Sunday 21st December 2014

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

June 29, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By Raymond de Souza, KM

When I allowed two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW for short) in my house one Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to practice a bit of Catholic Apologetics. This is how it went:
The older man noticed a rosary on the coffee table and said, “Roman Catholic. You are actually a Roman Catholic!” he repeated with a triumphant smile, as though he had discovered my darkest secret. He went on, “Surely you know that that object you’ve got there is used for vain repetitions, which Jesus condemned in the Bible.”
“Is that so?” I asked, “Could you please show me where in the Bible Jesus condemned praying the rosary?”
His Bible was already in his hands. Two or three flicks of well-used pages and he showed me a text, neatly highlighted in red: “But when praying, do not say the same thing over and over again, just as the peoples of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words” (JW’s translation of the Bible).
“Now, sir,” he said condescendingly, “this is the Gospel of Matthew, 6:7. Wasn’t this type of prayer condemned by Jesus in the Gospel when He said that when we pray we should not say the same thing over and over again, or use vain repetitions? Now, in the rosary you say the prayers over and over again, don’t you? Now, that is what is called repetition! How can you pray the rosary and still claim to follow Jesus?” His smile was triumphant.
“Not really,” I replied. “You have taken a passage out of context and used it as a pretext. May I show you?” The poor fellow could hardly say no; after all, he was in my house, sitting on my furniture. The least he could do was listen to me.
“So,” I went on, “the first thing to see here is that the verse you quoted is actually a mistranslation in your Bible. To read, ‘do not say the same thing over and over again,’ is to stretch the meaning. If your Bible had been correctly translated it would read, ‘Speak not much, as the heathens,’ or, ‘Do not multiply words.’ What the Gentiles or heathens of that time did in their prayers was to improvise their speech and babble away, trying to persuade their ‘gods’ to hear them. This is quite different from saying the same prayer over and over again. We must first ask ourselves these questions: Did Jesus condemn all repetitive prayer as ‘vain’? Or did He condemn only those repetitions that were actually vain? Or is every prayer of repetition vain per se?”
Without giving him a chance to change the subject, I opened my Catholic Bible and read: “And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens; for they think that in their speaking much they may be heard. Be not therefore like to them; for your Father knows what is needful for you before you ask. Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father, Who art in Heaven. . . .” (cf. Matt. 6:7-14).
“What did Jesus condemn here?” I asked. “Manifestly not the repetition of a given prayer, but the outpouring of words as the pagans did. And why? He Himself explains, ‘They think that in their speaking much they may be heard’.”
It seemed they really knew nothing about the subject. I did not waste time. “Those poor heathens had made gods for themselves, and became imprisoned by the gods they had concocted. Their gods were like themselves, having all the defects and passions of heathenism, gods of pride, lust and envy, treason and hate. To please this type of ‘god,’ they had to do a lot of talking, hoping that somewhere along the line they might catch their ‘gods’ in a good mood.
“The true God is not like that. He is our heavenly Father, who knows what we need before we ask Him. So Jesus says that we should not multiply words like the heathens, but as He, Jesus, tells us. Then He teaches us how to pray: ‘Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. . . .’
“So,” I concluded, “Jesus right then and there gives us a prayer to repeat! Pray thus. Pray like this.”
My JW guests had never thought about this. I pressed the point home: “Surely Jesus would not contradict Himself by telling us not to repeat prayer and then immediately thereafter give us a prayer to repeat! That would be a contradiction, and in Him there is no contradiction.”
“Yes, but. . . .” said the younger JW, “but the Roman Catholic Church invented the rosary.”
I did not wish to tell him about our Lady appearing to St. Dominic and giving him the rosary, because that would have opened a whole new topic. I simply stated that it was not the rosary as such we were talking about, but the prayer of repetition per se. I’d tackle the rosary itself, the object, later.
“But, Jesus did not say that we should repeat prayer, but just say it,” interjected the quicker one, “Roman Catholics overdo it, which is not good because. . . .”
I interjected: “No, my friend, the context suggests that Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us a prayer to repeat, saying, ‘When you pray, pray thus.’ How often do you pray? That’s the number of times you ought to repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Otherwise, how many times should you say that prayer? Once a day? Once every Sabbath day? Once a month or once a year? Once in your life?”
While they were trying to figure out how many times one should say the prayer to fit in with the requirements of the Watchtower Bible, I went on: “This method can’t work. In the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 11, after teaching His disciples the Our Father, our Lord told them a parable about a man who knocked at his friend’s door late at night, when everybody was in bed, asking for bread.
“And his friend said he could not help him, everybody being asleep and what not. But the first man insisted; he repeated his knocking and his request so many times that his friend decided to give in just to be rid of him. That’s how Jesus summed it all up: ‘I say to you, although he will not get up and give to 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 to you.’ So, my friends, the words ‘do not say the same thing over and over again’ in your Bible are not scriptural at all. They are an inaccuracy, a poor translation at best.”
“But we prefer to speak from the heart, freely, as Jehovah wants us to pray, and we believe this is much better.”
I would not let him off the hook. “Be careful here, for nobody can presume that his improvised prayers are better than those that Jesus Himself commanded.”
“So, are you saying that your rosary is inspired in the Bible?” asked the more silent fellow.

