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The Rosary

The Rosary

Postby Lioba » 23 Mar 2009, 18:59

Does anyone of you use the rosary in service and personal devotions?
and is it true that their áre different rosaries- I don´t speak of different prayers used with the rosary -but different rosaries, I heard for example of an orthodox and an anglican rosary.
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Re: The Rosary

Postby moogdroog » 23 Mar 2009, 20:13

I try to pray the Rosary on a daily basis, and it is one of my primary ways of approaching God, alongside Eucharistic Adoration. It is a very beautiful prayer. It has enormous depth - depth and meaning I can't comprehend. Praying the Rosary allows you to be led to Christ by the hand of the one who knew him best - His mother.

The Rosary is quite a common prayer (and prayer tool) for Catholics. I think it originated around the fourth century, and so is common to the Orthodox and Catholic church, although I think they differ slightly in structure, and some of the prayers said at the beginning and end. I also think the Rosary is more common to Roman Catholics than Orthodox, but I am unsure on that. It is interesting to note that the method of praying on a rope, or beads, is common to many different faiths and religions - I think the repetitive nature of counting knots or beads helps with meditation.

It is also a surprisingly 'difficult' prayer (at least, I find it so), in terms of maintaining concentration, and consistently focusing on the scenes for meditation.
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Re: The Rosary

Postby moogdroog » 23 Mar 2009, 20:19

Here's a link to an Anglican Rosary: Prayer beads. It looks to be quite a beautiful form of contemplative prayer, and something Protestants and Catholics could easily pray together.
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Re: The Rosary

Postby Stanley Anderson » 24 Mar 2009, 16:50

I have been praying the Rosary daily for some time now. (My wife has been praying it daily since even before we joined the Catholic Church and were only considering the possibility of joining; she simply decided to pray it in faith despite her lack of total confidence in it at the time -- and I'm convinced that that act of faith on her part was very instrumental in our entire family coming into the Church at the same time all with similarly strong desires.)

I took up that devotion for a couple reasons, perhaps the first being that it was initially so "uncomfortable" to me. Despite my (typically, for new converts) enthusiastic reception into the Church, I retained (and still retain to some ever-fading degree) certain typical Protestant feelings. One of the hardest to dispel is what I now consider to be a false or misplaced (or even prideful) resistance and abhorrence to the idea of "vain repetitions". I think the very "vain repetition" of the idea of that Protestant abhorrence to vain repetition is motivated almost entirely by the "convenient" association in one's mind that ANY repetition, by definition, is vain, thereby alleviating any sense of duty to pray in any kind of repetitious fashion. Perhaps this suggests a reason for certain tendencies -- eg, we can't help repetition; our minds simply work that way. So eliminating it explicitly in formal prayers only forces it to "pop up" unexpectedly in other, less aesthetic ways, the most glaring -- and irritating, for me -- being the interminable "Lord, just..." or "we just ask you Lord..." prayer form heard in so many Protestant "spontaneous" prayers.

Ok, I've digressed. Back to the point. As a past Protestant, I have definitely had (and still have a few remnants of) that abhorrence to "vain repetition". In reaction to it, I have tried to embrace the Rosary in its fullness, in part, to help dispel those few clinging cobwebs of distaste. In A Severe Mercy, there is a letter from Lewis to Van about Van's request to have Lewis scatter some of Davy's ashes in one of their favourite places in England. Lewis' original letter agreeing to the request was lost in the mail and so Van, not hearing back, had someone else do it. When the error was finally discovered, Lewis wrote, explaining that he hoped Van didn't think he wouldn't have done it:

I would have liked to do (if you can understand) for the very reason that I would not have liked doing it, since a deep spiritual gaucherie make me uneasy in any ceremonial act; I would have wished in that way to be honoured with a share, however tiny, in this Cross.


This expresses something of my own intent above, coupled with a somewhat similar feeling I have about sushi. I LOVE sushi (I'm convinced they put heroin in it to get people like me addicted to it :smile: ), and I often tell people that I love it so much that I even enjoy trying kinds that I don't like -- ie, just the experience of trying something unusual that I know other people enjoy is fun, even if I don't particularly like the taste or consistency of that particular type of sushi.

So anyway, that's one aspect. Another, and perhaps most important, reason I say the rosary daily is that it is strongly recommended (though not required of course) by the Church as being healthy and efficacious to one's prayer life and spiritual development. So whether I "like it" or not, it is simply good for me, like certain vegetables, if you will.

