October 21, 2020

The Mysteries of the Rosary

The above heading is a phrase from a short prayer said during the recitation of the Rosary: “Let us pray. O GOD, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

That’s what I want to do here; not teach you how to say the Rosary, but to take a quick, short look at the twenty mysteries of the Rosary and do a little mediation on them.  Why?  Various reasons: October is the month of the Holy Rosary, primarily because the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7.  The feast was introduced by Pope St. Pius V, under the name of “Our Lady of Victory”, in the year 1571 to commemorate the victory of the Christian forces in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.  The victory was attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a rosary procession had been offered on that day in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the success of the mission of the Holy League to hold back Muslim forces from overrunning Western Europe. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of this feast-day to “Feast of the Holy Rosary”.  For those of you interested, there is a stirring (if perhaps not wholly historically accurate) poem by Chesterton called “Lepanto.”

And for those of you for whom this is way too Papist, you can substitute instead another sea battle, the victory over the Armada, when “He blew with His winds, and they were scattered” (to borrow the inscription of a commemorative medal), when a storm (the “Protestant wind”) aided greatly in wrecking the Spanish fleet.  Something for everyone there.

Main reason: to disentangle the prayer a little and explore what we can hold in common.  Yes, the Rosary is a Marian prayer.  Yes, it is a recitation of the “Hail, Mary.”  Yes, there are events not attested to by Scripture, derived solely from tradition (and Tradition) celebrated.  Yes, it is rote prayer and if you really feel you must, you can quote the “vain repetition” Bible verse at me.  But the Rosary is also Christological, since it is based on the events in the life of Mary, which are events connected to the life of Christ also – how could they be otherwise?

So a quick summary of what is the Rosary and what comprises it, before we start.  A rosary beads is a set of beads arranged in a specific manner.

Starting from the bottom (more or less) up, we have: the crucifix, a single bead, a space, three beads, another space, another single bead, a medal, and then the main body of the rosary: a loop of five sets of ten beads each, separated by a single bead in between each set.

 

The set of ten beads is called a “decade”, and you will often heard people referring to how many decades of the Rosary they prayed.  Traditionally, there were fifteen decades or “Mysteries” of the Rosary, up to 2002 when Pope Blessed John Paul II added another five, the Luminous Mysteries (or Mysteries of Light), specifically to focus more on events in the life of Christ.  The “Mysteries” are divided up into the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries, each comprised of five decades.

Why are they called “mysteries”?  These are events in the lives of Mary and Christ upon which we meditate as we pray, themes that we incorporate into our spiritual life and growth.  A mystery in religion does not mean quite the same thing as we use it in everyday life; it is not an obscure puzzling problem or an event shrouded in secrecy.  It does not mean – and here we have to be careful not to fall between two stools  – something that is irrational and illogical and can only be taken on faith.  On the contrary, Christian belief (particularly Roman Catholic thought) holds that human reason can, by observing the natural world around us and understanding its workings, come to a realisation of the presence of God by the ‘clues’ He has left, the traces of His presence in what He has made, but that to go any further, revelation is necessary.  So reason is neither useless, nor the sole method of discovery.  Working from natural principles can take us so far, but then we need divine revelation to reveal dogma to us.  We can construct analogies to help us understand the truths that can only be fully grasped by faith, and we can use reason to winnow out obvious absurdities and deal with objections, but there are depths to the mystical truths that we do not have the capacity to understand with the limits of our mortal intellects.  Mystery does not mean incoherence; something may be incomprehensible but not inconceivable (we do not understand how God became Man, but it is not beyond the bounds of what is thinkable, unlike the Flying Spaghetti Monster, lovable though such a notion is).

We speak of “the mystery of faith” – this phrase is most familiar to Catholics because we hear it after the consecration of the elements in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, when the priest says:

“When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.  It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.  Do this in memory of me.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:” and the congregation makes one of the following responses:

A. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

B. Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.  Lord Jesus, come in glory.

C. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.

D. Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world.

However, there are other mysteries: the nature of the Trinity, for example, or the union of Christ with the Church.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of mystery as follows:

THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY

Why the liturgy?

