The Daily Christian: Rosary

Rosary.jpegThis may be the most frequent daily practice, at least for Catholics. The number of Hail Mary prayers in the original three sets of mysteries equaled the number of psalms. Some union with monasteries might have been a motivation.

Some liturgy folk have a reputation for pooh-poohing private devotion like this. That seems to be rooted in subjective bad particular experiences rather than an across-the-board condemnation by the so-called liturgical-industrial establishment.

As for me, I learned it when I was a new Catholic. I used to pray it for a period of time when I biked to work. I could track tenfold repetition on my fingers on the handle bars. I remember feeling annoyed when I moved to the Chicago suburbs and these innovators had added the “fires of hell” utterance–which I later learned was a Fatima addition. It wasn’t in the rosary when I was taught it, so I don’t include it when I do it on my own and I close my lips during communal recitation. (Don’t blame me: I was born on the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe and my first parish had a Lourdes grotto in one of its transepts.)

Please don’t get me started on “praying to Mary.” The Rosary texts are largely Biblical, and the words of the Hail Mary text make it clear we are asking her to pray for us. Just like non-Catholic Christians ask other people to pray for them.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II caught some flak for adding five new mysteries. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with additional meditations. Or leaving them out. I skip the Fatima prayer every time. Nobody seems to notice.

I notice that Pope Francis has recommended two prayers to add to the end of our rosary this coming May. Here is the first:

O Mary,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.

We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

And the second:

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation,
when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety,
we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother,
and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary,
turn your merciful eyes towards us
amid this coronavirus pandemic.

Comfort those who are distraught
and mourn their loved ones who have died,

and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply.
Be close to those who are concerned
for their loved ones who are sick and who,
in order to prevent the spread of the disease,
cannot be close to them.
Fill with hope those who are troubled
by the uncertainty of the future
and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother,
pray for us to God,
the Father of mercies,
that this great suffering may end
and that hope and peace may dawn anew.
Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana,
so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted,
and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers
who are on the frontline of this emergency,
and are risking their lives to save others.
Support their heroic effort
and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day,
and to priests who,
in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel,

are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin,
illumine the minds of men and women
engaged in scientific research,

that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders,
that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity

they may come to the aid
of those lacking the basic necessities of life

and may devise social and economic solutions
inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy,
stir our consciences,
so that the enormous funds
invested in developing and stockpiling arms

will instead be spent on promoting effective research
on how to prevent similar tragedies
from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother,
help us realize
that we are all members of one great family

and to recognize the bond that unites us,
so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity,
we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need.
Make us strong in faith,
persevering in service,
constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted,
embrace all your children in distress
and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand
and free us from this terrible pandemic,
so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you,
who shine on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope,

do we entrust ourselves,
O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary.

My only mild criticism is the length. Only serious pray-ers with minds like steel traps will memorize these texts. Too bad they are too long to put on the back of a holy card.

All that aside, there are countless places online to find out how to pray the Rosary. Beads are a good reminder, but I don’t usually have mine with me when my parish prays before Mass.

The Holy Father reminds us that praying together as a family is a very virtuous practice:

It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.

For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities.

As with other new daily habits, I vaguely recall reading somewhere that it takes the average person an average of sixty-six days to absorb a new habit. May has less than half that many days. But maybe it’s a good month to make some strides as a daily Christian. If not the rosary, perhaps some other initiative.

As Pope Francis counsels, let’s make the most of our opportunities.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Church News, spirituality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Daily Christian: Rosary

  1. Liam says:

    The *practical* genius of the Rosary is that it’s entirely portable: one needn’t even have beads (I also use my fingers when walking with a staff or swimming). It also invites layering and addition: you can memorize Jesuit-style in-scene moments to reflect on with each “bead”. As for the “Fatima ejaculation”, it wasn’t taught to me in the 1960s and early 1970s, and my parents didn’t use it, as its popularization in the USA seems have postdated the time they were taught the Rosary in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I only encountered it in writings in the 1980s. I gradually added it to my practice as it’s a lovely prayer of petition for God’s mercy*, and over the decades the “title” of the BVM that resonates most with me is Mother of Mercy, for which there are many closely related variant titles and all of which have inspired some of the greatest art in our tradition.

    For those who poo-poo “rote prayer”, while I understand and appreciate the concern, the Rosary is, when it’s in your bones, far beyond that. It’s a laminated form of contemplation. And the fact that it’s portable means it can even become something that a person deeply disturbed by delirium and attendant delusions can access if they had developed the habit of it earlier in life: I personally witnessed this will my very elderly mother on her sickbed, and it was stunning to behold (not miraculous, but surprising and comforting).

    * Its popular form in English and many other languages has changed, however, from its Portuguese original, which didn’t include “of your/thy mercy” at the end. I prefer the changed version, even if it’s not the original. The Rosary is accommodating like that.

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