The historical development of the Rosary dates back towards the end of the twelfth century when the first half of the Hail Mary, as known today, began to assume the spiritual significance of the Our Father and the Creed and was seen as a prayer all Catholics should know. At that time the Rosary began to take shape in the form of Our Lady’s Psalter, one hundred and fifty Hail Marys. To these were added the meditations on mysteries in the lives of Mary and Jesus, from the Annunciation to their Glorification
The word Rosary from the word Rosarium meaning a rose garden. In the first half of the fifteenth century, Dominic of Prussia, a Carthusian monk helped make the devotion more popular by linking fifty Hail Marys with fifty phrases. A Rose garden was used to mean this collection of fifty points of mediation and so the name Rosary became the official title of the devotion. Another Carthusian, Henry of Kalkar, divided the fifty Hail Marys into decades, with an Our Father between each.
By the early fifteenth century, the essential elements of the Rosary was established, but it became popular only when it was simplified. In 1483, Our Dear Lady’s Psalter a book on the Rosary written by a Dominican refers to the same fifteen mysteries as today with one exception: the fourteenth combines Mary’s coronation with Assumption and the fifteenth is the Last Judgment. It was Blessed Alan de la Roche another Dominican promoted the traditional association of St. Dominic with the Rosary.
Pope Paul VI issued Marialis Cultus in 1974, in which he referred to the Rosary as a ‘compendium of the entire Gospel’. We should never forget that Rosary is basically a prayer with Christological orientation.
We all know that in 2002 Blessed John Paul II marked the twenty fourth anniversary of his election by signing the apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. In it he suggested the five new ‘mysteries of light’.
Rosary has both soul and body. Body is the fingering of the beads, which is meant to calm one’s emotional state. It is also a method of self- hypnosis, to eliminate ‘worrisome’ thoughts from the mind. It helps one to remember what Christ did for our salvation. The soul is to intellectually feast upon aspect of the faith that surround the mystery and see their relevance to one’s own personal life.
Rosary has a lot of significance. The joyful mysteries are antidotes to the problems of the boredom of the daily and ordinary events of life. Sorrowful mysteries help one to overcome the perception of one’s suffering by looking at Christ. Glorious mysteries are about the final goal of the Christian life namely the beatific vision and its accompanying joy, and the luminous mysteries helps us to reflect on our own mission.
There are different ways of praying Rosary. Each of you might have your own style of praying it. Even Rosary can be used as a prayer for reparation. Annunciation – against heresy, apostasy and other sins against faith; Visitation – against sins of despair or presumptuous thinking that God cannot or will not solve the problems we face; Birth – against the sins of abortion, contraception and other wrongful use of human embryo; Presentation – missing mass on sundays and the days of obligation, negligent with regard to the duty towards one’s parish; Finding of Jesus – against the attitude of complaining against divine providence.
There are still several ways of praying the Rosary meaningfully. It is left to our personal choice.
How nice to meditate on the Lord’s life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord?