THE ROSARY OF THE VIRGIN MARY
The Rosary is a meditative prayer devotion that is both Marian in character and Christ-centered. It consists of 15 decades of prayers based on the life of Christ.
The 15 decades symbolized the 150 Psalms.
Rosary of the Virgin Mary
ORIGIN OF THE ROSARY- EARLY DEVELOPMENTS
Although St. Dominic spread its popularity in the Middle Ages (d.1221) through his preaching, the Rosary developed gradually from normal prayer life in the early years of the Church. In the early 4th Century the legalization of Christianity led to the gathering of groups to pray together in local churches during the weekdays. The Liturgy of the Hours soon developed as these prayer services continued. Morning prayer (Lauds) and evening prayer (Vespers) consisted of Scripture readings, the singing of the Psalms and hymns, and shared prayer.
In the 5th Century monastic life became quite popular and the monks assembled at these prayer times. The twice- daily prayer services increased to seven prayer times! Secular clergy would gather their people in the local church for Lauds and Vespers. This continued until sometime during the 7th and 8th Centuries when the daily morning Mass gradually replaced it. The majority of the people could not read and they continued to observe the traditional prayer times with private devotions of their own.
They began to substitute memorized private prayers for the scripture readings and the Psalm of the Liturgy of the Hours. Soon it became very popular to recite 150 Our Fathers each day in place of the 150 Psalms of the Sacred Scriptures.
Origin of the Rosary- Present Practice
As popular prayer continued to develop, the 150 Our Fathers were substituted with the more simple memorized prayer, the Hail Mary. The praying of 150 Hail Marys was then spaced with meditations on mysteries that related to Jesus and Mary.
The Rosary today uses a string of beads divided into sections. It begins with the Crucifix on which we pray the Sign of the Cross and the Apostle’s Creed. A short section follows on which we pray 1 Our Father, 3 Hail Marys and the Glory Be. The Rosary connects in a large circle with 5 larger sections on which we meditate on a Mystery and pray 1 Our Father followed by 10 Hail Marys and 1 Glory Be. The Rosary ends with the Hail Holy Queen. Some communities have additional closing prayers that they use.
Origin of the Rosary- Mysteries
Many religious truths are beyond human understanding. They awe us. They help us to enter into relationship with God. They make faith more real to us. Yet, our humanness is incapable of fully understanding, defining, or explaining them. We call them mysteries.
The Mysteries of the Rosary focus on the main events in the life of Christ that have been proclaimed to the people from the beginning of the Church. These events had been passed on through the preaching of Sacred Scripture and through the faith experience of the community.
As John Paul II writes,” Against the background of the words Hail Mary, the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete series of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through- we might say- the heart of his Mother. At the same time our heart can embrace in the decades of the Rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church and all mankind…Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life.”
Each group of Mysteries of the Rosary consist of five meditations.
ORIGIN OF THE ROSARY- THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES
The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary help us to recall and appreciate those times in the life of Mary and Jesus that would have been causes of joy for our Blessed Mother. The Joyful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on Mondays and Thursdays, the Sundays of Advent and the Sundays after Epiphany until Lent.
The first Joyful mystery is
We reflect on that time when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing that she was to be the Mother of God. He greets her with the words, “Hail, favored one. The Lord is with you.” The first half of the Hail Mary developed from this scripture. The church celebrates this mystery on March 25th during her liturgy. Sacred Scripture proclaims this mystery in the Gospel of Luke, chapter one, verses 26-38.
The second Joyful Mystery is
Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth who is expecting the birth of her son (John the Baptist). Elizabeth greets Mary with the words,…
“blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” The second half of the Hail Mary developed from this passage. The Church celebrates this mystery on May 31. Sacred Scripture proclaims it in the Gospel of Luke, chapter one, verses 39-45.
The third Joyful Mystery is
The Blessed Virgin Mary gives birth to the Redeemer of the World! Great joy must fill our hearts each time we ponder the great love our God has for us. God loves us so much that He became one of us to save us from sin! The Church celebrates this mystery on December 25. Sacred Scripture proclaims it in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 1-20.
The fourth Joyful mystery is
In accordance with the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary presented the child to the Lord. Pondering this mystery helps us to see the great role that parents have in passing on the faith to their children. The Church celebrates this mystery on February 2. It can be found in Sacred Scriptures in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 22-38.
The fifth Joyful Mystery is the
Finding in the Temple
While visiting Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus becomes separated from Mary and Joseph. They find Him when they return to the temple. Jesus says, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” The Church celebrates this mystery on the Feast of the Holy Family. Luke, chapter 2, verses 41-51 proclaims this mystery.
ORIGIN OF THE ROSARY- THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary help us to recall times in the life of Jesus that involved suffering and sorrow. These mysteries are traditionally meditated upon on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Sundays during Lent.
The first Sorrowful Mystery is the
Agony in the Garden.
After celebrating a special meal with his disciples Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray for the strength needed to endure His passion and death. As He prays, Jesus contemplates the sins of the world. This mystery is recorded in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 22, verses 39-46. The Church recalls this mystery on Holy Thursday.
The second Sorrowful Mystery is the
Jesus was cruelly scourged until His mortified body could bear no more. This mystery is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verse 1. The Church celebrates this mystery on Corpus Christi
The third Sorrowful Mystery is the
Crowning with Thorns.
In an act of mocking His kingship, a crown of thorns is placed on the head of Jesus. This mystery is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verse 2-4. The Church celebrates this mystery on Christ the King.
The fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the
Carrying of the Cross.
After being sentenced to death, Jesus carries the heavy cross upon His shoulders. This mystery is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verse 16-17. The Church celebrates this mystery on Sept. 14th.
The fifth Sorrowful Mystery is the
Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies after three hours of agony. This mystery is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verses 18-30. The Church celebrates this mystery on Good Friday.
ORIGIN OF THE ROSARY- THE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES
The Glorious Mysteries help us to recall the events of Jesus’ risen life that are recorded in Sacred Scriptures and the events in the risen life of Mary as has been preserved through the Church’s practices and teachings. These mysteries are traditionally meditated upon on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Sundays after Easter until Advent.
The first Glorious Mystery is
Jesus rises gloriously and immortally, from the tomb, three days after His death. The Resurrection is recorded in the last chapter of all four Gospels and in each New Testament book that follows. We celebrate this mystery most gloriously on Easter, but also on every Sunday.
The second Glorious Mystery is
Jesus, after appearing in may various places, ascended into heaven forty days after His glorious Resurrection. The Gospels of Mark and Luke both end with an account of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The Acts of the Apostles begins with Jesus’ ascension. The Church celebrates the ascension each year on the fortieth day after Easter. In the U.S. we celebrate the Ascension on the Seventh Sunday of Easter
The third Glorious Mystery is
The Descent of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promises to send His Spirit to His followers in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24; verse 49. The fulfillment of the promise is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2. It is the indwelling of the Spirit that strengthened the Apostles to begin the missionary activity that gave birth to the Church as the universal body of Christ that it is today. The Church celebrates this mystery on Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.
The glorious events of Mary’s life are NOT recorded in the Gospels or any book of Sacred Scripture. The Gospels concern the life and teachings of Jesus- not his mother. The Church believes in these mysteries through faith built upon the tradition of her members and their faith practices throughout history.
The fourth Glorious Mystery is
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven and united with her divine Son has existed in the Church from the earliest of times. We celebrate this mystery on Aug.15
The fifth Glorious Mystery is
The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
We believe, based on the lived faith practices of the Church, that Mary is gloriously crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. We celebrate this mystery on August 22.