Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It caught my eye. (LONG)

I've said it before a gazillion times: Thank God (literally) for converts. They often provide a holding-to-account that those of us who were born* into the faith usually overlook. When you inherit a house you don't look at the documents as carefully as when you buy one, right?

At any rate, I was at one of the blogs -- no, I shan't "out" the author -- at which I often stop and lurk. This blogger is a convert from one of the more, er, robust Protestant communities and was having a very, VERY rough time with devotions. The Rosary, in particular, gave this blogger a particularly trying experience, given said blogger's roots in the Christian faith.

This blogger considered the Rosary, with its surfeit of Hail Marys, to be somewhat questionable and possibly overly Mariocentric. Now, I think I can address these concerns because I have traveled many of the same roads as our blogger friend in question. Although, yes, I was a cradle Catholic, I also spent the formative part of my Wilderness Years in the Very Deep South, surrounded by people whose religious outlook was very, very skeptical of Catholicism. These people and their faith affected me somewhat and all the solid Jesuit catechesis I had received grew, er, pliable since the climate at the time was inimical to "connecting the dots" of the catechesis I had received.

So I'm familiar with the obstacles that many converts from the various sectors of Protestantism see to praying the Rosary.

But a funny thing happened on my way through life. I began -- too long a story, just play along for now -- to actually read what the Catholic Church said and how it explained itself. In doing so not only did my singularly egocentric exegesis dissolve, but I began...slowly, see the wisdom and beauty in what I had once shrugged as something fit only for little old ladies.

It wasn't until I got a clear perspective on the Rosary that it made sense, that it all crystallized neatly for me. Much like St. Philip explained Scripture to the eunuch, the Rosary is Mary taking us by the hand and meditating on Scripture. The Rosary isn't a prayer to some goddess, it's Mary highlighting certain crucial aspects of the life and ministry of her son, Our Lord.

Y'see, most people assume the Rosary is some sort of pattern of prayers: __ Our Fathers, __ Hail Marys, etc. But it's not. These are the background music, the score if you will to our meditating on certain seminal aspects of Christ. If you see a movie (say, Going My Way to use a perfectly innocent example) that has a song ("Swingin' on a Star") would you say the film is about people using astronomical bodies as trapezes? No, you wouldn't. The music is there to further the narrative of the film. Same as the Rosary. These narrative episodes upon which we are to meditate are called "Mysteries" and that means something we will never fully understand on this side of Heaven.

We must not get hung up on is the word “Mysteries.” Usually, when we think of Mysteries we think of Sherlock Holmes. We have been conditioned to think of mysteries as things to solve, or at the very least things to bang our heads about. But this isn’t that kind of mystery. This kind of mystery means something that we cannot, and will never be able to, fully wrap our brains around. We can and should TRY to understand more and more, but you have a better shot at putting an ocean in a bucket. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s just say that each set of mysteries are really the names -- like I-95 or The Florida Turnpike -- for roads by which we come to Christ.

Furthermore, the Rosary is not unbiblical. First of all, the word "unbiblical" drives me mental. The manual to my new cell phone is "unbiblical." That doesn't mean Satan is behind it. The word some are groping for is "anti-biblical." Which the Rosary, most emphatically, is's the exact opposite.

It is important to realize that as Christians, we rely on the Bible to provide the structure for what we believe, but as Catholics we also have knowledge passed down from Jesus Himself directly through the Apostles (Sacred Tradition) to help us properly interpret the writings of the Bible. Think of your grandma and her favorite cookbook. It doesn’t really matter how good the recipes are...if she can’t make out the letters because she doesn’t have her glasses on. The Bible is, in a way, our cookbook, and the Sacred Tradition given directly to the Apostles by Christ and passed on throughout time, is “our set of eyeglasses.”

So what does this have to do with the Rosary? The Rosary puts into prayer the writings of the Bible, through the prayers we recite and the mysteries we contemplate. The more you read the Bible, the more of an impact these prayers and meditations will have on you, and the more you pray and meditate the more you will understand what God is telling you in the Bible.

So, after this long and meandering preamble, I'll post now what I discuss with my CCD students on the Scriptural rootedness of the Rosary. I hope you derive a new (or better) appreciation for the Rosary. There will be a quiz next class.

To help with the meditation on the Mysteries, we have a Scripture verse to be said before each Hail Mary. There is no “official” list of what verse goes with what Hail Mary that goes with what Mystery. If there is another verse that covers the same territory and it helps YOU meditate, use that one. If you prefer to read the whole set of verses before each decade, that’s fine too. The best way to pray the Rosary is the way YOU pray with faith and reverence and frequency. Use whatever approved Catholic version of the Bible you prefer.

