The Rosary
by Sebastian R. Fama

The Rosary is a form of prayer that is popular among Catholics but which receives much criticism from Protestants. It consists of the Apostle's Creed, which is a statement of Christian belief, the Lord's Prayer, which was uttered by Jesus in Luke 11:2-4, the Glory Be, which is a prayer that glorifies the Trinity, the Hail Mary, and the Mysteries.

The Hail Mary and the Mysteries are probably the two parts that are the most misunderstood by non-Catholics. However, they are both very scriptural. In Psalm 143:5 we read, "I remember the days of old, I meditate on all that thou hast done, I muse on what thy hands have wrought." Eighteen of the twenty Mysteries are meditations on the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ. Two are related to events in Mary’s life. There is a longer version of the Rosary which is called the Scriptural Rosary. When saying the Scriptural Rosary there is a short scripture meditation after each Hail Mary. This is in addition to the five longer meditations.

As for the Hail Mary, we begin by recognizing the uniqueness of Mary: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." In doing this we are not exaggerating, as we use the words of God as spoken by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:28. Next we utter the first recorded words of praise for Jesus in the New Testament. They come from Luke 1:42. Mary has gone to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Upon her arrival, Elizabeth proclaims, "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Jesus). Finally we ask Mary's intercession. In short, we address Mary as God does, we praise Jesus, and we ask Mary to pray for and with us.

As we saw in the essay “Praying to Saints,” those who have gone to be with the Lord can and do pray for us. In addition to those already mentioned there is another verse of Scripture that is used against the Catholic position. Deuteronomy 18:11 condemns those who “consult the dead.” It is said that when we pray to the saints in heaven we are in violation of this verse. What our critics fail to understand is that this condemnation is in no way related to the issue at hand. Reading the verse in context confirms this. The context becomes clear when we read verses 9-11. The New International Version words it this way:

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

It should be obvious to anyone that what is being talked about here is the practice of the occult. Someone who practices the occult seeks power or hidden information from demons posing as departed humans. When someone asks Mary or any other saint in heaven for their prayers one is neither seeking power nor hidden information.

Because the Rosary is repetitious, Matthew 6:7 is often used in an attempt to refute it. The King James Version words it this way: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Jesus did not condemn repetition – He condemned vain repetition. "Praise God" or "Amen" can be vain repetition if not said from the heart. Was Paul wrong in telling the Ephesians to "Address one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (5:19)? Are we to believe that psalms can only be recited once and that songs can only be sung once? Did God violate his own principals in Psalm 150, when in a short span of six verses we read "praise the Lord," "praise God" or "praise him" thirteen times (150:1-6)? Of course not! An even better example can be found  in the 136th psalm where the phrase “His steadfast love endures forever” appears 26 times.

Look at verses 5-6 of Matthew 6. Here Jesus seems to be condemning praying aloud in public. However, a close examination reveals that He is not condemning public prayer but hypocritical public prayer. Likewise, in verse 7, He does not condemn repetitious prayer but hypocritical repetitious prayer.
 

Copyright © 2001, 2013 StayCatholic.com


For Further Study

Free - Praying to Saints
Books - The New Rosary in Scripture by Edward Sri


Prev.   Essays   Next