Is the Rosary Biblical?

Scripture and the Rosary

The rosary is a beloved Catholic custom that links the gospel and contemplative prayer. Here's how.

from Catholic Update The Rosary: A Gospel Prayer, by Thomas A. Thompson, S.M., and Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

quick look at the structure of the rosary shows it to be truly a Scripture-based prayer drawing especially upon the Gospels. The Apostles' Creed itself, leading off the rosary, is nothing other than a summary of the great mysteries of the Catholic faith, most of which are standard Gospel teachings. Each decade is preceded by the Our Father, a prayer straight from the Gospels and taught by Jesus himself as a model of all prayer.

The first part of the Hail Mary is composed of verses from the Gospel of Luke (1:28 and 1:42): the angel's words announcing Christ's birth and Elizabeth's greeting to Mary. Both of these gospel passages are rich in meaning and point to the central mystery of our faith, the incarnation of the Messiah.

New translations of these verses and recent studies indicate that the angel's greeting to Mary is one of joy announcing the "breakthrough" of a new age: "Rejoice, God's favored one, the Lord is with you." Gabriel's greeting recalls the Prophet Zephaniah's description of the joy which would accompany the Messiah's coming: "Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has repealed your sentence: He has turned your enemy away. Yahweh is king among you, Israel, you have nothing to fear" (Zephaniah 3:14-15). At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary—the Daughter of Zion and the Mother of the Church—represents both those who have awaited the Savior and those who now accept him in faith.

Mary's key role in the mystery of Christ is not a rosary invention. Rather, it is a vital part of the Gospel that is simply reflected in the rosary. The sense of the faithful that the rosary is a prayer of confidence in Mary's love and intercession for us is rooted in the Good News of the Gospel.

The Gospel passages from which the Hail Mary was drawn, moreover, reveal the virgin as a dynamic, grace-filled woman to whom God offered a pivotal and active role in the drama of salvation. Pope Paul VI saw this clearly when he wrote: "Mary...gives her active and responsible consent...to the 'event of the ages,' as the Incarnation of the Word has been rightly called....The modern woman will note with glad surprise that Mary of Nazareth, while completely devoted to the will of God, was far from being a timidly submissive woman or one whose piety was repellent to others; on the contrary, she did not hesitate to proclaim [in the Magnificat by which she responds to Elizabeth's greeting] that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed and removes the powerful people of this world from their privileged positions" (On Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #37).

Expanding on this theme, Pope John Paul II wrote in Mother of the Redeemer (#37): "The Church's love of preference for the poor is wonderfully inscribed in Mary's Magnificat....Mary is deeply imbued with the spirit of the 'poor of Yahweh' and truly proclaims the coming of the 'Messiah of the poor'" (Isaiah 11:4).

If the rosary is truly to reflect the spirit of the Gospel and that of the Virgin Mary as portrayed there, then it must encourage, among other things, dynamic responsibility on the part of both women and men as well as a commitment to walking with God's poor.

from Catholic Update The Rosary: A Gospel Prayer


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