance. Christian meditation is recalling and thinking about the truths of the faith. Meditation using Sacred Scripture (the Bible) is called Lectio Divinia.

The rosary is a series of prayers based on the Bible – the Our Father, and the Hail Mary (the Angelic Salutation from the Gospel of Luke). But the vocal prayer is like the background music, if you will, to the meditation of the mysteries of the faith, which is the heart of the rosary.
So we are praying by meditating on the mysteries of our Redemption. And this form of prayer was very ancient, but the form that we currently use was given by Our Blessed Mother to St. Dominic (who was founder of the Dominicans). As Catholics, we walk in our Savior’s footsteps, and one of the ways in which we imitate Him is in His love and devotion to His mother. “St. Dominic knew well that, while on the one hand Mary is all powerful with Her divine Son, who grants all graces to mankind through Her, on the other hand, She is by nature so good and so merciful that, inclined to aid spontaneously those who suffer, She is absolutely incapable of refusing Her help to those who invoke Her. The Church is in the habit of greeting the Virgin as ‘Mother of Grace’ and ‘Mother of Mercy,’ and so She has always shown Herself, especially when we have recourse to Her by means of the Holy Rosary.” -Pope Benedict XV

“As the various mysteries present themselves one after another in the formula of the Rosary, for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also make clear what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation. No one can fail to be sweetly affected when he considers who appeared in Elizabeth’s home as the minister of the divine gifts, who presented Her Son to the shepherds, the kings and Simeon. One must remember, too, that Christ’s blood shed for our sake, and those members in which He offers to His Father the wounds He received as the price of our freedom, are no other than the flesh and blood of the Virgin. The flesh of Jesus is the Flesh of Mary, and however much it was exalted in the glory of His Resurrection, still the nature of His flesh which He took from Mary remained and still remains the same.” -Pope Leo XIII

So the rosary is important to us, as Catholic Christians, as fulfilling our Blessed Lord’s command to pray always, as meditation on the events of His life, as a form of prayer that was given to us at the express wish of Our Blessed Mother, and as one of the forms of prayer, above most others that leads many saints to intimate union with God.
Catholics are good at praying. The Rosary is by far the most practiced prayer. It is the repetition of the Our Father and Hail Mary. The full Rosary consists of 15 Our Fathers and 150 Hail Mary’s, 15 “Glory Be to the Father, Son & Holy Ghost” and “Divine Heart of Jesus…” (for the words to these prayers, scroll to the bottom).

Catholic tradition teaches that it was given to St. Dominic by Mary herself as a means to combat heresy and to promote spirituality. The origin of the Rosary is in the 1100’s. The entire rosary is Biblical, and is a meditation of the life of Christ through the eyes of the human being who knew Him best: His mother. And as any parent would agree, if one saw his or her child suffer the way Christ suffered, it would be a vision that wound you through life, and remember through eternity – especially if you understood that your child was the Son of God and was unjustly put to death. Indeed, most parents would rather offer their own life in place of their child’s. This is the reason the rosary can be such a passionate prayer. Because through the eyes of Mary, we begin to understand Jesus and the acceptance of God’s will.
As a form of prayer, the Rosary is most effective because it utilized man’s tri-fold nature: physical, mental and spiritual. Most praying I had ever done only involved the spiritual, or at best – physical and spiritual. The reason the Rosary is so encompassing is because as human beings, we are easily distracted. The repetition of prayers serves as a compassionate way for imperfect humans to pray, since – frankly – we don’t always ‘get’ the full meaning of anything we say the first time. Try saying, for example: “I love, you Father” one time. Now get on your knees and say “I love you, Father” fifteen times, slowly and meaningfully. Then you start to understand what you are saying. You see, God does not need for us to repeat prayers 5, 10, 15 or 100 times. In fact, God does not need us to pray at all. It is we who need the prayers, and our nature which needs the repetition to bury the meanings deep within our souls. This is the basis of the Rosary.

Are we worshiping Mary?

Praying to Mary is not worshiping Mary. It is universally understood by Catholics that Mary wants nothing more than for us to worship God. The fact is that Catholics DO go straight to the source (God, of course). But good Catholics place great emphasis on the avoidance of sin, and to combat sin in our lives, and understand we need the prayers of others….everyone. Living or dead.
Who better than Mary to understand the complexity of human life and pitfalls, and yet who also knows Jesus better than any human being? Remember, the first recorded request Jesus ever answered was that of His mother’s, during the marriage at Cana. And even He granted this prayer (or request) somewhat reluctantly since it wasn’t a crisis matter and it was “before His time” – in spite of this He still obliged his mother. Even something as insignificant as providing more wine for a wedding feast Jesus did because he honored his mother’s request and authority as his parent.
Therefore a good Catholic not only prays to God as much as possible, but to everyone who can pray for him or her – mostly Mary. Catholics feel Mary has a special relationship with God – on earth as her role as Jesus’ mother, and in heaven where she has become the spiritual mother of all. Mary is important because by accepting the will of God, she salvation began on earth because of her.
Remember, none of us would be saved in this manner if Mary hadn’t said “yes”. And think for a moment, she could have said “no”. We directly or inadvertently decline the will of God every day, and we will someday understand the harm we have caused or the good we have thwarted. In Mary’s position would we have the wisdom and will to say yes?
Prayer is spiritual communication. Devotion and asking assistance of those in heaven is no different than asking a friend to pray for you. Worship is reserved for God alone. Any person, Catholic or not, who places any saint (or any other thing – money, people, etc.) in a position of being worshiped commits idolatry.

Other benefits of the Rosary

There are many promises attached to the Rosary, mostly to defeat heresy and to build fervor for the love of God.
“In my personal experience, I have seen dramatic changes in myself take place after reciting the Rosary consistently. Spiritually, I am more focused in a minute by minute way. Although my life is very busy, I am still able to concentrate on God, and remember to pray to Him when I encounter a problem. (forgetting to pray is a big problem of mine, so much that I often pray just to “remember to pray” -ha,ha.)”
“I find everything I have going on in my physical life is better. This is an added blessing, in my opinion, since I’ve never found a promise attached to the Rosary for this – but it happens consistently every time I say the rosary with regularity. For example, our financial needs are met when we pray the Rosary. Life is more organized – I accomplish what I need to during the day. Somehow the house is clean, my tasks at work are completed. This has to be the rosary, since usually I run behind with everything! I am aware of sin to a greater degree and I am more patient with others in general. With such a powerful prayer, I can’t wait to pray it! There are so many people on my lists to pray for! I am also glad, above all, to offer God my most tender devotion and to recall the experiences of Jesus step by step – year by year, of his years spent on earth.”

If you are new to reciting the Rosary, click HERE for a beginner’s manual on the Rosary.


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