Monday, September 2, 2013

Marian Monday: Secrets of the Rosary Revealed, Part I

If you've ever wondered why Catholics pray the rosary, or thought that it was somehow centered around the cult of Mary, you're in for a wonderful surprise.  Today, I'm going to show you the hidden secrets of the rosary.  After this, I guarantee that you will never look at it the same way again.  This is the first part of the series and we'll start with examining the basic prayers of the Rosary.

The prayers of the Rosary

1) The Apostle's Creed

Every rosary begins with The Apostles' Creed, developed in 180 AD to establish firmly in the minds of those who were Christian what it meant to say that one was Christian.  This is said over the crucifix, to center our thoughts on the role of Christ as our savior and the foundation of all we do: 

I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
Creator of Heaven and earth 
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
was crucified, died and was buried; 
He descended into hell; 
on the third day He rose again from the dead; 
He ascended into Heaven 
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; 
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, 
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. 

2) The Our Father

This prayer, taught to us by Christ in Matthew 6:9-13, is the next prayer offered after the Apostle's Creed.  Every large bead is dedicated to an Our Father.

3) The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; Blessed are you among women, and Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus; Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the prayers that are contained in the rosary, the Hail Mary is comprised primarily of scripture versus, followed by a request that our Blessed Mother should carry our requests to Christ, especially at the hour of our death when we are most likely to need the help more than ever before.

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you" - Luke 1:28 are the words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel before he announced to her that she would be the mother of the Savior.
"Blessed are  you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb," - Luke 1:42 are the words Elizabeth spoke to Mary upon her appearance in Elizabeth's home. She didn't say the name of Jesus out loud, but that's because she didn't know his name yet. We added that to ensure that we were reminded just who the fruit of Mary's womb was.

The next lines of that prayer are, "Holy Mary, Mother of God" are not blasphemous, for even Elizabeth called Mary the Mother of God in Luke 1:43 "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?".

That we say the Hail Mary more times than we say the Our Father or the Glory Be is not to detract from God or place the emphasis on Mary, but is a way of asking Mary to help us go deeper with each prayer into the mystery we are meditating upon and to understand more fully its meaning in our lives.

4) Glory Be

Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.

At the end of each decade, we pray the Glory Be.  This simple prayer of devotion to the Trinity once again reminds us of who is ultimately in control of all that goes on in our lives and our world. 

Next week, we'll examine the Joyful Mysteries and the way that those mysteries not only help us to pray the Gospel but grow in our faith as Christians.

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