Praying the rosary with Scriptures

Over the past weekend, Oct.8 and 9, the Vatican celebrated Mary with prayers, Masses, a concert, a prayer vigil and a procession. The celebrations coincided with the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7.

Juno | Courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons

Juno | Courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons

During the prayer procession on Oct. 9, Pope Francis referred to the rosary, noting that, “Praying the rosary does not remove us from the problems of life. On the contrary, it demands that we immerse ourselves in the history of each day, so as to grasp the signs of Christ’s presence in our midst.” (www.catholicnewsservice.com)

On Oct. 7, I had the privilege of speaking at the Serra Club on green Bay’s east side.  Given the day, I chose the rosary as my topic.

A question from one listener at the end of my talk addressed the “scriptural rosary.”

The “scriptural rosary” may not be as familiar to people as the traditional rosary. The rosary, of course, is always based on Scripture, with each of its mysteries coming from the Gospels and events in the lives of Mary and her son, Jesus; The Nativity, the Agony in the Garden and the Resurrection are just three of the mysteries.  While praying each decade (ten beads of Hail Mary prayers, along with an Our Father and “Glory Be,” one reflects on these instances in the Bible. (Two mysteries: the Assumption and Coronation of the Blessed Virgin do not have direct scriptural texts, but have been doctrines of the church since ancient times.)

However, as anyone who regularly prays the rosary knows, it can be difficult to maintain focus during each decade. As one website notes: “Yet often we find our minds wandering off when praying this special prayer. … Most people find themselves thinking of more mundane matters (like work, sports, relationships and such) rather than heavenly mysteries” (www.ourcatholicprayers.com).

This is why various “scriptural rosaries” developed: to help us focus. In “scriptural rosaries,” each Hail Mary prayer (one rosary bead) in each mystery is accompanied by a scripture verse. For example, one suggested verse for the first bead of the Annunciation Mystery is Isaiah 9:2): “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; …” (“A Scriptural Rosary for the Family,” compiled by Fr. Bernard Mulcahy, O.P. and distributed by the Knights of Columbus http://www.kofc.org/en/resources/cis/cis319.pdf).

This type of rosary will certainly help one focus and may work very well with group prayer of the rosary. However, at other times, the traditional style of the rosary may work better. The rosary, which developed out of the daily praying of the 150 psalms in ancient monasteries, has also become a form of contemplative prayer. Its repetition of Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Glory Bes, serve to place us in a state of quiet and meditation that relaxes us, places us in God’s presence, and helps to pray as Mary did: “pondering all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:19).

About Patricia Kasten

Kasten is the author of “Linking Your Beads, The Rosary’s History, Mysteries and Prayers,” published by Our Sunday Visitor Press.  Her newest book, on sainthood – “Making Sense of Saints. Fascinating Facts about Relics, Patrons, Saint-Making and More“, was published by OSV in Spring 2014.  She is also a puzzle-smith. Her weekly Scripture Search puzzle (see The Compass) and bi-weekly The Cross Word, both based on the Sunday readings, appear in Catholic newspapers and parish bulletins around the country.