S. Baptist friend

Hello all,

I live in Alabama. Let’s just say this area of the country that is not very Catholic. I went to college at a Southern Baptist college so I have several friends that are Protestant. Recently I had a friend attending a Catholic funeral and ask about the Rosary. I tried to explain that it was not “worshiping” Mary but I think we all know how that went. I have found in my time being friends with non-Catholic’s, southern Baptist in particular I have to be careful how I phase an answer. Is there anyone that can give me a good well developed answer explaining the Rosary devotion?

Please and thank you.

I would say that the Rosary is a Scriptural prayer wherein we meditate on one of 15 (or 20) Mysteries of Salvation. In order to keep our mind focused we recite/repeat the Hail Mary during our meditation. IOW, it is a form of meditation. :slight_smile:

How can you meditate on one of the sorrowful mysteries (the scourging at the pillar for example) while also concentrating on the words of the Hail Mary prayer and their meaning (which i presume you are supposed to do like any prayer you say). Isn’t it disrespectful/odd to be saying the Hail Mary while thinking of something else entirely?

I think of praying the rosary like playing an instrument while singing lyrics, as this says:

Ps.144[9] I will sing a new song to thee, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to thee…

Mary knows the prayers, as we do, so we don’t need to concentrate on them as long as we are saying them with reverence. This means we can meditate on the mysteries while reciting the prayers. :slight_smile:

As to explaining the rosary to non-Catholics. You can tell your friends something of the origins of the rosary, which will take their minds off the “Mary thing” and place it on prayer itself. The rosary began as a way to join praying the Psalms for those who could not read or write. By reciting the Hail Mary they meditated on the Annunciation of the Lord, for Jesus is the center of the Hail Mary prayer and the words of the Hail Mary are straight from Luke’s Gospel.

Is that why people, and even priests, speed through the Hail Marys jumbling up the words during a rosary? I can’t stand that.

I don’t like people doing the prayers like that, either. Of course, there are people who pray it so slowly they recite it like a funeral dirge, which is almost as bad. I think some people are overly familiar with the form, so much so that they forget the intention of praying rather than saying words. It’s something I guard against when praying any well-known prayers.

As to the ‘worshiping’ aspect you could tell your friend that when you ask him/her to pray for you that you are praying to them and definitly not ‘worshiping’ them. That is all Catholics are doing in praying to the Blessed Mother and the saints…asking them to intercede for us just as you are asking your friend to intercede for you. It’s right there in the Hail Mary prayer itself…Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners

I would go about mentioning the history behind the development of the Rosary to your friend, so that he can understand it better, that it did not just come about someone inventing it. :wink:



An early stage in the development of the Rosary in the West was the recitation by monks of the Psalms of David. The monks would recite them in groupings of 50, 100, or all 150. Since most lay brothers could not read, they would say the Our Father instead. An example of this is given in the Ancient Customs of Cluny compiled by Udalrio in 1096. One of the customs required lay brothers to recite 50 Our Fathers for the deceased of the order. In the 12th century, the Knights Templar were saying 150 Our Fathers a day for a week when one of their own died. Not surprisingly, when the practice of reciting many Our Fathers spread to laypersons, they came to call the strings of beads on which they counted the prayers “Paternosters.”

When the Hail Mary came into more popular use, it and the Our Father were said the same number of times. We can readily understand why. As voiced by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary when she was asked to become the Mother of God, it is a salutation. Even as reigning royalty is still saluted today by the repeated firing of cannons or honor is paid to individuals with cheers and applause, and more honor given with additional cheers or longer applause, so it was fitting to repeat the Hail Mary many times in order to honor the Queen of Heaven. That in fulfillment of her own prophecy that “all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

Of this, then, did the Rosary in rudimentary form consist: common prayers, known and loved by the faithful, recited while being counted on beads.

St. Dominic

One thing that seemed to shock Protestants is that most of the verses in the Hail Mary are in Luke 1. The full of grace part seemed to be particularly shocking for them.

They are likely taught that Jesus rebuked Mary, so it’s tough.

I would try mentioning that we believe Mary leads us closer to her Son, Jesus - similar to the way any mother is close to her son. It’s also a commandment of God to honor one’s parents.


I think there’s no real simple answer since we are far apart theologically with them on some issues.

