This is the month of the Holy Rosary and I want to make ten brief points about it that you may find interesting. I’ll enumerate them so as to fit it as much as I can in a short space, a little departure from my accustomed fustian.
1. In the public recitation, the Hail Marys dovetail but can even slightly overlap because these prayers are not so much deliberate repetitions but a stream of sound over which the meditation of the mysteries are meant to predominate, much like the connecting links which join the beads. Saying the rosary with too deliberate an emphasis on each word might even be an impediment to a more thoughtful concentration on the mysteries. The continual sounding of the Hail Marys forms background music for the delight of the Holy Virgin’s ears (reminding Her of Annunciation day when She first heard the Archangel’s greeting) while the mind considers some aspect of the mystery announced for each decade.
2. The physical chain of the rosary is a tactile thing that ought to be used, at least by the leader in a group recitation (though it’s use is advisable for all participants). This feeling of the rosary beads in the hand is–besides being a counting device–a symbolic contact with Our Lady since the blest beads form a sacramental.
3. Catholics today are losing the practice of repetitive prayer – the rosary being the principal one. Litanies and pious aspirations are also, I fear, passé for many. One should not dismiss these kinds of prayer from the warning of the Gospel about the vanity of the mindless repetition of prayers. The bible itself offers examples of litanies as well as descriptions of insistent and repetitive prayer (think here of the man in the parable who knocks pertinaciously on the door to rouse his sleepy neighbor until he should answer). The analogy of lovers is apropos: there’s no limit to the repetition of loving words between them.
4. Secondary prayers that are often attached to the rosary are not, strictly speaking, necessary. After each decade, for example, there’s the laudable custom of saying the Fatima prayer, “ O my Jesus, forgive us our sins...” Since this addition was requested by Holy Mary Herself, there’s excellent reason for adding it, but the rosary would still be valid without it. Moreover, prayers often said at the end, “Hail, Holy Queen, the versicle and response, and final prayer are not necessary, though certainly good to include. Prayers for the Pope are necessary only for gaining the plenary indulgence (one Our Father & Hail Mary are minimally required), but even in public recitation these may be done privately rather than aloud.
5. At the start of the rosary there are the three ‘little’ Hail Marys which are often announced as being “for an increase of faith, hope, and charity.” Nothing wrong with that. I myself do not say this because I offer them for chastity and don’t want to limit their purpose.
6. The rosary is the only prayer I can think of that heaven asked to be said daily. (The Lord’s Prayer, of course, does ask for “daily bread” but there’s no command that it be said daily. That being said, however, it’s expected that you say this prayer many times every day.) Since Mary Herself asked for the daily rosary, I can’t figure how some Catholics omit it.
7. Because the holy names of Jesus and Mary are so often repeated in saying the rosary, bowing the head [need] not be observed each time. Ditto for the Glory be to the Father which, in other contexts, would direct one to bow the head.
8. The Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer have not been updated in the English language. Thus, the archaic forms are still to be observed: ‘the Lord is with Thee;” hallowed be Thy name;” etc. There might be some dispute in the case of the Glory be prayer since it does have an official new form for use in the Divine Office said in English. Arguably this new form applies only to the Divine Office and not elsewhere.
9. Moslems were defeated in history from dominating Christian lands through the wide use of the rosary. The alarming spread of Islamic people and religion in Christian territory with the imposition of the anti-Christian laws and even persecution of Christians may well be due to the lapse in saying the rosary.
10. Rosary beads should be made of noble but not necessarily precious materials. Anything for which the Church’s blessing is sought ought to have a certain nobility that indicates its sacred use. Personally speaking, I’m appalled over some rosaries I’ve been asked to bless that are cheaply made or that look more like toys than holy objects. One ought to use fine things as instruments of prayer.
Sunday, October 04, 2015
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, October 4, 2015):