Thursday 2nd July 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 . . .

Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld ObamaCare subsidies nationwide, in the second major court victory for President Obama on his signature health care law. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family’s working document sets the stage for spirited discussion

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- That the discussion at October’s Synod on the Family is going to be a lively one is indicated by the fact that the most controversial paragraphs of the final report…Continue Reading

Abortion Drone Will Fly Dangerous Abortion Pills to Poland to Violate Its Pro-Life Laws

drone

The pro-abortion organization that formerly ran the abortion boat that distributed the dangerous abortion pill in international waters outside pro-life nations that protect unborn children has come up with a new marketing scheme to push abortion in pro-life nations: drones.…Continue Reading

St. Louis’ Catholic Archbishop Carlson discusses same-sex marriage, clergy sex abuse, racism, more

At their annual spring meeting held in St. Louis last week, U.S Catholic bishops discussed several issues currently facing the Catholic Church, including: the clergy sex abuse scandal, what the Church sees as challenges to marriage, and the pope’s upcoming…Continue Reading

Nienstedt resigns; New Jersey bishop named interim head of Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned in the wake of criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for its “role in failing to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm” experienced by victims in priest sex-abuse cases. Nienstedt says…Continue Reading

Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2015 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The global Catholic population is growing – so quickly, in fact, that priest and parish numbers cannot keep up, says a new study on trends in the worldwide Church. And…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper hints at new ‘Vatican II’ strategy to gain approval of Communion proposal

June 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In the face of increasing opposition to his plan to approve giving Holy Communion to people who are in adulterous remarriages, Cardinal Walter Kasper is hinting at a new “Vatican II” strategy for accomplishing his…Continue Reading

No Law Can Be Based on Injustice

In 2010, the United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was designed by President Obama and Congressional leaders to expand access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States. After the law…Continue Reading

Cardinal: Divorced and remarried Catholics need support for conversion, not changes on communion

Catholics who have divorced and remarried need help for the “difficult climb” of conversion and spiritual growth, not a change in Church practice on the reception of Holy Communion, a prominent cardinal said. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli summarized the advice of…Continue Reading

Obama: Without Catholic Nun We Would Not Have Gotten Obamacare Done

(CNSNews.com) – While addressing the Catholic Health Association Conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—would not have been enacted had it not been for Sister Carol Keehan, the president of the Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper Backpedals on Papal Endorsement of Controversial Proposal

Almost single-handedly one cleric has turned the Church’s teaching on Communion, marriage and divorce into an international debate. For decades, German Cardinal Walter Kasper has promoted a proposal to allow divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive holy Communion after a period of…Continue Reading

The Body God Gave Us Doesn’t Lie

The latest tragic twist in the “Bruce Jenner saga” (more on that below) illustrates yet again one of the great errors of our day: the rejection of the truth that our bodies have something to tell us about who we are and…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 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 . . .

‘No Global’ author at Vatican event on climate and poverty reduction

(Vatican Radio) A Catholic climate scientist and a secular Jewish feminist formed an “unlikely alliance” in the Vatican press office on Wednesday to present a two day conference entitled ‘People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course’. The conference, which will take place at the Pontifical Augustinianum University in Rome, includes some 200 political, religious and civil society leaders from all continents who’ll be discussing Pope Francis’ new encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ in light of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Turkson on Laudato si’ and children

pope798

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on Tuesday addressed UNICEF House at the United Nations in New York. He spoke about the new Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si’, and how it relates to children.   The full text of Cardinal Turkson’s remarks are blow   Remarks on Laudato si’ to Child-Focused Agencies UNICEF House, 30 June 2015 Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President, Pontifical Council for…Continue Reading

U.S. decision to legalize same-sex “marriages” godless, sinful – Russian Church

Moscow, June 29, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church has appealed to all Russian advocates of the American model of governance, asking them to think twice about the consequences of the United States’ decision to legalize same-sex “marriages”. “The people who are into ‘democracy the American way’ and trying to reconcile it with traditional values need to think hard after this decision,” the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod…Continue Reading

Fr. Z Blog . . . Congratulations To His Eminence Cardinal Burke . . .

Today is His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke’s 40th anniversary of ordination to the sacred priesthood.  He was, I believe, ordained by Paul VI. That was a good day for the Church. Card. Burke is one of the kindest men alive and a great scholar of Holy Church’s law. I am sure that all of you will stop, right now, and say a prayer for him.

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The ‘Gay’ Case Against Abortion”

By BRIAN CLOWES (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.) + + + “Feminists and political liberals have argued…Continue Reading

Protecting Hatred Preserves Freedom

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The tragedy of a mass murder in Charleston, S.C., obviously motivated by racial hatred, has raised anew the issue of the lawfulness of the state expressing an opinion by flying a Confederate flag at the statehouse, and the constitutionality of the use of the First Amendment to protect hate speech and…Continue Reading

NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times. “In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other heavy weapons for as many as…Continue Reading

The Myth Of Autonomy

By DONALD DeMARCO I Never Sang for My Father, a 1970 film based on Robert Anderson’s play by the same name, features a father who identifies himself as a “self-made man” who struggled hard for everything he achieved. Toward the end of the play, the father, now elderly and incapacitated, offers a desperate declaration of…Continue Reading

More On The Particular Judgment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS As pointed out in a previous article (The Wanderer, July 3, 2014, p. 8B), the “silence regarding this particular dogma from all too many pulpits together with funeral Masses that focus on celebrating the life of the deceased and are replete with eulogies (amounting to instant canonization) have tended to make the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Chosen By God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Amos 7:12-15 Eph. 1:3-14 Mark 6:7-13 In the first reading, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (the place of the original Temple of the Lord), chastises the Prophet Amos for preaching against the goings on in the House of God. The priest tells the prophet to go and make…Continue Reading

National Mass Recalls Anniversary of St. Columbanus… “Why Are You So Frightened, You Men Of Little Faith?”

ARMAGH, Northern Ireland (ZENIT) — A national Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the 14th centenary of St. Columbanus was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh on Sunday, June 21. Opening remarks were given by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, and the homily was given by Fr. Neil Collins. Following are the texts of both, provided by ZENIT News Agency.…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… Refuting Objections To The Spiritual Soul’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 The reader will have noticed the progression of thinking in this new series of articles in The Wanderer: Instead of dealing with various topics rather randomly, the section consists of a series of articles in the format of lessons within a course. So, the first topic was the most basic one, that is,…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Holiness

By DON FIER For the past two weeks, we have been unpacking the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the first of her four marks, that she is one. Our Lord left no room for uncertainty when He said, “There shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16), nor did St. Paul when he proclaimed that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Commenting on the Bruce Jenner fiasco in his usually perceptive way, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City said in a recent bulletin: “Anyone who can remain awake listening to the conversations of sedentary former athletes on ESPN is perhaps unable to think clearly on any subject of significance, but the declaration…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 With the outbreak of civil war in Spain and the attack on the Catholic Church, many priests and religious were martyred. The existing government changed the constitution to legalize persecution of the Church by closing Catholic schools, ceasing reparation payments, and suppressing religious discussion. Among other things, this helped lead to the secularization of society…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 God, in His loving Providence and perfect timing, gives the Church holy men and women to guide the Mystical Body of Christ. During the chaos of the Protestant revolt, he provided St. Ignatius and St. Teresa of Avila. At the beginning of the 20th century, as the lay faithful were being called to participate in…Continue Reading