What is the Rosary?

If this year has been anything like mine you strongly desire a sense of normalcy, routine, and stability. Up. Down. Sideways. Left. Right. Cattywampus. Upside down. There’s really no predictability in life anymore. At least that’s what our great Enemy desires us to think.

The Rosary

A spiritual weapon to fight chaos in your life.

Chaos is a normal part of life since the Fall as told in Genesis 3. Originally, Adam and Eve were created in an original state of justice and union with God. Disobedience to God’s will led to original sin and the consequences of death. But God is love and He didn’t want to give up on humanity so easily.

According to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. Saint Paul refers to Jesus as the New Adam (Man).

Since Jesus is the New Adam who then is considered the New Eve (Woman)? The answer is: Mary, the Mother of God.

Saint Jerome wrote in his Epistle 22, “Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary.”  Put another way, Mary gave birth to salvation (Jesus). The angel Gabriel visited Mary by greeting her and calling her the favored one of God. The Hail Mary prayer comes from the first chapter of Luke.

This leads me to the question a lot people have about the Blessed Virgin Mary: what is the Rosary?

What is the Rosary

In short, it is a prayer about the life of Jesus and Mary. Composed of the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers (there are other prayers included which I will go over in future posts), the Rosary helps Christians keep alive the memories of the events in salvation history.

To Jesus through Mary and the Rosary

The word Rosary originates from Latin and means a garland of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Praying the Rosary provides a foundation in your life. The repetition helps to form a habit of pondering the Mysteries of faith. Recently, I have struggled mightily with anxiety and depression. I’ve resolved to pray the Most Holy Rosary more frequently. The goal is not to rattle off prayers but to ponder the life of Jesus and Mary throughout your day.

Stay tuned for more in The Importance of the Rosary series. Subscribe to The Simple Catholic to receive email updates about the Rosary and other Catholic content.


“The Rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother.” — Saint Louis de Montfort

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Why the Rosary is the Best Spiritual Vaccine for the Pandemic

By: Megan Naumovski

If you look up synonyms for PANDEMIC, you find at least 40 different words of which only a small handful seem at all connotative of something as negative as the Coronavirus.  Most eml of the synonyms listed seem to invoke a description rdmore relatable to what many films of us have found as an antidote to our current situation of fear and outbreak

—the rosary.

Catholic (but catholic, with a little “c”)

One of the first words I saw was “catholic”; not to be confused with Catholic, which is a proper noun describing a kind of Christian.  The adjective catholic also means universal, and when we say the Nicene Creed at each Sunday liturgy, we are proclaiming belief in the four pillars of the church; one, holy, catholic (not Catholic) and apostolic.  We are stating our belief in the one church of Jesus Christ that is his universal church.

Rosary

There are few times I feel more catholic (and Catholic) than when I say the rosary because it is the total and the whole of intercessory prayer (by the way, ALL synonyms for pandemic as well.) I feel I can–in a steady and comprehensive way–capture the totality of all prayers in my heart, as well as those for the  suffering around the world, and give them all to Jesus in faith through the capable hands of his mother.

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”

-Saint Maximillan Kolbe

Empyrean

 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. —Revelation 12:1

Empyrean means heavenly or celestial.  The divine transcends through prayer of the rosary because of the four sets of mysteries we consider, Glorious, Sorrowful, Joyful or Luminous are scriptural.  Each guide us through five “decades” which begin with an Our Father, then ten Hail Mary prayers, and finally a Glory Be.

Birth of Jesus

Each decade is based on a moment in the life and legacy of Christ, including that which began in the womb of his Blessed Mother, and ending with her reuniting with him in Heaven. We meditate through these divine moments with the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, which can take us to great depths of these great mysteries. Where would we be without the divine help of the Holy Spirit?

“The celestial b0odies are the cause of all that takes place in the sublunar world.” –Saint Thomas Aquinas

The repetitive prayer of the “Hail Mary”, most of which is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, starting around verse 42 “Hail Mary, full of grace…” ends with a simple a petition to ask Our Lady for her prayers, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” I think it is a good idea to ask her to pray for us at this defining moment, when we enter the empyrean realm.

Terrestrial (physical)

We do not usually think of the physical when considering prayer, but the rosary involves the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—as we account for each prayer while walking with the Blessed Virgin Mary through her son’s life. Because my own ‘terrestrial” mother has been devoted to the rosary for years, having made many a pilgrimage, she has a wide variety of rosaries.

Taking an extra suitcase when she goes on her “holy travels”, my mom buys up all the rosaries she can fit and brings them home to hand out to everyone she meets all year long.  On several occasions she purchased one for every child in my kids’ school (about 350 students.)

JPII rosary quote

The rosaries range from simple plastic rosaries, to six-feet-long rosaries that include every decade—all 20—on one long strand. Some rosaries are themed, such one I have with icons of the great basilicas as the Our Father beads; there are also “peace rosaries”, and “stations of the cross” rosaries. Some rosaries have special beads that smell like rose petals because many have reported the smell of roses when fervently praying the rosary in holy places.  Others are made from small rocks from the land where visions of Our Lady took place (I have one of these too!)