The verses which we have for the first three Hail Marys are a type of introduction to the Mysteries. These remind us of a) the three Persons of the Trinity and b) the grace of salvation we find in the main virtues of faith, hope and charitable love. Ideally the prayerful use of Holy Scripture enhances our use of the Holy Rosary, and bring you closer to Christ with the aid of His mother.

(If you're following along with Rosary in hand, it might seem a little jerky, with a lot of stop and go. This is because it’s important for you to have a good understanding and foundation of what the Rosary can accomplish. After you do it this way, you can just run with it in whatever direction your heart requires.)

Let’s start:
[On the crucifix]
+ "In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost)"
(The words: "In the name" express the Unity of God; the words that follow, "of the Father, etc." refer to the Trinity.)

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

Luke 1:31-5 “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

and born of the Virgin Mary.

Luke 2:2-3 While they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for [Mary] to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

John 19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him.

was crucified, died, and was buried.

John 19:41-42a Now there was, in the place where Jesus was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, where no man yet had been buried. There, because of the Passover, they laid Jesus[.]

He descended into Hell.

Ephesians 4:9 What does "He ascended" mean except that He also descended into the lower regions of the earth?

On the third day he rose again from the dead.

Luke 24:7 [Jesus said]: “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

He ascended into heaven,

Luke 24:51 As He blessed them He parted from them and was taken up to heaven.

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Colossians 3:1 Therefore, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

He will come to judge the living and the dead.

Revelation 14:7 Saying with a loud voice: Fear the Lord, and give him honor, because the hour of His judgment has come; and adore Him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

Acts 2:3-4 Then there appeared to [the Apostles] tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

the Holy Catholic Church,

Matthew 16:18 [Jesus said]: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

the communion of saints,

Hebrews 12:1a And therefore we also having so great a cloud of itnesses [that is, saints] over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us

the forgiveness of sins,

Matthew 6:14 For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences.

the resurrection of the body,

2 Macabees 7:9 And when he was at the last gasp, he said thus: “Thou indeed, O most wicked man, destroy us of this present life: but the King of the world will raise us up, who die for His laws, in the resurrection of eternal life.”

and the life everlasting.

John 6:69 And Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”


[The first "Our Father bead]

Our Father,

I Chronicles 29:10 “Then David blessed the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, praying in these words: "Blessed may you be, O LORD, God of Israel our father, from eternity to eternity.”

Who art in heaven,

Deuteronomy 4:39a “Know therefore this day, and think in thy heart that the Lord is God in heaven above”

hallowed be Thy name;

Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain.

Thy kingdom come;

Mark 1:15 “The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.”

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

II Chronicles 20:6 “O Lord God of our fathers, thou art God in heaven, and rule over all the kingdoms and nations, in thy hand is strength and power, and no one can resist thee.”

Give us this day our daily bread;

Exodus 16:4a “Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion.”

and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

Matthew 16:32b-33 “I forgave you all your debt, because you pleaded me: Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?”

and lead us not into temptation,

Sirach 2:1 “Son, when thou comest to serve God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. [that is, to be tested]

but deliver us from evil,

Exodus 6:6 “Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am the Lord who will bring you out from the work prison of the Egyptians, and will deliver you from slavery: and redeem you with a high arm, and great judgments.”


(then on the first three "Hail Mary" beads)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

Luke 1:28 "And coming to her, the angel said, "Hail, you who are full of grace, the Lord is with you."

The original wording means “permanently favored by grace.” When the St. Gabriel the Archangel says that Mary is full of grace, he means that, not that Mary has had her tank of grace filled up and she’s good-to-go until she needs another refill. Charity, the divine love within us, comes from the same word (the Greek kecharitomene). God is infinite Goodness, infinite Love. Mary is perfect created goodness, filled to the limit of her finite being with grace and charitable love.

Blessed art thou among women

Luke 1:41-42a "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women..."

Luke 1:48 "For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed."

Mary is being named the greatest of all women, greater than Ruth, greater than Sarah, greater than EVE! Since Eve was created immaculate (without original sin), Mary must have been conceived immaculate; and by her own free will, Mary must have responded to God's grace, remaining sinless. Otherwise, she could not be greater than Eve.

Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus

Luke 1:42b "and blessed is the fruit of your womb."

Jesus is Mary's fruit. Good fruit cannot come from anything but a good tree (Mt. 7:17-18)! The all-holy Son of God could not be the fruit of anything other than the Immaculate Virgin.

Holy Mary, Mother of God

Luke 1:43 "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

In greeting Mary, Elizabeth is saying: "How is it that the mother of my God should come to me." Jesus is a single Person, a Divine Person, the 2nd Person of the Most Holy Trinity. To be mother of the human Person of Jesus is to be mother of the Divine Person of Jesus who is God.

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Luke 2:35 "...and your very soul will a sword will pierce that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
John 2:5 "His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."

Mary sees a need and asks Jesus to meet it. He does. We turn to Mary to ask her to intercede with Jesus, her Son, in our daily needs. We will NEVER have a greater need than at the moment of our death. At that instant our salvation hangs in the balance as Satan makes one last attempt to keep us from God (Rev. 2:10). That’s why both the Hail Mary and the Our Father wrap up with asking to be delivered from the evil one.

Now that we know the “inner structure” of the Hail Mary, we can apply other bits of the Bible to individual Hail Marys, depending on where they placed within the whole Rosary.

(First three Hail Marys)

a) Romans 5:1b …by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
b) Romans 5:2 By [Him] also we have access into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
c) Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
We then conclude the "intro" with the "Glory Be":

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen.

John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by
him: and without him was made nothing that was made. "

And the Fatima Prayer:

O my Jesus,

John 20:28 Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
forgive us of our sins.

John 8:28 Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.”
Save us from the fires of hell.

Acts Of Apostles 2:27a Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell
Lead all souls into heaven,

John 14:6a Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
especially those in most need of thy mercy.

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to [the repentant thief]: Amen I say to thee this day, thou shalt be with me in paradise.

Since on Tuesdays we customarily pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, we'll go over those.

We announce the mystery before reciting the prayers and meditating upon the Mystery.

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
The Our Father

John 18:1 [Then Jesus] went forth with His disciples over the brook [of] Cedron where there was a garden, into which He entered with His disciples.
Hail Mary

Matthew 26:38 Then [Jesus] saith to [the disciples]: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with Me.”
Hail Mary

Luke 22:41 And [Jesus] withdrew from [the disciples] about a
stone's throw away and, kneeling down, He prayed[.]
Hail Mary

Mark 14:35 And when He was gone forward a little, He fell flat on the ground and He prayed that if it might be, the hour might pass from Him.
Hail Mary

Luke 22:42 [Jesus said] “Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not My will, but Thine be done.”
Hail Mary

Luke 22:43 And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. Being in agony, He prayed even longer.
Hail Mary

Luke 22:44 And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.
Hail Mary

Matthew 26:42 A second time He went and prayed, saying: “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.
Hail Mary

Matthew 26:44 And leaving them, he went again and he prayed a third time, saying the same words.
Hail Mary

Mark 14:41 And He came a third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now and take your rest. It is enough, the hour is come. Behold the Son of Man shall be
betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Hail Mary
Glory Be
Fatima Prayer

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging At The Pillar
The Our Father

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his injuries we are healed.
Hail Mary

Psalms 72:14 And I have been scourged all the day; and my chastisement hath [started] in the mornings.
Hail Mary

Luke 18:32 For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon.
Hail Mary

Luke 18:33a And after they have scourged him, they will put him to death
Hail Mary

Luke 23: 16 [Pilate said to the assembled] “I will chastise him therefore, and release him.”
Hail Mary

Luke 23: 22 And [Pilate] said to them the third time: “Why, what evil hath this man done? I find no cause [worthy] of death in him. I will chastise him
therefore, and let him go.
Hail Mary

John 19: 1 Then, therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged Him.
Hail Mary

Matthew 27: 26 Then [Pilate] released to them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him unto them to be crucified.
Hail Mary

Matthew 20:19 [They] shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to be mocked, and
scourged, and crucified, and the third day He shall rise again.
Hail Mary

I Peter 2:24 Who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the wood[en cross]: that we, being dead [due] to sins, should live to justice: by Whose [flogging] stripes you were healed.
Hail Mary
Glory Be
Fatima Prayer

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: Crowning with thorns
The Our Father

Mark 15:16 And the soldiers led [Jesus] away into the court of the palace, and they called together the whole band[.]
Hail Mary

Matthew 27:27 Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the hall gathered, together, unto Him; the whole band [of them].
Hail Mary

