Questions Regarding The Rosary

Hi there, I am looking to be received into the Catholic Church next Easter (hurray!), but I just have a few questions regarding the rosary.

  1. Often times I hear Catholics talk about the rosary and the implied message I receive is that it is somehow the superior form of prayer. I read quotes from canonized saints who really elevate praying the rosary. The rosary is even sometimes referred to as ‘The Most Holy Rosary’.

Should Catholics pray the rosary daily in preference over the other forms of prayers? E.g. spontaneous prayers, or meditations on the 7 sorrows of Mary, or other written out prayers.

Sometimes I feel guilty for praying though not praying the rosary. Is this valid or am I being too scrupulous?

  1. Jesus condemns ‘vain repetitions’ in regards to praying. During the rosary we are told to pray ‘Hail Mary’s’ whilst meditating on the mysteries. Sometimes I feel that, as I meditate on the mysteries, I am just parroting off ‘Hail Mary’s’ because my mind is focused on the mystery instead of the words of the Hail Mary…Some of the mysteries (especially the ‘Luminous’ ones) I find do not even really explicitly have anything to do with the Virgin Mary. So does that count as ‘vain repetitions’ of the Hail Mary? How is one supposed to meditate on the mysteries whilst simultaneously reflecting on the words of the Hail Mary?

Thank you kindly!
Chris

Greetings Chris.

Jesus sometimes uses hyperbole to make his points and admonish self righteous pharisies:

Matthew 26:44New International Version (NIV)

44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

See that, praying 3 times and saying the same thing. Cant be “vain repetition” because the Lord is doing it.

What’s important is the disposition of our hearts and that’s what He cares about.

I think all the prayers are important. The Hail Mary is incredibly powerful because of the incarnation it represents.

God bless

First of all, the Rosary is a private devotion and anyone may pray it anytime they want or not at all.

Second, there are no specific prayers Catholics are obliged to pray daily. It is up to each individual what they want to pray.

Third, regarding vain repetitions that does not apply to the Rosary.

Check the link. It will explain in more detail.
catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/do-catholics-pray-vain-repetitions

People think highly of the Rosary because it is a prayer that makes us constantly meditate about the life of Christ Himself, and about His relationship to Mary, the world’s most exemplary Christian. This makes us think and meditate about how our own personal Christian lives relate to Christ, and it encourages us to love and serve Him more.

It’s also relatively simple (only a few prayers need be known, and you don’t need a heavy book for reference), personal (you can pray and meditate upon it from all sorts of approaches, and you can use various cultural methods), quick, educational, and tends to become a deeper form of prayer the more you pray it. Therefore it has been very spiritually helpful to many people, and many people promote it (including saints, bishops, and popes).

So unless you have time to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with all the psalmody and readings, it is one of the better prayers to pray every day, and serves as a foundation of prayer life for many people.

However, there are many other great prayers and devotions out there, and nobody is putting a gun to anybody’s head and making them pray the Rosary. If people say you have to pray it, just ignore the excessive part of their enthusiasm and take it as a five star review instead.

You asked how to meditate on the mysteries while saying the Hail Marys. What I do is this. Let’s take the first joyful mystery, the Annunciation.

I think of Mary during the Annunciation, and I say, “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…” When it is the second joyful mystery, the visitation, I imagine speaking to Mary when she is pregnant when I say the Hail Marys.

When I do the sorrowful mysteries, I imagine speaking to Mary about her son while he is in the Agony in the Garden, during the scourging at the pillar, during the carrying of the cross, and finally, I imagine speaking to her during the Crucifixion.

So yes, it is possible to meditate on the mysteries and say the Hail Marys simultaneously.

I also have a scriptural rosary booklet which has a Bible verse for every Hail Mary. So one can focus on an aspect of the mystery, then turn the attention towards the Hail Mary, to focus on both aspects, the mysteries and the Hail Mary, one after the other, alternating.

The rosary is a very special prayer, and there have been many apparitions in which the Blessed Virgin Mary requested we pray the rosary, in Lourdes, Fatima, Kiebeho, etc. Besides having the Lord’s Prayer and giving glory to the trinity, it contains the Apostle’s Creed which is our profession of faith, reminding us in these troubled times what exactly we believe so that we don’t go astray.

It is a mini catechism lesson starting before Jesus’ conception till when Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven. It gives the highlights of both their lives, and we aspire to imitate their virtues. Some say it also gives examples of the virtues…humility, obedience, etc.

