The Pastor's Corner 100712

posted Oct 4, 2012, 7:47 AM by Music Director

Did you know that for many years now the Church has dedicated the month of October to the praying of the Rosary?  Though it is one of our most ancient traditions and prayer forms, the history of the rosary is somewhat murky. 

The rosary is traditionally credited to St. Dominic, the great 12th century Spanish mystic and founder of the Order of Preachers (or “Dominicans”), a society dedicated to spreading the Gospel, particularly through the ministry of preaching. Their mission eventually expanded to include university and later primary school teaching.  According to legend, the Blessed Mother appeared to Dominic in a vision, handed him the rosary and asked him to spread the devotion.  To this day, the rosary is an integral part of the Dominican Order’s habit and prayer life. 

Historians, however, note that the rosary developed over a complicated, 500-year-long process.  The 150 Hail Mary’s that comprise the original set of 15 Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries in the lives of Jesus and Mary were actually replacements for the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament.  In the first millennia, the psalms were sung or recited by the faithful at regular daily intervals. As the faith spread and the Church grew, this proved to be a very difficult practice.  There were not many copies of Scripture readily available to the average person prior to the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.  But even if there were, the majority of the population was illiterate! The Psalms could be memorized, but one would need to be schooled in this, and not many had the time or resources for such luxury until relatively modern times.  The prayers of the Rosary, however, were easily memorized, and since they are so repetitious the practice of praying them eventually replaced recital of the Psalms.

Its repetitiveness can cause the mind to wander, however.  It has even been known to cause some people to fall asleep! (Well, it’s better than counting sheep!)   There are also so many mysteries (now 20 in all, including the fourth set of “Luminous Mysteries” composed by Pope John Paul II a few years before his death) that many people cannot pray it without the use of a guidebook.  Nevertheless, the Rosary is a wonderful vehicle for praising, thanking and petitioning the Lord by reflecting on the mysteries of the life and mission of Jesus and His Blessed Mother. 

As in all things, however, there is a right way and a wrong way to pray it.  The Rosary isn’t a task with a deadline to be reached!  It is communication with God, and so like all prayer it should never be rushed.  A few moments of silence after announcing each mystery would allow reflection on the meaning and impact of that mystery. The tempo when reciting the Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s should be slowed to allow the beautiful words of the prayers, most of which are taken directly from Scripture, to echo in our minds and hearts. 

It’s ok if the mind wanders a bit while praying the Rosary, as it could serve as a vehicle to lift these thoughts to the Lord.  However, with practice and some real discipline, and setting aside a good 20-30 minutes of time, this prayer can be a source of great spiritual strength and renewal

I strongly encourage all parishioners to pray the Rosary, whether privately or communally, throughout this month.  There’s communal recitation following our daily 9:00 AM Mass Monday-Friday in the Emmaus Chapel, and our Religious Education students will lead a special recitation following the 9:00 AM Mass next Sunday.  By utilizing this beautiful prayer form may we give honor and glory to God who has given us life in this world and eternal life in the next; and to His Blessed Mother, who lovingly helps to guide us to Him. 

And while baseball came to a sad end for our Phillies, there’s a lot of football to be excited about, so…..




In His Love,

Fr. Mike