Matthew 27:27 Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the hall gathered, together, unto Him; the whole band [of them].
Hail Mary

Mark 15:17 And they clothe[d] Him with purple, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon Him.
Hail Mary

John 19:2 And the soldiers [who were] platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head; [having] put on Him a purple garment[.]
Hail Mary

Matthew 27:29 And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: “Hail, king of the Jews.”
Hail Mary

Mark 15:18 And they [all] began to salute Him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”
Hail Mary

Matthew 27:30 And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck His head.
Hail Mary

John 19:5 Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment. And [Pilate] saith to them: “Behold the Man”
Hail Mary

Matthew 27:31 And after they had mocked Him, they took off the cloak from Him, and put on Him His own garments, and led Him away to crucify Him.
Hail Mary
Glory Be
Fatima Prayer

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: Carrying of the Cross
The Our Father

Luke 9:23 And [Jesus] said to all: If any man will come [with] me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Hail Mary

Mark 15:20 And after [soldiers] had mocked [Jesus], they took off the purple [cloak] from Him, and put His own garments on Him, and they led Him out to
crucify Him.
Hail Mary

John 19:16 Then, therefore, [Pilate] delivered [Jesus] to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him forth.
Hail Mary

John 19:17 And, bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew [is called] Golgotha.
Hail Mary

Luke 23:27 And there followed Him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented [for] Him.
Hail Mary

Luke 23:28 But Jesus turning to them, said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”
Hail Mary

Luke 23:29 For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the breasts that have not given suck.”
Hail Mary

Luke 23:30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: “Fall upon us;” and to the hills: “Cover us.”
Hail Mary

Luke 23:31 For if in the green [times] they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?
Hail Mary
Luke 23:26 And as they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country; and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus.
Hail Mary
Glory Be
Fatima Prayer

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
The Our Father
John 19:23-24 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Him, took His garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also His
coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said
then one to another: “Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it
shall be” that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: “They have parted my
garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot.” And the soldiers
indeed did these things.
Hail Mary
Luke 23:34 And Jesus said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But they, dividing His garments, cast lots [for them].
Hail Mary
Mark 15:27-28 And with Him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith: “And with the wicked he was reputed.”
Hail Mary
Luke 23:39-43 And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed Him, saying: “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same
condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds;
but this man hath done no evil.” And he said to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when
thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said to him: “Amen, I say to thee
this day, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
Hail Mary
Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: “Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Hail Mary
John 19:26 When Jesus, therefore, had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: “Woman, behold thy son.” After that, He saith to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour, the disciple
took her to his own.
Hail Mary
John 19:28-30a Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: “I thirst.” Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and
hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: “It is [finished].”
Hail Mary
Luke 23:46 And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” And saying this, He gave up the ghost.
Hail Mary
John 19:34, 36-37 But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. For these things were done, that the
scripture might be fulfilled: “You shall not break a bone of him.” And again
another scripture saith: “They shall look on him whom they pierced.”
Hail Mary
Luke 23:47 Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: “Indeed this was [the Son of God].
Hail Mary
Glory Be
Fatima Prayer

And that's it.



* It is often said a Cuban is "born Republican and baptized Catholic"


  • At 8:38 PM, July 24, 2007 , Blogger ~m2~ said...

    wow, this is really well done and lovely -- thank you for taking the time to explain at such amazing lengths!!

    and thank you for your recent comment on my blog; i've got you on my radar (bloglines) now -- if that's okay, i'll probably read always and comment every now and again...


  • At 11:57 PM, July 24, 2007 , Blogger joe said...

    It's the catechist in me! Normally when I do this in class, each individual Mystery has some "classic" work of art accompanying it on the screen, because some people are more visual in their meditation.

    To me, one of the unsung aspects of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular is in reflecting on Christ's words and actions. This helps me do that.


    P.S. Welcome aboard!

  • At 10:25 AM, July 30, 2007 , Blogger Joni said...

    Wonderful explanantion and in-depth use of Scripture. As a new Catholic (just received at the '07 Vigil!) this is quite helpful to me.

  • At 12:35 PM, July 30, 2007 , Blogger Joe said...


    You're welcome...and welcome home.

    Thanks for your very kind words. One of the advantages of a certain kind of Classical Jesuit education was to have a serious study of Scripture as it relates to Catholic teaching. This has stood me in good stead and probably saved my soul during the Wilderness Years.

    I'll try to do something similar with the other sets of mysteries, perhaps some will find such a thing useful.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home