Praying the Rosary by Bishop Fulton J sheen

From the earliest days, the Church asked its faithful to recite the one hundred and fifty Psalms of David. This custom still prevails among priests, who recite some of these Psalms every day. [9] However, it was not easy for anyone to memorize the one hundred and fifty Psalms. Then, too, before the invention of printing, it was difficult to procure a book of the Psalms. That is why certain important books like the Bible had to be chained like telephone books are today; otherwise people would have run off with them.

Incidentally, this gave rise to the stupid lie that the Church would not allow anyone to read the Bible, because it was chained. The fact is, it was chained just so people could read it. The telephone book is chained, too, but it s more consulted than any book in modern civilization!

The people who could not read one hundred and fifty Psalms wanted to do something to make up for it. Therefore, they substituted one hundred and fifty Hail Marys. They broke up these one hundred and fifty, in the manner of the Acathist, [10] into fifteen decades, or series of ten. Each part was to be said while meditating on a different aspect of the Life of Our Lord.

To keep the decades separate, each one of them began with the Our Father and ended with the Doxology of Praise to the Trinity.

St. Dominic, who died in 1221, received from the Blessed Mother the command to preach and to popularize this devotion for the good of souls, for conquest over evil, and for the prosperity of Holy Mother Church and thus gave us the Rosary in its present classical form.

The Black Death, which ravaged all Europe and wiped out one-third of its population, prompted the faithful to cry out to the Mother of Our Lord to protect them, at a time when the present moment and death were almost one. [11]

The Black Death has ended. But now the Red Death of Communism is sweeping the earth (circa 1950). I find it interesting that, when the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima in 1917 because of the great decline in morals and the advent of godlessness, she asked that, after the "Glory be" we add "have mercy on all souls; save them from hell and lead us to heaven."

It is objected that there is much repetition in the Rosary because the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary are said so often; therefore some say it is monotonous.

That reminds me of a woman who came to see me one evening after instructions. She said, "I would never become a Catholic. You say the same words in the Rosary over and over again, and anyone who repeats the same words is never sincere. I would never believe anyone who repeated his words and neither would God."

I asked her who the man was with her. She said he was her fiancé. I asked: "Does he love you?" "Certainly, he does," "But how do you know?" "He told me." "What did he say?"

"He said 'I love you.'"

"When did he tell you last?"

"About an hour ago."

"Did he tell you before?"

"Yes, last night."

"What did he say?"

"I love you."

"But never before?"

"He tells me every night."

I said: "Do not believe him. He is repeating; he is not sincere."

The beautiful truth is that there is no repetition in, "I love you." Because there is a new moment of time, another point inn space, the words do not mean the same as they did at another time or space.

Love is never monotonous in the uniformity of its expression. The mind is infinitely variable in its language, but the heart is not. The heart of a man, in the face of the woman he loves, is too poor to translate the infinity of his affection into a different word. So the heart takes one expression, "I love you," and in saying it over and over again, it never repeats. It is the only real news in the universe. That is what we do when we say the Rosary, we are saying to God, the Trinity, to the Incarnate Saviour, to the Blessed Mother: "I love you, I love you, I love you."

Each time it means something different because, at each decade, our mind is moving to a new demonstration of the Saviour's love.

The Rosary is the best therapy for these distraught, unhappy, fearful, and frustrated souls, precisely because it involves the simultaneous use of three powers: the physical, the vocal, and the spiritual, and in that order.

The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description."

If you wish to convert anyone to the fullness of the knowledge of Our Lord and to His Mystical Body, then teach him the Rosary. One of two things will happen. Either he will stop saying the Rosary — or he will get the gift of faith. [12]

Excerpt taken from "Roses and Prayers," in the book 'The World's First Love,' by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, publisher McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1952.

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