Why do Catholics pray the holy Rosary?
It is one of the most popular and significant of all devotions in the Catholic Church. As a devotion, it stands out given that one of its titles is ‘the most holy Rosary’, not simply the Rosary.
In this article we are going to explore why the Rosary is such a popular devotion, beloved by tens of, possibly hundreds of, millions of Catholics over the world.
The Holy Rosary is Salvation
The first thing to mention is that the holy Rosary saves souls. It changes hearts, minds and wills.
Someone is not likely to be the same if they recite the holy Rosary regularly.
For those who struggle with lust, they could try the holy Rosary.
For those who have a porn addiction, they could try the holy Rosary.
For those who drink too much? Perhaps try the holy Rosary.
For those who are being destroyed inside by fears and anxieties? Perhaps try the holy Rosary.
For those with anger issues? Try the holy Rosary.
For those struggling with bitterness and hurt over what people have done to them? Try the holy Rosary.
Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries at Fatima last century, said that it doesn’t matter what the issue or request is: the holy Rosary is the answer.
The Virgin Mary is reputed to have implied similarly at Fatima, since the Virgin constantly told the three children who saw her to pray the Rosary for all necessities.
Certainly our struggles, weaknesses, faults, failings and imperfections are cause for calling upon God through the most holy Rosary. Many Catholics pray the holy Rosary because it helps them overcome their weaknesses.
The Holy Rosary Unites Catholics to Christ
The quickest route to God is through Christ, and the quickest route to Christ is through Mary.
But the quickest route to Mary is through the most holy Rosary.
This is one of the reasons for it being called the ‘most holy Rosary’. It is an extremely fast route to the heart of Jesus and therefore to the heart of the holy Trinity.
Far from what is often thought, the holy Rosary in no way proves a blockage to union with Christ. Just because Catholics pray many Hail Marys in the Rosary doesn’t mean that they aren’t ultimately seeking Christ/God.
Catholics believe that as God came down to us through the Virgin, it is through the Virgin that God expects us to return to him. Through the holy Rosary, we return ourselves to God and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Additionally, the high point of every Hail Mary is the middle: ‘and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, JESUS.’ Christ is our Saviour, our only Saviour, and the one and only Saviour of humanity.
In fact, we revere and love his Mother PRECISELY BECAUSE she is the Mother of such a great Saviour.
It would be a tragic insult to the Son of God if we did not revere his Mother, or seek a living relationship with her.
In wanting to be Christ-like, we ought to always seek to emulate Christ, which means honouring and submitting to his Mother, as he did (see end of Luke 2).
Most of the mysteries of the holy Rosary are about Christ. His conception in the Virgin’s womb; his birth; his presentation; his baptism; his being crowned with thorns; his crucifixion; his resurrection, and so on. These mysteries help unite us to Christ.
Whilst it is true that Mary is central to the lives of Catholics, and to the holy Rosary, Catholics see no problem here. We don’t see Mary as in any way a substitute for or rival of Christ.
One of the ways the world can know that Catholics do not worship Mary as they worship God is because Catholics do not offer Mary the Sacrifice of sacrifices: the holy Eucharist (the Mass). The Mass is the ultimate Sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus, and it is offered ONLY to God. Never ever to Mary, or any other creature.
So Catholics may pray to Mary, sing to her, preach about her, speak about her, and love her, but they can never worship her with the highest worship of the Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Holy Rosary Makes Us Holy
The clue is in the title: it is called ‘the holy Rosary’, and this is partly because it makes us holy.
It would be very difficult to find a Catholic who had a serious devotion to the Rosary who wasn’t growing in sanctity and goodness.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that many saints have been devoted to the holy Rosary.
St Padre Pio – one of the Church’s greatest ever saints – prayed as many as 50 rosaries daily!
St John Paul II said that the holy Rosary was his favourite prayer.
St Dominic is largely responsible for giving the Catholic world the Rosary in its current form. Mary told him only to ever preach her Rosary, and he did just that. He saw many conversions to the Catholic faith as a result.
St. Francis de Sales said: ‘The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.’
St. Alphonsus Ligouri remarked: ’Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the most Holy Rosary.’
If you like the Rosary, one of the most inspirational things you could do is to read what the saints have said about it.
The Holy Rosary Fills Mary’s Heart with Joy
The Rosary is called ‘rosary’ because it is like offering Mary lots and lots of roses. The more devoted to it we are, the more we thrill her heart.
Of course, if we make Mary so happy when we give this a good go, she honours our efforts. She comes into our lives with fuller power, and opens up God’s reserve of miracles and help.
Life tends to be a lot easier when one is devoted to the Rosary, because Mary smiles on such a person.
The Holy Rosary is the ‘Bible on a String’
Catholicism doesn’t have a strong distinction between devotion to the holy Rosary and reading holy Scripture.
One of the best ways to read Scripture in the Church is a method called Lectio Divina. This is a slow, meditative, pondering, silent method of reading a small passage of the Bible over and over again. Reading Scripture like this helps to truly let the Bible enter into one’s mind.
In a certain sense, this is what the Rosary does. The mysteries of the Rosary are almost all found in explicit passages of the Bible. The Annunciation is found in Luke 1; the Visitation in Luke 1 also; the crucifixion in the Gospels; the descent of the Spirit in Acts 2.
When a Catholic prays the holy Rosary often, these fundamental events of Scripture begin to take root in the heart with the same sort of power as found in Lectio Divina. Therefore, to pray the Rosary is in many ways to read and meditate on Scripture.
Additionally, the prayers of the Rosary are filled with verses of Scripture. The Lord’s prayer is found in Matthew 6; the first part of the Hail Mary is found scattered over Luke 1. When a Catholic prays the Rosary, they are praying a lot of Scripture over and over again.
The Holy Rosary is Meditation 101
There is a lot said today about the benefits of meditation. Many are flocking to Mindfulness, and techniques learned from the Buddhist faith and Eastern religion.
As wonderful as this is, it is a little odd, given that in the Western Christian world we have had powerful and effective methods of meditation that have worked for many people for many centuries. The holy Rosary is one of these.
Whatever method of meditation people try, certainly the Rosary is a valid method of meditation, because it is principally meditation. In fact, one cannot pray the Rosary without meditation on the mysteries. The Rosary without meditation on the mysteries is something else, but it isn’t the Rosary.
Many seem to report promising results concerning their mental health when praying the Rosary often (I am one such individual who can testify to this).
So there are lots of reasons why Catholics pray the holy Rosary, and surely there are many more than what I’ve offered here.
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Please leave comments below, and God bless!