1066 In the Symbol of the faith the Church confesses the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of the plan of God’s “good pleasure” for all creation: the Father accomplishes the “mystery of his will” by giving his beloved Son and his Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world and for the glory of his name.

Such is the mystery of Christ, revealed and fulfilled in history according to the wisely ordered plan that St. Paul calls the “plan of the mystery” and the patristic tradition will call the “economy of the Word incarnate” or the “economy of salvation.”

…For this reason, the Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation.

1068 It is this mystery of Christ that the Church proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world:

1075 Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ (it is “mystagogy”) by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the “sacraments” to the “mysteries.”

In brief, then, a mystery is an article of faith or doctrine which defies human ability to grasp fully by use of unaided reason alone.

We’re getting much deeper than needed, however; just bear with me that we refer to the events which we hold in mind as we recite the prayers as “mysteries” because they deal with the “Paschal mystery,” the mystery of our salvation through Christ.

And again, before we go any farther, let me make one thing clear: the Rosary is a devotion often recommended by Popes on down, but it is not compulsory.  You need never pray a decade of your own free will in your entire life, and you are not a bad Catholic.  I just want to mention this because I saw a question from a bewildered soul on a priest’s blog asking (in all apparent seriousness) if he or she would be automatically excommunicated if he or she did not pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.  Apparently the querent picked up the notion that because Pope John Paul II had introduced them, these were now compulsory and refusing to pray them would be heretical or schismatic.

Excuse me while I take a moment to beat my head against a wall.

No, it’s not heresy, schism or even the equivalent of refusing to eat your greens if you don’t pray the Rosary.  Many people (myself included) have no taste or talent for Marian devotion.  This is all purely voluntary, and besides, in this series of short posts, we won’t be actually saying any rosaries, just contemplating each individual mystery day-by-day.

Okay, a last round-up of the traditional practices, and then in our next post we start with the Five Joyful Mysteries.  Traditionally, you would say certain Mysteries on specific days of the week.

Monday and Thursday: the Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday and Friday: the Sorrowful Mysteries

Wednesday and Saturday: the Glorious Mysteries

Sundays: Joyful Mysteries during the seasons of Advent and Christmas, Sorrowful Mysteries during Lent up to Palm Sunday, Glorious Mysteries in Easter and Ordinary Time.

For those who have incorporated the new set of five Luminous Mysteries, it goes like this:

Monday and Saturday: Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday and Friday: Sorrowful Mysteries

Wednesday and Sunday: Glorious Mysteries

Thursday: Luminous Mysteries

You can pray all five decades in one go, you can say one decade only, you can do the full fifteen/twenty decades if you’re the kind of spiritual athlete who’s worked up to that.  How do you say the Rosary?  Remember the description earlier about the layout of the beads?

So, first you take the crucifix in your right hand and you bless yourself in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.  Then, still holding the crucifix, you say the Apostles’ Creed (here’s a Reformed translation, just to be ecumenical about it).

Then you hold the first single bead and say the “Our Father”.  A side-note about holding the beads: people usually loop the beads over their left hand and “pay out” the strand (like ‘paying out’ a rope) into their right hand, putting their thumb on the bead they are praying on and moving along each bead like that.  It doesn’t matter, there’s no set way, just whatever way is manageable to keep track and not get tangled up.

Next on the three beads together, say a “Hail Mary” on each (for the following intentions: an increase in the theological virtues of 1.For the increase of faith, 2.For the increase of hope, 3.For the increase of charity).

On the next single bead, say the “Glory Be” (the Minor Doxology).  Then we move on to the main body.  You say the mystery (e.g. announce “The first Joyful Mystery: the Annunciation”) and then say an “Our Father” on the single bead, a “Hail Mary” on each of the next ten beads, finish up with a “Glory Be” and then do it all again for the next ten until you’ve done all five decades (if you’re saying all five).

It’s common (though optional) to add in a prayer between each decade; a popular one is the Fatima Prayer (“O My Jesus, Forgive us our sins.  Save us from the fires of hell.  Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”)

At the end, when you come to the medal part, say the “Hail, Holy Queen.”

