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May 5, 2019 Pastors Message

10/15/2019

THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 14: THE ROSARY

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother,  ‘Woman,  behold  your  son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:2627).

In March, as part of our Year of Prayer, we reflected on  the  Communion  of  Saints  and  the  practice  of praying for the intercession of the saints to help us grow in the life of grace. Last month, we reflected on novenas and chaplets as meditations on the mysteries of our faith. This Marian month of May, we will bring the  two  prayer  forms  together  by  reflecting  on  the Dominican  Rosary,  or,  for  most  Catholics  today, simply the Rosary.

As mentioned last month, the Rosary is a chaplet, a string of beads used to keep track of the number and sequence of prayers, the origins of which stretch back to  ancient  times  in  the  Church  and  beyond.  The practice grew in the early middle  ages as an aid to praying  ones  penance  after  confession,  which  often was  a  certain  number  of  Our  Father’s  and  Hail Mary’s. According to tradition, in the 13th century St. Dominic  developed  the  particular  arrangement  and number of prayers we know as the Rosary today as a way  of  combating  the  Albigensian  heresy,  which denied that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, hence the Rosary’s focus on the mysteries of Christ’s life.  The  historical  accuracy  of  this  account  is questioned by scholars today, though many scholars acknowledge  Dominic’s  role  in  popularizing  the Rosary.

The  Rosary  really  came  into  its  own  in  the  16th century  when  the  Muslim  Turks  conquered  the Christian city of Constantinople and began attacking Christian  cities  around  the  Mediterranean  Sea, including the coast of Italy. Pope Pius V appealed to Christians everywhere to pray the Rosary, seeking the Blessed Mother’s intercession to stop the Muslim advance.  On October 7, 1571, a Christian fleet prevailed over the Muslims at the Battle of Lepanto, and, in gratitude, the pope established October 7 as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which it remains to this day.

The Rosary is an extended meditation on Christ’s life, originally composed of fifteen decades of beads, one decade for each mystery of Christ’s life. The mysteries were arranged into three thematic groups: the Joyful Mysteries,  focusing  on  Christ’s  Incarnation;  the Sorrowful Mysteries, focusing on Christ’s Passion and Death;  and  the  Glorious  Mysteries,  focusing  on Christ’s Resurrection. Pope John Paul II later added a fourth group, the Luminous Mysteries, focusing on Christ’s public ministry. Each group consists of five mysteries,  and  so  five  decades,  and  each  decade consists  of  an  Our  Father,  ten  Hail  Mary’s,  and  a Glory  Be.  Preceding  the  first  decade,  one  prays  the Apostles’  Creed,  an Our  Father, Three  Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be, and following the conclusion of the last  decade,  one  prays  the  Hail  Holy  Queen.  Other prayers and traditions have become part of the Rosary over the years, such as the Fatima Prayer, but the basic structure is as above.

Whether praying an entire, twenty decade Rosary, or, as  is  more  common,  only  one  group  of  mysteries, spending  some  time  with  our  Blessed  Mother  by reflecting  on  the  saving  mysteries  of  the  life  of  her Son can  be  a helpful way  of  growing  closer  to and sharing in the graces of both and can serve as a way of answering Christ’s command to the beloved disciple from the cross to take her into our home.

Fr. Marc Stockton

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