Coupled with this reason is the curious fact I notice in readings about the vast majority of Saints throughout the Church's history. And here is another conflict with certain Protestant impressions (which I have held in the past) -- the idea that the Rosary somehow overrides or replaces or "poison's" one's "proper" worship of Christ, as though it were an example of the "two masters" that one cannot serve and must choose between. Instead, what seems to be the overwhelming and unmistakable case is that, oddly enough (when I first noticed it, not now of course) those saints that had the most intense and unending and overflowing love and devotion to Christ were, and are, the ones who also seem to have the most intense devotion to saying the Rosary. "How can this be?" says the ghostly Protestant remnants in the back of my mind. Surely one "pushes" the other out? But apparently not, as I discover more and more from readings about the saints and from my own continued devotion to saying a daily Rosary. So in addition to my emotional reasons first mentioned above, there is the obedience-to-Church-recommendations reason coupled with a sort of empirical observation of its effect on the best of the Church's members in addition to its effect on me (more about that below).

As a sort of fanciful side-reason for my own interests, I am also fascinated by its "Fractal" nature. I already have a theory I won't go into much detail about here connected with the idea that fractal-natured things express a deep truth about God and his creation. For those who don't know what fractals are, they are things that have not only complexity, but a certain kind of complexity where there is "order" and "variation" at every level of detail that one looks. So for instance, a gothic cathedral is a prime example of fractal design where one can see the theme of "arches" multiplied at the large level and down to the very small details so that we find arches within arches within arches. Well, it's a complicated subject, so I won't get too far into more detail (though there is lots I would LOVE to get into here), but suffice it to say that the Rosary seems like a very "Fractal" oriented prayer to me (and, at least for me, one of the reasons it can be so difficult to do properly as moogdroog mentioned in her post).

To illustrate this, there are of course the individual "elements" of the "Hail Mary's" and Lord's Prayer, etc (and even these can be broken down into sub-phrases with intense meaning). And at a level above that are the individual Mysteries for each decade. And a level above that is the theme of the collection of five mysteries for a particular Rosary. And then there are the "set" of four sets of Mysteries. And there is the overall form and on top of all that are the special intentions and particular prayers that one makes in beginning to say a Rosary. All these "levels" going on at the same time make it very difficult for me to "attend to" properly. But like anything, it gets better with -- dare I say it? – repetition and practice. I find it to be very strengthening in a healthy way for my spiritual life. (and of course, done improperly or with wrong intentions, it may be unhealthy and destructive in the stereotypical Protestant impression of “vain repetition”, though I think one would have to go a long way in an unhealthy direction to entirely eradicate the benefits of saying a Rosary. Like our faith in God, it is "accommodating" even to our poor and imperfect and child-like attempts. A kind of "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” aspect to it can make even weary, inattentive recitations effective to some degree I think, though of course a goal and intention to do it well are important.

I want to add, though spiritually I don’t want to place too much emphasis on it (or at least for the wrong reasons), I find, surprisingly to my rather mistrusting scientifically oriented mind, that it produces a variety and pleasing set of answered prayers. I say this with caution since the moment it turns, in one’s mind, into a sort of “magic formula” rather than a way of becoming closer to God, it will probably become more dangerous spiritually than helpful. But it is true in my experience that things “work out” in ways I might not expect to prayers and special intentions. And one thing I notice is (hard to describe here, but I’ll try) the particularly “gentle” or “motherly” manner in which those answered prayers occur – not generally the “fiery letters written across the sky” sort of thing, but more of an “oh, I guess that worked out without me really noticing it much” manner that one might realize about one’s own mother cleaning up the mess you’ve left or comforting you when you’ve fallen and just need attention. Different than a kind of more “masculine” or “fatherly” sort or “Here’s some money to fix the broken window” or “Here – do it this way” help or answer to a prayer.

In any case, though as I said above that it is not good to “rely” on this reason for saying Rosaries, I suggest for those interested, to simply try it and see what happens. You may be surprised. The “Memorare” says something I had always previously thought sounded a bit presumptuous and overconfident, but have since then been quite pleased to discover that it seems to be true after all:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Finally, I want to add another fanciful conjecture or “wonderment” about the possibilities of the Rosary. (And here I would stress that this is only fun to think about – I wouldn’t want to “declare” any kind of conclusion). Traditionally there were three sets of Mysteries – the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. In 2002 Pope John Paul II introduced a fourth set, the Luminous Mysteries. The recommendation for daily Rosaries is that one say the joyful mysteries on Monday and Saturday, the sorrowful mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, the glorious mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday, and the luminous mysteries on Thursday.