Again, it is customary but not compulsory to say a short prayer here such as the one I quoted at the start: “Let us pray.  O GOD, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord.  Amen.”

Finish up with the Sign of the Cross, kiss the crucifix, and you’re done!

Now, while you were doing all this – saying the prayers in order, moving along the beads, you were also holding in your mind the particular mystery upon which you were supposed to be meditating (you were supposed to be meditating, remember?).

The point of the rote, repetitive prayer is that it occupies the top layer of your mind and you do it almost on “automatic,” so that the deeper layers are freed to contemplate and to be open to the inspiration of the Spirit.  That is not to say that you just rattle off the prayers (although if you ever heard an Irish crowd recite the Rosary, you’d think we were trying to break the land-speed record).  The idea is that because these are the common, everyday prayers, they have soaked into you, so to speak, so that you don’t have to stop and think about them consciously.  Not that you cannot find it fruitful to stop and think of the words as you say them, concentrate on what they are saying; after all, in the “Hail, Mary”, we are commemorating the very Incarnation itself in the words of the Archangel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth.  You could meditate on the phrase “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” itself as a mystery, the mystery, the Incarnation: God made Man.

The Rosary is both vocal and mental prayer.  There are many ways of meditating; one that is often recommended is visualisation, constructing a picture within your mind of the place or event and dwelling upon the details, even inserting yourself into the scene.  I can’t do that because I’m hopeless at holding pictures in my mind and I find I respond more to words themselves, so in the forthcoming posts on the Mysteries, that’s what I’ll be doing: using Scriptural verses as springboards (and probably rambling all over the place, but at least they’ll be mercifully short).

Comments

  1. Amazing story.

    • You do this with both hands, you do that with your mouth, and you do the other with your brain – all at the same time. Simple! 🙂

  2. Very interesting, indeed.

    Personally, I would just rather ask my Lord for what I need, tell Him I’m sorry for my sins, and pray for the world and those in it.

    But…to each his own.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • /sigh, must you always reply with that hint of condescension?

      • Ally,

        My thoughts regarding Steve’s comment, especially having read his older comments regarding the Catholic Church are the same as yours.

        However there are reasons.Some who leave one Christian tradition for another, sometimes look back on their origins with a degree of resentment, disdain and a highly critical eye. It is a combination of things that may lead them to have this attitude and condescension towards those with whom they once shared a common tradition. It may be because they feel the truth was hidden from them in their original tradition. It may also be a feeling of being misled and what they feel to be intellectual dishonesty on part of their original tradition.

        I know this because I was up until recently Reformed before being received into the Catholic Church. I’ve had my days of frustration and feeling of being deceived and having the truth hidden from me. But it really comes down to how you wish to see it. You can be continually combative and resentful which what Steve often comes off as reading some of his older comments re: Catholicism. Or you can choose to be thankful for your origins for what God has taught you through that tradition and praise him for this new understanding of the faith He has give to you through whatever Christian tradition that you have found a new home.

        Even if you gained absolutely nothing from your original tradition, you can choose to forgive, make peace and love as Christ loved us.

        Forgiveness and love is never easy. But personally, it beats going through the rest of your life stewing and being resentful for the life that God has given you.

        • However there are reasons.Some who leave one Christian tradition for another, sometimes look back on their origins with a degree of resentment, disdain and a highly critical eye. It is a combination of things that may lead them to have this attitude and condescension towards those with whom they once shared a common tradition. It may be because they feel the truth was hidden from them in their original tradition. It may also be a feeling of being misled and what they feel to be intellectual dishonesty on part of their original tradition.

          Sorry to burst the Imonks bubble but this is a common thread woven throughout this very website. I love visiting here and checking out the different perspectives and personally find them quite challanging to me. But to be honest, I find the constant slamming of those serving and worshipping in the current evangelical wilderness quite ironic to the context of which this very website was born from.

      • Ally,

        My thoughts regarding Steve’s comment, especially having read his older comments regarding the Catholic Church are the same as yours.

