Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church

The Rosary


"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee:"


Praying the Rosary


THE HISTORY OF PRAYING THE ROSARY:

Perhaps the most popular and well-known devotion of the Western Church is the
Marian Rosary. The Rosary as we know it today has its roots in the early middle
ages. Legend has it that St. Dominic was teaching among the Albigenses in the
early 13th century and that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him. She described to
him the Rosary and recommended it as a tool for his mission work. It is because
of this legend that the Dominicans have had a major role in the propagation of the
devotion.

It is more realistic, however, to recognize the gradual development of the devotion.
All the way back in the ninth century, monks were encouraging laymen who could
not read to recite a series of "Our Fathers" in place of the daily office and Breviary
in which they were unable to participate. It became popular to use 150 "Our Fathers"
because of the 150 psalms in the psalter. At about the same time, others were using
additional prayers or antiphons, particularly the Angelic Salutation. All favored three
groupings of 50 to correspond to the psalter.

Eventually, in the twelfth century, the Angelic Salutation was enlarged by the addition
of Elizabeth's greeting, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of
your womb." The name of Jesus appeared in the thirteenth century. By this time, there
were two systems operating, one using the "Our Father" and the other using the "Hail
Mary" as substitutes for the psalms.

At the same time, another form of prayer was developing. Monastics looked through the
psalms and interpreted each in reference to Christ or Mary. At the end of each psalm
a verse would be added explaining the interpretation. Eventually the psalms themselves
dropped out leaving just the explanatory phrases. These were gathered together into
collections called Rosaries."

Around 1365, one Henry of Kalkar grouped 150 "Hail Marys" into groups of 10, adding an
"Our Father" before each one. This marked the beginning of the Rosary as we know it.
Then in 1409, Dominic the Prussian attached the phrases in praise of Mary to the "Hail
Marys" of Henry. What resulted was a distinct meditation or thought for each "Hail Mary!"
Just such a Rosary was popularized by the Dominican Alan of Rupe, who founded the
first Rosary Confraternity.

The problem with such a Rosary, however, was that it was too long to be memorized
and the 150 meditations had to be read. Eventually, therefore, it was simplified, and
only one meditation remained from each ten. This is the system surviving today, with
fifteen "Mysteries" or meditations from the lives of Christ and the Blessed Virgin
attached to the 15 "Our Fathers" which divide the 150 "Hail Marys."


The Devotion as it is practiced in the U.S. and with only incidental; variations all over
the world, is this: It begins with the sign of the Cross and the Creed. Following this
comes on "Our Father" and three "Hail Marys." This is the opening. Among some
religious this is replaced by the versicles from the opening of the hours: "O Lord, open
thou my lips: and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise. Make haste, O Lord, to deliver
me: make haste to help me, O Lord."

The Rosary proper consists of 15 "decades" or groups of ten divided into thre groups of five.
These fifteen decades correspond to the fifteen mysteries, which are also divided into three
groups: the "Joyful," the "Sorrowful," and the "Glorious" mysteries. These mysteries as they
exist today are:

THE PRAYERS OF THE ROSARY IN THE
WESTERN RITE ORTHODOX FAITH:

Rosary in hand

THE MARIAN MYSTERIES

The Joyful Mysteries:

1. The Annunciation; Luke 1:26-38
2. The Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth; Luke 1:39-48
3. The Nativity of Christ; Luke 2:7-12
4. The Presentation of Christ in the Temple; Luke 2:22-30
5. Christ in the Temple at the age of 12. Luke 2:41-52

The Sorrowful Mysteries:

1. Jesus' agony in the Garden; Luke 22:39-45
2. The Scourging of Christ; John 18:38-19:1
3. The Crowning with Thorns; Matthew 27:27-31
4. Jesus' carrying of the Cross; Mark 15:20-22
5. The Crucifixion. John 19:26-30

The Glorious Mysteries:

1. The Resurrection of Christ; Mark 16:9-14
2. The Ascension of Christ; Acts 1:3-9
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit; Acts 1:13; 2:1-4
4. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
5. Mary's glorification as Queen of Heaven. Revelation 12:1-4, 9-10

Each of these mysteries is meditated upon while reciting one "Our Father" and ten "Hail
Marys." It is usual to recite only one "chaplet" or group of five at a time. After five
or all fifteen of the decades are said, the Rosary concludes usually with this hymn to Mary:

"Hail, holy queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope; to thee
do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes
of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy
womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!"

V. Make me worthy to praise thee, holy Virgin
R. Give me strength against thine enemies.

Then finally, the collect from the feast of the Rosary is said to end the devotion:

"O God, whose only begotten Son by his life and death and resurrection has won
for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we who meditate on
these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary, may imitate
what they contain and obtain what they promise: Through the same our Lord Jesus
Christ, your son, who being God, lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen."

