Thursday 3rd September 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

November 5, 2013 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:

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 . . .

Good News . . . Brief update on Father John Corapi

A bit of good news to share: A reliable source has informed me that Father John Corapi, a popular priest among orthodox Catholics who departed public life after a tumultuous period a few years ago, remains in the priesthood and…Continue Reading

9th Shocking Video: Planned Parenthood Sells Intact Aborted Babies, One “Just Fell Out” of the Womb

The Center for Medical Progress released a new video this morning — the 9th in its series of videos catching the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling aborted babies and their body parts. This latest video catches a Planned Parenthood medical…Continue Reading

All priests will be able to forgive sin of abortion during Jubilee for Mercy

September 1, 2015 7:33 AM Vatican City, Sep 1, 2015 / 06:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a new set of pastoral guidelines for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy Pope Francis has made some significant moves, allowing all priests to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Francis Arinze: 50 years as a Bishop

Yesterday Saturday 29 August 2015, Francis Cardinal Arinze, 82, marked fifty years as a Bishop. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service to mark to the milestone, Cardinal Arinze was in high spirits. Although now retired and living…Continue Reading

Russians to construct ‘the tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world’

Towering 80 meters monument to ‘Christ the Teacher’ by Zurab Tsereteli to find home in Vladivostok, Christian Telegraph reports according to RISU. The statue was cast in 2013 by Tsereteli, the famous Georgian-Russian sculptor, known for his gigantic projects such…Continue Reading

If You Still Support Planned Parenthood, You Are Simply Not A Decent Person

Another Planned Parenthood video has been released. I promised I would write about every new video that comes out, so here is my write up on the latest. Please read and share. I don’t usually ask you to share things…Continue Reading

“Catholic” Group Sends Cakes to Thank Planned Parenthood Staff After It Sells Aborted Babies

Apparently, Catholics for Choice want their friends at Planned Parenthood to know how appreciated they are since they will be “harassed” tomorrow at the protests across the country regarding their organ harvesting business.  As LifeNews previously reported, tens of thousands…Continue Reading

Facebook’s very (very) suspicious ‘trending’ Planned Parenthood story

Update Aug. 20, ’15 at 7:54 AM EST: I woke up this morning, and lo and behold, the “trending” news topic had changed. It now reads, “7th video critical of organization released by anti-abortion group.” That’s more like it. I…Continue Reading

Questions raised after pro-life activist Twitter accounts suspended without warning: one now restored

ONTARIO, August 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life activist campaigning against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s abortion extremism as well as a pro-life organization on a mission to show the violent reality of abortion through large graphic billboards had their Twitter…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cordileone thankful for San Francisco teacher contract agreement

San Francisco, Calif., Aug 23, 2015 / 06:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Efforts to promote Catholic culture in the San Francisco archdiocese’s high schools and to agree on a contract acceptable for the schools’ teachers concluded on Wednesday with a new…Continue Reading

Catholic Priests’ Forgotten Flock: Catholic Men

The New Emangelization Project has documented that a key driver of the collapse of Catholicism in the U. S. is a serious and growing Catholic “man-crisis”.[1] One third of baptized Catholic men have left the faith and the majority of…Continue Reading

Shortages in Venezuela mean priests are running out of Hosts

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 15, 2015 / 03:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis has hit the Church in a unique way: the production of Hosts fell 60 percent during the past month, affecting three states in the South American…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: The astonishment at the encounter with Jesus

(Vatican Radio) The capacity to recognize ourselves as sinners opens us to the astonishment at the encounter with Jesus: that was the message of Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass for the feast of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church. Pope Francis’ homily focused on the day’s Gospel reading which tells the story of the miraculous catch of fish. After working throughout the night without catching anything, Peter, trusting in Jesus,…Continue Reading

General Audience: love of family combats city desertification

(Vatican Radio) An estimated 15 thousand people were in St Peter’s Square for the Pope’s General audience on Wednesday, as he continued his catechesis on the family, which this week focused on the importance of families in spreading the faith. The Holy Father underlined that by creating the foundations of a solid faith in the home, the fruits are revealed in a more humane society. The Pope said that the alliance of the family with…Continue Reading

