03 September 2015

Intro to the Rosary for Orthodox

So, the Rosary...

Introduction

When I was exploring Orthodoxy and after I converted, there was a massive jettisoning of anything Western. Any of my friends or long-time readers of the several incarnations of this blog can confirm this. Bye bye Mr. Francis; bye bye Mass; bye bye Mass Cards, bye bye Advent and Advent Wreaths; bye bye novenas; bye bye almost all western saints (even pre-schism ones); bye bye only-blessed-but-not-Saint Augustine, etc, etc. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! The Rosary was not, however, only more jetsam. A member of the Convert Mailing List, responding to yet another "Flush-The-West" rant, pointed out that "the Little Psalter of Our Lady" was a favourite of St Seraphim of Sarov.  This came to my mind recently - nearly 15 years later - when a member of our Parish visited the Serafimo-Diveesky Monastery where other things related to St Seraphim's devotion to Our Lady came up. So was planted the seed for this series of posts.

The Rosary has therefore been a part of my Orthodox journey, although I've not been very faithful in recitation of it. Recently this, too, has changed, for a number of reasons that I won't go into: but let me commend the Rosary to you in this series of posts, as a portal to Paradise and  a bit of it here on Earth, and as sure guard against temptation: a handrail, if you will allow the image, strung by Our Lady along the Ladder of Divine Ascent to make the assay easier for those of us who are weakest in our Spiritual Strength.

These posts will not go deeply into the history of this devotion, but some may note a difference between what I will describe and a the perception, at least, of the traditional Western practice. For the Orthodox of Eastern and Western Rites, there is no practice of affective piety. Meditative "visualization" is not done. The imagination and the emotions are fallen faculties and not appropriate for devotion.  It is, of course, ok to have emotions or an imagination: but these are not to be aroused as such. Such arousal is can be a vehicle for the demons to lead us deeper into human addiction to the passions and pride: confusing emotions for piety is a skill humans have honed to infinite sharpness. Since the use of mental images is spiritually dangerous, things like making mental "stage plays" of the Rosary's Fifteen Mysteries are right out.  The Rosary must be used in different way - as will be seen in these posts.

You will, perhaps, be familiar with this form of the beads used for counting the prayers:

A Rosary I've made out of sandalwood and Tibetan yak bone.

A circle of beads is divided into five sets of ten, with single, larger beads interspersed. From the "bottom" of the Rosary hangs a pendant of a cross, a larger bead, and three smaller ones in a single strand.  Each section of ten beads is called a decade.  The traditional prayer counted on the smaller beads is the Hail Mary, or the Ave from the Latin Ave Maria. The larger beads mark an Our Father. One complete decade, then, is an Our Father and ten Aves. At the end is added a "Glory be to the Father" before continuing on to the next decade. One other prayer is used, the Apostle's Creed, which is said on the Cross itself. There are some prayers used by tradition at the ending of a recitation: we'll get to those by the end of this series of posts. In writing about the Rosary for Orthodox we will begin with the Holy Cross and proceed, in a series of posts, through the 15 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, dedicating one post to each Mystery. There is, in Roman Catholic tradition, one other prayer used, called the Fatima Prayer, because it is believed to have been given by Mary to the visionaries in Fatima. We will discuss this prayer in a later post, along with the five mysteries added to the Rosary by the Sainted Pope John Paul II. I will try to do two posts a week, God willing, on Sunday and Wednesday: but you see this post is coming on Thursday, so forgive me as I'm already late!

Text of the Prayers Used in the Rosary

Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Apostles' Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, 'Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. 
The Lord's Prayer (Our Father)
Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen<
The Angelic Salutation (Hail Mary) 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
The Minor Doxology (Glory Be)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Pendant or Introductory Prayers to the Rosary 

While holding the Holy Cross in your hand, make the sign of the Cross with it on yourself saying,  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then, still holding the Cross, say  The Apostles' Creed.

Holding the large bead nearest the Cross, said an Our Father.

On each of the next three small beads, say an Ave. It is traditional to offer each one, in order, as a prayer for an increase of the virtues of faith, hope, and love.  You may add a short personal prayer for each, eg:
O my God, I believe in thee and what thou hast teach me through thy Holy Church, but I am a sinner. I believe, Lord: help my unbelief.  Hail, Mary, full of grace, etc.
Lord, I hope in the and in thy promises: but I am lead astray by earthly vanities and temptations. Help me to trust fully and solely in thee.  Hail, Mary, full of grace, etc
Lord, I love thee poorly. Help me to love thee with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my strength, and with all my mind; Grant me to love my neighbour as thou lovest him. Hail, Mary, full of grace, etc.
Then holding the chain (or string, as the case may be) say the Glory be.

At this point I find it helpful, by way of reminder to the aged, to announce to myself, which Mysteries I'm about to pray and to recite them as a list.
The Joyous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary:
The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of our Lord, the Finding of Our Lord in the Temple. 
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary:
The Agony in Gethsemane, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the  Carrying of the Cross, the Death and Burial of Jesus. 
The Glorious Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary:
The Resurrection of Jesus, the Ascension of Jesus, the Coming of the Holy Ghost, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin.
Here's the whole series:

The Rosary Series