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The Rosary

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Wolseley, Sep 11, 2001.

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  1. Wolseley

    Wolseley Beaucoup-Diên-Cai-Dāu

    United States
    In another thread, scapegoat13 asked me this question:
    Since my answer will take up quite a bit of space, I decided a new thread might be the better course of action. So, here we go:

    The Rosary got its start in the late 1st and 2nd centuries, when Christian monks in the Syrian and Egyptian deserts used to carry around a leather bag with 150 pebbles inside, one for each of the 150 Psalms. During the course of the day, they would remove a pebble, recite a prayer, and slip the pebble into their pocket. When the bag was empty and the pocket was full, they knew they'd said a prayer for each Psalm.

    As time went on, this system evolved into knots tied in a cord, and eventually to beads strung on a string or a chain. A crucifix was added some time later, and the prayers began to get standardized. The Rosary in its present form dates from the 12th century, when a Spanish friar named Dominic Guzman (the founder of the Dominican Order) began to popularize it as a daily devotion.

    The beads themselves consist of a circle, joined together by a medal; attatched to the medal is a smaller string, or "tail", with a crucifix on the end of it. A rosary can be made of just about anything; various types of wood are popular, as is glass in various colors. Plastic is used in two types---standard and "glow-in-the-dark". :) Metal can be used, anything from aluminum to sterling silver and 24-karat gold. I have seen rosaries with beads made from pressure-compressed rose petals and from seeds of plants from Palestine. Mother Teresa used to carry a plain wooden rosary with different colored wood beads, the same type that we usually buy for little children; these are cheap and quickly made, and she was constantly handing them out to people who didn't have one.

    Usually a rosary will have a large bead right after the crucifix, followed by three small beads in a series, and then another large one. You then have the medal, which you skip, and you have ten small beads in a series, then another large one, and so on, until you come back to the medal again; you have five sets of ten small beads each, all of them interspersed by one large bead. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, but if you look at a Catholic rosary, you can see that it's a relatively simple device.

    The large beads are "our Father" beads, on which is recited the Lord's Prayer. The smaller beads are "Hail Mary" beads, on which are recited a prayer called the Hail Mary, which goes like this:

    "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
    Blessed art thou among women,
    And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
    Now and at the hour of our death, amen."

    (Keep in mind that Catholics believe that Mary and the saints can receive our requests and can intercede for us with God.) :)
    In the space between the last Hail Mary bead in each sequence of beads, the "Glory Be" is recited, which goes like this:

    "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen."

    This is sometimes followed up by the "Fatima Prayer", which goes like this:

    "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, espcially those most in need of Your mercy, amen."

    Okay; those are the basic prayers. To pray the Rosary, you start out by reciting the Apostle's Creed on the crucifix. Then, you recite one Our Father followed by three Hail Marys and one Glory Be (the short "tail" of beads). You then recite another Our Father on the next large bead, skip over the medal, and recite ten Hail Marys, one for each small bead in the next ten-bead sequence, then, another Glory Be. You continue in this fashion for all five of the ten-bead series, until you come back around to the medal. On the medal, you recite the Hail Holy Queen, which is another prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary. This particular prayer usually gives Protestants some problems---to them, it sounds utterly and completely blasphemous, so hold on:

    "Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, O most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb: Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary; pray for us, O most holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, amen."

    I had a dear Protestant friend who was scandalized by this prayer. He said, "It is Jesus Who is 'our life, our sweetness and our hope', not Mary!" And I agreed with him. I said, "Look at it this way: Jesus is our life, sweetness, and hope, correct? And Mary is the mother of Jesus, correct? Well, that's exactly what this prayer calls her: the mother of our life, our sweetness, and our hope." To be honest, if one took this prayer on its own, completely isolated from the rest of all Catholic Marian theology and what the Church teaches about her, it would sound perhaps a bit shady---but it has to be taken in context with everything else the Church says about Mary....and the Church says we are saved by Jesus, not Mary. :)

    You finish the Rosary off by reciting the Prayer after the Rosary, which goes like this:

    "O most merciful 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 by meditating upon these sacred mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ, our Lord, amen."

