|St. Dominic receiving the Rosary from the Blessed Virgin Mary|
With October being the "Month of The Rosary," I thought it fitting to publish an introduction to the Rosary.
The Rosary is a heavenly gift given to us by the Blessed Virgin Mary to her faithful servant St. Dominic in 1214, who was instructed by Our Lady to recite the Rosary daily for the conversion of the Albigensian heretics in Southern France. Through St. Dominic's preaching and propagation, it was introduced to the Church as a new daily form of prayer for all Catholics to recite.
Saint Dominic understood the negative influence of the Albigensian heretics, and responded to it by withdrawing into the forest near Toulouse to pray unceasingly for three days and nights; weeping and inflicting harsh penances upon himself to appease God's anger. The penances were so extreme that St. Dominic fell into a coma. It was at this point that the Blessed Mother appeared to him with three angels and informed St. Dominic that the best weapon in this type of spiritual warfare, the weapon that the Holy Trinity wanted him to use to convert the world, was Mary's Psalter. Our Lady instructed St. Dominic, "If you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter." At this point St. Dominic arose, comforted and burning with zeal for the conversion of sinners, headed straight for the cathedral to preach on the Holy Rosary. Saint Dominic did so in such a fervent and compelling manner that almost everyone at Toulouse renounced their false beliefs and embraced the Rosary. In a very short time, a great improvement was seen in the area as people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits.
St. Louis De Montfort, another of Our Blessed Mother's servants chosen in the seventeenth century to propagate the Rosary, wrote the book, The Secret of The Rosary. It is a "must read" book for anyone who is serious about the Rosary and its recitation.
Saint Louis De Montfort expressed the importance and relevance of the Rosary in our lives, for our earthly pilgrimage, and eternal salvation. The Secret of The Rosary contains everything that can be said about the Rosary especially the necessary instruction for its application and use. The Secret of The Rosary will not only bring to the reader a better understanding of the Rosary as a form of contemplative prayer, but also serve as a helpful aid in the spiritual life.
The Rosary was for St. Louis De Montfort, not only a method of prayer, but an effective tool and weapon in his apostolic work. Saint Louis De Montfort preached the Rosary in and out of season, established it in every parish where he gave a mission and judged the fruits of the mission by the subsequent perseverance of its recitation. Saint Louis De Montfort knew there was no limit to the power of the Rosary and he attributed to it, much of his success with the conversion of sinners, as he is quoted saying, "Let me place my Rosary around a sinner's neck...and he will not escape me."
You might be wondering: what exactly is the Rosary; what prayers does it include; how do I pray it; and why should I pray it.
The Rosary is a set of prayers whereby you meditate on the life and passion of Christ, and on the life of Our Lady, and reflect upon the many virtues and Gospel lessons contained within. The prayers that make up the Rosary are: The Apostles' Creed; Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory Be; O My Jesus; and the Hail Holy Queen. The Rosary is one of the contemplative forms of prayer of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae wrote:
The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7). By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed." (12)The Rosary can be recited any where at any time. You do not have to be in a church to pray it, although praying it in a church is certainly ideal. Recitation of the Rosary can be done while commuting to work, during a walk in the park, and even while performing physical tasks. As long as you are properly disposed, can focus on the prayers, and meditate on the mysteries, it is time well spent.
The Rosary is divided into four sets of mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries. Each set takes approximately thirty minutes to recite. Each day of the week has assigned to it one of the mysteries, referred to as the "daily required recitation." This is the very minimum; you should strive to recite all four sets each day. Here are the mysteries that are assigned to each day of the week:
- Joyful Mysteries, assigned for Mondays and Saturdays throughout the year; also on Sundays during Advent and the Christmas seasons.
- Luminous Mysteries, every Thursday during all seasons throughout the year
- Sorrowful, on Tuesday and Fridays throughout the year and also on Sundays during Lent
- Glorious Mysteries, Wednesdays throughout the year; also on Sundays between Christmas and Lent and Sundays between Easter and Advent.
The Rosary Center's How To Pray The Rosary page offers instructions in many languages. At this page you will find an image of the Rosary, with easy to follow instructions and links to all the prayers to be recited.
In addition, you may be interested in Tan Book's How To Say The Rosary pamphlet.
You may also want to consider the Rosary Center's First Saturday Devotions booklet. It not only details the devotion and the Fatima apparitions, but it provides for a more in-depth Rosary recitation experience that includes: scriptural passages; images of the historical moments of Christ's and Mary's life; the spiritual focus; a reflection for each mystery; and intercessory prayers to Our Lady.
As to why you should pray the Rosary, the most important one being it was requested by Our Lady to St. Dominic. This request was further made by Our Lady at Fatima, who chose to introduce herself to the three children as, "Our Lady of The Rosary."
In the Secret of the Rosary's Twenty Seventh Rose - Benefits, St. Louis De Montfort wrote about why we should embrace this devotion and listed seven benefits:
- It gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ
- It purifies our souls from sin
- It gives us victory over all our enemies
- It makes the practice of virtue easy
- It sets us on fire with the love of our Lord
- It enriches us with graces and merits
- It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellowmen, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God.
A final note. Completing the daily recitation of the entire Rosary may seem difficult at first, but with a little bit of persistence and discipline, it can be accomplished. Much in the same manner as an athlete who trains for a marathon and builds up his/her endurance and the capacity to run the entire distance, so too will devotees build up their prayer endurance and eventually cross the "spiritual finish line," completing the marathon of grace.