Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How I Say the Rosary

When I was young, I quickly came to realize that the Rosary, as we Catholics say it, is "the world's most boring prayer."

Many of our Protestant brothers condemn the Rosary as Bible-damned "vain repetitions" (Matthew 6:7), verifying our damned state.

But this judgment by our brothers-in-Christ is based on a misinterpretation. What Christ was condemning in Matthew 6:7 is thinking that one can make headway with God through repeated prayer -- in other words, He was condemning prayer uttered without trust in God.

If repetitious prayer, as repetitious prayer, were being condemned, then the divinely inspired Psalms, themselves, are dens of iniquity: Compare Psalm 136:1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 and 11 and 12 and 13 and 14 and 15 and 16 and 17 and 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 and 22 and 23 and 24 and 25 and 26.

A prayer which requires repetition is not, per se, prayer uttered without trust.

So, go ahead and say your Rosary. It's not proof that you are damned. But, I, personally, still find doing so to be extremely tedious, and I think that the Rosary ought to be substantially restructured.

This is how I have restructured it, for myself...

The Sign of the Cross.

The Apostles Creed.

One Our Father.

One Hail Mary.

One Glory Be.

One Oh My Jesus ("Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins," etc.)

Then, the announcement, "First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation."

Then, one Our Father.

Then, I actually really do "contemplate the Mystery."

The secret is how.

There are structures in Scripture, called "types" and "word pictures" by Bible commentators.

"Hand" or "arm" in the Bible, for example, are expressions of the "Hand/Arm Type" symbolizing "Christ," even in the Old Testament, not just the New Testament.

"Boat" and "ark" are expressions of the "Boat Type" symbolizing "the Church," wherever you see boats in the Old and New Testaments.

Now, go to Genesis 8:8-9...

8 Then he sent out a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
9 But the dove could find no place to alight and perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water all over the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark.

Do you see how the inspired Bible text dwells "in nauseating detail" on how Noah returned the dove to the ark?

That's actually a God-inspired word-picture of the key moment in the Annunciation -- the Incarnation.

The dove "carrying" the hand into the boat is a word-picture of the Holy Spirit carrying Christ to the Church.

By realizing this and studying this, I am actually "comtemplating" the Mystery of the Annunciation, aren't I?

After my "contemplation," I return to the structure of the Rosary, saying a Hail Mary, then a Glory Be, then an Oh My Jesus.

And so on.

In the coming days, I will outline all of the verses in the Bible comprising "word-pictures" of the Mysteries to contemplate.

In effect, you will be saying the Rosary after the fashion it was originally conceived, centuries ago: Narrators would divide the basic gospel story into 150 portions, and then have listeners say one of each of the 150 Psalms during a pause in the narration.

That gradually deteriorated into 3 sets of Mysteries x 5 Mysteries per set x 10 Hail Mary's per Mystery, recited with almost no contemplation of the original core consideration of the Rosary, the basic Gospel story.

By doing what I describe, here, we return the Rosary to its original noble purpose -- careful consideration of the Gospel story!


  1. Hi. How are you.

    Did you ever see a movie called Fitna? I invite you to see Beyond Fitna

    I'm waiting you in my blog.

  2. To all: Searcher is referring us to a Muslim site, which seems to be fairly well balanced.

    Searcher, I will make it a point to look for Fitna and Beyond Fitna.

    I have read bits and pieces of the Koran, in an attempt to determine if the Koran has these things in it called "types" and "word-pictures." I have not yet seen a convincing presence. However, I enjoyed what I read. I greatly enjoyed the story of Moses questions about the boat, the murdered boy and the wall. There is great value in that story for all.

    Re an issue of interest to us both, I support the building of the Mosque near the World Trade Center site, but I would personally like the Mosque elders to dedicate the Mosque, in its name, to the victims of the World Trade Center crime, and also like the Mosque elders to post on the outside wall of the Mosque a framed picture -- protected against the weather -- of the Time Magazine cover featuring the photo of the girl with her nose and ears cut off.


    This is important to me, because the mosque which sponsored the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center started-out as a moderate mosque.

  3. 'By doing what I describe, here, we return the Rosary to its original noble purpose -- careful consideration of the Gospel story!'

    I always assumed that the repetitive prayer was a twofold purpose to 1) make sure we didn't rush through the contemplation of the mysteries 2)try to fill our mind with 'holy' things such as prayer in order to avoid our mind drifting. Its easy enough to drift, even given the two tasks of contemplation of the mysteries as well as the repetitive prayer. But only having to be required contemplate the mysteries is a formula for failure, as your mind can find lots more to think of, without its resources being used up with the repetative prayer.
    Just a theory, nothing official. I know that the 'filler' prayer structure has been changed in the past as it has not always been the prescribed structure it is today (our father 10 hail mary, glory be . . .) but it still remains the rosary, as the core structure, the mysteries seem to be primary component, and why its legit for you to modify it as well. It works for you and its still 'the rosary'

  4. There is an easy way to demonstrate that for almost everyone who says the Rosary -- for 999 out of 1,000? -- the Rosary has deteriorated into a vaguely-pious-but-meaningless "holy mantra"...

    Ask a friend saying the Rosary to tell you who appeared with Jesus in the Transfiguration (the Fourth Luminous Mystery).

    Ask him or her from which gospel the first half of the Hail Mary comes from. (Typical answer: "What???!!! It comes from a GOSPEL???!!!")

    Ask him or her to tell you about the Presentation (the Fourth Joyful Mystery).

    The truth is that virtually no one "contemplates the Mysteries."

    And virtually no one thinks about the prayers they are saying.