    Then you're done. This is only the mechanics of the thing, however; the Rosary is supposed to be a meditative prayer---there are fifteen sets of "mysteries" that you're supposed to be thinking about as you recite the prayers on the beads; they are as follows:

    The Joyful Mysteries:
    1. The Annunciation---Gabriel greets Mary
    2. The Visitation---Mary visits Elizabeth
    3. The Nativity---Jesus is born in Bethlehem
    4. The Circumcision---Jesus is dedicated to God
    5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

    The Sorrowful Mysteries:
    1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
    2. Jesus is scourged at the pillar
    3. Jesus is crowned with thorns
    4. Jesus carries the cross
    5. Jesus is crucified

    The Glorious Mysteries:
    1. The Resurrection
    2. the Ascension
    3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
    4. The Assumption of Mary
    5. The Coronation of Mary

    (The last two are from Sacred Tradition; we believe that Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul, as Enoch, Elijah,and Jesus were. She was "raptured", if you like. :) We also believe that Mary was crowned as Queen of Heaven, based on Revelation 12:1-2.)

    Vatican II stated that there are many more sets of mysteries that can be prayed, in addition to these fifteen, which are the old standard ones. I personally have several sets which I have devised, and I pray them as a change of pace. For example, Healing Mysteries:

    1. Jesus heals the man born blind
    2. Jesus raises Jairus' daughter
    3. Jesus heals the Gadarene demoniac
    4. Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood
    5. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

    I also have Resurrection Mysteries:

    1. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene
    2. Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus
    3. Jesus heals Thomas' doubt
    4. Jesus re-instates Peter on the beach
    5. Jesus appears to Paul on the road to Damascus

    And so on.

    The Rosary doesn't pay more homage to Mary than to Jesus simply because of the disproportionate number of Hail Marys as opposed to other prayers; remember that there are many types of prayer, and the Rosary is a meditative prayer. This means it comes more from the head than from the heart, as opposed to something like petitional prayer, which comes more from the heart than from the head. :) You're not even supposed to be paying attention to the Hail Marys you recite---you're supposed to be paying attention to the mystery you're meditating upon. All that the recitation of the prayer does is to keep your mind focused and to establish a rhythm---sort of like repeating a mantra over and over in some Eastern religions.

    The way I keep focused is to concentrate on one aspect of the mystery in question for each bead, keeping that in my mind as I recite the Hail Mary. For example, let's say that we're doing the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, Jesus Carries the Cross; ten beads, ten Hail Marys, ten pictures to focus on:

    1. Jesus was shoved into a carpenter's shop and a heavy, rough-hewn pine beam was thrown across His shoulders and lashed to His arms with ropes. The smell of the fresh wood shavings gave him a pang, thinking of the happy days He had spent as a child in Joseph's carpenter shop.

    2. The soldiers shoved Jesus into the street, where He fell and skinned one knee on the rough paving stones. He struggled to His feet and staggered forward.

    3. The streets were lined with people screaming for His death, spitting on Him, mocking Him. Also in the crowd were those who loved Him, who wept with horror and sorrow as He passed by.

    4. Weak from carrying the crossbeam, Jesus fell to both knees. A woman came out of the crowd with a cloth and mercifully wiped the sweat and blood from Jesus' face.

    5. As the procession turned a corner, Jesus came face-to-face with His mother. Mary's heart twisted within her when she saw what they had done to Him, and she began to weep unconsolably.

    6. A group of women stood nearby, weeping as Jesus passed. Gasping under the weight of the crossbeam, Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me; weep rather for yourselves, and for your children."

    7. Jesus fell again, this time full-length upon His chest. He tried to rise and could not, even though the soldiers kicked Him and cursed Him.

    8. One of the soldiers yanked Jesus to His feet by His hair, while another yanked a man out of the crowd and forced him to help Jesus carry the crossbeam; this man's name was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

    9. At length, the place of execution was reached; this was a garbage dump outside the city wall of Jerusalem. This place was called in the Hebrew tongue "Golgotha", and in the Latin tongue "Calvarium", which means "The Place of the Skull".

    10. Jesus was tripped by the soldiers and thrown flat on His back; the wind was knocked out of Him and He gasped for air. As He struggled to breathe, two of the soldiers approached Him on either side, bearing heavy iron hammers and long, sharp, rusty iron spikes.

    And so on. It takes a while to go through five decades this way, but it really helps to keep you focused.