        However there are reasons.Some who leave one Christian tradition for another, sometimes look back on their origins with a degree of resentment, disdain and a highly critical eye. It is a combination of things that may lead them to have this attitude and condescension towards those with whom they once shared a common tradition. It may be because they feel the truth was hidden from them in their original tradition. It may also be a feeling of being misled and what they feel to be intellectual dishonesty on part of their original tradition.

        I know this because I was up until recently Reformed before being received into the Catholic Church. I’ve had my days of frustration and feeling of being deceived and having the truth hidden from me. But it really comes down to how you wish to see it. You can be continually combative and resentful which what Steve often comes off as reading some of his older comments re: Catholicism. Or you can choose to be thankful for your origins for what God has taught you through that tradition and praise him for this new understanding of the faith He has give to you through whatever Christian tradition that you have found a new home.

        Even if you gained absolutely nothing from your original tradition, you can choose to forgive, make peace and love as Christ loved us.

        Forgiveness and love is never easy. But personally, it beats going through the rest of your life stewing and being resentful for the life that God has given you. And while I don’t know Steve personally, from reading his past comments, I hope and pray this might become true for him.

        • Thanks for your prayers. I can always use them.

          I didn’t think I said anything disrespectful about that Roman Catholic practice or those who practice it. I did say that it is not for me, and explained why.

          Is trying to make people realize that Christ has done, is doing, and will yet do it all for people, really such a crime?

          I guess for many it still is (such a crime).

          Not even saying that people are not Christians. I believe that Roman Catholics are every bit as Christian as I am. All I am saying is that there exists a better way than relying on things that WE DO, for a better, or more “spiritual” relationship with God.

          Shame on me.

    • Jack Heron says

      Why not both? Rosary-style prayers and simple, straightforward prayers aren’t mutually exclusive, and I’m sure Catholics recognise the value of the latter as well.

      • Indeed. Aren’t both valid, and don’t they serve different functions?

        As a Protestant, I’ve found structured, more ritualized prayer to be rather a help, especially during times that I am overwhelmed or struggling for something to say. The structured prayer gives me words that carry me along and give me something to reflect on. And that can be a good thing. Also, the content of my ‘heartfelt’ spontaneous prayers can at times be pretty dismal. It sounds like, “Lord, I praise you, and also I need some stuff.” The Lord’s Prayer reminds me of the wider group of things I must pray for and gives me words to use, if I need them.

        • “Also, the content of my ‘heartfelt’ spontaneous prayers can at times be pretty dismal. It sounds like, ‘Lord, I praise you, and also I need some stuff.’ ”

          That’s cute, Danielle!

      • You have a valid point.

        If a structure helps a prayer life then it can be a valuable tool.

        I just worry about the possibility of it becoming rote…like a Budhist prayer wheel.

        • Understood. For me, a daily scripture reading Catholic, I find it helps me to focus on different portions of Jesus’s life as discussed in scripture (except for the few Marian dogma). Specifically, it allows me to see it through the eyes of one who was close to him. Now if I was just going through and doing my 10 Hail Mary’s 5 times and my Our Father’s and my Glory be’s just to say them without thought just to check it off my list then I’m with you Steve. But if I use it as a mechanism for actually thinking about the event and putting myself there then it is useful and edifying.

    • Oh, this is just the starter, Steve. The main course should be coming along soon 🙂

      This description is what goes on when Catholics pray the rosary. I decided to kick off with it because there are so many references going back years to the mysterious activity by which you may infallibly discern a Roman Catholic, namely, “telling his or her beads” and I thought, well, how many people who aren’t Catholic know what that means (and there are a fair few who are Catholic but are in the same boat)?

      This first post is the via negativa approach to the Rosary, in which I describe to you in detail the activities we will not be engaging in, viz, saying the prayers associated with the rosary. What we will be doing is taking the themes, quoting the relevant passage of Scripture (where that applies) and looking at it to see what jumps out about it.

      Well, what jumps out about it for me; your interpretation will vary – and that’s the entire point. These are meditations on events in the life of Mary and Christ, and the lessons or inspiration we take from these events, and how we can apply them in our own lives both spiritual and everyday going about our business.

      (My guardian angel is rolling on the floor laughing at the very notion of me giving spiritual advice. Definitely a case of “do as I say, not as I do”).

