THE HOLY ROSARY
FIRST SERIES: INTRODUCING THE ROSARY
EPISODE TWO: IS THE ROSARY BIBLICAL? (Part A)
The Holy Rosary is a Reflective vocal prayer and devotion in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is not a prayer directed to Mary, but to her Son, Jesus Christ (the Second Person of the Trinity), through her intercession (Cf. Jn 2:1-5).
It is a prayer that contains a reflection and meditation essentially on the life of Christ, as well as the life of His Mother.
While the word “rosary,” may not be directly implied in the Holy Scriptures, the Prayers of the rosary expresses key aspects of our Christian faith, and they are directly and indirectly based on the Holy Scriptures.
THUS, IT IS INACCURATE TO SAY THAT THE ROSARY IS NOT BIBLICAL!!!
In the Structure of the rosary, we have the introductory prayers, the mysteries and the concluding prayers.
THE INTRODUCTORY PRAYERS
“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” The Introductory prayers begin with the Trinitarian Invocation; that is, the Sign of the Cross (cf. 1 Cor 1:18, 2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13; 4:30), and ends with it as well. The rosary is a prayer directed to God, and definitely the prayers should begin and end with God.
“Come Oh Holy Spirit and fill the heart of the Faithful…” It continues with the invocation to the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) for the renewal and regeneration of our Spiritual and human life (See John 3:5-8).
“I Believe in God, the Father Almighty…” The Apostles Creed expresses the faith and belief of the Apostles, as handed on to them by Christ. It expresses their Trinitarian belief: the belief in God the Father as the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth (cf. Matt 6:26-30, Jn….); in God the Son as the only Begotten of God who became man in order to redeem man (cf. Jn 1:1-5, 14, Phil 2:5-11); and in God the Holy Spirit, as the advocate and sanctifier (Jn 14:16, Jn 3:5-8), and Core aspects of our Christian Faith: belief in the resurrection of the body (Jn 11:23-26), forgiveness of sins (Jn 20:23) and everlasting life (Jn 3:16).
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” The Lord’s prayer was taught by Jesus, himself, to his disciples, and this is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
“Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with thee, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” The Hail Mary prayer can be divided into two parts: The first part contains the salutation of Angel Gabriel and Elizabeth (as recorded in the bible), while the second part expresses Mary’s role as co-redeemer and our plea for her to intercede for us.
THE FIRST PART
- In Luke 1:28, Angel Gabriel announces the Good News of Salvation to Mary and he salutes her and says, “Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ” (rejoice, the Lord has bestowed favour on you). “Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with thee…”
- In Luke 1:42, when Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth felt the Divine presence in Mary, and she exclaimed: “Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν, καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου,” in english “…blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (also see Luke 1:48).
THE SECOND PART
This Part of the Hail Mary has direct and indirect references from the Scriptures; however, the prayer expresses biblical thoughts.
“Holy Mary”: Paul, in his letters to the Ephesians (1:1), Philippians (1:1), and Colossians (1:2), reminds us that as followers of Christ (Christians) we are called to be “holy ones.” If we, as Christians, are called to be “Holy Ones” how much more the woman who bore Christ in her womb? The woman who was highly favoured by God (Lk 1:28)? And the woman who shall be called blessed by all generations (Lk 1:48)?
“Mother of God”: Elizabeth was the first Biblical figure to call Mary the Mother of God: Lk 1:43, “why should I be honoured with a visit from the Mother of my Lord?”
The title of Mary as Mother of God was also re-emphasized and made a dogma in the Council of Ephesus (431AD). The Church believes that by the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, who is fully Divine, became fully Human (cf. Jn 1:1-5, 14, Phil 2:5-11). Therefore, Mary as the Mother of Jesus is both the Mother of Jesus, who is fully human, and Jesus, who is fully Divine (the second person of the Trinity), as both natures continued unaltered and undivided after the union. Thus, Mary is the Mother of God or the bearer of God – Theotokos (cf. Lk 1:43).
“Pray for us sinner, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” Here, we seek Mary’s intercession to relay our prayers to God (cf. Jn 2:1-5). In his first letter to Timothy (2:5), Paul says: “For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humanity, himself a human being, Christ Jesus.” This passage has been quoted by many non-Catholics to counter Mary’s intercessory role. But they rule out verses 1-4 where Paul asks that prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be offered for everyone, and he tells us that to do this is right and acceptable to God our saviour. Thus, if intercession is right and acceptable to God, why can’t the Mother of our Lord intercede for us?