Wednesday 27th May 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

November 15, 2013 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 3

The visit I received from two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs, for short) gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that repetitive prayer — especially the rosary — is entirely in line with Sacred Scripture. When they walked into my living room and did not miss the sight of my rosary on the mantelpiece, I knew only too well that they were itching to say something about it. And, as sure as death and taxes, one of them asked me if I was aware that prayer of repetition was “condemned by Jesus in the Bible.”
In this article I’d like to provide more information I trust will be useful to Wanderer readers to use in their efforts of practical apologetics.

The Rabbinical Schools
Of Prayer

In Jesus’ day, there was no single, unified Jewish Magisterium, no ultimate point of reference for solving doctrinal disputes, as in the days of Moses and Joshua. There had been no prophet of God for centuries, either. The Rabbis were the authorities in matters of the Law and Doctrine. Each scholarly Rabbi had his own following, and many times, just like modern-day theologians, they disagreed among themselves. Rabbis were wont to identify their school of thought by a certain prayer, which they taught to their disciples. It was a way to distinguish themselves from other rabbinical schools.
“And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).
It is evident that Jesus’ disciples, being pious Jews, knew very well how to pray. So, in St. Luke’s Gospel, chapter 11, it is suggested that John the Baptist had also taught a particular prayer to his followers. So, the disciple asked Jesus for His own prayer, to become their prayer, which would identify His rabbinical school.
Being known as a Rabbi himself, a preacher, and having His own school of disciples, just as John the Baptist did, Jesus followed a good tradition among the Jews for Rabbis to teach a prayer to their disciples, so as to identify them from the others. Unfortunately, the Gospel did not record the prayer that John taught his disciples to pray.
Jesus said to the disciple, “When you pray, say, Father, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come,” etc. Thus, the Our Father became Jesus’ prayer, the prayer He wants us to use to identify us as His disciples. Here we see, once again, Jesus giving us a prayer to repeat — He taught the Our Father twice to the people, once at the Sermon of the Mount, the other time to meet the request of a disciple.
Conclusion: Anyone who does not wish to repeat the prayer of Jesus can hardly be identified as His disciple, to put it very mildly.

How Often Must
We Pray Jesus’ Prayer?

Of course, there is no specified number of times we must pray Jesus’ prayer. It is enough for us to know that Jesus wants us to pray it with persistence. Yes, persistence is the word. In the same chapter 11 of St. Luke’s Gospel, right after teaching the disciples His prayer to repeat, Jesus told a parable, the one of the persistent neighbor, who had received a visitor at night and had no bread to give him. So he went next door and knocked and knocked and knocked until the neighbor was so fed up with the knocking that he opened the door to give him bread, just to get rid of him.
Here’s how Jesus concludes it: “I say to you, he will not get up and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him all he needs. And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
There you have Jesus Himself telling us to persist in prayer, and of course you cannot do your persisting without repeating your request a good number of times.

The Penitential Psalms

The Penitential Psalms have been used by faithful Jews for 1,000 years before Jesus, when they wished to repent of their sins and go back to God’s friendship. Since the dawn of Christianity, faithful Christians have done the same. The Penitential Psalms are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and their regular repetition is most salutary to us, sinners, because that’s a very specific way the Holy Spirit wants us to pray. They are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. Anyone who says that to repeat the Penitential Psalms — or any psalm for that matter — is a prayer of “vain repetitions” risks blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 119

Sometimes I wonder if the Holy Spirit, when He inspired Psalm 119, was not thinking of the future JWs or the separated brethren in Baptism who condemn repetitive prayer. Psalm 119 is the most repetitive prayer in the whole of Scripture! It is the best illustration of how repetitive prayer is pleasing to God. It is by far the longest psalm in the Bible: 176 verses in total, divided into 22 groups of eight verses, and each verse in each group begins with one letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So the first group of eight verses begins with Aleph, the second group with Beth, the third with Gimel, and so to the last one, Thau.
Virtually each verse repeats the same basic idea of praising the love and observance of God’s Law, under a variety of denominations, all signifying the same thing.
It is repetitions galore! I ask you: Was the Holy Spirit encouraging a pagan mode of prayer when He inspired David to compose such a long ode to the Love of God’s Law? Who would say such a piece of nonsense?

Psalm 136, David’s Litany

Every decent Catholic knows a litany or two, especially Our Lady’s Litany. The one I find most touching to the heart is the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus. But the first person to compose a litany of repetitions was not a Catholic saint or Pope: It was a Jew: David, King, Prophet, and Priest, a man according to God’s own heart. Psalm 136 was inspired by the Holy Spirit about 3,000 years ago, and has been used by both Orthodox Jews and faithful Catholics ever since. In it, every other verse says, “For his mercy endures for ever” — repeated 26 times!
There you have the Holy Spirit — again! — inspiring repetitive prayer. Just like those Roman Catholic seraphim in Heaven who unceasingly repeat the “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
Let The Wanderer reader open his Bible (Catholics are supposed to pray with the Bible too, of course) and make good use of these magnificent Holy Spirit-inspired prayers of repetition to praise God’s perfect Law and Mercy, and to rejoice in them.

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; an EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI]; president of the Sacred Heart Institute, and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is www.raymonddesouza.com.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Ireland has voted to legalize gay marriage, both sides say

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish voters have resoundingly backed amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday after the world’s first national vote on the issue. As the official ballot counting continued,…Continue Reading

Vatican’s eco guru champions Occupy Wall Street thugs

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Jeffrey Sachs wears many hats. He is known as the architect of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and the proponent of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His new book, entitled, (what else) The…Continue Reading

Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA…Continue Reading

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay…Continue Reading

The Reception of Holy Communion in the United States

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis has decided to mark the occasion with the “Year of Mercy.” Despite much happy-talk and positive papal press, it is a time of foreboding in…Continue Reading

‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand. The…Continue Reading

Africa’s experience of family life must be heard at synod, Pope tells Togo’s bishops

Pope Francis received Togo’s bishops in audience on May 11 as part of their quinquennial ad limina visit to Rome. The West African nation of 6.8 million is 20% Muslim, 15% Protestant, and 14% Catholic, with approximately half of the…Continue Reading

The eco-encyclical won’t commit the Church to unsettled science

By the time the environment encyclical of Pope Francis is released, it will be anti-climactic. Not anti-climate change to be sure, as the Holy See is certainly enthusiastic about the issue. Actually, it is against climate change, but enthusiastic about…Continue Reading

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”

The Pew Research Center just released its latest study on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” The subtitle tells the story: “Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.” For our purposes, I want to focus…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal sees no change in family teachings at synod

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A senior Vatican cardinal predicted Saturday that there will be no change in the Catholic Church‘s practice and teaching about marriage, divorce and the reception of Communion at an upcoming meeting of bishops on family issues. Cardinal…Continue Reading

Synod Leader: Don’t Expect Changes in Catholic Church Policy

Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, who is playing a key role in the Catholic Church’s upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, said there will be no changes in church policy coming as a result of the summit. There has been…Continue Reading

Germany’s bishops vote to allow Church employees to publicly defy Catholic teaching

WURZBURG, Germany, May 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — On April 27 in Würzburg, the German bishops approved with more than a two-thirds majority a reform of the Catholic Church’s Labor Law in Germany, allowing some Church employees to publicly defy Church…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope speaks with open heart to Argentinean newspaper

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that being with people does him good. In a long and very personal interview with Juan Beretta, a reporter from the Argentinean newspaper “La Voz Del Pueblo”, the Pope speaks of his feelings of when he was elected Pope, of how he misses walking the streets, using public transport and sitting down for a pizza, of how he feels moved and sad when he meets sick children, prison inmates and…Continue Reading

Pope: worldly Christians can’t have both heaven and earth

pope787

(Vatican Radio)  It’s sad to see a Christian who wants to “follow Jesus and the things of this world.” That’s what Pope Francis said at Tuesday morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, stressing that a Christian is called to make a radical choice in life:  you can’t be “half” Christian or have both “heaven and earth.” In his homily Pope Francis reflects on Peter’s query to Jesus:  what would he and the disciples get…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: the gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth

pope786

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis against the backdrop of St Peter’s Basilica and dressed in scarlet vestments, celebrated Mass on Pentecost Sunday. In his homily, the Holy Father began by focusing on Sunday’s readings saying that, “the word of God, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit. Expanding on this theme of the Spirit, Pope Francis said that, in the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Labour must be free, creative, participatory, and mutually-supportive