In any case, if you ask someone who has a great devotion to the rosary to tell you about their favorite rosary you will get a fast answer.  Devotees hold fast to their favorite. Some prefer the smooth wood or the gripping texture of rope. Consequently, if we get too attached to our favorite rosary, sometimes we will be asked to give it up to someone else.

Unique Tool for Spiritual Growth

I have heard many stories of someone who adores a certain rosary (for sentimental reasons or the feel of it, etc.) they will hear the Holy Spirit nudge them to give it away.  Always reluctant, they hear it loud and clear within their spirit and feel the unmistakable nudge to hand it over. Always to a recipient that seems to be on the verge of discovering the devotion for themselves and sure enough pass the special sacramental on to bless another.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit wants us to keep the spirit of the prayer in the forefront, which is trust in the intercessory prayer of Jesus’ favorite lady, his mom.

Rosary medicine

Many of the faithful have turned to this prayer over centuries of pandemic disease, wars, starvation and natural disasters.  With burdened fingers grasping the smooth beads in search of refuge, tender souls find themselves universally affected.  Perhaps the fifteen promises that accompany the rosary make it appealing to some. I believe the rosary is pandemic because we receive consolation from our spiritual mother.

“Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” —Saint Padre Pio

“The Rosary is a prayer both so humble and simple and theologically rich in bible content. I beg you to pray it.” –Saint John Paul The Great

“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult is it, that we cannot resolve by the power of the Holy Rosary.” Sister Lucia (visionary of Fatima)

“Give me an army saying the rosary, and I will conquer the world.” –Blessed Pope Pius IX


Megan Naumovski is on a mission to remind the world of the love God has for each and every soul, and how that love deserves our response. Every day she is a wife and mom in her domestic church, but in the world she helps lead others to Christ though ministry leadership, teaching, speaking and blogging at The Domestic Church of Bosco, http://boscoworld.blog.


Related Links

The Holy Rosary according to the Method of St. Louis de Montfort

5 Whimsical and Witty Things I Learned about the Rosary

 

 

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How the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God actually teaches about Jesus

While science shows our creativity thrives when we are taking a shower, read  Science Explains Why Our Best Ideas Come in the Shower for more information, the Catholic Mass inspires the best thoughts as well.

During the recessional hymn for the Mass for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, I had a profound insight. “This song is teaching us much more than about Mary!” I thought. I could not believe I missed the theology in the song. Here are the lyrics to the hymn Sing of Mary, Pure and Lowly:

Sing of Mary, pure and lowly,
Virgin mother undefiled,
Sing of God’s own Son most holy,
Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother,
God the Lord who came to earth,
Word made flesh, our very brother,
Takes our nature by his birth.

Sing of Jesus, son of Mary,
In the home at Nazareth.
Toil and labor cannot weary
Love enduring unto death.
Constant was the love he gave her,
Though he went forth from her side,
Forth to preach, and heal, and suffer,
Till on Calvary he died.

Glory be to God the Father;
Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit;
Glory to the Three in One.
From the heart of blessed Mary,
From all saints the song ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes
Unto earth’s remotest ends.

Mary as Theotokos

In the fourth century, there arose a heresy, or false teaching, that denied that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Named after the bishop Nestorius who promoted this belief, the heresy formally became known as Nestorianism.

The Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431 declared that Mary is theotokos (the God-bearer). Led by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the council fathers spoke of Mary as:

“Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.” (DS 251).

Mary Mother of God

Catholics honor Mary as mother, and celebrate her motherhood on January 1st because:

  •  Jesus entrusted us into the care of Mary as our spiritual mother (see John 19:26-27).
  • Honoring the motherhood of Mary reminds us of the humanity of Jesus

“And by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man”

Catholics are to make a profound bow at this line of the Nicene Creed. Why? Does not this give credence to the Protestant claim we worship Mary?

According to St. Louis de Montfort, “We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him even more perfectly. We go to her only to lead to the goal we seek—Jesus, her Son.” Mary is not the end. God is the ultimate aim of our focus. We honor Mary because of her closeness to Jesus and her model of holiness.

The last line of the first stanza in Sing of Mary is “Word made flesh, our very brother,
Takes our nature by his birth.” This is referring to the teaching of the Incarnation. Start with Mary. End with Christ.

Incarnation— Jesus is fully human and fully divine

Incarnation icon

Mary is discussed in the first stanza of the song. The second stanza centers around Jesus. On his life, death, and resurrection. True honor and devotion to Mary will always lead to the belief in the Incarnation.

Jesus had to be fully human and fully God in order to be the perfect bridge between God and humanity. A mere human Jesus cannot save. But a solely divine Jesus would prevent us from understanding the fullness of Truth. God stooped to our level to teach us about the truth that God is love.

God is Love—a community of Persons

Mary leads to Jesus (God made incarnate). Jesus teaches us about the Holy Trinity. Recall Sing of Mary’s lyrics. The first stanza talks of Mary. Secondly, we sing about the Incarnation. Lastly, we sing about the teaching of the Holy Trinity:

Glory be to God the Father;
Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit;
Glory to the Three in One.
From the heart of blessed Mary,
From all saints the song ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes
Unto earth’s remotest ends.

Mary received into her heart the love of the Holy Spirit. She followed the will of the Father and gave birth to the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus passed on authority to his Apostles to administer the sacraments to all and to preach the Good News worldwide!

God works in mysterious ways, the Virgin giving birth is the greatest of mysteries, but be on the lookout for other important insights. The processional song at Mass served that purpose for me today. I pray you are open to the working of the Holy Spirit to enlighten you during your next Sunday Mass!

Related Links

Why the Immaculate Conception is Important

Reconciling Mary as Mediator with 1 Timothy 2:5

3 Reasons the Assumption of Mary is a Big Deal

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3 Reasons Catholics Celebrate the Birthday of Mary

According to 20th century Scottish author William Barclay, “There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.” Everyone had a birthday.  Birthdays are universal. Celebrations of life. Reminders of impending death. Or a view somewhere in between. Why do you celebrate your birthday?

Happy Birthday

Each new year of our life allows us to learn from our past shortcomings and hope future successes. Celebrating our birthday helps us to live in the present moment. On September 8th, the Catholic Church observes the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The topic of the Mother of God is a point of contention for Protestants. There are a lot of misconceptions that Catholics worship Mary. I even had a conversation with a co-worker last week who asked me, “Why is it that some Catholics worship Mary?” My reply was concise and the same as the official stance of the Catholic Church, “Catholics don’t worship Mary. She is not God. We never, ever worship her. Instead, we honor her.”

Honor Mary not Worship her

Some of you might still be skeptical. You might be thinking, “Well, if you don’t worship Mary why does the Church has a specific feast to celebrate her birthday [along with the countless other feasts!] It all seems too much.” That certainly is a valid concern. I can understand how non-Catholics perceive Catholics’ devotion to Mary as being excessive or over the top. This article will discuss three reasons why Catholic do celebrate the birthday of Mary— and how authentic honor should always end in the worship of Jesus Christ!

An Anchor to the Incarnation

Birthdays celebrate a real and historical event. Your parents received a birth certificate a few weeks after you were born. In the modern era, people use their date of birth on loan applications, online activity, account openings, as passwords, and other situations where you have to prove your identity.

Jesus Fully God and Fully Man

When the Catholic Church celebrates the birthday of Mary, her existence as a real figure, in history, is recognized. Why it is important that Mary was actually born,  a real person like you or I? Her existence is absolutely necessary for the doctrine of the Incarnation—the teachings that Jesus is fully God AND fully human. During the Nicene Creed, the priest and the laity bow at the following line: “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary.” 

Before I studied theology it always seemed peculiar that we would bow during those words. For my master’s course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I had to write a paper discussing the internal consistency and unity of the doctrines. The doctrine I choose to study was the Incarnation. I discovered that Mariology [the theological study of Mary] was closely related to the Incarnation.

The Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. formally rejected the heresy of Nestorianism— a belief that rejected Mary was the Mother of God and thus also rejecting the humanity of Jesus. Mary as the Mother of God secures the reality that Jesus was fully human along with being fully God.

Obeying the 4th Commandment

Another reason Catholics celebrate the birthday of Mary is out of honor. According to the Second Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, ” [Mary] she is our mother in the order of grace” (no. 61). This truth is in keeping with Scripture when Jesus gives her mother to the Apostle John (see John 19:26-27) and Sacred Tradition.

The vast number of Marian feast days throughout the year point to her holiness and complete obedience to God. Just like our earthly mother, we should honor our spiritual mother as well!

True Devotion of the Mother Ends with Worship of the Son

Early Christmas

Each year it seems like retail stores put out Christmas displays and products earlier and earlier. Already I have heard people at work lament that the radio is not yet playing Christmas music. The birth of Christ is definitely something to get excited about. Catholics celebrate the birthday of Mary as a type of early preparation for Christmas!

The Catholic Church is quite clear that Jesus is the sole Mediator. According to St. Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human,d who gave himself as ransom for all.” We only honor Mary as a means to get closer to Her Son. St. Louis de Montfort said it best, “We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son” (True Devotion to Mary ).

Nativity of Mary

While we are members of the Body of Christ, Mary is the “neck of the Body of Christ” connecting us to the Head—Jesus. Celebrate the birth of Mary because it was through her decision to fully obey God that the Savior of the World was born. Happy Birthday Mary and happy early birthday Jesus!

Related Sources

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p6.htm

http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_p-vi_exh_19740202_marialis-cultus.html

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/05/13/reconciling-mary-as-mediator-with-1-timothy-25/

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