Sunday 25th January 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

November 22, 2013 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND de SOUZA, KM

Part 4

The Pharisee and the publican — improvised prayer and repetitive prayer:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess’ ” (Luke 18:10-14).
Let us notice that the Pharisee was wont to do what Jesus exhorted people to do in the Sermon of the Mount: Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Those were undoubtedly very good deeds, but the Pharisee performed them in a spirit of pride and self-exaltation, and expressed his personal glory in a detailed, improvised prayer of thanksgiving.
“But the publican, standing afar off [if he were Catholic, he would kneel], would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’”
The first man babbled words, telling the Lord in detail what was going on in his reputedly Godly life, whereas the second used a simple, short prayer of repetition. Which one was pleasing to God?
Jesus said: “I tell you, this man [the publican] went back to his home justified rather than the other [the Pharisee]; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
Amen! The exalted, improvised wordy prayer is the prayer of the proud. The simple, repetitive prayer — like the rosary — is the prayer of the humble. We may, of course, add other prayers as the Holy Spirit inspires us, including reading biblical prayers, meditating on the words of Jesus, etc., etc.
The striking of the breast is done by Catholics immediately before receiving the Holy Eucharist: “Lord I am not worthy to receive you. . . .” And in the short prayer of the Hail Mary, after repeating the Holy Spirit-inspired words of the Archangel Gabriel and of St. Elizabeth in the praise of Mary (Luke 1), Catholics repeat, like the publican, “Pray for us, sinners…”
And of course both Catholics and Protestants repeat “Amen” all the time. . . .
By the way, some people say that when the Pharisee trimmed his beard in the morning in front of the mirror, he might sing a famous church song, such as How Great Thou Art. . . .

+    +    +

As the two JW visitors left my home on that Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t help thinking about those separated brethren divided into thousands of denominations who oppose the rosary and yet endlessly multiply words in their prayers, chatting away with the Father as if He needed to know each and every detailed aspect of the issue, in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding. Those are the kind of Christians who insist in serving God as His . . . advisers. They babble along, multiply words endlessly, speak a lot in prayer, and, at times, improvise sentences in a way that it becomes an exercise of oratory at best or just meaningless verbosity.
In so doing, they incur in the precise condemnation they accuse us of, that is, to babbling like pagans, using a lot of meaningless words, multiplying words, speaking much.
Jesus did not condemn the repetition of prayers, such as the Our Father, which He Himself taught us, the Hail Mary, whose first part was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the second by Jesus’ own Holy Church, and the Glory Be, a prayer similar to that of the Roman Catholic seraphim in Heaven, who unceasingly glorify God, day and night.
Summing up:
1) The JWs Bible and most non-Catholic versions of the Bible contain a text mistranslated and out of context, which they turned into a pretext against the rosary (Matt. 6:7). Otherwise, Jesus would be giving a contradictory teaching, condemning something in one verse and commanding the same thing in the next.
2) The words of Jesus in the Our Father and of the Angel and St. Elizabeth to Mary cannot possibly be classified as “vain repetitions.”
3) The prayer of the rabbinical schools was repetitive: Just as John the Baptist taught his disciples a prayer to identify their prophetic school, Jesus taught His disciples His prayer, the Our Father, which identified His rabbinical schools apart from the others (Luke 11).
4) In the parable of the persistent friend who knocked at his neighbor’s door for bread (Luke 11), Jesus exhorted us all to pray with persistence — and persistence cannot happen without repeating the prayer over and over again.
5) Bible prayers, such as the Penitential Psalms, are perfect prayer for sinners, highly repetitive, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Especially the long Psalm 119 with its 176 verses, virtually repeating the same ideas over and over again. They have been used by faithful Jews since 1,000 years before Jesus. Since the dawn of Christianity, faithful Christians have done the same. In Psalm 136, David composed his own Catholic litany of repetitions.
6) In Gethsemane, Jesus repeated the same prayer to the Father, saying the same words over and over again (Matt. 26:38, 42, 44).
7) In Heaven, the countless seraphim endlessly repeat the same “holy, holy, holy” to God — they must all be good churchgoing Roman Catholics, of course.

Examination Of Conscience

Having said all that, a last word for us Catholics about lip service: How many of us outwardly appear to do like the angels in Heaven who indulge in repetitive prayer, while at the same time inwardly pray the rosary mechanically, with our lips only, while the thoughts of our minds and the feelings of our hearts and the images of the imagination wander away everywhere? And if we consent to that wandering, could we be pleasing to God? Would it not be like the Pharisees who indulged in lip service?
If Jesus condemned the mere babbling of the lips, the meaningless wordy outpouring of verbs, adverbs, pronouns, and prepositions, while the mind takes a vacation, He also condemned the prayer of lip service:
“You, hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’ ” (Matt. 15:8).
So, in our repetitive prayer, in our prayer of the humble, in our rosaries and litanies and the like, if our imagination tends to wander away from our prayer, let us always bring it back. If it wanders away one hundred times, let us bring it back one hundred and one times. Our Lord sees the good intention of our hearts, not our human miseries.
May Our Blessed Mother, who herself composed a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God, which Christians have repeated for nearly 2,000 years — the Magnificat — pray for us, so that we may always endeavor to say our prayers with modesty, attention, and devotion, as St. Louis de Montfort teaches in True Devotion to Mary.