+    +    +

(Next Week — The Biblical Inspiration Of The Rosary.)

+    +    +

(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:

CACG: Faux Catholic Front Group Still An Outsider?

At Catholic World Report Anne Hendershott revisits the notorious democrat front group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and gives us an idea of their set of 2016 tricks. Promising yet again to “move beyond partisan and ideological divisions,”…Continue Reading

The Catholic Weakness

A large proportion of traditional, Mass-going Catholics don’t believe basic Church doctrine. Why not? By Maggie Gallagher   Last week I wrote about one piece of data that jumped out from the Austin Institute’s fascinating new study, Relationships in America:…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke . . . “The Church depends on sound Catholic family life, and it depends on sound Catholic families.”

An Interview with Cardinal Burke  On Vatican II Q. Your Eminence, you grew up before the Second Vatican Council. How do you remember those times? A. I grew up in a very beautiful time in the Church, in which we…Continue Reading

Did Pope Francis really say all dogs go to heaven? UPDATED

That nice man, Pope Francis, says you get to see your pets again in Heaven. But Pope Benedict is a mean old Grinch who wants to remove the animals from your Nativity scene Christmas decorations. Oh, really? Please don’t believe…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to child abuse

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney, and Nick Squires in Rome 8:04PM GMT 12 Dec 2014 Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said, in what is believed to be the first such…Continue Reading

Pope Calls For More ‘Integration’ Of Divorced Catholics, Gays

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them…Continue Reading

‘I’m not worried’ about resistance, Pope Francis says in new interview

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2014 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with the Argentine daily “La Nacion” published Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, giving specific attention to the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia,…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Severs Ties with Agency over Gay Adoption Ruling

The Catholic Church in Northern Ireland is pulling the plug on a long-standing relationship with the Family Care Society, a Catholic adoption agency, after a judge ruled that all adoption services must be willing to place children with same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Reaction to Chicago archbishop’s remarks on pro-abort pols receiving Communion

n a radical departure from the position of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Blase Cupich – said to have been handpicked by Pope Francis for Chicago – has presented giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians as a positive move. Asked Sunday…Continue Reading

Pope Francis dodges reporter’s question on treatment of homosexuality in Synod’s controversial mid-term report

Since the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, reporters around the world have been wondering where Pope Francis stands on the controversial language about homosexuality in the mid-term Synod report.  The opportunity to ask the pope…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich Says Yes to Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

In October of last year veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister wrote of the new path that many believed the Church was embarking upon. Magister observed: “In Italy, but not only there, it was the cardinal and Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini…Continue Reading

Francis calls for a change mentality in the Church, easier homilies and flexible times

Francis addresses participants of the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities: “Go out and facilitate”, don’t be afraid of multicultural contexts or of proclaiming Jesus DOMENICO AGASSO JR ROME Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want…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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope Francis receives John XXIII Community

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received nearly 8 thousand members and associates of the Pope St. John XXIII Community on Saturday. Now recognized as an Association of Lay Faithful, the  Pope John XXIII Community was founded by Fr. Oreste Benzi of the clergy of the Diocese of Rimini in 1968, on the basis of his decade of experience with young people…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: The Church Is Not An Entrepreneur But A Mother