It’s been said for each prayer, a rose is given to Our Lady, forming a crown of roses or garden.

I was once reading on the forum where a member was doing another Chaplet (crown) of Divine Mercy, and how her relative who was elderly and not making any sense in what he said, came to his senses for a moment after she said the chaplet and asked where all these beautiful flowers had come from.

So apparently, there is also something to that about there being roses with the rosary.

Some of the visions have said that the Blessed Virgin Mary is advocating for us, that she is holding back Jesus’ arm (to punish us) and praying and interceding for us. The rosary is a powerful shield against hell.

It contains scripture and God’s own words towards the Blessed Virgin Mary given by the Angel Gabriel.

That the Blessed Virgin Mary asked us to pray the rosary daily is enough for me.

Please be aware that when we pray from the heart, it is never “vain” repetition.

Our Holy and Blessed Virgin Mother was given to us at the foot of the cross. No human knows Jesus better than she does. She intercedes for us that the mysteries of her Son be revealed more deeply to us.

Although the Rosary is not the official prayer of the Church, such as the Liturgy of the Hours is, it is very good to ask for her intercession. Jesus loves her very much and has privileged her in many ways, for our sake.

We are to pick up our cross and follow Jesus our Lord.

Peace,

Dorothy

All great answers. Welcome home! :tiphat::wave::highprayer:

The important thing is that we pray. We can combine formal and informal prayers - in whatever manner we are called to pray. You are not breaking a doctrine. I think it is important to distinguish doctrine from devotional practices.

The Rosary is not 100% about Mary. She leads to Jesus and derives her merit (and our reverence) in that she is the mother of God. The Rosary incorporates a larger view of the story of salvation, including the roles of both Jesus and Mary.

I say the mystery at the beginning of each decade and then pause to reflect on it again at intervals. It helps to say the words more slowly if you have time. Try to think about the full meaning behind the words. Reflect on Luke 1 and the Magnificat.

I also like to focus on key phrases - full of grace, blessed are thou, fruit of thy womb, as we forgive those who trespass against us, etc.

It’s not vain if you meditate on the words and do this while hidden (e.g. not to be seen)

Hi, Chris!

…there are so many levels… first one: Christ condemnation of repetitive prayer is not so much the repetitiveness but the adulation (as with the old woman who gives two measly coins which turned out to be more than those who gave large amounts–though seeming conflicting, Jesus pointed out the purity in the woman’s heart and the emptiness of the others who gave for their own gratification)… so if I go on for hours and hours not repeating a single word but simply in the quest of self-gratification… well, I’ve gained nothing!

The Rosary (or Holy Rosary) is a prayer format that allows us to dig deep into Jesus’ Experience… It surpasses other prayers in the fact that we are remembering Christ’s Incarnation, Birth, Childhood, Ministry, Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension… with the Luminous we enter into the post Ascension Church…

Consider Mom’s experience… she could not watch a single movie about Jesus… she tried but she would end up turning it off… she felt the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Death of Christ–though she recognized that it was only a cinematic portrayal… her heart and spirit would weep and her eyes would run the gambit (red nose, running tears, itchiness, she would even get head aches…); the Rosary can be experienced with such vivacity… it can bring us to Christ’s Experience better than most prayers.

Maran atha!

Angel

I read that the 7 Sorrows of Mary Rosary is to complete the rosary, not replace it.

You should pray in the way you find best. There are many forms of prayer, many devotions within the Church. I’m sure there is one that ‘fits’ you.

My godmother was not a fan of the Rosary preferring to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. You might find this more fruitful than persevering with the Rosary.

How to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours

There have been other threads on ‘vain repetitions’.
We are told that the angels in heaven never cease to praise God repeating the same words over and over. This is repetition but it is not vain. The Hail Mary and the Our Father being repeated is also not vain.

The Mysteries of the Holy Rosary are about Jesus, not Mary. It is all about the Good News, that Jesus Christ has come, God Incarnate born of a woman, to redeem fallen Mankind through His life, death and resurrection. Only the last 2 have Mary as the focus as she receives what Jesus has promised to all of us, firstly Resurrection of the Body and then the place He prepared for her in Heaven.

It takes practice to ‘get the hang’ of meditating on a Mystery whilst at the same time praying the Hail Mary aloud. It is normal to have your attention wander between the Hail Mary’s and the Mysteries, even to other subjects entirely. Don’t stress about it. What matters is that you are praying.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about praying. The Rosary is certainly recommended, but it isn’t the only prayer. I like the Rosary but I also really like the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

The Hail Mary in the decades is more of a background prayer. It isn’t what you concentrate on. You are reflecting on the Mysteries, not the Hail Mary. The USCCB website says:

‘The repetition in the Rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s spirit dwells.’

It isn’t vain repetition because you aren’t seeking favor from God by repeating words. The words of the Haily Mary are helping you to meditate upon God.

Congratulations in advance

I personally say 5 decades (mysteries) each day.

As you know, the rosary comprises

[LIST]
*]20 mysteries (in 4 sets of 5 decades) … that one walks through (therefore one meditates on) the life of Jesus and Mary.
[LIST]
*]5 Joyful mysteries
*]5 Luminous mysteries
*]5 sorrowful mysteries
*]5 glorious mysteries
[/LIST]

*]The prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be…) come from scripture.
[/LIST]
Having been all over the holy land, I truly can meditate on the mysteries, having walked in all the places prayed about in the Rosary

Re: vain repetition etc… I hope this helps

Do Catholics Pray “Vain Repetitions?”

Why Do Catholics Pray the Rosary? , short 4 min video

Is Jesus against Catholic Prayers?

The Scandal of the Decades , 10 hail Mary’s to 1 Our Father ?:confused:

Open Forum , 54 min audio

The Rosary Dissected

Dear Chris,

Firstly let us give thanks to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of mercies, Who has called you into His Family, and made you a partaker of the Divine Society of Christians, our Holy Mother the Church. Know that your Guardian Angel and Patron Saint are very much praising God on your behalf. Stay close to them and pray to them every day.

I shall add my answer beneath each point you made.

Hi there, I am looking to be received into the Catholic Church next Easter (hurray!), but I just have a few questions regarding the rosary.

  1. Often times I hear Catholics talk about the rosary and the implied message I receive is that it is somehow the superior form of prayer. I read quotes from canonized saints who really elevate praying the rosary. The rosary is even sometimes referred to as ‘The Most Holy Rosary’.

The three Liturgical Prayers of the Church are, in descending order:

  1. The Holy Mass
  2. The Divine Office
  3. The Holy Rosary

The Rosary is the form of devotion that Our Lady likes the most, indeed, for She gave it to us Herself.

Should Catholics pray the rosary daily in preference over the other forms of prayers? E.g. spontaneous prayers, or meditations on the 7 sorrows of Mary, or other written out prayers.

The highest Prayer in the Church is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so it does not take preference over the Mass.

The Holy Rosary is the principle devotion to the Blessed Virgin. The Rosary is a sacramental, that is, it guides us to the Sacraments because by meditating upon its mysteries, we are called to emulate the Lord and His Mother through participating at the Divine Liturgy.

In terms of when to pray it, that is your choice. Our Lady did request it be prayed every day. I usually pray it either after the Office of Vespers (5pm) or the Office of Readings/Matins (8pm)

Sometimes I feel guilty for praying though not praying the rosary. Is this valid or am I being too scrupulous?

Don’t feel guilty, but try at least to pray it every day. God rewards all our efforts.

  1. Jesus condemns ‘vain repetitions’ in regards to praying. During the rosary we are told to pray ‘Hail Mary’s’ whilst meditating on the mysteries. Sometimes I feel that, as I meditate on the mysteries, I am just parroting off ‘Hail Mary’s’ because my mind is focused on the mystery instead of the words of the Hail Mary…Some of the mysteries (especially the ‘Luminous’ ones) I find do not even really explicitly have anything to do with the Virgin Mary. So does that count as ‘vain repetitions’ of the Hail Mary? How is one supposed to meditate on the mysteries whilst simultaneously reflecting on the words of the Hail Mary?

When Christ condemned he was specifically referring to the heathens. Christ Himself repeated His prayers, He went to the Synagogue which repeated its prayers every Saturday and also celebrated the Jewish festivals which repeated themselves. He also spoke of people repeating their prayers, and God hearing them and blessing them.

What I do is, before each Decade I pause to meditate on the Mystery, and will read the Biblical text attached to that Mystery. Then I will pray the Decade. It is best to say the words slowly and piously.