The first half of the Hail Mary is Gospel, book of Luke. Protestants will never object to that. Second half is a petition, which they oppose.

They first need to understand who she is.:

Revelation 12New International Version (NIV)

The Woman and the Dragon
12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

I’m guessing this woman described in this chapter is not the maid.

Your friend will likely respond that this is referring to the Church. And they are correct, but it’s also referring to our Lady, mother of the Church and Ark of the New Covenant.

Your friend also needs to understand the communion of Saints. Jesus has ONE body, not one in heaven and one on earth.

It’s a normal, natural and healthy occurrence to pray for others both living and departed, and to ask for their intercession.But if you have been indoctrinated to believe otherwise, then you will have a very hard time with the concept.

Takes time, but if they are actually open to learning you can, over time, help them become more comfortable with Catholic practices.


I think there’s no real simple answer since we are far apart theologically with them on some issues.

The first half of the Hail Mary is Gospel, book of Luke. Protestants will never object to that. Second half is a petition, which they oppose.


It’s ironic too. It is BECAUSE of Protestants that the second half was added after the Reformation was underway. The reformers scoffed at the fact that the Hail Mary (up until the Reformation) was entirely the salutation from Luke’s Gospel, and not a prayer at all. Therefore the Church added the second part to make the Hail Mary a true prayer of petition.

So like Jesus so truly said in Matt 11:16-17 "…To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: - We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.’

That’s interesting, I didn’t know that!!!

You know I have always suspected that the later Marian dogma only became dogma thanks to Protestants disrespecting our Lady. Because initially the reformers still held her in high regard, but over time they had pretty much marginalized her to nothing more than a incubator for Jesus.

Of course the beliefs were always there as evidenced by the Orthodox position on her. And I think Rome decided to make it official in honor of her.

I’ve used the words “praying to them before”. BAD choice of words to any S. Baptist. I think that was 3 weeks of my life I will NEVER get back. You and I understand it’s not worship. And by “praying to them” we mean asking for prayers. But let me assure you that is not what an Evangelical hears. But thank you for the suggestion. Please don’t ever use that verbiage yourself. It does not turn out well.

I’ve encountered that as well.



Over and over again.

Oh and I cant forget the necromancy accusations.

Thanks everyone for your input. I have been hurt by this entire encounter with this friend. It would be different if we were not such close friends. But over the years we’ve had many conversations about religion and this time has been different. She is solely focused on everyone taking Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. I understand that is her belief but when you tell me you “can’t go to the Rosary” the night before a funeral. And can’t go because Catholic’s are praying to Mary. I have known this person for 20 years and we’ve have discussed this many times. I feel like I’m starting back at 0. I am not a Priest (obviously–girl here :slight_smile: ) But I try to listen and learn these things to better explain it to others. Since I’ve moved to the Bible Belt I’ve learned more.

I don’t know. It’s just frustrating. But then again I was similarly frustrated about a comment regarding Confession.

Anyway, thanks for the help. :thumbsup:

You likely will not convince your friend of anything. Many denominational and nondenominational churches have a system of propaganda aimed at the Catholic Church.

It started with Martin Luther’s declaration that the Catholic Church is the devil. This concept is clearly still included in sections of Protestant culture today.

This is also part of an effort to fill their pews and create legitimacy. Many of these same people are not aware that a substantial portion of what they believe was invented by Luther, or that their church was initiated by John Smyth as with the Baptists.

If it were me, I would point to the differences between Ignatius of Antioch versus John Smyth, but I still would not expect to get far. People need to find out for themselves.

On EWTN’s The Journey Home, found on YouTube, the interviews with Brandon Barker, Dr. David Anders, and Dr. Wesley Vincent might illustrate your friend’s environment. They all came to Catholicism from evangelical or baptist churches.

I’ve used it plenty. Once you explain what ‘to pray’ actually means the more reasonable will at least listen. Another one I use is when protestants ask to pray over you. I say no thanks I have the Blessed Mother and the saints praying over me but you can pray for me!

I love the fact that one of my Southern Baptist friends used to routinely ask me what the Bible says. She was not really anti-Catholic, but many are (Here in South Carolina, it’s sadly part of the cultural, but it’s getting better). Anyway, I like to point out that every Hail Mary contains the Holy name of Jesus, at which every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:10). I never understood why people think of the Rosary as putting too much emphasis on Mary, look how much we talk about Jesus!

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