Why The Rosary Is The Most Biblical Prayer
“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” —Psalms 119:15
Through Mary’s intercession, the Rosary beautifully invites us to meditate on the life of Jesus from the moment of His conception to His death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. The biblical prayers of the Rosary both glorify Jesus and honour Mary, as truly blessed by God (Luke 1:48).
Note: To understand the biblical basis for 'Why Catholics Pray To Saints' read my previous blog before you read this one.
The Biblical Roots Of The Rosary:
Each Rosary begins with the Apostles' Creed, an ancient profession of faith that summarises the Gospel and the core beliefs of the Early Church in a nutshell.
Each decade of the Rosary is a set of 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and 1 Glory Be. Each Rosary consists of 5 decades of meditation on 5 different aspects of Jesus' life.
The Lord's Prayer is followed by 10 Hail Marys, which allow us to meditate on Jesus. The centre of gravity in the Hail Mary prayer is the name of Jesus. Truly, the name of Jesus is the very heartbeat of the Rosary and the only name under which we are to be saved (Acts 4:12).
At the Wedding Feast Of Cana, Mary’s intercession made known to Jesus the needs of the people (John 2:3). Likewise, we ask Mary to pray for us, making our needs and petitions known to Jesus, on our behalf.
The term “Theotokos” referring to Mary as the Mother of God was defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, to protect the divinity of Christ. In the Early Church, those who denied that Mary was the Mother of God, committed one of two heresies. Firstly, the Arian heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus and secondly, the Nestorian heresy, which separated Jesus into two persons (one human and one divine).
The title “Mother of God” does not mean that Mary pre-existed before Jesus, rather it acknowledges that Mary gave birth to a divine person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ who became flesh.
The final prayer of each decade is the Glory Be. Notice, how we do not exalt Mary to the same extent that we do to the Blessed Trinity. We believe in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and He alone is worthy of our worship.
How To Pray The Rosary:
“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christ-centred prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety.” - Pope John Paul II
The repetition of the Hail Mary prayer helps us to focus and meditate on the mysteries of Christ through Mary’s perspective. These are three techniques I use to pray the Rosary:
1. The Simple Meditation Technique = place yourself into the biblical narrative. For example, you could meditate on the distress that Mary felt when searching for Jesus and the peace that returned to her when she found Him in the Temple. In contemplating the scene, you realise that apart from Jesus, you will always be restless because He is the Prince of Peace.
2. The Scriptural Rosary Technique = before praying each of the Hail Marys, you read a verse from Scripture. For example, if you were meditating on the crucifixion of Christ, you could read the seven sayings of Jesus on the Cross and then contemplate their meaning on each Hail Mary bead.
3. The Lectio Divina Rosary Technique = every time you pray the name of Jesus in the Hail Mary prayer, you then spontaneously apply the scene to your own life or to current issues such as abortion and racism. This technique is really good if you are meditating on the Passion of Christ, as you can ponder on how our sin led Jesus to the Cross. For example, “blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus, who was crowned with thorns for my pride...” or “who was crowned with thorns for my (insert sin).”
The Rosary Is Not Vain Repetition:
“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” — Matthew 6:7
The Rosary tends to be misunderstood as vain repetition. If Jesus was truly condemning all forms of repetition, then Jesus would also be guilty of this, as He prayed the same prayer three times in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“Leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.” —Matthew 26:44
Yet, we know that Jesus was not condemning all forms of repetition, as some forms of repetition, such as those of the angels in Heaven, are actually pleasing to God.
“Day and night without ceasing they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”” —Revelations 4:8
The key word is vain. In other translations, vain repetition is referred to as babbling on or praying empty words. Yet, the Rosary is the complete opposite of mindless repetition. The body of the Rosary is the Hail Marys, but the soul of the Rosary is the meditation that draws us into communion with God.
The Rosary Is Our Spiritual Weapon:
In 1945, eight priests miraculously survived the atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima, which killed around 140,000 people. The house where the priests would pray a daily Rosary was spared and the priests themselves did not suffer from any radiation.
The Rosary truly helps us fight our battles against the enemy. Any fervent Catholic knows that the Rosary truly is a spiritual weapon, as Mary’s intercession is so powerful and efficacious in the presence of her Son.
When we meditate on the depths of Scripture, we essentially grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus. The Rosary truly is a biblical and powerful prayer...