Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Ave Maria! Part 3


This is a continuation of the posts on the Holy Rosary titled Ave Maria!  The previous posts are as follows:

This post will cover a couple of different ways to pray the Rosary.  I encourage all to visit the websites and documents that I reference at the end of the post for more information on the subject.

How is it Prayed?

While researching how the Rosary is prayed, I discovered that there are many ways based on culture, tradition and reformation.  In an essence, there are standard prayers in the Rosary, but I get this sense that as long as the Rosary is said with the meditative focus on the life of Jesus, there is no right or wrong way to pray it.  Of course, the Church does have a standard way for the Rosary to be prayed, however a person is not condemned for not following this standard or for not being able to meditate on all 20 Mysteries in  one sitting [1].

generally available marian image image created...

I personally have struggled with the Rosary for many reasons.  The top reasons was its devotion to Mary and that I did not understand that the Rosary is a meditative prayer.  I fell into the trap of just reciting the prayers to say that I’ve recited them.  I did not know that there was more than one way to pray the Rosary or that the Rosary can be practiced as just one Mystery at a time instead of five or twenty.  Pope John Paul II reminds us that the Rosary was a body and a soul– the body is the prayers and the soul is the meditations.  Without its soul, the Rosary is just an empty babbling of words.  The meditations are defined by the Mysteries of the Rosary [2].

But what is a Mystery?  The broad definition of a Mystery from the view point of the Church is an idea that we need revelation from God to understand [1].  The Trinity is an example of a Mystery; it is something that is difficult to understand without faith in God.  A Mystery in terms of the Rosary is a segment of Mary and Jesus’ life that is focused on during the recitation of the prayers.  The Mysteries of course were standardized by the Church, and these Mysteries highlight the critical points in Mary and Jesus’ life that the beliefs and foundations of the Church is based on [3].

These Mysteries are as follows [3]:

Joyful Mysteries

  • The Annunciation– The messenger of God visits Mary to ask her to carry the Son of God
  • The Visitation– Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth while both were pregnant
  • The Nativity– The birth of Jesus
  • The Presentation– Mary and Joseph present baby Jesus to the temple
  • The Finding of Jesus in the Temple– Mary and Joseph lose Jesus for three days only to find him teaching and learning in the temple

Luminous Mysteries (Added by Pope John Paul II)

  • The Baptism in the Jordan– The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus when he was baptized
  • The Wedding at Cana– Jesus’ first miracle performed at the urging of his mother
  • Proclamation of the Kingdom–Jesus preached to the people about the coming of the Kingdom
  • Transfiguration of our Lord– Jesus’ face shone with the glory of God
  • The Last Supper– the institution of the Eucharist

Christ on the Cross cropped. Crop of old Mass ...

Sorrowful Mysteries

  • The Agony in the Garden– Jesus prayed while he was being betrayed
  • Scourging at the Pillar– Pilate had Jesus scourged
  • The Crowning of Thorns– The guards mocked Jesus, adorning him with a crown of thorns
  • Carrying of the Cross– Jesus fell three times while carrying the cross
  • The Crucifixion of the Lord– The death of Jesus

Glorious Mysteries

  • The Resurrection– After three days, Jesus rose from the dead
  • The Ascension– After forty days with his apostles, Jesus ascended into heaven
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit– Like tongues of flames, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples
  • The Assumption– The Mother of God was assumed into heaven, body and soul
  • The Coronation– The Mother of God was crowned Queen

There will be a page added with a guide on how to pray the regular Rosary and also the Scriptural Rosary.


[1]  The Rosary. Women for Faith and Family,

[2]  Prayers, The Rosary Army,

[3]  The Holy Rosary, The Vatican Holy See,

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“All For You”

All For You

by Aquinas.  Found in The Rosary Magizine issued in May of 1894.


“All for you!” breathe parted lips;

“All for you!” beam lifted eyes;

“All for you!” beats loving heart,

As a little maiden hies,

Laiden with sweet vines and flowers,

Gathered in May’s dewy hours.


“All for you!” the sweet voice says,

And the fragrant treasure lies

Scattered round our Lady’s feet,

While the love-lit, azure eyes

Upward lift to Mary’s own,

Looking down from May-day throne.

