Tuesday 4th August 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

July 20, 2014 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 . . .

Democrats Defeat Senate Effort to De-Fund Planned Parenthood After It Sells Aborted Babies

Senate Democrats today defeated an effort to revoke taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business by filibustering the bill and preventing a vote on it. Republicans were unable to secure the 60 voted needed to invoke cloture and stop…Continue Reading

With Apologies to Donald Trump for the Crazy ‘Nativist’ Rant of Cardinal Dolan

This week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan took to the New York Daily News to write an incoherent and defamatory political hit piece against Donald Trump. As a Catholic priest, I can only say it is embarrassing to have a Cardinal so blatantly and unfairly trying…Continue Reading

Promote the common good and give workers a raise, Catholic leaders tell Congress

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2015 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic leaders are calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage, for the good of low-wage workers and their families. “An economy thrives only when it is centered on the…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Regain the Art of Temperate Drinking, Says Author

July 30, 2015, at 2:40 PM  |  By Justin Petrisek  | Catholic colleges need to be mindful of the moral and spiritual state of their students, said Dr. Michael Foley, associate professor of patristics at Baylor University, in an interview…Continue Reading

Last Catholic priest at US base in Antarctica leaves post

A Catholic priest who served at the U.S.-operated McMurdo Station in Antarctica was told he will have to leave his post due to declining attendance and budget cuts. Father Dan Doyle, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, would spend summers…Continue Reading

Jamestown Excavation Unearths Four Bodies and a Possible Catholic Reliquary

Could a mysterious box unearthed in historic Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America, point to a Catholic connection with the foundation of the United States of America? While Spanish and Portuguese exploration, settlement and conquest of…Continue Reading

Catholic officials, others react to Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly gay leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The top leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have made an uneasy peace with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision July 27 to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks…Continue Reading

The Remnant REALLY? . . . Is This How We Support Fellow Catholics Battling A Cause We Should All Be Behind?

Planned Parenthood Hires PR Firm to Run Damage Control After It’s Exposed Selling Aborted Babies

The Planed Parenthood abortion business is so desperate to put out the public relations fires that have developed in the wake of it being caught numerous times selling the body parts of aborted babies that it has hired a top…Continue Reading

More than Half of Young Catholic Families Are Latino Despite Recent Decline

More than half of young Catholic families (53 percent) identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic compared with 32 percent of all Catholics, according to a recent survey. Could the presence of Hispanic families in the Catholic Church indicate Latino congregational…Continue Reading

New York Catholic churches closing after decades of service

Parishioners in New York are losing their churches as the Catholic Archdiocese carries out an aggressive consolidation plan. The cuts are driven by declining membership, fiscal insolvency of churches, and fewer priests, according to church officials. While there are 2.8…Continue Reading

Kenyan President to Obama: You Will not Impose The ‘Gay Rights’ Agenda In Kenya

We need to speak frankly about these things” says President Kenyatta in response to Obama’s statement that Kenya must share the same values as the United States on sodomite rights issues. Kenyatta, at the press conference this morning in Kenya,…Continue Reading

Newsmax

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 su
bscribe 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 Francis: “Jesus is the bread of life”

pope512

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged the faithful to look beyond material needs and turn to Jesus who is “the bread of life”. The Pope’s words came as he addressed the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus. Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day which tells of the crowd that went looking for Jesus, not because they saw the signs but because they had eaten the loaves of…Continue Reading

‘Shadow council’ speaker pushes Church acceptance of contraception, gay sex

By Andrea Gagliarducci Rome, Italy, Jul 29, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Yes to contraception, homosexual acts, and Communion for the divorced and remarried – all considering the circumstances. No to understanding any acts as intrinsically evil. These are the positions advocated by speakers at the May 25 “shadow council” which gathered prelates and theologians, led by the German bishops, at a Jesuit university in Rome. That day 50 specially chosen representatives of the the…Continue Reading

Canada’s Bishops Urge Faithful to Respond to Government Consultation on Euthanasia