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis spoke to the Italian Christian Workers Associations (ACLI) on Saturday in the Vatican on occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Association. In his speech to the Italian Christian Workers Associations – also known as the ACLI – Pope Francis exhorted those present to support a culture of dignified labour. He denounced the ‘god of money’ at the heart of our global economic system, promoting a culture of…Continue Reading

It Is A Christian Country: At Least It Used To Be

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I realize that there are intelligent commentators on the right who are convinced that homosexual activists are pushing for the day when Christian churches will be compelled by law to perform same-sex marriages. I may be wrong, but I do not think that we will see that dictate anytime soon. It…Continue Reading

Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth

By DONALD DeMARCO Commutative justice demands that we repay what we owe. If I owe my brother $10, I should pay him $10. Justice in this sense is a proportion between the debt and the repayment. It is morally and often legally binding. There is a similar proportion on a higher level though it does…Continue Reading

Intense Conflicts . . . Is The Catholic Church In Germany In Danger Of Apostasy?

By MAIKE HICKSON For several weeks now, the German Catholics — bishops and laymen alike — have been in debate and disagreement over Catholic moral teaching and its continuing validity for Catholics today. After the German Bishops’ Conference came out on April 16 with its report to be sent to Rome for the upcoming October…Continue Reading

The Obama-Boehner-McConnell “Fast Track” To A Poorer America

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + President Barack Obama is negotiating a multilateral trade agreement with the governments of 11 nations. These include Malaysia and Vietnam — as well as Japan, Brunei, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand,…Continue Reading

What If We Didn’t Have A Constitution?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if we didn’t have a Constitution? What if the government were elected by custom and tradition, but not by law? What if election procedures and official titles and government responsibilities merely followed those that preceded them, and not because any of this was compelled by law, but because that’s what…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Archbishop Martin In Lourdes . . . In Defending Marriage, We Are Not Trying To Hurt Or Offend

LOURDES (ZENIT) — Here is a homily given May 13, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, by Archbishop Eamon Martin at Mass in Lourdes on his first pilgrimage to the Marian shrine as archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. + + + At Mass in Lourdes, Archbishop Martin remembered and acknowledged the faithful in Ireland, and around the world, who…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Networks, Addiction To Images, And Custody Of The Eyes

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A follower on my Facebook page recently messaged me about a sordid situation arising from an association based on a Facebook “friendship.” She “friended” a man who then used her account to gain access to her daughter. What started out as a hope to meet someone who may become a real friend ended in inappropriate…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Order Of The Universe Proves God’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 3 Let us put our thinking cap on, and reason: Whenever you see something whose parts are arranged in order, following a specific logical pattern, you know that someone did it. Furniture in a living room, chess pieces on a board, books in a library. Orderly arrangement cannot be explained except as being due to…Continue Reading

The Church — Body Of Christ

By DON FIER As we considered “People of God” as an image of the Church last week, an important and underlying principle inherent to its biblical symbolism emerged: God wills to make us holy and save us not as separated, isolated individuals, but as a people. He wills to sanctify and redeem mankind “by making them into one people gathered…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in the Sunday bulletin of the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George W. Rutler talked of the “web of contradiction [that] becomes more entangled in our day when politics are complicated by moral inconsistencies.” He cited three examples: “First, the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana occasioned celebrations, as the birth of any…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . St. Ephrem

By CAROLE BRESLIN For centuries — no, for millennia — the Mideast has been the center of tragedy and unrest. Particularly significant in this historical conflict sits the city of Nisibis, now named Nusaybin. Nusaybin is an ancient city which sits on the border between Syria and Turkey. In ancient times this fertile land, located between the Tigris and Euphrates…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past century. In 1900, shortly after the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and companions, there were two million Catholics in Africa. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa in 2009, the Catholic population was 158 million. Once again the Church has witnessed that the blood of martyrs is…Continue Reading