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s reflections on the themes…Continue Reading

General Audience: Jesus Chose To Come To The World As Part Of A family

POPE700

Vatican City, 17 December 2014 (VIS) – The family is the “great gift that the Lord has given to the world ever since the beginning, when he entrusted to Adam and Eve the mission of multiplying and filling the earth; the gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in His Gospel”, said the Holy Father during this Wednesday’s general audience, in…Continue Reading

Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

pope693

(Vatican Radio) There was a festive atmosphere at the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, as Pope Francis celebrated his 78th birthday. As he made his way through the crowds, Pope Francis stopped by a group of seminarians from the Legion of Christ, who offered him a birthday cake, complete with lighted candles. The Holy Father also took the opportunity to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Piacenza To Confessors.. Remember The Priceless Ministry Of Confession At Christmas

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is a letter to confessors from Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, major penitentiary, released Gaudete Sunday, December 14. In the letter, the cardinal emphasized that “the time of Advent, and especially the days of the beautiful novena of Christmas, are characterized by a particularly attentive waiting, not only by men for God…but…Continue Reading

Archbishop Of Karachi . . . Says “The Taliban Will Stop At Nothing Now”

By JOHN PONTIFEX LONDON (ACN News) — Innocent people in Pakistan — young and old alike — are now at increased risk of terrorist attack, according to the leader of the country’s Catholics, who has called on the government to step up security in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of…Continue Reading

Ten Complacent Maxims

By DONALD DeMARCO Mark Strand, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, passed away recently (November 29, 2014). He was a staunch atheist, declaring that he had never met God and had never been to Heaven. He said: “Although there are a lot of people claiming that God is telling them what to do,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Abortifacient Brief: Depo-Provera”

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 chapter 2 of The Facts of Life, “Abortifacients,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Depo-Provera is an injectable contraceptive drug that sometimes has an abortifacient effect. It also possesses…Continue Reading

An Advent Reflection . . . The Very Visible Sin Of Gluttony

By REY FLORES Ever since I can remember, I have always had a problem with the fluctuation of my weight. As a child, my nickname was “Gordo,” which means fat in Spanish. I wasn’t bothered when my own family called me that, but it did bother me when the other school kids would make fun…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Canon Of Scripture

By DON FIER Part 2 We ended last week’s installment by showing that the apostles and early Christians accepted the 46-book Septuagint as the authentic Old Testament right from the Church’s beginning. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, these 46 divinely inspired books constitute “an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture” (CCC, n. 121) and “bear witness to…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Questions And Answers About Christmas Q. Do we know the exact year in which Jesus was born? A. No, we do not. In the sixth century, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus drew up a calendar that fixed the birth of Christ in the Roman year 753, but scholars today agree that Dionysius miscalculated by a few years. So it is…Continue Reading

The Law Of The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Holy Family (YR B) Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 Col. 3:12-21 Luke 2: 22-40 Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In a particular way this refers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. However, it also refers to all families that are striving to live according to the ways of holiness and truth.…Continue Reading

Pope’s Message For World Day of Peace . . . “No Longer Slaves, But Brothers”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the text of Pope Francis’ message for the 48th World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, 2015. For a text with footnotes, go to www.zenit.org. + + + At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . True Joy Awards Intense Preparation For Christmas

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK With the arrival of these days of late Advent, we have already journeyed through the Solemnity of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and Gaudete, or joy, Sunday. We have taken the opportunity to deepen our love and devotion for our heavenly Mother in celebrating the singular prevenient grace of God that equipped her unique preparation for…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Urban V

By CAROLE BRESLIN The year 1309 marked the beginning of the Avignon papacy, under Pope Clement V, who was French. The Popes of Avignon built a papal palace, increasing it in size over the next 70 years. The first crack in the control of the papacy by the French began when Pope Urban V left Avignon to reside in Rome…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Sabbas

By CAROLE BRESLIN Silence. Quiet. The search for peace, serenity, and calm has led many in today’s world to take up Yoga, Eastern mysticism, or life in remote areas to escape the noise of our modern world. This is not a modern quest. The quest for quiet has been with man for millennia. Although St. Anthony the Great (died 356)…Continue Reading

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