      • via negativa – apophatic as oppose to cataphatic – Martha – are you hanging around the Academy of Formative Spirituality (in Dublin)?

        • My philophosy is to see the glass as half full.

        • Nope, Radagast, I’m magpie-minded and when I come across pretty shiny phrases in reading or browsing online, I go “Ohh! Pretty shiny!” and steal them away to my nest 🙂

  3. i am sure in my previous Catholic practice i have actually prayed over 1,000 rosaries…

    that might even be a conservative estimate. along with this one practice there were the other common ones i also participated in…

    i think the methodology of traditional practices as they were taught & emphasized by the nuns, brothers & priests i was tutored by communicated in the same ritualistic formula manner they themselves were taught…

    however, there was one dear brother, Brother Michael, that truly had a devout attitude & a deep Marian reverence. he was from Hawaii although i do not remember his ethnic background. i do remember his piety & his manner of communicating reverence & awe to us altar boys as he was quick to check our overly casual attitude when serving at Novenas or Mass…

    he passed away when i was in 8th grade. died of a heart defect that afflicted him since birth. he was found by the rector of our parish as he entered the sacristy to prepare for morning Mass. Brother Michael was laying on the floor clutching his rosary as if he were sleeping…

    i remember crying when i heard the news. it still causes tears to well up as i recount it even now…

  4. Yep, too Marian, too ritualistic and too much rote recitation. I don’t need Mary to lead me to Jesus.

    That being said, the practice of meditation on the Mysteries of God is one that we “reformists” are sorely lacking in. Also, the dearth of deep tradition in evangelicalism is something that I, a former Catholic (they still say I am going to hell!), mourn.

    On the one hand I enjoy the accessibility of evangelical worship while, on the other hand, I miss the sense of the Holy that I remember from my Catholic days.

    • Christiane says

      “I don’t need Mary to lead me to Jesus.”

      poor Mary, when her blessed name comes up, we get this kind of remark, when all she ever did was to point to Christ and say things like ‘Do as He tells you’ . . .

      Mary gave birth to your Savior so she has already played a role in the life of Christian people . . .

      was she ‘necessary’?

      Christ could have just ‘appeared’ without her, I know, but that is not what God did, is it

      He chose Mary
      And she said ‘yes’

      There is an icon that is symbolic in its meaning. It shows a pregnant Mary comforting a weeping Eve.
      What we know of Mary is that she was the mother of Jesus . . .
      why is it that she is disrespected among some who call Him ‘Lord’ ? What did she do to deserve the contempt?

      • Viewing the RCC’s level of devotion to and focus on Mary does not necessarily equal contempt for the mother of our Lord.
        Given that Mary is scarcely mentioned outside the four gospels in the apostles’ letters and instructions to the first century churches, it seems clear to me that religious devotion and prayer to Mary was a later development of the church that gradually gained steam over the course of centuries. And what I know of church history seems to bear that out.
        Of course, one can view that reality in different ways.
        It could mean this was a development God intended for the church and that He introduced it gradually through the workings of the Holy Spirit and through the successive line of authority He established.
        Or one could view it as one of many purely human inventions and Christianizations of popular pagan practices (i.e. the deeply ingrained tendency toward a duality of male and female deities) that have crept into the church over the centuries.
        And which side of that fence you fall on has a whole lot to do with how you view papal authority.
        But I’m just stating the obvious.

        • Christiane says

          I think the disrespect of Mary by some is ‘the obvious’

          I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective

          • If anything I wrote struck you as disrespectful, Christiane, then I sincerely apologize.
            It’s just that the divide between protestantism and catholicism is several hundred year old now, and, for the most part, the two have grown apart more than they’ve come together. And beliefs and practices regarded as obviously true and right on one side of that divide can now appear alien and highly questionable on the other.
            But, honestly, I can’t imagine Jesus taking offense at people honoring His mother — and if it turns out that we Protestants have been slighting and withholding devotion due to Mary all these centuries, then her blessed feet will be washed in a flood of millions of tearful apologies, my own among them.

