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The Rosary – Aid or distraction?

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The word rosary refers to any planned prayer recited on a string of beads. Rosaries in this sense have been prayed all over the world in different religious traditions for centuries.

Before the introduction of beads, prayers were counted on pebbles or fingers.

Some believe that the Catholic holy rosary was adapted from earlier Muslim prayer beads, introduced through the Crusades. Others say the holy rosary existed prior to the Crusades.

Probably no one really knows just how or when the Catholic rosary came into being.

According to Catholic legend, which many Catholics accept as fact, the Blessed Virgin Mary mystically appeared to St. Dominic in 1214. The story goes that Mary gave Dominic the holy rosary saying,”One day through the rosary and the Scapular I will save the world.”¹

Many other Catholic saints reportedly had subsequent visions, from the Middle Ages to modern times. These visions usually conveyed an urgency in spreading devotion through the rosary.

In October 2002 Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries.

The Catholic mysteries of the rosary are based on key moments in the life, death and afterlife of both Jesus and Mary as portrayed in the New Testament.

Crucifijos de los Rosarios

Crucifijos de los Rosarios by Nathan Gibbs via Flickr

To me, the rosary is a useful tool for quieting one’s thoughts, providing one needs that kind of help. When I first became interested in Catholicism in the early 1990s, I prayed the rosary fairly often for a while. Sometimes I would receive tangible graces that I associated with the Virgin Mary, sometimes I had slightly different types of experiences.

But over time, the rosary began to feel like so many rattling words. It became more of a distraction than a devotional aid. That’s probably because as I grew older, contemplation came more easily, and the repetitive words seemed like superficial chatter over the calm I’d already found.

However, I may still sit in church for a while if parishioners are praying a rosary. I may even join in for part of the prayer. Like other preset prayers, the holy rosary is a good backup for those stressful days when one is more distracted (from God) than usual or when, perhaps, one just feels called to pray that way.

Some Lutherans and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans pray variations of the rosary, but it remains a predominantly Catholic practice.²

¹ See these links.

² https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosary#In_non-Catholic_Christianity | For more about the Catholic holy rosary, see this.

Related » Goddess vs. goddess, Hail Mary Prayer, Virgin Mary

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5 thoughts on “The Rosary – Aid or distraction?

  1. My Aunt prayed the Rosary daily at the breakfast table while having morning tea. One day after many calls to my Aunt’s home, her daughter dropped by and opened the door with her key. She found her mother sitting at the table with the Rosary beads in her hand. Her daughter claims that nothing was disturbed. A promise the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary made was to bestow a peaceful death on those who read the Rosary every day. Because of this prophecy and miracle involving my Aunt, I named my daughter Maria. I too have taken up the practice of reading the Rosary often. Thanks for this blog post and reminder of the power behind reading the Rosary.

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  2. Are you Catholic and over the age of 18? Have you said the Rosary Prayer at least once in the past year? If so, please take part in an anonymous research study online that examines the place of the Rosary Prayer in Catholic individuals’ lives. To participate in this doctoral research study, click the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/rosaryprayer Participation is anonymous and free of charge.

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  3. I think of the rosary in somewhat the same way I think of the Jesus prayer – “Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. ” I would have no problem praying the Jesus prayer over and over again because I am constantly in need of mercy even at every moment. so I have no problem praying “Hail Mary full of Grace… “Because I can’t think of a moment I wouldn’t benefit from her prayers for me. also, when I pray the rosary, I have asked Mary to pray for something specific that she thinks is best to pray for every time I pray the Hail Mary. The experience has been enriching.

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  4. I think as we grow in our spiritual practices, our tools and methods evolve, in the same way we are evolving. What worked for me 10 years ago may not necessarily work for me today.

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  5. Yes, the way I see it is that some people evolve spiritually and intellectually while others are happy to stay, more or less, where they are. They may evolve in other ways… buy bigger houses, get more cars, develop new hobbies, travel the world, have children, etc. But they might not change so much in the spiritual/intellectual sense.

    Just my two bits. Everyone is unique. General theories can only explain so much. 🙂

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