Rosary - The Epitome of the Whole Gospel

What a beautiful blend of oral and mental prayer is the Rosary.  In this devotion Jesus and Mary invite us to relive with them their joys, missions, sorrows and glories and share with them the great experience of the Incarnation and Redemption.  In this way, we enter more intimately with the very life of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

The origin of the rosary may be traced back in the fifth century when St. Brigid of Ireland used multi-colored pebbles in counting her Pater Nosters (Our Father), which comes to us from Christ, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew (6:9-13).  The other is the Glory Be, an ancient expression of praise to the Most Holy Trinity.  These words echo portion of various prayers and statements in Scripture.  In the middle of the twelfth century that Hail Mary came into common use as the Angel Gabriel’s greetings to Mary when he came to announce the conception of Jesus…”  Hail Mary favored one (or full of grace) the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).  The words that follow in that prayer also come from Elizabeth’s greeting to our Lady soon afterwards:  “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42).

The Rosary also includes a recitation of the Apostle’s Creed, one of the earliest profession of faith produced by the Church.  Finally, Catholics may add a variety of additional personal petitions when praying the Rosary.

Non-Catholics say the rosary involves monotonous repetition of prayers.  Not when said properly.  While we say each decade we should meditate upon the particular mystery or event being commemorated.  Therefore, meditation is the heart of the rosary.  It is only through meditation upon the life of Christ that we really come to know Him and make Him a vital influence in our lives.

In the light of such biblical examples, it is puzzling how some Christians claim that repetitious prayers are condemned by Jesus.  They quote His words:  “In praying do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).

Here the Savior was referring to the practice of the pagans who sought by prolonged empty gabbling and speech – making to compel their gods to do their bidding.

As usual, Jesus is concerned with the inner dispositions of the worshiper, not with mere outward appearance.  The Lord looks into the heart.

After speaking of the Church, her mission and destiny, we find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary – her own “pilgrimage of faith”. She gave us the rosary.  The name “Rosary” (from Latin word rosarium, “rose garden”) comes from the notion of offering a bouquet of prayers to our Lady.



Holy Scripture

1Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Faith by :  John A. O’Brien, Ph.D.

Research Professor of Theology

The University of Notre Dame

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