  5. This is a very cool breakdown of everything that is going on when praying the rosary. It should also be said that there is no one single way to pray the rosary, and there are many Protestant-friendly ways of going about doing it. Prayer beads can be a wonderful tool for a robust prayer life.

    • Jack Heron says

      Very true: Anglicans and the Orthodox also have their own prayer-bead traditions. As do several Muslim sects, some Buddhists and some Hindus. It’s a simple and effective way to add structure to prayer.

      • Not only structure–it’s a great way to get you outside of yourself. Obviously, God cares about what’s on our minds, and we should bring our cares and concerns to Him. But there’s something a bit solipsistic about a prayer life that’s nothing but a list of all the things that we’re concerned/stressed about. At least for me, prayer can often end up with me telling the wall/ceiling about my day, about all the things that are stressing me in general, then I say “Amen” and go to bed. Those rote prayers are really good to get me outside of my own head. I mean, you can’t just speed on through it, because then the only thing involved is muscle memory, and it just turns into reciting syllables. But it helps me to say some good rote prayers, as well as the things that are just on my mind in general.

    • Thanks, Miss Martha, for a great explanation of the rosary.

      The Anglican Rosary is an excellent tool for those who are less inclined toward Marian devotion. There’s a good bit of info on the web with prayers, how to make your own rosary, etc. The “Alan Creech Rosaries” link on Internetmonk is a good place to start looking.

      The rosary is a great prayer tool…helps to build discipline, give structure, and helps make prayer more of a tactile experience…you kneel, you touch, you kiss, you speak, and you pause to hear.

      • I bought a one-decade rosary from Alan last year. I keep it in my pocket as a constant reminder. I use it “formally” once a day, but every time I feel it in my pocket, I remember to pray for specific people or needs which I have associated with the beads in my mind.

        I consider it a useful tool.

        • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

          I did the same with my Alan Creech single-decade until I wore it out! I’ve also bought from him as gifts for Catholic friends at various occasions (baptisms, confirmations, etc).

  6. Only here could such a wonderful article be posted. Thank you Martha 🙂 Gives me so much hope to see constructive dialogue between Catholics and Protestants on the web where each is willing to learn from the T/tradition of the other.

    Oscar – “On the one hand I enjoy the accessibility of evangelical worship while, on the other hand, I miss the sense of the Holy that I remember from my Catholic days.” – exactly how I feel – although I am an evangelical turned Catholic.

  7. Good article. I recall the first time I ever prayed the Rosary–as a Southern Baptist–fearing that my SBC roommates would walk in the door and “catch” me doing it. I asked our Lord for forgiveness ahead of time if asking Mary to pray for me was sinful/evil. It’s hard to explain the level of ingrained revulsion that most Protestants, especially Evangelicals, feel about the Rosary.

    • My that sounds familiar! The first time I prayed the Rosary I felt almost physically sick – as if I was about to do something terrible – and as for the first time I went into a Cathlic church and kneeled down to pray – I was looking for the hidden cameras!

      • Don’t forget the Jesuit spies behind the pillars. You can pick them out because they’re generally rubbing their hands together and laughing. 🙂

    • Us evangelicals fear the unfamiliar…unfortunate for us. Far too many folk miss out on some wonderful, life-enriching, glorifying-to-God faith practices because they consider them to be “to Catholic”.

      Don’t even get me started on the communion table…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I recall the first time I ever prayed the Rosary–as a Southern Baptist–fearing that my SBC roommates would walk in the door and “catch” me doing it.

      “NOBODY EXPECTS THE BAPTIST INQUISITION!!!!!”

      • +1

      • HUG, my initial thought was to respond with something along the lines of “The Baptists are too busy hiding their beer and making sure the concrete around the Ten Commandments sign in their front yard is set to worry about some backslider praying the rosary…”

        But that would be ugly, wouldn’t it?

        • Lee, we Baptists have our own little inquisitions. It’s called the Culture War.

          I like the quip by Garrison Keillor: The Lutherans don’t recognize the Council of Trent, the Catholics don’t recognize the Synod of Dort, and the Baptists don’t recognize each other in the liquor store.

  8. Some people use them there Bhudda beads to figure out where to dig a well. But really its demons leading it around by tugging on the little fringes.