In my mind, I’ve liked to consider and contemplate (if it is not irreverent – I willingly back off from the idea if it can be demonstrated to be so) what some other “new” sets of mysteries might entail -- and darn it, why can’t there be seven sets of mysteries, one for each day of the week? Well, with that in mind, and coupled with my strong sense of the Church and the Sacraments being a kind of “flowering” of Christ’s Resurrection and Salvation, I’ve considered the idea of a set that could be called, well, the “Flowering” Mysteries. I haven’t “worked it all out” but the individual mysteries would be of the kind that demonstrated the development of the Church. In later thoughts, and frankly, more due to my aesthetic sense of “mathematical neatness” than for any really legitimate theological reasons, I noticed that the four current sets sort of pair off with similar-sounding or assonant-wise-ending (and theme-wise) names with “Joyful” and “Sorrowful” going together and “Glorious” and “Luminous” going together.

And since the “flowering” idea led to a variety of possibilities numbering more than five mysteries for the set, it occurred to me to divide them (perhaps not terribly clearly, but fun in my mind’s working) into two sets -- ones that were more about the “forming” of the Church and the others that were more about the “flowering” or visible parts of the Church. And, perhaps waaay too corny-ly rhyming, it popped into my head that the former could be called the “Empowering” mysteries as contrasted with the "Flowering" mysteries. So for instance here are some possibilities – note that there are lots of problems with them – they don’t “match up” neatly and some should probably be in the other group, and there are probably other items that should be in that I've left out, and some overlap with existing mysteries (eg Pentecost in the Glorious Mysteries). But here are some ideas:

possible Empowering Mysteries:

The Calling of the Apostles by Christ
The Establishment of Peter as the Rock upon which the Church will be built
The Empowerment given to the Church at Pentecost
The Blood of the Martyrs/St Stephen
The Calling of St Paul/The Road to Emmaus

possible Flowering Mysteries:

The sending out of Disciples by Christ
The Call to Unity by Christ at the Last Supper
The Great Commission to spread the Gospel to all the Earth
The Sacraments
(The establishment of the deaconate)

So that would make six sets. And of course that immediately brings to my mind the issue of seven sets, one for each day. And sure enough, I can’t help but consider something for that last day. The very idea of “mystery” means that we can’t fully understand it, so I thought, “how about a set of mysteries that deal with those seeming contradictions and paradoxes of orthodox and doctrinal theology – ones where two or more things seem to not fit together and yet we are asked to believe and glory in them?” And so I thought perhaps some kind of “Interwoven/Theological” set could be devised. And here are some possibilities (again, not clear, and overlapping with some existing mysteries)

possible Interwoven/Theological Mysteries:

The Church/Body of Christ/Mary
The Dual Nature of Christ
The Trinity
The Pillars of the Church – Holy Scripture/Holy Tradition/Magisterium
The Sacraments

Well, as I said, this is all just fanciful and incomplete thought, but I mention it to suggest and wonder what “sets” other people here might be able to come up with. Not for any kind of importance or declaration of course, but simply for the enjoyment of considering new and fun ideas. Any thoughts?

(sorry for the undue length -- can you tell it is a subject that fascinates me? :smile: )
--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Re: The Rosary

Postby Lioba » 24 Mar 2009, 21:43

Thank you for all your open and heartfelt answers! I used to to pray the Rosary in the form created by the German Lutheran Highchurch- movement, the so-called " Christusrosenkranz" Rosary of Christ . It invocates Christ only [ Praised be the Lord the Almighty and Merciful, son of God and Mary -followed by the mystery- We adore and bless you Lord Jesus Christ through your Holy Cross you saved the World- glory to...]but the rest is like the old Rosary, but now I find more peace and comfort in the original Rosary. I neither get the feeling that the repetitions are mere babble nor that Blessed Mary takes away the honour that is to Jesus. Much of what you expressed I experience myself.
A blessed evening to you (and a little german for moogdroog :smile: )
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Re: The Rosary

Postby wondawomen » 03 Jul 2009, 22:38

During a very difficult time in my life (loss of my grandson), my sister sent me a rosary. We are protestant but heard the rosary being prayed during the funeral. The grief was the worst pain of my life. My sister and I used the rosary in prayers and it was such a blessing. I still use it during prayer; not always the same prayer just as something to bring my thoughts to prayer and keep away distractions. It is a wonderful blessing.
We love, because He first loved us.1John4:19 NASB
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