Many Texts...One Treasure
Its beginnings are buried in history. It is surrounded by a multitude of stories, not all of which have been verified. It has been adapted and readapted by different nations and centuries. The Rosary’s objective is simple: to bring us closer to both Jesus and Mary. It has come under attack both from within and outside the Church, it has undergone additions and deletions. Yet today, some ten centuries after its earliest known use, it is still the most commonly said private devotion of the Catholic Church.
It is a treasure, a powerful prayer and one that I pray daily. As a long time member of the Marian Movement of Priests, it is a central part of our worship and devotion to the Blessed Mother. I have seen the power of the Rosary bring families back together and breaches mended. While the earliest use of the Rosary remains buried in the pages of yet-to-be-uncovered history, some historians believe it began with Irish monks who, as part of their prayer life, recited the 150 Psalms of David.
The angelic salutation, “Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord be with you” (Luke 1:28) became popular among Christians in Europe. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen helped us to understand this meaningful devotional practice when he reminded us that the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries are what he termed “the brief description of earthly life contained in the Creed: birth, struggle and victory.”
For the common man in the early days, known as the common mans hours, this private devotion answered both the need for a meditative exercise to supplement the Mass and it could be practiced in private and a prayer to say during the Mass by those who were unable to follow the Latin text of the celebration.
For more than ten centuries of Christian history the Rosary has formed an important part of private devotional practice. It has continued to nurture those who make it an important part of their spiritual lives.
It should be the hope of Christians everywhere who desire greater unity in the Church that we encourage the return of the Rosary to devotional life, recognizing that through Mary, we can come to Christ.
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