The Rosary

Hi everyone. I am writing this post to inform or 'introduce' you (hence why this post is in the introductions category), to the prayer of the Rosary. I know this is a Catholic prayer, and tasbeha.org is a Coptic Orthodox website. However, I believe there is a great deal of merit in praying this prayer nonetheless, because of its great power as a weapon against the devil. I myself am Coptic Catholic, and was introduced to this prayer at a young age - and can attest to its power and beauty.

I wanted to share with you all a bit about its history and how to pray it properly. I once read someone say, on these forums, that the Rosary is just an endless repetition of Hail Mary's. However, there is much more to this beautiful prayer than that, as you will see.

Brief History

The rosary was given to Christians by the Blessed Theotokos herself. It is said that in the 13th century, she appeared to St Dominic while he was desperately praying and fasting while trying to convert the Albigensians. After falling into a coma as a result of the harshness of his fasting and penance, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, and asked him, "Do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world? ... The Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation-stone of the new testament." After this, St Dominic went on to convert the Albigensians through the power of the Rosary, and preached of its power for the rest of his life, until his death. 

The Blessed Virgin's reference of the Rosary as a 'Psalter' is quite significant, as it elevates the prayer to a status equal to or even higher than David's Psalter - these are the Psalms of David. One could say that as Copts we pray using David's Psalter in the Agpeya. An explanation of the Rosary's title as a 'Psalter' can be found in the writings of St Louis de Montfort, in The Secret of the Rosary:

Ever since Saint Dominic established the devotion to the Holy Rosary
up until the time when Blessed Alan de la Roche re-established it in
1460 it has always been called the Psalter of Jesus and Mary. This is
because it has the same number of Angelic Salutations as there are
psalms in the Book of the Psalms of David. Since simple and uneducated
people are not able to say the Psalms of David the Rosary is held to be
just as fruitful for them as David’s Psalter is for others.


But the Rosary can be considered to be even more valuable than the latter for three reasons:


  1. Firstly, because the Angelic Psalter bears a nobler fruit, that
    of the Word Incarnate, whereas David’s Psalter only prophesies His
    coming;

  2. Secondly, just as the real thing is more important than its
    prefiguration and as the body is more than its shadow, in the same way
    the Psalter of Our Lady is greater than David’s Psalter which did no
    more than prefigure it;

  3. And thirdly, because Our Lady’s Psalter (or the Rosary made up of
    the Our Father and Hail Mary) is the direct work of the Most Blessed
    Trinity and was not made through a human instrument. …

Hence, one can see the significance of the prayer of the Rosary, and why it is so powerful.

To conclude, I will give a brief explanation of how to pray the Rosary properly. It revolves around meditating on different sets of Mysteries - significant events in the life of Jesus, and these are meditated upon according to the day of the week. The sets are the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and the Luminous mysteries (which was added only recently by Pope John Paul II). Generally, the Rosary is not prayed nowadays in its full form, that is, saying all 150 (now 200 because of the added Luminous mysteries) Hail Mary's, but rather only 50 are said while meditating on the mysteries for that particular day.

How to Pray it

I will give an example of how one would pray the Rosary on a Friday, in step form.
  1. Begin by asking the Blessed Virgin to intercede to God on your behalf, and tell her your intentions.
  2. Pray the Apostles Creed, followed by an Our Father.
  3. Pray three Hail Mary's, for an increase in faith, hope and charity.
  4. Announce the first Sorrowful Mystery out loud or in your head (sorrowful Mysteries are for Friday and Tuesday), which is the Agony in the Garden.
  5. Pray an our Father to begin the decade
  6. Pray 10 Hail Mary's while thinking about the Agony in the Garden and meditating on it.
  7. After the 10th Hail Mary, say a Glory be and an O my Jesus prayer
  8. Announce the second mystery, the scourging at the pillar, and continue in the same fashion until all five mysteries are complete.
  9. After the fifth decade, pray the Hail Holy Queen prayer, and optionally the St Michael and Memorare prayer after this. The rosary is complete.
Any prayers mentioned here which are not known (there will be a few), can be searched up and found easily online. You can also find all the mysteries and the specific days they are meant to be prayed online as well.

