Jesus Christ questions the praying of the rosary
RECITER: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you…
FAITHFUL: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…
RACHEL: We continue our reports from Nazareth, where we are now in the Orthodox Christian Church of the Annunciation. A group of Catholic pilgrims is praying the rosary in honor of the mother of Jesus. And we have with us once again Jesus Christ, as we cover his second coming to earth. This is a lovely devotion, praying the rosary, don’t you think, Jesus?
JESUS: Explain something to me, Rachel. Why do they keep repeating the same thing over and over?
RACHEL: Because that’s the way the rosary is. My granny taught me that you have to pray ten Hail Marys for each mystery. And since there are five mysteries, that means fifty Hail Marys. And since there are three sets of mysteries, altogether it would be one hundred fifty Hail Marys repeated.
JESUS: And who came up with that string of prayers?
RACHEL: As I understand it, it was your mother Mary who gave the rosary to… I don’t remember what saint. You didn’t know about that?
JESUS: My mother? How strange. Why don’t you consult one of those friends of yours who know so much?
RACHEL: Hold on a minute. I’m going to contact someone who is sure to know the history of this…. Hello, Eduardo del Río? Rius? This is Rachel Perez of Emisoras Latinas. I am here in Nazareth with none less than Jesus Christ. … We would like to ask you about the rosary and its origin.
RIUS: Well, for that you have to go back eight hundred years, to the 12th century, when a Spanish friar, Domingo de Guzmán, was on his campaign to convert the Albigensians.
RACHEL: And who were the Albigensians?
RIUS: They were peaceful Christians, some of them even mystics, who questioned the Pope’s authority. So this friar claimed that the mother of Jesus had appeared to him and had given him a rosary to convert the Albigensians.
JESUS: Ask him if they were converted…
RACHEL: Jesus is asking whether they were converted…
RIUS: Well, they weren’t given much choice, because the ones that weren’t converted were burned alive at the stake.
JESUS: What’s that you said?
RIUS: Later on, in the 16th century, Pope Pius V ordered the Christian soldiers to pray the rosary before going into battle against the Muslim Turks, who were enemies of Rome. The two armies clashed in Lepanto, and it was truly a slaughter. The Pope declared that the Christians had crushed the Muslims thanks to the power of the Virgin Mary!
JESUS: What an abominable business!
RACHEL: But Jesus, isn’t it quite understandable that your mother would take the side of the Christian armies?
JESUS: How can you say that, Rachel? There are no Christian armies. All armies are made for killing people, and my mother never killed anybody or helped to kill anybody.
RACHEL: Many thanks for that information, friend Rius. At any moment we may contact you again. … I suspect, Jesus, that our audience may be somewhat upset, because in many of her appearances your mother Mary has asked people to pray the rosary. Or isn’t that the case?
JESUS: My mother was a very simple person. Do you really think she would be asking people to greet her by repeating the same prayer fifty times?
RACHEL: But there are many simple people, such as my granny, who pray the rosary. It’s a way for them to find peace in their hearts and draw closer to God.
JESUS: Well, that’s like when someone sits down by a river and the rippling of the water soothes their spirit. But neither your granny nor anybody else should think that by repeating and repeating a prayer they’re going to be heard more by God. Because God knows what we need even before we tell him.
RACHEL: So then, what prayers should we say? We might even ask: do prayers serve any purpose at all? Be sure not to miss our next broadcast. Meanwhile check our website www.emisoraslatinas.net. This is Rachel Perez, reporting to you from Nazareth.
ANNOUNCER: Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
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How the Hail Mary originated
The first part of the prayer known as the Hail Mary (Hail Mary, full of grace, …) appeared in the Roman Missal starting in the 7th century. Three centuries later it was quite common in European countries for people to pray by repeating these phrases dozens of times over. In the monasteries of those days it was traditional for the monks to recite every day the 150 psalms of the Bible. Since the common people had no access to books and did not even know how to read, they began to imitate the monastic custom of reciting the psalms by repeating the first part of the Hail Mary 150 times. This devotion was known as “Mary’s Psalter”.
In the year 1208, the Roman Church was engaged in a war against the Cathari or Albigensians, who were considered heretics, in what is today southern France. A Spanish friar named Domingo de Guzmán claimed that Mary had “appeared” to him in a vision, in which she asked him to spread the devotion of praying the rosary since it was a “powerful arm” against the heretics. Thus Mary’s Psalter came to be the Rosary. Almost three centuries later it became customary in many countries to add on the second part of the prayer: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…
The rosary: a political weapon
Until the present day Catholic devotion to the rosary has been associated both with the more traditional popular piety, which finds calm and consolation in such repetition of familiar words, and with political and military projects, like the religious wars, which are far removed from the teachings of Jesus.
In 1571 soldiers from the Papal States, Venice, Genoa and Spain fought against the Muslim armies at Lepanto, and after the slaughter of that naval battle they attributed the victory of Christianity over Islam to the praying of the rosary. In 1716 Prince Eugene of Savoy defeated a Turkish army at Temesvar in modern Romania, and that military victory was also attributed to the Christian troops’ praying of the rosary. In 1917, in one of the many “apparitions” of Mary in Fatima, the praying of the rosary was recommended for “the conversion of Russia”, that is, for the failure of the political project that was just getting underway in that country.
Nowadays the praying of the rosary is associated with the Vatican crusade against the sexual and reproductive rights of women. In Cleveland, United States, Jesus Christ supposedly spoke to a clairvoyant woman, asking that a special rosary be recited, in which the beads are seen as tears with a fetus inserted in each of them. According to the woman, such prayer has as its goal the halting of all abortions and the elimination of birth control and day-after pills, practices which, according to this unusual “revelation”, are the cause of the wars and the natural disasters that are devastating our world.
The rosary: a mantra
In its more benevolent forms, the praying of the rosary – that rhythmic repetition of words – can be considered a Catholic version of the “mantras” of Hinduism and Buddhism. A “mantra” is a short prayer that is repeated as a refrain many times over. In the Sanskrit language “man” means “mind”, and “tra” means “liberate”. The mantra is a word or phrase that has no specific meaning, but it is recited a certain number of times to achieve liberation of the mind by elevating the consciousness to a higher plane, but it can be recited also to attain material gains or spiritual goals. According to Hinduism, the mantra “Om” is the primordial sound of the universe, the origin and principle of all mantras. The Hinduism practiced in the West, such as the Hare Krishna movement, promotes the chanting of mantras for the spiritual benefit of people’s minds.
Eduardo del Río, Rius
Eduardo del Río, better known as Rius, is a Mexican writer, humorist and cartoonist. He specializes in preparing graphic didactic materials on a wide range of topics (history, nutrition, ecology, philosophy, biography, politics, economy). He has written several books which seek to expose the incoherencies of the Catholic religion and papal history. He also treats other religious topics, but in all his work he seeks to defend the profound humanism of Jesus of Nazareth. There is no one better than Rius to take part in our program and describe the historical relation between the pious devotion of the rosary and certain military campaigns.
The prayer of Jesus
Jesus criticized the Pharisees for the way they prayed, for they did so in public and by constant repetition of formulas (Matthew 6,5-8). Several times the gospels take note of Jesus’ custom of praying in silence at night (Luke 5,16). Probably Jesus also practiced the traditional prayers of his people: at dawn, in the evening, before meals, and on Saturdays in the synagogue. However, what especially impressed his contemporaries was his personal form of prayer, simply speaking with God, without the formalities and routines of traditional piety.