    • What’s your opinion on the traditional getting a dowser with a hazel (or apple or whatever favoured wood) wand to find out where to dig a well, Vern?

      Lot of people used to get someone to do that for them to save them wasting time and money; was that demons too?

      Serious question.

      • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

        My grandmother, an Episcopal Deacon, is a “water witch” and found their well that way.

      • Way I see it is, a dowsers got to be used like God intended, to hold the curtins up, and not for anything that goes aginst nature. Why would anybody want to dig a well with it anyway, it binds to easy and is to blunt.

        On of the principals of the cathlic church is that every sin comes with a certine number of praires you have to say so you dont burn in Purgitery. Thats why they so intrested in keeping count with them beads.

    • sarcasm?

  9. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    Though I had hear of the Rosary being used as a meditative tool for many years, it wasn’t until my grandmother’s velorio that I really saw it in action. My uncle led the service doing some decades in English and some in Spanish. The neat thing is that the prayers were all done responsively. That back-and-forth really made for a neat rhythm to aide in that meditative process.

    I did feel bad for my Protestant cousins, though. They were so lost in all this. I had had enough childhood experience with Catholicism and had recently dated a gal from a devout Catholic family, so it was no problem for me. Though my grandmother and all her extended family were devout Catholics, all of her daughters (including my mother) became Protestants. Both her sons, however, are still Catholic. It seems every time I visit that side of the family, someone has died and we’re attending a velorio.

  10. I grew up Catholic and prayed the rosary sometimes, though not often. But there wasn’t much said about the “mysteries” or the extra type of prayers. It was, for me, just the Creed, Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be. If I had to remember all those other things…well, I would not have remembered them!

    Thanks, Martha. It’s always a pleasure to read what you have written.

  11. Thanks for posting this. I am a Protestant (Baptist) but started feeling drawn to the Rosary a few years ago, and have been praying it for about a year and a half now. It has been a great blessing to me and really helped me to take the time out not just for more conversational type prayer, but also to focus on the mysteries of the faith and the life of Christ.

    For those who are uncomfortable with the Marian focus, some Lutherans and other Protestants substitute the Jesus Prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” for the Hail Marys on each bead and a pre-Trent Hail Mary (without the “pray for us” part) or part of Luther’s version of the Magnificat on the medal.

  12. Can I ask those of you who converted from Evangelicalism to the Catholic way with tweens and teens how did you handle the situation in the area of prayer. I mean, did you stop praying spontaneous prayers informing God about things he already knows and telling Him what He should do about it and moved to traditional prayers? Or did you try to keep both spontaneous prayers and set prayers for some time and what was the reaction of the childred?

  13. I dunno, Martha. For a post-evangelical blog this is looking pretty retro.

  14. I still don’t have the Salve Regina memorized. I identify very closely with “poor banished children of Eve…mourning and weeping in this valley of tears”; and from the Fatima prayer, “lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy”.

  15. I have no problem with a rosary …. they are a useful tool for meditation …. but I do have a severe problem with what comes across as the worship of Mary …. I have a deep respect for Mary, she had an unique vocation …. I honor Mary …. but I think Mary herself would be horrified at attention and worship being directed to herself rather than to her Son …. to whom all love, worship and obedience are due.

    • The Catholic Church agrees with your concerns, Dinah. Mary is not God, and to worship her as a goddess is serious sin. There is only one God, Father , Son and Spirit, and all of our worship is directed to Him alone. You’re absolutely right about how Mary would feel about being worshiped–she would be horrified: she directs us to God not herself.
      Rick

  16. flatrocker says

    I’ve always enjoyed this phrase as a good conversation starter.

    When it comes to Mary…
    If Catholics are guilty of over-emphasis,
    Protestants are guilty of amnesia.

    It does surprise me however why I don’t get re-invited to many parties though.

  17. Thanks for the knowledge about the holy rosary.. MaY God Bless us all!!

  18. Aidan Clevinger says

    I love the idea of repititive prayer/liturgy. If we could only get rid of the excessive Mariology in the Rosary, I’d love it. 😉