+    +    +

(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:

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Federal judge strikes down South Dakota’s gay marriage ban

SIOUX FALLS – A federal judge has declared South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but has stayed the decision pending appeal. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed…Continue Reading

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke on the Catholic “Man-crisis” and what to do about it

Recently, I had the great honor to have an audience with His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke to discuss the state of Catholic men in the United States. Here is the full transcript: Matthew James Christoff of the New Emangelization Project:…Continue Reading

Catholic laypeople must have maturity to speak up about bad things happening at highest levels in Church

This morning (Dec. 28), I spoke during Mass in the parish church of St Theresa of the Child Jesus, in north west London, about the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome last October. Interestingly, my talk was very well…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 Angelus: Jesus Wanted United Christians

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday and before the Angelus, the Pope recalled the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and its theme, “Give me a drink”, the sentence uttered by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. He told the faithful gathered that the “desire for unity” of the disciples of Jesus is part of our “thirst not only material for water, but…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Religious who pray for Christian unity an “invisible monastery”

(Vatican Radio) The vital role that men and women religious of different Christian Churches play in the ecumenical journey was at the heart of Pope Francis’s meeting on Saturday with participants in a conference on consecrated life and the search for Christian Unity. The three day meeting, which concludes on Sunday, comes in the context of both this Week of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Thursday Mass in Santa Marta

pope713

(Vatican Radio) The most important thing is not the grace of a physical healing, but the fact that Jesus saves us and intercedes for us: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Commenting on the Gospel of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Blesses The Lambs On The Feast Of St. Agnes

lambs

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the Feast of St. Agnes with a centuries-old rite: the blessing of the lambs, from whose wool the Pallium will be made. As per tradition, the small lambs, traditionally less than a year old, were carried to the Casa Santa Marta, where the Pope blessed them in the atrium, in baskets. Come summer these same…Continue Reading

“I Can’t Breathe”… The Plight Of The Preborn

By REY FLORES (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from www.all.org, the website of American Life League. All rights reserved.) + + + This past year has seen race relations decline as a result of a well-orchestrated attempt by a corrupt government that wants to divide us at all costs. And the propaganda peddlers known…Continue Reading

“Flee Immorality,” Church Unity, & Right To Life March

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his January 18 blog…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Christianity’s Gift To The World

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Siedentop, Larry. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2014. Pp. viii + 434. Does it still make sense to still talk about the West in what some call a “post-Christian world”? Larry Siedentop, emeritus fellow of Keble College, Oxford, asks, “Can the West still be…Continue Reading

Author And Monk Thomas Merton Turns 100

By RAY CAVANAUGH The most famous Trappist monk of the 20th century was not originally a Catholic. Thomas Merton, born 100 years ago this January 31, was baptized first in the Church of England. Both of his parents were artists: His father was from New Zealand and his mother was from the U.S. Merton was…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Abortifacient Brief: Abortion Pill Reversals”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of this article with footnotes, contact him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + The scientific name of the abortion pill RU 486 is mifepristone, which is sold under the brand names Mifegyn,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

I Believe — We Believe

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we have been reflectively examining the characteristics of the indescribably wonderful gift of faith that Almighty God has so generously availed mankind. As so adeptly summarized in the Compendium of the CCC, we know that faith is “the supernatural virtue which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I remember a nun telling us back in Catholic school that after God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He promised that He would eventually send them a Messiah. Where is that in the Bible? — M.R., Indiana. A. In chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis. Actually, the promise was made before God expelled our…Continue Reading

Joy And Fulfillment

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Deut. 18:15-20 1 Cor. 7:32-35 Mark 1:21-28 In the first reading today God makes a promise and a command. He promises that He will raise up for the people a Prophet like Moses. At the same time, He requires that the people will listen to that Prophet because…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ranjith’s Address To Pope . . . We Need Your Prayers, As Well As Your Guidance

(Editor’s Note: Here is the text of a speech given the morning of January 14 by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, in gratitude to the Holy Father. He addressed these words at the end of the Mass of Canonization of St. Joseph Vaz that Pope Francis celebrated. He was interrupted by applause several times. See page 1 of this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Stephen, Protomartyr

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the popular Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, a different gift is given for each of the twelve days of Christmas. This celebration of twelve days begins with December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen, and ends with the Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6. The Catholic Church celebrates the Christmas octave, eight days of…Continue Reading