Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

October 7


Short History of the Rosary

Apr 16, 2015

The rosary is one of the most cherished prayers of our Catholic Church. Introduced by the Creed, the Our Father, three Hail Marys and the Doxology (“Glory Be”), and concluded with the Salve Regina, the rosary involves the recitation of five decades consisting of the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and the Doxology. During this recitation, the individual meditates on the saving mysteries of our Lord’s life and the faithful witness of our Blessed Mother.

Journeying through the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of the rosary, the individual brings to mind our Lord’s incarnation, His passion and death and His resurrection from the dead. In so doing, the rosary assists us in growing in a deeper appreciation of these mysteries, in uniting our life more closely to our Lord and in imploring His graced assistance to live the faith. We also ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother, who leads all believers to her Son.

The origins of the rosary are “sketchy” at best. The use of “prayer beads” and the repeated recitation of prayers to aid in meditation stem from the earliest days of the Church and has roots in pre-Christian times. Evidence exists from the Middle Ages that strings of beads were used to count Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Actually, these strings of beads became known as “Paternosters,” the Latin for “Our Father.”

The structure of the rosary gradually evolved between the 12th and 15th centuries. Eventually 50 Hail Marys were recited and linked with verses of psalms or other phrases evoking the lives of Jesus and Mary. During this time, this prayer form became known as the rosarium (“rose garden”), actually a common term to designate a collection of similar material, such as an anthology of stories on the same subject or theme. During the 16th century, the structure of the five-decade rosary based on the three sets of mysteries prevailed.

Tradition does hold that St. Dominic (d. 1221) devised the rosary as we know it. Moved by a vision of our Blessed Mother, he preached the use of the rosary in his missionary work among the Albigensians, who had denied the mystery of Christ. Some scholars take exception to St. Dominic’s role in forming the rosary. The earliest accounts of his life do not mention it, the Dominican constitutions do not link him with it and contemporaneous portraits do not include it as a symbol to identify the saint.

In 1922, Dom Louis Cougaud stated, “The various elements which enter into the composition of that Catholic devotion commonly called the rosary are the product of a long and gradual development which began before St. Dominic’s time, which continued without his having any share in it, and which only attained its final shape several centuries after his death.” However, other scholars would rebut that St. Dominic not so much “invented” the rosary as he preached its use to convert sinners and those who had strayed from the faith. Moreover, at least a dozen popes have mentioned St. Dominic’s connection with the rosary, sanctioning his role as at least a “pious belief.”

The rosary gained greater popularity in the 1500s, when Moslem Turks were ravaging Eastern Europe. Recall that in 1453, Constantinople had fallen to the Moslems, leaving the Balkans and Hungary open to conquest. With Moslems raiding even the coast of Italy, the control of the Mediterranean was now at stake.

In 1571, Pope Pius V organized a fleet under the command of Don Juan of Austria the half-brother of King Philip II of Spain. While preparations were underway, the Holy Father asked all of the faithful to say the rosary and implore our Blessed Mother’s prayers, under the title Our Lady of Victory, that our Lord would grant victory to the Christians. Although the Moslem fleet outnumbered that of the Christians in both vessels and sailors, the forces were ready to meet in battle. The Christian flagship flew a blue banner depicting Christ crucified. On October 7, 1571, the Moslems were defeated at the Battle of Lepanto. The following year, Pope St. Pius V established the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7, where the faithful would not only remember this victory, but also give thanks to the Lord for all of His benefits and remember the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother.

The fact that our Church continues to include the Feast of the Holy Rosary on the liturgical calendar testifies to the importance and goodness of this form of prayer. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”


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Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

October 7

Somebody had said and I got this from the Internet that after Vatican II the Rosary fell into a relatively disused. The same is true for Marian devotions as a whole. But in recent years the Rosary has made a comeback and not just among Catholics. Many Protestants now say the Rosary, recognizing it as a truly biblical form of prayer and after all the prayers that comprise it come mainly from the Bible.

The word Rosary is coming from Latin and it means ‘a garland of roses,’ the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary. If you were to ask what object is most emblematic of Catholics, people would probably say, “The rosary, of course.” We’re familiar with the images: the silently moving lips of the old woman fingering her beads; the oversized rosary hanging from the waist of the wimpled nun; more recently, the merely decorative rosary hanging from the rear view mirror of a vehicle.