    The only thing left to say is that the Rosary is a devotion, which means it's entirely optional. You can be a faithful Catholic and never say a Rosary in your entire life. If it's for you and it helps you, you should use it. If it doesn't, then find another devotion that does.

    Well, scapegoat, I hope this helps you understand the Rosary better; if it doesn't, or if you have questions, by all means ask them and I will try to clarify for you. :)

    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. scapegoat 13

    scapegoat 13 Guest

    Wow! I had NO idea the rosary was soooooo involved. And I thank you muchly for taking this
    LONGGGGGG time to type it all. Amazing.

    I enjoyed the history as well as the details of focus during devotion. They leave all
    that out and make fun of it. Depicting it as hogwash. But meditation has it's purpose and place.
    And each from their heart are loving God...getting close to him. I believe He honors a true heart.
    I wish more could get a grip on this concept. Isn't that why the first people came to america, so
    that they could worship God in the way they desired? And even that all got screwed up.
    If the devil can't make you stop, he'll make you over do it.

    "Revelation 12:1-2"
    ...I read this with some friends in a bible meeting once. And we wondered at the woman who
    appears. But I think if you read further it talks about a spiritual war and the coming of Christ.
    A few pastors said that the child was a type and shadow of the Jewish people. *shrugs*

    Revelation 12

    1" And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
    2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
    3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
    4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be
    delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
    5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
    6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore
    7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
    8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
    9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his
    angels were cast out with him.
    10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of
    our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."

    Hmm? I am most interesting in learning of this woman that the scriptures speak of. It seems a strange
    and turned around time format if the fallen angels are sent to earth BEFORE the birth of Christ. Or have
    I read it incorrectly?

    "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen."
    ...I have said this many times as I was growing up as well as singing it. This was from my episcopalian
    background, and later I went on to Baptist/non-denominational.

    "The last two are from Sacred Tradition; we believe that Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul, as Enoch, Elijah,and Jesus were. She was "raptured", if you like."
    ...Hmm? I believe Enoch and Elijah never experienced a physical death like Jesus did. But Jesus's death AND
    resurrection are what I am truly thankful for. Amen. I wonder about Mary being raptured. I was going to ask you if had a scripture for it, but when rereading your posting, I see you typed 'sacred tradition'. But then all things
    are possible with God.

    Anywho, I thank you muchly. And Yes, it does clear up the questions I had on the rosary.
    VERY informative.

  3. Wolseley

    Wolseley Beaucoup-Diên-Cai-Dāu

    United States
    If you think it's complex now, you ought to see what it was like before Vatican II; they used to have the various sets of mysteries coordinated with the liturgical seasons. For example, the Joyful Mysteries were supposed to be recited on Mondays, Thursdays, Sundays of Advent, and Sundays from Epiphany until Lent; The Sorrowful Mysteries, on Tuesdays, Fridays, and daily from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. (40 days of Sorrowful Mysteries. What a downer!) It was incredible. I used to tell pepople that if it's Catholic, it's complicated, depending on how deep you go into it. Even something a simple as this has depth that is astounding; or, you can just scratch the surface, depending on where your personal spiritual level is. :)
    I have heard varied interpretations of who the woman is; some say she is the Church, some say Israel, some say other things. The Church has always interpreted it as being Mary.
    The general belief about Mary in Catholic thought is that after Jesus turned her over to John to care for at the foot of the Cross (John 19:26-27), she went with John wherever he went, and eventually to Ephesus, where she died; at the moment of her death, she was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. :)

  4. scapegoat 13

    scapegoat 13 Guest

    I have often wanted to go to church with my catholic cousins. Perhaps someday
    they will allow me to or the opportunity will arise. I look forward to reaching out
    in this way and bridging the gap is often forged between denominations. :)
    We have taught our children that if Christ is the center, there is much truth there.
    Seek it.

  5. Gideon4God

    Gideon4God Regular Member

    Other Religion
    How do catholics feel about the new mysteries added?
  6. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

  7. greenapes

    greenapes New Member

    I love these mysteries, they are wonderful events  that should be recognized and I think they add a lot to my prayer and devotion... :clap:
  8. Wolseley

    Wolseley Beaucoup-Diên-Cai-Dāu

    United States
    I like them. :)
  9. ZooMom

    ZooMom Thanks for the memories...

    United States
    I like them as well. :) But the Joyful Mysteries are still my favorite. :)
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