Thus as it stands now, the Rosary is a well-difined meditation on the lives of Christ and
His Mother, with a definite progression of themes, and a liturgical beginning and ending.
As such, it might be compared to an Akathist or a Canon as used in the Byzantine east.
Indeed, the Roman Church has seen this similarity, and recommends either the Akathist or
a Paraclesis to the Uniate faithful in place of the Rosary. If we look at the structure
of such eastern devotions, we will see that they too begin and end with some kind of
liturgical framework and that the main body is a series of praises and supplications
with a particular theme of progression of themes. As a peice of literature, the Rosary
cannot compare since there is no precise form of meditation, these being supplied by the
individual. In form and function, however, the Rosary is quite the same as the Akathist
or Paraclesis.

Looking at the Marian Rosary outlined above from an Orthodox perspective, hardly
anything can be found objectionable in the devotion itself. It is a laudable meditation
on the Incarnation and lives of Christ and Mary. All but the last two mysteries are taken
directly from Biblical texts. The last two are taken from the tradition of the Church. One
need only to look at the liturgical texts of the east to substantiate that these also are a
part of the Orthodox Tradition.

PRAYING THE ROSARY

The Rosary

The Rosary is like a prayer rope used by monks and priests of the Eastern Church which has
a beginning but can be without end. It has "five" decades of ten beads that are separated
by a larger bead and is formed in a circle (see the diagram above). Take the Rosary in
your hand and holding the Crucifix with your fingers you can begin to pray the Rosary in
the following manner:

Step 1.

[KISS THE CRUCIFIX and while holding it use it to make the Sign of the Cross, by touching
it to your forehead, heart, left and right shoulders while saying:]

"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen."

[Still holding the Crucifix, continue your opening prayers saying the Apostles Creed:]

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell,
the third day He rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right
hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the
dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the
forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Step 2.

[Holding the second bead say the Our Father:]

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as
we forive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil. Amen."

Step 3.

[Step three consists of three beads or "Hail Marys" and are used for the petitions surrounding
your meditations: i.e., Faith, Hope and Charity, each followed by one "Hail Mary:"]

As we pray The Joyful Mysteries this morning, let us pray for the increase of Faith....

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is
the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the
of our death. Amen."

Step 4.

[At the next single bead following the petitions say the Glory be...]

"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

Step 5.

[At the Medallion which is the beginning and the end of the circle of decades, begin your
meditations on the mysteries as outlined below. Each of the decades will begin and end in
the same manner:]

THE MYSTERY: The First Mystery is that of The Annunciation.

THE INTENTION: Let us pray this for...(naming the specific intention of your prayers)

THE PRAYER: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And
forgive us our trespasses, as we forive those who trespass against us. And lead us not
into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen."

THE SCRIPTURAL READING: (One long all inclusive Scriptural reading followed by 10 "Hail
Marys" or 10 verses about the Annunciation, each followed by a "Hail Mary." i.e., The
First Mystery of the Annunciation as outlined below:]

Scriptural reading: Luke 1:26-38 followed by 10 "Hail Marys."

or as a single verses of Scripture followed by a single "Hail Mary."

1. "The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin / and the virgins name was Mary.
(Luke 1:26-27)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

2. "And coming to her, he said, / 'Hail, favoured one! The Lord is with you.'" (Luke 1:28)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

3. "But she was greatly troubled by what was said / and pondered what sort of greeting
this might be." (Luke 1:29)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

4. "Then the angel said to her, / 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with
God.'" (Luke 1:30)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

5. "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, / and you shall name him Jesus."
(Luke 1:31)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

6. "He shall be great and will be called Son of the Most High, / and the Lord God will
give him the throne of David his father..." (Luke 1:32)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

7. "And he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, / and of his kingdom there shall be
no end." (Luke 1:33)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

8. "But Mary said to the angel, / 'How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"
(Luke 1:34)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

9. "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." (Luke 1:35)

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

10. "Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. / Be it done unto me according
to your word.'" (Luke 1:38

) "Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee...;"

Step 6.

[Each decade is closed or finished with a Glory be...]

"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

Step 7, 8, 9, and 10.

[Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each succeeding decade of the Rosary using the appropriate
Scripture reading for the mystery being meditated upon.]

Step 11.

[Upon completion of the fifth decade the following hymn or prayer to Mary is said:]

"Hail, holy queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope; to thee
do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes
of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy
womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!"

V. Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

[The devotions are ended with the following prayer:]

"O God, whose only begotten Son by his life and death and resurrection has won
for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we who meditate on
these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary, may imitate
what they contain and obtain what they promise: Through the same our Lord Jesus
Christ, your son, who being God, lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen."




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