 Sandro Botticelli, Magnificat, 1480-81, temper...

“All for you,”—the flowrets dropped,–

Clasps the little maid her beads;

Breathes Hail Marys all for love,

Quite forgetting childish needs;

But the May Queen knows each one,

And she breathes them to her Son.

 Thomas Aquinas stained glass window.

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Ave Maria! Part 2


As a continuation from my earlier posts titled Ave Maria! which introduced this series on the Holy Rosary and Ave Maria! Part 1 which explained at a high level what the Rosary is, here I present the early history of the Rosary.  I have found the history of the Rosary to be fascinating and encourage all to research it as well.  I include my references at the end of the article.  Please remember I am no expert on the Theology of the Catholic Church and welcome all to question my research.

Where did it come from?

Saint Dominic of Guzman, by Claudio Coello, Mu...

There is no telling when the praying with beads or knotted cords first came about.  Even before the foundation of the not established until 1214 and 1460 [2].  Before that, it was known in a different form and a different name:  the Marian Psalter [1]. Before the Church and Christianity, other religions had been known to use some way to keep track of the number of prayers that was said, whether that was by knotted cords or beads or dropping stones in a bowl [1].  The Rosary as we know it today was not established until 1214 [2].  Before that, it was known in a different form and a different name:  the Marian Psalter [1].

In the middle ages, the laity (ordinary people) would gather while the monks recited the 150 psalms of David in Latin.  Most of the Laity could not read Latin.  In an effort to accommodate them, 150 Our Father prayers were substituted in place of the psalms of David.  Over time the Creed was accepted along with the Hail Mary prayer.  Eventually, a second form of prayer rival to the recitation of 150 Our Father prayers developed.  This was the recitation of 150 Hail Mary prayers called the Marian Psalter [1].

It wasn’t until the Albengensian Heresy in the 13th century when St. Dominic received the Holy Rosary from the Blessed Virgin Mary as ammunition to end the Heresy [1, 2].  The Albengensian Heresy claimed to be Christian while condemning marriage and procreation as evil and that the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were an illusion.  Many people begun to follow these beliefs particularly in France and the spreading of these beliefs threatened Christianity [1].  St. Dominic preached to these people unsuccessfully until at last Mary appeared to him in a vision and told him to use the Marian Psalter in conjunction with his preaching.  St. Dominic divided his preaching on the Incarnation of Jesus, the motherhood of Mary and the sanctity of marriage between the Hail Mary prayers and Our Father prayers which led to the conversion of all those who heard him [1].

St. Dominic’s practice of interspersing the life of Jesus with the Marian Psalter was known as the Psalter of Jesus and Mary [2].   From St. Dominic, the body of the prayer was the recitation of 150 Hail Mary and Our Father prayers, and the soul of the prayer was the meditation on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus [1].  The actual meditations were not set as they are today until the preaching of Alan de la Roche in 1460. Alan de la Roche introduced set meditations for the Psalter and named the practice as the Holy Rosary, giving us the practice we have today.


[1] The Secrets of the Rosary, Part 1 by St. Louis de Montfort,

[2] Theology for the Laity, In Defense of Tradition, by Father Paul A. Duffner, Light & Life Vol 49 No 5, Sept-Oct 1996,


Ave Maria! Rosary Part 1


As promised in the introductory post titled Ave Maria!, here is the first post on what the Rosary is.  Over the next few weeks, I plan to explore the Rosary in more detail.  Please remember that I am not an expert in theology or the Church’s teaching and am on this journey to learn more about Christ.

What is it?

The Rosary is a litany of petitions and prayers to Mary and God that meditate on the life of Christ.  These prayers are said repeatedly in a particular order centered on a Mystery (the truth of the faith that is known to us only from the revelation of God) to allow the person to focus on different aspects of Christ’s life.  The Rosary is often connected to the Catholic Church; however, it is something that anyone with the desire to become closer to God can pray.  Traditionally, people use a set of rosary beads in order to keep track of where the person is in the Rosary.  This also frees one’s mind to focus on Christ rather than counting the number of prayers [1].

