“Prayer by Hand”
The late Cistercian Fr. Basil Pemmington wrote a book on the Rosary Tradition. It is a precious image of vibrant Catholicism. Praying by hand.
The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was celebrated last week. Medieval friars brought the rosary devotion from the earliest days in its present form, minus the five “new” mysteries established by Pope St. John Paul II. It was portable. One could pray it on the road by hand on the beads and by heart from memory. The Dominicans established the first Rosary prayer group in Cologne, Germany in 1455. The devotion spread like wildfire for a lot of reasons. Anyone rich or poor, educated or unlettered could join. In the U.S. context, it has been one of the most popular of Roman Catholic devotions in a primarily Protestant America. The Dominican friars claim it came directly from Our Lady in fifteen decades. The Franciscan claim the same only, seven. (We call it a corona or the “Crown.) ”The Eastern Churches have their own form of “beaded” prayer, as does Islam and Buddhism.
One sees rosaries all over the place these days. One hanging from a rearview mirror in a car is a way of announcing that the owner is a Roman Catholic! It can serve as a familiar comfort along busy and sometimes very dangerous highways. Some of the sick keep a rosary looped around their neck so that he could reach it easily while lying in bed. But many on the streets just wear it as chique fashion statement.
One of the gifts of such a familiar prayer is that one can recite it without thinking about it. You don’t pray it. It prays you. It also enables the user to meditate on events and “mysteries” from the life of Christ and Mary in a familiar pattern. The “Paters” and “Aves” come “by hand” and sometimes even “by heart.” Fr. Pemmington’s book encourages people to use the Gospels and pick five parables, or five healings or five preachings, etc. One does not have to use the “official mysteries.” I crafted my resurrection rosary that I do during the Easter season.
The rosary is a daily part for many extended Catholics. Our friar Gavin Griffith used to invent his own. Each afternoon he prayed it as the framework for remembering all the people for whom he promised to pray – One bead to each face! Praying the Rosary rather than just wearing it or hanging it on the rearview mirror is a great image of the church at prayer.
Hope many will be able to join our diocesan community in the Rosary Sunday Celebration on Sunday afternoon at the Convention Center next week. Our gift to each other is to hold one another in daily prayer. We ask your prayer and generosity these days for the “Together Let us Go Forth -Juntos Sigmaos Adalante” Campaign of our parish and the diocese. Generosity is being asked of us from many fronts these days. Please consider joining us for this new initiative.
A gentle week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM