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Question

Dear Father,

I’m curious about the prayer of the Rosary.

In recent days, I heard it being prayed in church, but also on TV and online.

I have noticed different ways of praying it: some people start directly by enunciating the mysteries, some people start with the opening prayer “O God, come to my assistance…”, or with the Creed or other ejaculatory prayers. Some people add prayers between mysteries and some people don’t, some people read excerpts from the Gospel after enunciating a mystery, while some people recite the Our Father immediately after. Some people conclude the Rosary with the litanies, some people with the Salve Regina, but others omit it, and so on… What does the Church’s Magisterium teach about the Rosary?

I also know that a plenary indulgence can be gained through recitation of the Rosary. Do all these different ways of reciting the Rosary grant it?

Thank you for your attention!

Luca 


Priest’s answer

Dear Luca,

The essential structure of the Rosary is the following:

One enunciates the mystery,

then says the Our Father,

goes on by saying the 10 Hail Marys

and concludes with the Glory Be.

Then one moves on to the other mysteries.

2. When I was a novitiate in the Dominican Order, the Rosary was recited together as a community.

I remember the impression it left on me the first time.

It was recited in the evening, after the Vespers, before going to dinner.

After the Vespers, all the lights would be turned off except for one, as to not be completely in the dark.

All the friars would kneel in their place with their hoods on (there was a deep sense of contemplation) and one would hear a Father that, without any preambles, would say: “Annunciatio incarnationis Verbi” (the Annunciation of the Incarnation of the Word).

We would proceed in Latin with the Pater, to which would follow the Ave Marias and we would end with the Gloria Patris.

The Father that was leading the Rosary would move on to the second decade by saying: Visitatio Beatae Mariae Virginis ad Sanctam Elisabeth (the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Elizabeth).

At the end of the last decade he would say: “Nos cum prole pia” (Us with Her Holy Son) and we would all answer: “Benedicat Virgo Maria” (may the Virgin Mary bless).

We would all stand up and, having shown the proper reverence to the altar, would exit the room in silence to go to dinner.

3. Therefore there was no addition made, not even a formula of introduction.

It would be recited in a relatively prompt way because, according to the Dominican tradition, collective prayer should be “breviter et succinte” (with short pauses and rapid recitation), but not in a precipitous manner.

We would recite it in a low voice to aid the contemplation that had to go hand in hand with the physical recitation of the Rosary.

4. This really surprised me the first time because, back in my home parish, I was used to hearing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen at the beginning.

At the end of every decade we would say: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins…”.

In other places, they would say: “Praised always be, the Holy Name of Jesus, Joseph and Mary.”

None of this would happen in the Dominican order.

5. I also remember that, when I was home, the Priest insisted on pausing for a moment after having mentioned the mystery before proceeding with the Our Father. That silence was supposed to be a time for meditation. And that’s what he did.

In the Order there would be no pause of silence because the entire Rosary is meditation and contemplation.

6. At the end of the rosary, when I was home, I would hear the litanies being recited and the Salve Regina in conclusion.

In the Dominican order, the initiator and principal diffusor of the Rosary, none of this would take place.

The litanies would indeed be recited. Rather, they were chanted in Latin during a procession to the altar of Our Lady that would take place the first Saturday of the month.

The Salve Regina would be solemnly sung every evening after the Compieta according to the melody that is characteristic of the Order.

7. I wanted to mention all of this to highlight the essential structure of the Rosary, distinguishing it from all the other additions.

Not that these additions are bad, quite the opposite.

Some of them are intended to favor meditation, some praise of the Holy Family,( The Holy Name of Jesus, Joseph and Mary be praised always.”), some intercession for the dead, some seek to specify a particular intention, for example the invocation of peace. This is the reason for the many variations.

But they aren’t in themselves part of the Rosary.

When I pray the Rosary by myself I say it like I learned to do in the novitiate without any preambles or a conclusion and without additional prayers between decades.

This way, it isn’t difficult to recite more than one crown a day or the whole Rosary (the fifteen mysteries).

8. In order to gain a plenary indulgence there are some requisites: it must be recited in an oratory (in a church), or in a family or a group.

This is to encourage prayer in Church, since the sacredness of the place clearly facilitates concentration, and community prayer, especially in the home.

In addition, in order to gain indulgences, it is necessary to add a prayer according to the intentions of the Pope.

Some people say one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.

Other people say the litanies or the Salve Regina with the intention of gaining the indulgences.

You can do as you prefer.

The important thing is that the essential structure of the Rosary, with the addition of one prayer, is present.

But this is also not part of the Rosary.

I hope that you will greatly benefit from this prayer that was especially recommended to us from Heaven in the private revelations approved by the Church.

I bless you and recommend you to the Lord.

Father Angelo