Today is the feast day of the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Today’s readings are about learning to trust God in any circumstances, even those as dire as those endured by Job in his trials.
But they are also about God teaching us which is the “right way” to behave.
Jesus uses the examples to show us how to ensure that we don’t just learn by following a commandment, but that rather that we have some good moral judgment in choosing our own courses of actions. The Gospel example of the good Samaritan helping the man in need was even a larger at the time of his missions. Samaritans were avoided by the Jewish people of the time, so the fact that both a priest and a Levite passed over the man and did nothing to assist makes the Samaritan’s act all the more important. Setting the scene for the “end of what is good” is the important factor, and not just the person that does it. The passing over by the Levite and the priest shows their own “self-importance” and distain for engaging in the work of assisting others. God’s work.
This call to action was central to many of the Gospel parables, and that God would help those that helped others. He could be trusted and that assistance may come from the most unexpected sources. Job knew this and trusted God. So should we.
Many of these major events in the life of Jesus, particularly the ones that are mysteries are wrapped-up in a continuous prayer form called the Rosary. Our Lady’s feast day for this prayer method. The Rosary is an amazing prayer form that has been with us for centuries.
Because the Rosary is a well known prayer form, but often misunderstood one, we tend to forget a little of its’ history.
Most of this information about the Rosary comes from Praying the Rosary by Rita Bogna.
The Origins of the Rosary
It is believed that the Rosary has its origins in the Psalter of David, the 150 psalms that comprise the Book of Psalms of the Holy Bible.
In the early Middle Ages it was the practice of religious communities to recite all 150 psalms daily as part of the Divine Office.
In the first centuries of Christianity the anchorites and hermits of Egypt counted their prayers with small grains or pebbles strung together into a crown. In the seventh century monks and nuns in Ireland used knotted cords to count the psalms as they were said, and in England chains of beads, known as chaplets (from the French word for “little crown”), were hung to the walls of churches for public use.
The Rosary Today
According to tradition the Rosary was revealed to Saint Dominic (1170-1221), the founder of the Dominican Order (the Order of Friar Preachers), by the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1206 as a means of overcoming the heresies and vices of his times. “The earth will remain barren,” she told Saint Dominic, “until it is watered by the heavenly dew of this devotion.” The Rosary spread quickly through France and Spain, and then through the rest of Europe.
In 1559 Pope Saint Pius V officially approved the Rosary as a devotion of the Catholic Church and ordered the commemoration of the Rosary to be made on the first Sunday in October each year. (Looks like we have missed that by one day as the feast day is today.) The word Rosary comes from the Latin rosarium which literally means a rose garden. The term is used to signify a crown or garland of roses.
The term is used to signify a crown or garland of roses. In Italy the Rosary is called ‘Rosario’ and each bead is called a ‘corona’ which is Italian for crown.
Like a choice and well-arranged collection of the sweetest flowers, it is supposed to present to the pious soul in the prayers and meditations of which it is composed, all that is most beautiful and fragrant in devotion.
The set of beads used to count or mark off each prayer as it is said is divided into decades, or sets of 10 beads representing 10 Hail Marys, each decade being separated by a bead that represents the Our Father.
The entire Rosary consists of the recitation of 150 Hail Marys, separated into 15 decades, and sets of beads with all 15 decades are used by religious communities. However, the sets of Rosary beads most commonly sold today have just five decades, as it is usual for lay Catholics to recite only a third of the Rosary at any one time, although we are encouraged to pray the whole Rosary every day.
We say one Hail Mary. This is in itself a wonderful prayer.
We repeat it ten times to increase its efficacy and when the decade is finished we begin all over again, until this song of love ascends to heaven one hundred and fifty times, and it becomes a powerful cry which penetrates the skies.
The mysteries of the Rosary were standardised in the sixteenth century by Pope Saint Pius V, based on long-standing custom. The 15 mysteries are divided into three groups known as the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious.
In 2002 Blessed John Paul II proposed five new mysteries that focus on key events in the adult life of Jesus. In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in which he introduced the “Mysteries of Light,” he stated that “each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.” The Luminous Mysteries contain five meditations on Christ’s public ministry from His Baptism in the Jordan to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Today the rosary is still one of the most popular prayer forms, and remains a staple of meditative prayer. One where we can recite the prayers of rosary while contemplating the mysteries individually.
In this way, many of the Gospel events of Jesus’s life come alive in our minds and souls, with us imagining ourselves being present or observing this acts that form the basis of our faith.
It is truly a gift from God that needs to be treasured and revived for our young Catholics for the centuries to come.