For those who may feel like they are committing a crime against their church for praying this prayer - you are not! For surely, the Blessed Virgin (and by extension, God) will be glad to receive any prayers from us, no matter which denomination they are normally prayed in. If you still feel somewhat guilty, consider praying the Hail Mary in Coptic! It can be found here, by clicking on .4 in the contents table.

I strongly encourage everyone to try to pray the Rosary at least once - the immediate peace that one feels while praying it is amazing, especially when currently feeling some form of anxiety or worry. I hope you all found this post interesting to read, at the very least.

God bless you all, and please pray for me.



Comments

  • This is heretical.
    Please do not share heretical, non-edifying and most importantly non-orthodox content.
  • @Jojo_Hanna

    Throwing around the term, "heretical" to this post is no better than the garbage I hear from Eastern Orthodox folks about Coptic Orthodoxy being heretical. It's not applicable to us. I do agree fully with you about non-Orthodox content.
  • I changed the category of the discussion to Non-Orthodox Inquiries. 

    The concern that we have as orthodox against the rosary is NOT that it's a glorification of the Virgin St Mary, we have much more detailed prayer that does that in each of our traditions....but the fact that doing so is considered an indulgence. That is an unorthodox belief by which doing so has a direct effect on your salvation (that's the simplest way I can word that idea for now without getting in too many details).

    So, copt333, thank you for the information. 
  • edited September 1
     @Jojo_Hanna

    Please do share what you found heretical about anything I said, if you feel so strongly about it.

    And perhaps if you broadened your perspective a little bit you would find more things edifying and not simply be stuck in the group of Copts who hate anything that is not Coptic Orthodox. Believe me, I understand the hesitancy to trust anything from outside, but its also very important to be able to recognize the truth in certain things, even if it doesn't come from within Orthodoxy.

    I do apologize for not posting this in Non-Orthodox Inquiries in the first place, that is on me.

  • Thank you for changing the category, my apologies for not putting it in Non-Orthodox Inquiries in the first place, I was hesitant as the post was not really an inquiry.

    Sadly I cannot comment too much on indulgences as I am not very well educated in them, they are definitely a Latin Catholic thing which seem to have been taken from the middle ages. Although its worth noting that when you pray the Rosary, the primary focus is not on the indulgences or promises (there are certainly promises from the Virgin herself), but rather on focusing on the life of Christ. Personally, the indulgences are not something which have ever crossed my mind while praying a Rosary, and yet I have always received much benefit from the prayer.
  • edited September 1
    Hmmmm. You can't just brushed off like that and say "indulgence are a thing from the Latin Catholic rite and it's from the middle ages"... you are a CATHOLIC Coptic. For as much as you would like us to believe otherwise, you are under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church...meaning that you accept its doctrines and dogma. While your rite or way-of-worship is Coptic, your foundational belief is RC.

    Now, it's maybe ok that you don't look at the rosery the way it's intended to be in the RC, but, in comparative theology, we don't compare what you do to what we do, we compare what your church believes to what our church believes.
  • Thank you @minatasgeel, you saved me a whole unnecessary hassle.

  • The whole idea of indulgences are not part of my tradition. Accepting the doctrines and dogma of the Roman Catholic Church are significantly different to actually practicing them. While our church may technically 'accept' the doctrine behind indulgences they have no place in our tradition.

    You have made a fair point about me not looking at the rosary as intended - although I would again say that indulgences are in no way necessary to the prayer. Putting the whole idea of indulgences aside, the Rosary has no less merit when prayed.

    So, I am encouraging you and everyone to put "what my church believes" aside, and just pray the Rosary, at least once. The goal of this post was not to have a theological debate, but to encourage the use of this prayer. If you don't want to, fine. But don't try to theologically invalidate the whole prayer based on one of its supposed benefits, because that is impossible.
  • We are Copts, we have our own prayers and in fact we have many of them. Thanks for the offer.
  • St mary is the highest person in creation. She gave god to the world

    In the agpeya i really feel  that the focus is on the holy trinity
    and we ask the prayers of st mary and the saints as a intercession.

    we have als the Jesus prayer which is prayed with a prayer rope. Her we repeat ''Lord Jesus Christ, son of God have mercy on me a sinner'' but here too i feel that it is focussed on the holy trinity...