Canada, July 31, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter Canada’s bishops are calling on the faithful to respond to a government consultation on euthanasia. Earlier this month (July 17), the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Peter MacKay, and Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, announced the establishment of an External Panel of experts who will consult with stakeholders and with all Canadians on options for dealing with the Supreme Court of Canada’s lifting of the prohibition…Continue Reading

US Bishops Respond to Planned Parenthood Videos

Washington, D.C., July 30, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Kathleen Naab The Center for Medical Progress released today its fourth video exposing Planned Parenthood’s use of fetal tissue, with the results of its investigation attracting growing national and international attention. On Wednesday, the chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities released a brief statement about the videos. Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, cited Pope Francis’ teaching on abortion and said that the heart of the…Continue Reading

Caring For The Elderly Vs. Assisted Suicide

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. All rights reserved.) + + + On Sunday, July 26, the Church in England and Wales…Continue Reading

Holy See Stresses Pro-Life Creds At UN Amid Questions

By PATRICK B. CRAINE and PETE BAKLINSKI NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) — The Holy See is emphasizing its commitment to promoting life and family at the United Nations after a confusing statement the nunciature made in a negotiation on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in June. In a speech on June 22, Msgr. Joseph Grech, representing…Continue Reading

Hillary Lies Again

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO In a column I wrote in early July, based on research by my colleagues and my own analysis of government documents and eyewitness statements, I argued that in 2011 and 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waged a secret war on the governments of Libya and Syria, with the approval of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . An Excellent Guide To Answering Anti-Catholic Attacks

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Five Anti-Catholic Myths: Slavery, Crusades, Inquisition, Galileo, Holocaust by Gerard M. Verschuuren (Angelico Press: 2015; 181 pages, $16.95 print edition). Available at http://angelicopress.com/. In this book the author sets out to investigate just how it has come about that anti-Catholic myths about particular topics have managed to become so deeply embedded…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Homosexuality And The Church Crisis”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For electronic copies of previous articles on homosexual “marriage,” the special rights agenda and the role of homosexuality in the Church crisis, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Facts are stubborn things,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Marking Humanae Vitae’s 47th Anniversary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Families are under attack on several fronts: whether it is what makes a marriage with one man and one woman, whether it is children who should have a mother and a father or about how life comes into the world. Those who wish to redefine God’s plan continue to apply euphemisms in attempts to change…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . The Divinity Of Christ — A Response To Islam

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 13 In our days, a misguided sense of ecumenism tends to equate the main monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) as different ways to worship the same God. It is like saying that all Protestant denominations are OK as long as you mention the name of Jesus, regardless of the visceral doctrinal contradictions that…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Catholicity

By DON FIER Part 4 “The Church is catholic,” proclaims the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), firmly and without hesitation. “She proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times” (n. 868). Moreover,…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the latest Planned Parenthood scandal involving selling the body parts of aborted babies (see LifeNews.com to view the videos of interviews with Planned Parenthood officials), this is an opportune time to contact not only your legislators about ending taxpayer funding of this conglomerate that kills more than 330,000 babies a year, but also to…Continue Reading

Our Journey Through The Desert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8 Eph. 4:30-5:2 John 6:41-51 In the second reading today St. Paul instructs us to do nothing that will grieve the Holy Spirit. In his brief list of offenses that would grieve the Holy Spirit, St. Paul includes bitterness, fury, anger, reviling, shouting, and all malice.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Martha

By CAROLE BRESLIN A popular pilgrimage among the Catholics of southern France takes visitors to the Grotte de la Sainte-Baume, located in the hills of Provence about 20 miles east of the port of Marseilles. To reach this holy site, the driver must cover miles of winding, ascending roads to the foot of the mountain. Then the pilgrim ascends a…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bridget

By CAROLE BRESLIN One of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s most quoted sayings would fit with this column’s saint, “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” What encouraging words for anyone seeking to do God’s will, knowing that the cross, the setbacks, and the obstacles are all part of working for the Kingdom of…Continue Reading