October 17, 2002
volume 13, no. 118

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The Holy Rosary

    The following is taken from the excellent work My Catholic Faith by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow in 1949 and is one of the most succinct, simple and concise explanations of the doctrines and practices of Roman Catholicism that both Catholic and non-Catholic can easily understand without any ambiguity or relativism. Pure, unadulterated facts and absolutes. Bolded sections and blue type within brackets are by editor for added emphasis.

    For eight hundred years up until yesterday, the Rosary was divided into the joyful, the sorrowful, and the glorious mysteries. In the joyful mysteries, we meditate upon

    1. The Annunciation
    2. The Visitation
    3. The Navitity of Our Lord
    4. The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
    5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
In the Sorrowful Mysteries, we meditate on
    1. The Agony in the Garden
    2. The Scourging at the Pillar
    3. The Crowning of Thorns
    4. The Carrying of the Cross
    5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord
In the Glorious Mysteries, we meditate on
    1. The Resurrection
    2. The Ascension
    3. The Decent of the Holy Ghost
    4. The Assumption
    5. The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and earth.

    The Holy Rosary is a prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, consisting of one hundred and fifty (150) Hail Marys and fifteen (15) Our Fathers accompanied by meditation on the life, passion and glory of Christ.

    In the first centuries of Christianity there were many hermits who could not read the psalms in the psalter. so they used to substitute one Our Father and one Hail Mary for each psalm. To note the number, they made use of stones, or seeds strung on a cord.

    The word rosary means a garland or wreath of roses. Each prayer said in the Rosary is a spiritual rose offered to our Blessed Mother.

    Saint Dominic was the first to make general the custom of substituting 150 Hail Marys for the 150 Psalms.

    When, in the thirteenth century, heresy ravaged southern France and northern Italy, the Holy Father appointed St. Dominic to preach against the heretical doctrines. When, after exerting a great deal of effort, Dominic saw very little results he prayed to the Blessed Virgin, and she appeared to him, empowering him to preach the power of the Holy Rosary which she bestowed on this great saint. Thus he used the Rosary as a means for the conversion of heretics. By this method, which was everywhere welcomed, his campaign became a complete success.

    The Rosary is a powerful prayer to obtain the grace of God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. How innumerable are the conversions, known and unknown, which had their beginning in the devotion of the Rosary! Priests and religious as well as other devout Christians make a practice of reciting it daily. Father Patrick Peyton, the radio priest who promoted the Rosary Hour, said, "The family that prays together, stays together." Maybe the cause of so much divorce and dysfunctional familes today can be attributed to failing to follow this wise advice.

    In times of danger and calamity, the Rosary has been the means by which miraculous aid has been obtained. This was the case in the wars with the Turks. The victory of Lepanto (1571), and the deliverance of Vienna (1683). It was in thanksgiving for these victories over the Mohammedans that the Holy Father instituted the feast of the Holy Rosary on the first Sunday of October. Yet today, the current Holy Father rejects what past holy pontiffs proclaimed and embraces Mohammedans, going so far as to kiss the Koran and acknowledge some of their false, pagan beliefs.

    The very simplicity of the Rosary makes it a prayer for children. For this reason it is the prayer of the little and humble, and most pleasing in the eyes of God.

    One of the devotees of the Rosary was that great missionary, Saint Francis Xavier. Wherever he went, he preached this devotion. However busy or fatigued he was, he never omitted saying the Rosary every day. He used to carry his Rosary around his neck openly, in honor of the Blessed Mother.

    At the same time the Rosary is a prayer of contemplation: the truths discovered from meditation on the mysteries presented can never be exhausted by even the most learned.

    Frequently St. Francis Xavier was called to distant missions to attend the sick and administer the sacraments to the dying. As it was impossible for him to attend to so many at one time, he used to send Rosaries to the sick, advising them to pray and if they could not, to wear the beads around their neck. He assured the sick that they would either improve altogether or feel better, till he could arrive, so that they should not die without the sacraments. This promise was always complied with: the patients using the Rosary as St. Francis Xavier recommended were alway given time to live at least until the holy missionary arrived and administered the Last Sacraments.

    Ordinarily, only one third of the Rosary is said: fifty Hail Marys and five Our Fathers prayed on a string of beads slipped through the fingers. The Rosary combines vocal with mental prayer. It is a summary of the mot important parts of the Gospels, a most useful and powerful prayer. Catholics should not fail to say at leas five decades of the Rosary each day.

    Ordinarily, we begin the Rosary by saying the Apostles' Creed. Then we say one Our Father, three Hail Marys, and one Glory be to the Father for the increase of faith, hope and charity. This is the introduction, but it is not necessary for the gaining of the indulgence.

    For every third part of an indulgence of five years may be gained; if recited in the company with others once a day, an indulgence of ten years (Raccolta 395).

    We say the Our Fathers on the large beads and the Hail Marys on tahe small beads. One Our Father , and the ten Hail Marys following, are called a decade. Five decades make the chaplet of beads. It is customary to close each decade with a Glory be to the Father. In response to Our Lady's request at Fatima, also many say the "Fatima Prayer" - "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy."

    While reciting the Rosary, everyone must hold his own Rosary in his hand, and touch the beads as he says the prayers. If several are saying the Rosary together, only one need have a Rosary in his hand, to regulate the number of prayers.

    While we say each decade, we should meditate upon one mystery of our Faith. The Rosary is divided into the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious Mysteries, each honoring respectively the life, passion, and glorification of Our Lord.

    The objection is often made by non-Catholics that the Rosary is not a praiseworthy prayer because in it one prayer, the Hail Mary, is repeated so often. In reply to this objection we would say that one who has a feeling much at heart generally repeats over and over certain words that give expression to that feeling. Note a child begging for something. Besides, this practice has Holy Scripture itself, and even Our Lord for a model: in the Psalms, the words "His mercy endureth forever" are repeated in only one psalm as many as twenty-seven times; the angels intimate that their song of "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts" is unceasing; in the Garden, Our Lord repeated His prayer.

    In addition to the Rosary, there is the Litany of the Blessed Virgin often said at the end of the Rosary. It is also called the "Litany of Loretto," named after the Italian town of Loretto, where the holy house of Nazareth now stands.

    The Litany is a succession of glorious and symbolic salutations. In it we call her Mystical Rose, because the beauty of her soul fulfilled the prophesy, "I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho" (Ecc. 24: 18). We address her as Tower of David and Tower of Ivory, because she rises up above all men in beauty and strength of soul. She is called House of Godl because God Himelf dwelt within her as in a Temple. She is the Ark of the Covenant, because as it contained the tables of the Mosaic Law, so she contained the Lawgiver of all, God. She is invoked as the Gate of Heaven, because through her we enter the Heavenly Kingdom. She is our Morning Star that lights our way home, to God.

    For more on the Holy Rosary, we invite you to see the Promises of the Holy Rosary.

For previous installments, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH Archives

October 17, 2002
volume 13, no. 118
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