The Rosary

Published September 4, 2020, 12:23 PM

by Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ


Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

This is the prayer to which the Popes and everyone else attribute the victory at Lepanto. It is a wonderful prayer. Pope Benedict 16th said it was a prayer he loved. It consists of praying one hundred and fifty Hail Mary’s. It was a substitute for those who could not read the Breviary’s 150 Psalms. But this has turned into a sword as Fr. Don Callaway likes to call. It defends us from the wiles of the devil. It is also hypnotic. When I was working as a chaplain in a hospital I found that for those who could not sleep, praying the Rosary normally put them into dream land in a couple of decades. For those who were not used to the Rosary it has little effect.

In its mysteries we have the whole narrative of Christianity narrated.  While we are saying the Hail Mary’s, we meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ. It starts at the Annunciation of the Angel to Mary who was the chosen one by God to be the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God. It ends with the celebration of Mary as Queen of Heaven. It goes through the hidden life of Jesus to His apostolate of preaching and performing miracles as proof of His divinity, through the Passion and Resurrection. So we have both the vocal prayer and the meditation on the life of Christ.

The Rosary has been the instrument of preservation of the faith. This is especially true in the Philippines, as we have the practice of praying at sundown every day. We have thousands of Filipinos praying the Rosary and the Angelus at sundown. This has been our tradition that regretfully is slowly being neglected. The Rosary involves the whole being of man in prayer: both the body in vocal prayer and the mind in mental meditation. In the Joyous Mysteries we celebrate the Infancy of the Child Jesus. In the Mysteries of Light we celebrate the active preaching and apostolate of the active life of Jesus. It is then followed by the Sorrowful Mysteries starting from the Agony in the garden, His crucifixion and death. Then come the Glorious Mysteries in the Resurrection of Our Lord, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Assumption of Our Lady and the crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

It was only recently that the Holy Father added the Mysteries of Light which are the mysteries of the active life of Jesus. It bridges the mysteries of the infancy and the agony in the garden. It details the teaching and active ministry of Our Lord. In the third Mystery of Light, we announce it as the kingdom but what it really means is that we meditate on the whole of the three years of activity of Jesus in his public life. In it is contained His miracles, three of which are bringing dead people back to life – the son of the widow of Naim, the young girl (Talitha cumi), and Lazarus.

The easiest mysteries to meditate on are the fourth and fifth Sorrowful Mysteries because we have the Way of the Cross and the Seven Last Words of Jesus. In the Way of the Cross we recall His falling three times under the weight of the cross that forced the Roman soldiers to recruit a bystander to help Jesus carry the cross. In this mystery we recall His falling three times and meeting His mother and Veronica and the women of Jerusalem. In the fifth mystery we recall His last words. The first being: “Father, forgive them for they know now what they are doing.” Then came His endorsing to John His mother and His promise to the thief on His right that he would be with Him in paradise. And finally His last words giving up the spirit: “It is finished.”<[email protected]>