Saints Will Welcome Families, Pope to Philadelphia

St. John Neumann Was Bishop of the City and St. Katharine Drexel Was Born Here United States of America, August 31, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter When Pope Francis and thousands of families arrive next month to Philadelphia, they are sure to be welcomed by two saints with ties to the city. Fr. Thomas Rosica, English-language assistant for the Vatican press office, has compiled the following biographies: * * * ST. JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, C.SS.R. (1811-1860)…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Angelus appeals for persecuted Christians, migrants

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a twofold appeal on Sunday: for persecuted Christians and for all persons forced to flee their homes in search of a peaceful and secure existence in foreign lands. Recalling the beatification on Saturday in Harissa, Lebanon, of the martyred Syrian Catholic Bishop Flavyānus Mikhayil Melkī, Eparch of Gazarta – or what is Cizre in modern-day Turkey, who was killed in Gazarta during the sayfo or “putting to the sword” of…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Sabbatine Privilege

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY We recently celebrated, on July 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which, according to tradition, is associated with the giving of the Brown Scapular to St. Simon Stock on that date in 1251. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him with the scapular saying, “This will be for you…Continue Reading

Is Trumpism The New Nationalism?

By PATRICK BUCHANAN Since China devalued its currency 3 percent, global markets have gone into a tailspin. Why should this be? After all, 3 percent devaluation in China could be countered by a U.S. tariff of 3 percent on all goods made in China, and the tariff revenue used to cut U.S. corporate taxes. The…Continue Reading

The Family Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris Presents Many Grave Problems

By MAIKE HICKSON After reading the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the upcoming October 2015 Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, when it was first published in June, the author of this short article was somewhat stunned and increasingly troubled. Yet I was soon helped by others to acquire a better understanding. It is…Continue Reading

Syrian Apocalypse

By JOHN J. METZLER UNITED NATIONS— Syria continues to descend into the inferno while the international community stands transfixed. A political solution seems elusive as ever, the civil war grinds on having killed over 250,000 people, and more than twelve million people have fled their homeland. Alarmed by these developments, the UN Security Council has…Continue Reading

One Catholic Congressman … Prepping For The Pope’s U.S. Visit

By MATT HADRO WASHINTON, D.C. (CNA)— As the nation’s capital works to get ready for Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. this fall, one Catholic congressman is preparing by reading papal encyclicals. “I say as a Catholic, I’m pretty excited,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.) told CNA of the upcoming papal visit. He added that…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Take Up Your Cross

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 50:5-9a James 2:14-18 Mark 8:27-35 Faith is a great gift and, given the times in which we live, it is more necessary than ever that we have our faith. However, in the second reading today St. James says that faith without works is dead. He then gives…Continue Reading

Communiqué Issued at the end of the Pro-Life Conference In Accra, Ghana (August 8-9

Preamble In response to the increasing violation of the sanctity and dignity of human life and the continuing culture of death in Ghana and around the world, and in line with Pope Francis’ call for the need to sustain and support marriage and family life, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the priests, religious and laity of the Catholic Church in…Continue Reading

End Media Blackout On Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Scandal

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The baby parts sale scandal at Planned Parenthood is being aided and abetted by another scandal: the refusal of vast portions of the mainstream media to cover the issue. The release of numerous videos that detail the brutal and criminal killing and dismembering even of babies outside of the womb in order to obtain body…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Man Jesus — Humanity At Its Perfection

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 17 What was Jesus like, as a Man? We know about His divinity, we believe in it, but what was He like in His daily life with people in general? We call this topic investigating the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or, more simply, Jesus the Man. In an obscure province of…Continue Reading

The Episcopal College And The Pope

By DON FIER When Jesus founded the Church, as we saw last week, “He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 874). With the overarching objective to ensure that the ministry He introduced during His time on earth would be carried forward until the end of time, Christ organized her along hierarchical…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Aidan

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Church names many saints as patrons of certain professions, troubles, or countries. St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. As the father of Western monasticism, he is credited with building Western civilization. St. Catherine of Siena is also a patron of Europe since she played important roles in settling both civil and ecclesiastical disputes. St.…Continue Reading