Monday, October 07, 2013

Our Lady of the Rosary

October 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The rosary is a way of praying, meditating, and doing Bible study. Its beginnings go back to the days of the beginning of Christian monasticism in the deserts of Egypt in the fourth century, but its current form may go back to the days of St. Dominic, who lived in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.

How does one use the rosary? It’s sort of like what happens when you read. The words on the page inspire your imagination. Especially when one reads fiction, the images of places, what voices sound like, and so forth can only be described by the writer up to a certain point. After that the imagination of the reader must take over to give life to the story.

There is a form of prayer like that; it is a form of meditation, which can be done very simply or very deeply. The rosary is a particular kind of meditation. The purpose of the rosary is to help keep in our minds and hearts and wills certain principal events or mysteries in the history of our salvation, to thank and praise God for them, and to grow more and more in love with God. By meditating on key events in the life and ministry of Jesus and his promises to the faithful, we can conform our lives better to his will for us. We also learn to love others better, and through the rosary we can even pray for others.

There are twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, which are divided into five sets of four:

The five Joyful Mysteries are about Jesus’ childhood:
1.       The Angel Gabriel Announces to Mary that She has been Chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah
2.      Mary Visits Elizabeth, the Mother of John the Baptist
3.      Jesus is Born in Bethlehem
4.      Mary and Joseph Bring Jesus to the Temple When He is Forty Days Old
5.      Mary and Joseph Find Jesus in the Temple When He is Twelve Years Old

The five Luminous Mysteries are about his earthly ministry:
1.       Jesus is Baptized in the River Jordan
2.      Jesus Changes Water into Wine at a Wedding in Cana
3.      Jesus Preaches the Kingdom of God
4.      Jesus in Transfigured
5.      Jesus Institutes the Eucharist at the Last Supper

The five Sorrowful Mysteries are about his suffering and death:
1.       Jesus Prays in the Garden Before He is Arrested
2.      The Soldiers Whip Jesus
3.      The Soldiers Put a Crown of Thorns on Jesus’ Head
4.      Jesus Carries His Cross Through the Streets of Jerusalem
5.      The Soldiers Crucify Jesus

The five Glorious Mysteries are about his resurrection and the promise of eternal life:
1.       Jesus Rises From the Dead
2.      Jesus Returns to Heaven
3.      The Holy Spirit Comes On the First Believers
4.      Mary is Taken into Heaven After She Dies
5.      Mary is Crowned as the Queen of Heaven

For well over a hundred years, there has been an intercessory guild within the Anglican Communion that uses the rosary. It is called the Guild of the Living Rosary. It was founded in England in October 1905. The Guild is Anglican-based, but membership is open to any Christian.

Members are asked to pray just one decade of the rosary each day with a special intention. Intercession sheets with the intentions are produced three times a year and are provided to the members before the first days of January, May, and September.

Though one decade may seem a small prayer to ask, one benefit of membership in the Guild is that one prays with nineteen other members to comprise an entire rosary of twenty mysteries. One can be assured that in partnership with others an entire rosary is prayed with the appointed intercession. I have been a member of this guild for over forty years, and found it to be a powerful means of prayer and growing in love with Jesus and learning how to do so through the example and leadership of the Virgin Mary. (See my blogpost from November 1, 2006

Anyone who may be interested in the Guild is asked to write to guildlivingrosary(at)

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