If there is anything with a deep history in the Catholic faith stretching back to the ancient of days is the rosary. Both pre-Christian and non-Christian societies and communities used the rosary in one way or the other-certainly, not in the form we know it today. For instance, in the 8th century BC, some Buddhists were already praying the rosary. The Hindus have also been identified as one of the earliest religions to have used rosary beads in prayer.
It is said that these religions used the beads to symbolize meditation and focus during prayers. Early Christian monks living around Egypt are said to have developed some prayer beads of some sort. St. Dominic in a vision he had in 1214 is said to have received the rosary from Our Lady. The official use of the rosary in the church can be traced to 1569. As recited in the 16th to the 20th, the rosary comprised 15 mysteries also known as decades.
So what does the rosary symbolize? What is the purpose of the rosary? Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
All rosaries starting from the 1st to the 5th century have a crucifix as a core element. This symbolizes Jesus Christ and the ultimate sacrifice he made for mankind on the cross in Golgotha.
In keeping with the teaching of Paul the Apostle as recorded in Corinthians 1:23-24,
“…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God,”
the crucifix is our response to the generosity and selflessness of Jesus Christ.
The Small Clustered Beads
The small beads designed into the rosary are known as Hail Mary beads. Each bead will have you recite the Hail Mary prayer all the way to the tenth bead. When reciting the last bead in the link, you must begin with, “Glory Be” then proceed to recite Hail Mary.
However, the beads are not just for prayer repetition, they have a soothing or mantra effect. When used with a prayer, the beads serve to enflesh the words of the prayer and make your thoughts tangible.
The repetition is symbolic of lulling the mind into a meditative state. In this way, you become attentive to the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit.
Three Sets of Mysteries
The rosary has three sets of mysteries – the Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries, and Glorious Mysteries. The number three has such a huge significance in Christianity it is the -Blessed Trinity. The three mysteries are an outline of the birth, the life, and the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Is meditative walk through the life and purpose of Jesus here on earth. It helps us focus on the centrality of Jesus in our faith and the hope rested in him of his second coming. Just a quick run-through, here are the mysteries in each of the three sets.
1. Joyful Mysteries
- The annunciation
- The visitation
- The nativity
- The presentation of Jesus at the temple
- The finding of Jesus in the temple
2. Sorrowful Mysteries
- The agony in the garden
- The scourging at the pillar
- The crowning with thorns
- The carrying of the cross
- The crucifixion and death of our Lord
3. Glorious Mysteries
- The resurrection
- The ascension
- The descent of the holy spirit
- The assumption of Mary
- The coronation of the virgin
What Is The Purpose of the Rosary
Praying the rosary is a spiritual act built in people’s hearts. It has a huge significance, and its purpose is never hidden. Here is what the rosary means to the faithful.
As a Protection to the Family Unit
The family is the basic unit of society. If it goes wrong everything else goes wrong. For this reason, Saint Pope John Paul II urges the faithful to pray the rosary. It serves to protect the family in times of crisis and attack.
For instance, during divorce and separation, the family disintegrates, and the children are exposed to the cold and harsh realities of living without a family.
In the words of the Rosary Priest, Patrick Peyton, “The family that prays together stays together”.
Living in peace is an existential necessity that everyone should have access to. Amidst global tensions and the threat of terrorism, praying the rosary is recommended as safeguard and shield against such problems.
Our Lady of Fatima made it clear after the First World War that sin is the genesis of wars and altercations. The best way to arrest these world wars is by dealing with the wars in our hearts first. Once our hearts become calm, then peace will ooze out instead of anger, bitterness and war.
Resolve Life Disorders
The original sin that every mankind inherited right from conception has been the root of disorder within our lives. Starting from our thought processes and stretching out to our will and intentions, we all have some sort of disorder residing within us.
To order the disorder in our lives we need to do some spiritual exercises. The rosary is a collection of prayers with a purpose to help us meditate and bring order to our souls.
The rosary is a biblical prayer that summarizes all that written in the gospel. Therefore, as we pray the rosary fervently, Jesus Christ and his mission come alive in our hearts. Meditation helps us to get to know Mary and Jesus better, cultivate a relationship with them and help us be their fiery apostles and ambassadors in this world.
The enlightenment that comes with knowing the Lord is liberating. This is exactly what the rosary aims to achieve. Praying the rosary helps us to plant and ignite the love of God in the world.
The rosary is a highly symbolic and purposeful summary of the gospels. Right from the crucifix to the Hail Mary beads and the rest of the rosary structural elements, there is a lot of symbolism and significance.
Whether you are looking for enlightenment, resolution of life disorders, global peace, or a ring of protection for your family, purpose to pray the rosary regularly as instructed by the saints. And if you’re looking for more answers, here is an interesting article about rosary service.