The chaplet is often recited on beads as a ros...

The Rosary (pictured to the above) begins on the cross, works its way around a decade at a time, and ends again on the cross [1].  In this way, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ is reflected upon [2].  A full rosary is 150 of Hail Mary’s (a prayer to be discussed in a later post), with fifteen Mysteries or events in Jesus’ life (Pope John Paul added another set of 50 Hail Mary’s and five mysteries in 2002, however these are considered optional) [2].  Often times only five Mysteries are prayed at a time.  (Details on how the Rosary is prayed will be included in a future post.)

The repetition of the Hail Mary and Our Father prayers are intended to be a backdrop for the internal meditations of Christ’s life.  As The Rosary Army describes it, the repetitious prayers are like the background music to a movie, and the events in Christ’s life are the scenes of the movie [3].  In this way, the Rosary becomes a pathway to God and not a vain repetitious prayer that Jesus warns against in Mathew 6:7 [1, 2, 3]. 

Pope John Paul II describes the duty of Christians to contemplate the life of Christ in his Apostolic Letter titled Rosarium Virginis Mariae.  “To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father:  This is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us.  In contemplating Christ’s face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit.” [2]

My next posts will cover more on what the Rosary is, a little on the Catholics’ love for Mary, and the difference between Marian and Christocentric worship.

Everything I post is from my own interpretation of my research.  I invite all to verify my findings through your own research and the resources listed below.


[1]  “Among Women” Podcast, Episode 20, by Pat Gohn.

[2]  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Apostolic Letter by Pope John Paul II, October 16, 2002.

[3]  “The Rosary Army” Podcast, Episode #17 – Pray it, Don’t Say It, by Greg and Jennifer Willits.


Ave Maria!

I am just an itty bitty Catholic.  I went through confirmation three years ago.  And while I had a great eight month class (called Rite for Catholic Initiation for Adults) that gave a high level overview of Christianity and Catholicism, I really had no idea of why I became a Catholic.  It had something to do with the mass and the Eucharist.  I was Protestant and deeply enthralled and in love with Jesus.  Jesus was there, in the mass, in the Eucharist and that’s what I desperately wanted.

But my conversion, the mass and the Eucharist is a totally different matter.  The point is that the reason I didn’t know why I became Catholic is that I did not believe in organized religion (it was corrupt); I did not believe in the papacy (that was just an old man who is hungry for power and control (forgive me, Father, I do not believe this now)); I did not believe in praying to the Saints (that was idolatry worship); I did not believe in the validity of the traditions (Catholics just did what they did because that is what they always have done); and most of all, I did not believe that the Virgin Mary deserved the high honor that Catholics gave her.

I became Catholic anyways, because there was Jesus, my Lord, my Savior, beckoning me to Him, and I will never forget the true joy and peace that enveloped me when I first took communion, every time I take communion.  And that is why I am Catholic.  All of that other stuff, well I’m still learning and Jesus is teaching me, one thing at a time.

All of this just to say– This month is the so-called month of the Rosary, declared by Pope Benedict VXI.  The Rosary, a litany of prayers passed from Mary to the children of Fatima.  And a great starting point for me to learn more about the faith that I follow.  This month I’m going to post on the history, the meaning, a guide and more on the Rosary so that maybe together, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, we can learn God’s intention for the Rosary.


The month of October is called the month of the Rosary. This is a “spiritual intonation,” so to speak, provided by the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is celebrated on October 7. We are thus invited to let ourselves be guided by Mary in this ancient and ever new prayer, which is especially dear to her because it leads directly to Jesus, contemplated in his mysteries of salvation: joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious. In the footsteps of the venerable John Paul II (cf. Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae), I would like to recall that the Rosary is a biblical prayer, completely interwoven with Sacred Scripture. It is a prayer of the heart in which the repetition of the “Hail Mary” orients one’s thought and affection toward Christ, and thus one confidently supplicates his Mother and ours. It is a prayer that aids meditation on the Word of God and is likened to Eucharistic communion on the model of Mary, who carries in her heart all Jesus did and said and his presence itself.

– from Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus message, October 10, 2010



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