When I was exploring Orthodoxy (2000-2001) and after I had converted, there was a massive jettisoning of anything Western. Any of my friends or long-time readers of the several incarnations of this blog can confirm this. Bye bye Mr. Francis; bye bye Mass; bye bye Mass Cards, bye bye Advent and Advent Wreaths; bye bye novenas; bye bye almost all western saints (even pre-schism ones); bye bye only-blessed-but-not-Saint Augustine, etc, etc. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! The Rosary was not, however, only just more jetsam. A member of what was then called “The Convert Mailing List” responding to yet another “Flush-The-West” rant, pointed out that “the Little Psalter of Our Lady” was a favourite of St Seraphim of Sarov. So was planted the seed for this series of posts, even all these years later.
The Rosary has therefore been a part of my Orthodox journey, although I’ve not been very faithful in recitation of it. Let me commend the Rosary to you in this series of posts, as a portal to Paradise and a bit of it here on Earth, and as sure guard against temptation: a handrail, if you will allow the image, strung by Our Lady along the Ladder of Divine Ascent to make the assay easier for those of us who are weakest in our Spiritual Strength.
You will, perhaps, be familiar with this form of the beads used for counting the prayers:
A circle of beads is divided into five sets of ten, with single, larger beads interspersed. From the “bottom” of the Rosary hangs a pendant of a cross, a larger bead, and three smaller ones in a single strand. Each section of ten beads is called a decade. The traditional prayer counted on the smaller beads is the Hail Mary, or the Ave from the Latin Ave Maria. The larger beads mark an Our Father. One complete decade, then, is an Our Father and ten Aves. At the end is added a “Glory be to the Father” before continuing on to the next decade. One other prayer is used, the Apostle’s Creed, which is said on the Cross itself. There are some prayers used by tradition at the ending of a recitation: we’ll get to those by the end of this series of posts. In writing about the Rosary we will begin with the Holy Cross and proceed, in a series of posts, through the 15 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, dedicating one post to each Mystery. There is, in Roman Catholic tradition, one other prayer used, called the Fatima Prayer, because it was given by Mary to the visionaries in Fatima. We will discuss this prayer in a later post, along with the five mysteries added to the Rosary by the Sainted Pope John Paul II.
These posts were originally publised in 2015. Fun to see them 5 years later: I think they’ve aged well.
Text of the Prayers Used in the Rosary
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, ‘Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)
Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen<
The Angelic Salutation (Hail Mary)
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
The Minor Doxology (Glory Be)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The Pendant or Introductory Prayers to the Rosary
There are different ways to begin the Rosary. Since the Rosary was begun by Dominicans (and is still the special devotion of the Order), and this is my blog, it seems good to use the Dominican way of beginning. First the Original form of the Hail Mary is still used, without the second half that was added during the Black Death. Then the double opening to the morning office is used. In fact, the Hail Mary in this form was the Invitatory for the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary so this three-fold opening underscores the Rosary as the daily office of the Laity.
(In what follows, if the Rosary is said in a group, the italic text is the response.)
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O Lord open my lips.
And my mouth shall declare thy praise.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
(Not in Lent, add: Alleluia)
At this point I find it helpful, by way of reminder to the aged, to announce to myself, which Mysteries I’m about to pray and to recite them as a list.