The Rosary is about Jesus and Mary, although the Luminous Mysteries were not given by the Blessed Virgin, but added on by St. John Paul II. I don’t say the Luminous Mysteries, personally.

We must stress the word vain. Christ Himself tells us to persevere in prayer, so repeating a prayer is not wrong, as I have stated above. However, if you were to repeatedly ask to be a billionaire, that would be vain repetition.

God bless.

Another good thing about the Rosary is that as we learn to meditate on the mysteries and really get into them, we can be led into higher forms of prayer where we can just stop the “talking” in our head, and let the Lord speak to us and teach us in His quiet.

Of course, we do not do that when we are praying the Rosary vocally with several people. That is a very good thing also.

Hi Chris. I used to help teach RCIA in my parish, and your questions come up quite often from new ones entering the Church as well as from people of other faiths. This is how we’ve dealt with them in RCIA.

The Rosary is based on the official prayer of the Catholic Church: the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office). Adopted from the Church’s earliest Jewish roots, the Church has incorporated Israel’s daily praying of the Psalter into it daily service to God.

But the Liturgy of the Hours is a bit complex and involves reciting the Psalms from a collection of pre-printed books called “breviaries.” These can be quite hefty and hard to carry around.

In the past the laity of the Church was not as encouraged to join the clergy and religious who are generally required to recite this combination of prayers which marks the major hours of the day. There was also the problem of illiteracy around the world until the beginning of the 20th century.

The Most Holy Rosary (as it is often called) grew out as a simple alternative. Since the Liturgy of the Hours contains 150 psalms recited over a period of several days, originally the Rosary contained the reciting of 150 “Hail Mary’s” to match (there are now more since the addition of the Luminous Mysteries added by St. Pope John Paul II).

Since the psalms are arranged in such a way as to focus on Christ being the fulfillment of the promises in Scripture, the recitation of the prayers in the Rosary is accompanied by meditating on the “mysteries” or main teaching events regarding the life of Christ, especially as seen from the eyes of Mary. This allows anybody to meditate on the events of Christ’s life without the need for a breviary collection or being able to read. Even the prayer “Hail Mary” is reciting Scripture, like the Liturgy of the Hours does, except it is reciting two texts from Luke 1:28, 42.

As time passed, God’s blessing has been so witnessed through the praying of the Rosary that even clergy and religious have adopted it. It has become a prayer in its own right, not merely a substitute to the Divine Office. Having played such a major part in the history of the Church and her people, and being based on the official prayer of the Church, it is often spoken of in the lofty language you mention.

But no one is required to pray it, thus you are not disappointing God or Mary if you don’t. I suffer from narcolepsy, and because of its meditative nature praying the Rosary for me often triggers a “sleep attack,” even cataplexy, which can put me in physical danger. So I can’t pray the Rosary as I used to. So not every good and faithful Catholic does or can pray the Rosary.

Actually, at Matthew 6:7 Jesus condemns repetitions as done by the “pagans” or “Gentiles” (depending on your particular Bible translation). Their particular brand of repetition was vain because it had to do with repeating lists of divine titles and pronunciations of divine names. The pagan Gentiles believed that their gods would not listen to them unless you uttered their name, uttered that name correctly, and employed certain formulas. Without such, they believed, their gods might not even pay attention to them let alone answer their prayers.

Jesus’ statement at Matthew 6:7 is followed by his assurance that such things aren’t necessary (which is why they are “vain”). Why not? Because we don’t need to get God’s attention by such things as if God isn’t already paying attention to our needs. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

This is not a command on not repeating phrases in worship or prayer. Remember, the Rosary is based on the Divine Office which is modeled on the type of prayer Jesus and the Jews did (and still do). The Psalms were written to be recited and chanted as prayers. This meant repeating them often throughout the year.

And finally, the Rosary, like the Divine Office, is meant to be “Christ-centric.” Thus it is not merely about the life of Christ as seen through Mary’s eyes, but the “mysteries” or “truths” regarding Christ. Mary was not present at many of these events, but the Hail Mary is meant to ask for intercession so we might better grasp them. Like Jewish prayer, Catholic prayer is not merely a direct petition to God or even to a saint. It is often a communication with God that speaks to us as we say the words, even transcending them as we become one with the Source of these Mysterious. The idea is get past words to commune with God and hear God, not just have God hear us.

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