Is the Rosary Christ-Centered?

Catholics claim that the Rosary isn't just prayers to Mary. They'll argue that the endless chain of Hail Mary's' occasionally interrupted by an Our Father, is really centered on Christ.

I disagree.

Let's take a quick look at the ritual of the Rosary to see what Catholics are talking about when they talk about chanting the Rosary.

The Rosary is a sequence of prayers that can be broken down into 17 parts. To help Catholics keep track of where they are in their repetitious droning, they generally keep track by countin beads on a necklace from which is suspended a crucifix.

The first part begins when the Catholic makes the sign of the cross. Then, while touching the crucifix, he recites the Apostles' Creed, which goes like this:

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 Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

When he finishes with the Creed, he moves his fingers to the first large bead above the crucifix and prayers the 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.

This is followed by a sequence of three Hail Mary's, one prayed on each of the next three beads:

Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with Thee; blessed art thou among 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.

Now he is at another large bead, where he finishes the beginning prayers with the Glory Be:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

The Rosary chanter is now ready to get into the serious business of the ritual, the decades, which are ten dronings of the hail Mary. These decades are clustered in groups of five, that are called "Mysteries." There used to be 15 decades, but John Paul II added an additional mystery.The mysteries are: Joyful Mysteries, Luminous Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries and Glorious Mysteries. It is not necessary to pray all 20 decades in a single session; it is acceptable to chant one mystery's worth (five) per day.

It is when droning through the decades that the beads really come in handy. Here's how that goes. Starting off, it is necessary to choose one of the three sets of mysteries to work one's way though. Catholics claim that the Rosary is Christ-centered. You be the judge.

Having settled on our choice of mysteries, it is time to resume chanting. Each decade in a set is prayed as one meditates on one of the theme mysteries. I suppose this involves using two different parts of the brain; one to chant the repeated prayers while the other meditates. And this is praying from the heart?

Okay, you've meditated on mystery number 1 and are ready to add a background of prayers. Grab a big bead and recite the Our Father. That done, move along the ten little beads, chanting a Hail Mary at each one. This will bring you to another large bead, where you pause long enough to pray the Glory Be and one of the Fatima prayers called O My Jesus. While still holding that large bead, start a new decade by naming the next mystery in the sequence and reciting another Our Father. This goes on until you've finished the five or 15 decades you planned to chant that day.

That Fatima prayer goes like this:

O, my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.

And this brings us to the final part, the closing prayers. There are only two, and these are prayed as responsorial prayers. One is called, Hail, Holy Queen:

Hail, Holy Queen

R: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus! O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,

R: that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The other is called The Prayer After The Rosary:

R: O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee, that, meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the divine assistance remain always with us.

R: And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

I am no rocket scientist, but I think I did the math correctly. Check me out, please. In a full 20-decade Rosary, there are 266 prayers, not counting the Apostles' Creed, which is a profession of faith.

Of those 266 prayers:

20, or 7.5%, are directed to Jesus;

21, or 7.9%, are directed to God, the Father;

21, or 7.9%, glorify the Trinity

204, or 76.7%, are directed to Mary.

Catholics claim that the Rosary isn't just prayers to Mary. They'll argue that the endless chain of Hail Mary's occasionally interrupted by an Our Father, is really centered on Christ.

I disagree.

What do you think?


The ritual of the rosary as practiced today is not the same as it was when I was growing up Catholic. As I mentioned above the former Emperor of Catholic Empire proposed changes to the traditional format of The Rosary that I learned as a Catholic.

19. Of the many mysteries of Christ's life, only a few are indicated by the Rosary in the form that has become generally established with the seal of the Church's approval. The selection was determined by the origin of the prayer, which was based on the number 150, the number of the Psalms in the Psalter.

I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion…-- ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE (ON THE MOST HOLY ROSARY); Apostolic Letter promulgated by Pope John Paul II on October 16, 2002. (My color emphasis)

As declared by JP2, his purpose in proposing an additional set of Mysteries was to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary. That sounds wonderfully “Christian,” doesn't it? A closer examination of the effect of the Pope's recommended additions strongly suggests an opposite result.

The Pope proposed the five new Mysteries with these words:

In proposing to the Christian community five significant moments – “luminous” mysteries – during this phase of Christ's life, I think that the following can be fittingly singled out: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.—Ibid.

“Well,” one might argue, “those new Mysteries certainly do appear to have Christological significance.” And he would be right. They do appear meet JP2's purpose. However, if one were to read just two more paragraphs, he would encounter these words:

In these mysteries, apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background. The Gospels make only the briefest reference to her occasional presence at one moment or other during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-5; Jn 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the “mysteries of light”.Ibid. (My color emphasis)

When the new “Christological” Mysteries are viewed in the light of the emphasized words, it begins to appear that the new set of Mysteries also serves bring out fully the Mariological depth of the Rosary.

To me, it does seem that the changes to The Rosary amount to little more than a poorly disguised effort to enhance Catholic Mary's relative position in the prayers of Catholic faithful.

According to Catholic mythology, there are reasons why it is necessary to pray The Rosary every day. These reasons include The Fifteen Promises of Mary, which include among other things a Get-Out-Of-Purgatory-Free card:

I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.-- Heaven's Weapon

Another reason for faithfully praying The Rosary is that it is a good way to get stuff:

You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.Ibid.

It gets better and better:

The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.Ibid.

This is an interesting promise. Scripture does mention rewards for believers; such as crowns of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), Life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10) or Glory (1 Peter 5:4). In the New Testament, references to glory generally apply to God the Father and God the Son. One exception to this general practice involved the appearance of Moses and Elias “in glory” on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31). Hmmmm. I wonder whether they faithfully prayed The Rosary in order to appear in glory.

Catholic faithful might be willing to go along with Marian Promises and chanting The Rosary, certainly a number evangelical fundamentalists such as myself consider such things to constitute idolatry, Mariolatry, heresy, blasphemy, etc. Could we be wrong? If we were to believe one of the Marian Promises, we might have cause to reflect upon the correctness of our assessments.

All who recite the rosary are my son, and brothers of my only son Jesus Christ.Ibid.

There you have it! Catholic doctrine asserts that the RCC's Mary gave birth to but one child, the Incarnate Son of God. This is a bit confusing, to me at least. Does this promise inform that Mary's only Son, Jesus Christ, prays the Rosary? That is unlikely. Therefore, the “brothers” to whom the promise refers must be brothers by adoption. This is a biblical concept; however, if we are to believe the Scripture, adoption by God does not result from praying The Rosary:

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
-- Romans 8:14-17

The way I see it: if the 15 Promises of Mary are true; then at least those parts of the Scriptures that do not agree with them must be untrue. That is strong stuff. We know that the Scriptures were penned by men writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Where did the 15 Promises of Mary come from? They were given by Catholic Mary to two members of the Catholic pantheon: St. Dominic and Blessed Alan. In addition to that, they are published with the Imprimitur of Patrick J. Hayes, DD; Archbishop of New York

For those not up on Catholic mythology, Blessed Alan de la Roche was a Dominican theologian and sermonist who lived in Brittany during the 15th century. According to Catholic fantasy, Alan was visited on various occasions by the Jesus of Catholicism, the Mary of Catholicism and the Catholic demigod Saint Dominic. These three put pressure on Alan to “revive the ancient Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.” (Bl. Alan de la Roche, Catholic Saints Online.

Wow! That's some pretty strong stuff; but I think that I will continue to hold fast to God's Written Revelation in the Holy Scriptures and leave the fantasizing to the Catholic Magisterium, spiritualists and daydreamers.

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