Originally, the Holy Rosary was an attempt by the common people to join the monks in monasteries in praying the Breviary, during Middle Age, since most of them could not read. They were told to substitute one Hail Mary for every Psalm prayed. The Breviary or Divine Office is a prayer using the 150 Psalms of the Bible. The primary purpose of this prayer was to make holy or consecrate the whole day. And so instead of wasting time doing nothing especially during travel or waiting for somebody, why not make the day holy by saying the Rosary?

The Rosary is devotion in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It consists of a set number of specific prayers. First are the introductory prayers: one Apostles’ Creed, one Our Father, three Hail Mary’s and one Glory Be. This is concluded with the recitation of Hail Holy Queen. It’s the most commonly recited prayer in praise of Mary after the Hail Mary itself and was composed at the end of the eleventh century.

Between the introductory prayers and the concluding prayer is the meat of the Rosary: the decades. Each decade, there are fifteen in a full rosary which takes about forty five minutes to say and is composed of ten Hail Marys. Each decade is bracketed between an Our Father and a Glory Be. And so each decade actually has twelve prayers.

Each decade of the Rosary is devoted to a mystery regarding the life of Jesus or His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. And the word mystery refers to a truth of the faith, not to something incomprehensible, as in the line, “It’s a mystery to me!” The fifteen mysteries are divided into three groups of five: the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious. When people speak of “saying the rosary” they usually mean saying any set of five which takes about fifteen minutes rather than the recitation of all fifteen mysteries.

But last October 16, 2002 Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter on the Holy Rosary entitled Rosarium Virginis Mariae by which the late Pope John Paul II added another five mysteries called the Mysteries of Light pray. He said: “Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way ‘mysteries of light.’ Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. In proposing to the Christian community five significant moments – “luminous” mysteries – during this phase of Christ’s life, I think that the following can be fittingly singled out: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery,” (no. 21).

And so at the end let reflect these words coming from Father Robert F. McNamara. He said, “Thus the rosary evolved into a rich devotion that combined vocal prayer to God and Mary with meditation on the great events of the Redemption. It has been a prayer most pleasing to Our Lady, especially when her intercession is invoked to defend Christianity against error. The beauty of the rosary is that it can be prayed with equal devotion by the most scholarly and the most unlettered Catholic. With good reason has Mary, in her apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima, urged all of us to use faithfully this magnificent method of prayer.”

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Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time


Reading 1 NEH 2:1-8

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
when the wine was in my charge,
I took some and offered it to the king.
As I had never before been sad in his presence,
the king asked me, “Why do you look sad?
If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.”
Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king:
“May the king live forever!
How could I not look sad
when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins,
and its gates have been eaten out by fire?”
The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?”
I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king:
“If it please the king,
and if your servant is deserving of your favor,
send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves,
to rebuild it.”
Then the king, and the queen seated beside him,
asked me how long my journey would take
and when I would return.
I set a date that was acceptable to him,
and the king agreed that I might go.

I asked the king further: “If it please the king,
let letters be given to me for the governors
of West-of-Euphrates,
that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah;
also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park,
that he may give me wood for timbering the gates
of the temple-citadel and for the city wall
and the house that I shall occupy.”
The king granted my requests,
for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

Responsorial Psalm PS 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

  1. (6ab)Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
    By the streams of Babylon
    we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    On the aspens of that land
    we hung up our harps.
    R.Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
    Though there our captors asked of us
    the lyrics of our songs,
    And our despoilers urged us to be joyous:
    “Sing for us the songs of Zion!”
    R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
    How could we sing a song of the LORD
    in a foreign land?
    If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand be forgotten!
    R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
    May my tongue cleave to my palate
    if I remember you not,
    If I place not Jerusalem
    ahead of my joy.
    R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!

Alleluia PHIL 3:8-9

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    I consider all things so much rubbish
    that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
    R.Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

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Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 TM 6:13-16

I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate
for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5

  1. (2)Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
    Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
    serve the LORD with gladness;
    come before him with joyful song.
    R.Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
    Know that the LORD is God;
    he made us, his we are;
    his people, the flock he tends.
    R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
    Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    his courts with praise;
    Give thanks to him; bless his name.
    R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
    For he is good:
    the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
    and his faithfulness, to all generations.
    R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.

Alleluia SEE LK 8:15

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
    and yield a harvest through perseverance.
    R.Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”

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