Good morning Father Angelo,
I am writing to ask you for an explaination regarding the practice of the five Saturdays of the month, which I would be interested in practicing. I have read that the practice consists of going to confession, receiving communion, reciting the rosary, and meditating on the mysteries of the rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. My doubt consists in whether the succession of the various phases that make up the practice is necessary, as the ones reported above, or can I recite the rosary before communion, or meditate the mysteries in the morning and recite the rosary at the end of the day after communion? Basically, I want to know if the succession of the phases is to be respected, or if a certain flexibility is possible considering that the important thing is that everything happens on Saturday.
A second question is, if by the rosary, we mean the recitation of a crown or the whole rosary with all four mysteries?
Thank you in advance for the time you will devote to it.
I take the opportunity of answering of your email to clarify not only the Rosary but also its content and its structure.
1. The mysteries (that are the events of Jesus’ life) of the Rosary are 15. The mysteries are divided into joy, sorrow, and glory. All together, in addition to the “Our Father” and the Glory to the Father, they make up 150 Hail Marys. And it is for this reason that the Rosary has also been defined as the Marian Psalter in analogy with the Psalter of David (the one reported by the Sacred Scripture) consisting of 150 psalms. A third part of the Rosary corresponds to 5 mysteries.
A rosary is 50 Hail Marys. Therefore a crown is a third part of the Rosary. It is also established that the recitation of the whole Rosary involves the recitation of 15 mysteries and not of twenty.
2. With the introduction of the five mysteries of light made by John Paul II, someone made confusion bringing the whole Rosary to 20 decades. Here is what John Paul II said, “Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a ‘compendium of the Gospel’, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the incarnation and hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries), and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful misteries), and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious misteries),a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer’s traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to kindle renewed interest in the Rosary’s place within Christian spirituality, as a true doorway to the depth of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 19).
3. Some expressions of the holy Pope on the mysteries of light should be highlighted. He said: “it is therefore convenient”. He did not say: “it is mandatory”.
4. He also said, “without prejudice to any essential aspect of the traditional structure of this prayer”. Therefore the traditional arrangement of the Rosary, made up of 15 mysteries and therefore of 15 decades or 150 Hail Marys, remains unchanged. The Pope knew well that the members of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary undertake to recite a whole Rosary and that is 15 mysteries in the space of a week. He did not say that now they have to recite 20. On the contrary, he reiteratedm, “without prejudice to any essential aspect of the traditional structure of this prayer”.
5. John Paul II gave permission to replace a third part with the mysteries of light saying, “it is convenient”. Yes, it is really affordable. Personally, I also recite these mysteries every day. And, I take advantage of it.
6. The practice of the first five Saturdays introduced with the message of Fatima requires the recitation of a third part of the Rosary, that is, a crown of 5 mysteries.
7. Furthermore, the meditation on the mysteries is not done before the recitation of the Our Father and the Hail Marys, but during this recitation.
John Paul II reiterated what he had already written in the Paul VI Marialis Cultus, “By its nature, the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as seen through the Heart of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of the misteries are disclosed” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 12). Here you see “Helping the individual to meditate”.
8. Three things must be done during the recitation of the decade: first, the scene mentioned in the mystery is reconstructed. And we try to reconstruct it by having Mary tell us about it. Second,we thank Jesus Christ for the event accomplished for our benefit. Third, we ask graces to God the Father by virtue of the merits that Christ has procured for us with that event and that during the recitation of the decade he puts into our hands so that they may be the price with which we accompany our prayer.
9. The fulfillment of these three things constitutes the contemplation or meditation of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. If there is no contemplation, beautiful prayers are certainly said. But, it can also be said that the Holy Rosary was recited materially. And so, it must be added that it lacked the most precious and most nutritious part: contemplation.
10. John Paul II recalled that, “The Rosary, starting precisely from Mary’s experience, is a distinctly contemplative prayer. Deprived of this dimension, it would be distorted, as Paul VI emphasized, ‘Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation run the risks of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas in violation of the admonition of Christ: In praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentile do; for they think they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt.6:7)” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 12).
I thank you for the email that gave me the opportunity to specify for many visitors how the Holy Rosary should be recited.
I will remind you to the Lord and the Blessed Virgin in the next prayer I will make with the Rosary and I bless you.