Monday, August 22, 2016

The Rosary and Anglican Patrimony

Legend holds that the Roman, or Dominican, Rosary (the arrangement of beads as they are set up even to today) was given to St. Dominic by Our Lady in an apparition.  Whether this actually happened or not, it doesn't matter really.

Beautiful tale that it is...

Anyways, aren't those sneaky bead-pettlin' Roman Papists of a different breed?  They are not Prayer Book Catholics.  Right?


Afterall, it was the Catholic Church who gave us the Divine Offices to begin with.  Anglicans tend to think that Catholics do not pray the offices and resort to other, more common rituals.  In a lot of cases, Catholics do like more common rituals. Still, choosing to pray the rosary is not a naive neglect of the daily offices.  I myself still maintain a deep love of the Daily Office, but also the Holy Rosary.

It is a little-known fact that the Rosary and the Daily Offices are interconnected.  As the monks of old would recite the entire Psalter, all 150 Psalms, in Latin- that left a predicament for the laypeople who wished to pray along with the Church.  It wasn't common that layfolk could read, so some would memorize prayers that they could recite during their own time of prayer.  Over time, the most popular prayers that were memorized were the Pater Noster (Our Father) and the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayers.  So, there was a development for laypeople to recite 150 Aves to coincide with the monks praying all 150 psalms of the psalter.  Out of that practice, the Holy Rosary was developed as we know it today with the 3 different sets of mysteries (or meditations) attached to it.

Still, it isn't praying the offices themselves.  Today, yes almost everyone can read and read/ pray the offices simply over an online site or a breviary if they have one.  There is something specific about the rosary that attracts many to it, including very many Anglicans.  The Rosary is very specifically tied to devotion to Our Lady.  You cannot seperate the Rosary from Our Lady.  Anglicans have tried to by creating their own version of the beads and prayers.  Still, it is unimpressive even to some in the Anglican Communion.  So when Anglicans learn the history of doctrinal and dogmatic development on Mary in the Catholic Church, they become fascinated with her apparitions and the Rosary devotion to her.  Monsignor Ronald Knox, Fr. William Faber , Bl. John Henry Newman, T.S. Eliot, and more all had a profound devotion to Our Lady, which ultimately led them to praying the Rosary regularly.
Finally, the Rosary has in it a more well-rounded approach to entering the spiritual doorway than the Daily Office.  While the sacred word in the Daily Office is deeply profound, and is of the highest spiritual aspects in Catholicism, not everyone can get a lot of benefit from it.  The Rosary, on the other hand, has within it a broad procedure that allows the engagement of the senses to lead on into a state of meditation.  The tradition of the Rosary is designed to lead the faithful Christian into a reflection on the lives of Christ and Our Lady.  Here is what Bl. John Henry Newman had to say about the Rosary in one of his reflections:

"Now the great power of the Rosary lies in this, that it makes the Creed into a prayer; of course the Creed is in some sense a prayer and a great act of homage to God; but the Rosary gives us the great truths of his life and death to meditate upon, and brings them nearer to our hearts. And so we contemplate all the great mysteries of his life and his birth in the manger; and so too the mysteries of his suffering and his glorified life. But even Christians, with all their knowledge of God, have usually more awe than love of him, and the special virtue of the Rosary lies in the special way in which it looks at these mysteries; for with all our thoughts of him are mingled thoughts of his Mother, and in the relations between Mother and Son we have set before us the Holy Family, the home in which God lived. Now the family is, evenly humanly considered, a sacred thing; how much more the family bound together by supernatural ties, and, above all, that in which God dwelt with his Blessed Mother. This is what I should most wish you to remember in future years." (Sayings of Cardinal Newman, London 1890, pp 44-45.)

Catholics pray the rosary out of love for the tradition of the Daily Office, Our Lady, and Holy Mother Church.  The Rosary is so profound that it has attracted many, including those deeply ingrained in Anglo-Catholic spirituality.  While it has made it's home amongst different types of Catholics, it is ingrained and connected to the Anglican Patrimony as well.

1 comment:

  1. And there are Anglican Prayer Beads on which I regularly pray the Offices!