As Catholic faithful, we are reminded of praying the holy rosary especially during the month of October. And to those who have questions, we gathered a list of questions and answers about the Rosary.
Q: Isn’t saying the Hail Mary prayer worshiping Mary?
The definition of the verb “to pray” means “to ask,” not “to worship”. People who say the Hail Mary do not worship Mary, any more than Gabriel did when he told Mary – “Hail full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and Elizabeth did when she said “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”, Luke 1:42).
Q: Isn’t repetitious prayer considered to be sinful, according to the Bible?
No. Revelation 4:8 makes that very clear. Vain prayer to false pagan gods, and not praying from the heart, is what is forbidden in Matthew 6:7. Telling Mary you love her and asking for her help and intercession is what is commanded by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1 as being good and acceptable in the sight of God. It is no different than professing love for your spouse over and over again. And speaking of the fallacy of God hearing you through many words, has anyone ever listened to prayers before meals, for healing, and for other things? Sometimes they go on and on and on and on…
Q: Isn’t Mary dead? How can she possibly hear our prayers?
No, all souls ever created are alive somewhere. Only atheists believe that dead people are no longer alive. Dead in the body is not dead in the soul. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:32 that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the LIVING.” In Luke 20:36, the Bible says that saints in heaven are EQUAL to the angels, and we all know angels can hear and intercede for us and are God’s messengers as well. In Revelation 12, St. John says that he sees Mary in Heaven. In Revelation 12:17, St. John says that we are Mary’s children (spiritually, like he was, in John 19:27), if we obey the Commandments and bear testimony to Jesus. According to 2 Peter 1:4, people in heaven become partakers in the divine nature, and that would include hearing prayers. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says that those who are united to Christ become one spirit with Him, and NO ONE was more united to Christ than Mary, who was His living Holy Tabernacle for 9 months here on earth, and who Gabriel said IS “FULL OF GRACE” and “THE LORD IS WITH YOU!” This is why Mary was chosen by Jesus to be his entry point onto the earth; in other words, Mary was not full of grace because she bore Jesus for 9 months. Rather, she bore Jesus for 9 months because she was already full of grace, and therefore there is no room for sin in her body or soul!
Q: Why should I pray to Mary when I can go straight to Jesus in my prayers?
You can go straight to Jesus in prayer, and you should. God bless you for doing that. But James also says in James 5: 16 that the “prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects”. No one on earth can be as righteous as anyone in heaven, and the Blessed Virgin Mary is certainly in heaven. Also keep in mind that our prayers are presented to God by the saints and angels in the form of incense (Revelation 5:8 and 8:3). And saints can pray for us day and night, even when we are asleep and can’t pray for ourselves. The devil never sleeps, and neither do the saints in heaven.
Q: Isn’t Jesus, not Mary, the one Mediator between God and man?
Yes, and that mediation of salvation was accomplished on the cross, and is ongoing today. Jesus is our Mediator between God the Father and Man. Paul says that Jesus is the one mediator of the New Covenant, not prayer (Hebrews 9:14-15). Mary leads us to Jesus, who will then lead us to God Our Father. Mary’s role in intercessory prayer is no different than when one intercedes in prayer for their loved ones. In other words, saints in heaven share in Christ’s mediation, just like your kids share your life with you.
Q: Is it appropriate for a Catholic to be praying the Rosary during the celebration of the Holy Mass?
No, it is not appropriate to implement any kind of devotion during the celebration of the Holy Mass.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest act of adoration, of thanksgiving, of petition, of worship and of reparation in the Catholic Church. It is the center of the Christian experience and identity. At no time during the celebration of the Holy Mass should a Catholic turn his attention away to other devotions. His obligation requires him to participate in the liturgy of the Holy Mass with the other members of the parish community.
Catholics are encouraged to implement their devotions outside the Holy Mass, either before or after.
Photo credit: www.fullycatholic.com
Q: If the goal of the Christian life is to grow closer to Jesus, why so much focus on His Mother? Does the Rosary really help us grow closer to Jesus?
In Brazil this summer, Pope Francis said, “When the Church looks for Jesus she always knocks at His Mother’s door.” We are called to do the same. No one knows our Lord Jesus better than His Mother. No one loves Him more than she. St. John Eudes, St. Louis de Montfort and so many others teach us that the Mother and Son are inseparable. Wherever there is Mary, there is Jesus. Wherever there is Jesus, there is Mary. We cannot come close to Mary without her bringing us, always and immediately, to her Son. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, in her simple yet profound way, “No Mary, no Jesus. Know Mary, know Jesus.”
Q: When I pray the rosary, I can’t concentrate on the mysteries when I am saying the Hail Marys, so instead I pause and think of the mystery. If I try to do both at the same time, I find it difficult. I wonder if I am doing it wrong. Any suggestions you have that could help me?
First, it is not unusual to become distracted during prayer. When this happens one may try a number of things—for example, praying for a shorter time but striving to be more focused as you pray. This might mean that instead of the whole rosary you say only one decade but will have fewer distractions while praying it. Then, little by little, lengthen the time. Be sure to set aside a special time and place for prayer so that you will not feel like you should be doing something else.
Second, it is not wrong to have a special time of meditation during the rosary, separate from saying the prayers. In fact, this seems to be envisioned as the normal way of doing it in Pope Paul VI’s 1974 apostolic exhortation on Marian devotion.
In it, he noted the various elements of the rosary and then observed that each of them
has its own particular character which, wisely understood and appreciated, should be reflected in the recitation in order that the rosary may express all its richness and variety. Thus the recitation will be grave and suppliant during the Lord’s Prayer, lyrical and full of praise during the tranquil succession of Hail Marys, contemplative in the recollected meditation on the mysteries, and full of adoration during the doxology. (Marialis Cultus, 50)
This seems to envision meditation on the mysteries as a separate element, alongside the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the doxology (the “Glory Be”). He characterizes the attitude displayed in the Hail Marys as being “lyrical and full of praise” but the attitude as “contemplative” in the meditation on the mysteries.
It should be noted that Paul VI was not trying to establish one and only one way of saying the rosary, but it seems that what you are doing is in line with what he envisioned.