Catholic stuff: The Rosary

In the next few posts I would like to go over some “stuff” that is peculiar to Catholicism. Each post will focus on a particular prayer, devotion, or practice that my wife and I were introduced to as  we gradually accepted the Catholic faith. Today’s topic is the rosary. I’d like to go over the Rosary in general, tell you what it is and why you should pray it. Admittedly, I do not pray the Rosary as often as I would like, but I hope that something in this post will inspire us all (myself included!) to make praying the Rosary a normal part of our lives. 

The Rosary looks like a kind of necklace to the uninitiated. Each of the 59 beads on the Rosary corresponds to a particular prayer: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, the Fatima prayer, and the Apostles Creed. The Hail Mary is, by far, the predominant prayer of the Rosary with 50 of the 59 beads. As we pray, we are asking our Lady to pray with and for us to God. 

So why so much focus on Mary? Aren’t Christians supposed to be focused on God alone? Isn’t the Rosary gross idolatry? These were all questions I had to deal with on my journey. The answer? Mary doesn’t distract from Christ but she can bring him into focus. Think of it this way, no one would have known Jesus better than his own mother! 

So, how can Mary bring Jesus “into focus.” I like the analogy of a camera because, as you pray the rosary, you are predominantly meditating on events in the life of Jesus. These mysteries, as they are called, focus on events such as the nativity of the Lord, the proclamation of the kingdom of Heaven, the crucifixion, and the resurrection to name a few. As you pray through each mystery, you invoke the prayers of Jesus’s mother; the very person who would have experienced many of these events alongside her son. What better vantage point could you ask for than that of our Lord’s own mother?!

So…what are you waiting for? Pick up a rosary and give it a try. Whether you’re Catholic or not, invoking our Heavenly Mother’s prayers is one of the surest ways to grow in relationship with her divine son.

Peace be with you!

P. S. If you would like to learn more about the rosary, check out Fr. Rocky’s great Catholic 101 videos. His work partially inspired this post. 

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8 thoughts on “Catholic stuff: The Rosary

  1. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand the focus Catholics place on Mary in their prayers and elsewhere. I guess it’s how you read your bible, how you grasp the scriptures and how you’ve been brought up. You’ve put it in a nice context and I’m glad you don’t set Mary up as being equal to Jesus the son of God.

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    1. Hello! Thank you for your comments! I was not raised Catholic, but converted as an adult from the Baptist faith. For Catholics, Mary is a very special figure because her “yes” brought the savior to us! She was the first Christian!

      The Bible also speaks to Mary’s very privileged position: she is full of grace and blessed among women (Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42). Mary even affirms that all generations would call her blessed (Luke 1:48).

      Lastly, the earliest Christians understood Mary to be, among other things, the new Ark of the Covenant. She was the perfect vessel for Gods presence. Read more about that here if you would like:
      https://bapticatholic.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/hail-mary-the-immaculate-one/

      Hope that is helpful!

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  2. I often think of Catholicism as the ultimate in nepotism. The reason we pray to saints is because they are close to Jesus, and Jesus listens to them. Just like in real life, we’re more likely to do something if our close friends ask us. Who is closer to Christ than those who have joined him in Heaven above? 🙂 The word “pray” derives from Middle English and simply means “to ask earnestly.” When we pray to Mary or St. Francis or any of the other saints, we are simply asking them for their guidance and to convey our needs on to Jesus. The use of “pray” in modern times relates more to worship, but that’s not how we Catholics use the word. It’s more of our conversation with Christ and the other saints as we walk our journey of faith.

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  3. Interesting perspective! I was raised Catholic (with parochial school, nuns, and catechism thereafter!) and I think sometimes those who convert later in life have more of an appreciation for the meaning behind the acts. Praying the rosary is meaningful. Chanting it without focus? Not so much! Unfortunately, habit can desensitize us and we can go on autopilot while “praying.” I’ve seen the same result with the “Our Father”/”Lord’s Prayer” in churches of varying denominations many times. Regardless how one feels about praying the rosary, I find it disrespectful to where one as a piece of jewelry – seeing that always makes me wince!

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