Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Rosary

Why Pray?

Only with those we talk to or communicate with can we build a relationship. Prayer is building a personal relationship between you and God. The Rosary allows us to enter into that relationship with God – one on one.

The purpose of the Rosary is to help keep in memory certain major events or mysteries in the history of our salvation, and to thank and praise God for them.

The Christian life needs prayer. Prayer is like air to a Christian

What is it?

The word rosary comes from Latin and means a wreath of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary. Each prayer is like a rose so in a sense our Rosary becomes a beautiful bouquet of prayers sent to heaven to Jesus through Mary.

Also known as the Rosary of the Virgin Mary, the Rosary is a very old, very popular and very effective form of meditation. The Rosary has been around for centuries but gained resurgence when God sent Mary to earth in 1917, during the First World War, to appear to three children in Fatima, Portugal. (Note: this Church approved apparition is the only one ever to be prophesised with a specific date and time. It was reported with photographs by anti catholic newspapers O Dia and O Seculo. Not all 70,000 that were in the field that day saw the same thing but neither did those around St Paul experience the same thing on St Pauls life changing Road to Damascus journey - Acts 9:7,27) Mary’s message was to pray the Rosary for peace in the world. Great saints have called the rosary beads a ladder leading up to heaven. It has also been called a chain of hope.

In one sense praying the Rosary is like taking a journey through the Bible, where you concentrate on one of the 4 different stages of Jesus’ life.

Each stage:
1. When He was born,
2. His public ministry,
3. His suffering and death, and
4. His Ascension into Heaven
has 5 mysteries surrounding that stage.

On this journey in pilgrimage you are joined with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, along the Way of Jesus from before He was born to after He ascended into Heaven.

Is it a type of Meditation?

Meditation is an important part of Christian spirituality. The Rosary exercises this spirituality and becomes a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ.

It is not the only form of meditation used within the Church, but the Rosary is one that is simple, takes about 15-20 minutes to complete (one decade or mystery takes only about 3 minutes to pray), is very Biblical, can be practised anywhere and can be practised by anyone (even non catholic Christians pray the Rosary).

To think of it another way, one thing the Rosary does is that it stops you doing everything else. Our lives are filled with distractions – TV, music, computer, sport etc. This is our opportunity to stop and reflect for 15-20 minutes a day. It is your chance to achieve an inner peace for a short time each day and that inner peace will slowly start to change how you live the rest of the day.

Why the Repetition?

Repetition is normal. We like to say important things over and over again, such as “I love you”.

The format and repetition of the Rosary allows us to meditate on a theme. We meditate by focusing on one point/story/theme of the life of Jesus. To get the best out of it you should be in a comfortable position and do your best to remove all distractions and noise. The repetition provides you with a background on which to build your thoughts and reflect on the life of Jesus and how you can relate to him.

When you rush through anything you miss many things and will never get much out of it. Try watching a movie on fast forward and see if you got much out of the movie. The same goes for praying. If a person merely recites the prayers, whether vocally or silently, they’re missing the essence of the Rosary.

If you say the prayers without meditating on the mysteries, the Rosary becomes like a body without a soul.

The meaning behind the Mysteries

We call them mysteries because there is more to them than meets the eye. Praying these mysteries becomes a lot easier and meaningful if you have a picture of the mystery as you begin to meditate on it.

There are different ways to “look” at these mysteries.

One unique feature of Jesus Christ is the repeated promise in Holy Scriptures of his coming. The Messiah of Israel was proclaimed by Old Testament prophets. For example, Jesus is the new Adam, the new King David and the new Moses.

The New Testament needs the Old Testament and so the whole Bible points to Jesus. Scripturally speaking, in each of the mysteries we can find Old Testament prophecies and prefigurements that relate to each event.

For our own lives, we can probably find some connection too in these same mysteries, as Jesus experienced every human suffering so He knows personally what we go through.

Some examples include:
Before He was born there was an attempt on his life,
His mother almost became a single mother,
His family then became refugees,
They were homeless when Mary was due to give birth.
Later in life He was betrayed by a friend,
He was falsely convicted,
His friends ran away, He felt utter abandonment and loneliness.
He was physically assaulted,
Lies were told about Him,
He was humiliated and mocked.

Our God knows what it is like to suffer.

Another way to meditate on the mysteries is seeing how you can apply it to your life. For example Mary was pregnant with Jesus growing inside of her when she visited Elizabeth. Elizabeth felt different once in Mary’s presence. With Jesus inside of us, have we made someone’s day?

Now What?

This is your chance to form a good habit. Remember you don’t need to escape to a mountaintop to meditate.

You may struggle at first but maybe this is because some of the “noise” you currently have in your life is addictive. These addictions are a form of slavery, that you can escape from for just 15 minutes a day proving to yourself that you rule and not the “noise”.

It has been said that if you pick up the Rosary to help you to get rid of a particular sin, one of two things will happen. Either you will give up the sin or give up the Rosary.

You will also find that many issues of the day may invade your thoughts while praying the Rosary. This is normal. As you try to still yourself, hand these issues or problems to God while in prayer and see if an answer comes to you.

Should you expect an instant change? Probably not.

Overtime, the aim is not to pray in a mechanical fashion where the prayer solely a prayer of the mind, but it is where we unite body and soul to make it a prayer of the mind and heart.

You can think of it like this. When you carry the Rosary, it consists of five decades and you may think it won’t make a difference to anybody’s life. There was a boy in the Gospels who carried around five loaves and he may have done this exercise many times, whenever he saw a crowd. When he saw the crowd of 5,000 he thought at least 5 people will get some food. He, like us, thought small. In other words, all my gifting and talents, my education, who I am, plus plus plus come out to five loaves. That's it.

But we have to do Gods maths - all of our talents and gifts equals five plus God is infinity.
Five times X.
That is what we forget.
We don't know the heavenly algebra.
That is the problem.
That is what the disciples had to learn and so do we.

The Rosary is a great place to start learning.

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