    When we look at the rosary we say for 53 times hail mary and between them prayers to god. To be honest, i dont feel comfortable by this.. for me it feels like we are more focussing on st mary than on god..



  • Thanks for your reply :)

    The focus when praying the Hail Mary's is not on the Hail Mary's themselves, but on the mysteries. All of the mysteries are focused on Christ, or otherwise they are focused on St Mary, but even these ones direct to Christ.

    If you focus only on the Hail Mary's and not on the mysteries, you are actually not praying the Rosary at all. I haven't just made that statement up, its a fact. Hence, if you don't feel like the Rosary is focused on our Lord Christ when you pray it, then you're not praying it properly.
  • The Rosary is, quite simply, not a feature of Coptic Orthodox spirituality. The same would be traditionally said about the Jesus Prayer (this prayer in the form it is widely known having its roots in the schismatic Chalcedonian church, specificially Diadochos of Photiki, who was present at Chalcedon as a bishop and counted himself among the upholders of it, writing at length in defense of this council and its definition of Orthodoxy), with the notable difference that there is nothing really heretical in the Jesus Prayer, as it is not dependent on imbibing the errors of the Chalcedonians if we should use it (I still don't do so personally, but I know many Copts who do).

    Is the same true with regard to the Roman Catholic rosary? No. It isn't. For all the reasons you guys have already brought up about the borders between the RCC and us (which I should like to see maintained as sharply as possible in every dimension in which they can be detected -- theologically, practically, etc.), but for even more that are connected to RC Mariology that you might not know if you haven't ever been RC, as I was before God led me to Orthodoxy.

    For instance, this Louis de Montfort quoted in the OP provided in his writings the basis by which Catholics have since argued that St. Mary is "Co-Redemptrix", meaning co-redeemer of mankind with Christ. Now there is a lot of misunderstanding about what this does and doesn't mean (and I could point to any number of RC websites that seek to clear them up, though I can't say that these are the specific issues I have with it -- i.e., I don't think it makes her a 'goddess'), but I will cut to the quick and cite a 1918 letter by then Roman Pope Benedict VX who writes of St. Mary in such a way as many who are in favor of this title see this as modern support for it using the following words (taken from Wikipedia's article on "Co-Redemptrix"): 

    As the Blessed Virgin Mary does not seem to participate in the public life of Jesus Christ, and then, suddenly appears at the stations of his cross, she is not there without divine intention. She suffers with her suffering and dying son, almost as if she would have died herself. For the salvation of mankind, she gave up her rights as the mother of her son and, in a sense, offered Christ's sacrifice to God the Father as far as she was permitted to do. Therefore, one can say, she redeemed with Christ the human race.

    I hope I don't have to make any kind of argument to Orthodox people as to why it is wrong to say that the Theotokos "offered Christ's sacrifice to God the Father" by "giving up her rights as the mother of her son". We can find many points of agreement with RCC on certain core ideas concerning St. Mary: that she did affect the salvation of mankind by giving birth for us to our Lord and Savior and God Jesus Christ, by Whom any and all who are saved are saved (St. Mary included); that she continues to effect the salvation of mankind as the mother of all Christians and the highest saint and most powerful intercessor that we have; and that even while saying both of these things, we recognize that she is a human being who is also in need of a savior. (Though the RCC messes with exactly what this means with their "immaculate conception" dogma, which has always been fought against in our Church, because of how it separates St. Mary from us and makes her unlike us in humanity; what are we to say of the flesh that He took from her in the incarnation, then? Is He not really human?)

    The theological underpinnings and context of the Rosary are not a point of commonality, however. Maybe someone here or elsewhere can argue for some analogous relationship between some aspect or portion of the Rosary and something that does actually come from Orthodox spirituality, but analogies are not an acceptable reason to adopt un-Orthodox practices and spirituality. Just because the OP apparently has in his own Coptic Catholic uniate church doesn't mean that anyone else should.

    Oh, and our Coptic Catholic friend is incorrect that all the mysteries of the Rosary focus on Christ, not on St. Mary. The fifth mystery to be prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays is specifically about St. Mary being crowned queen of heaven and earth. The actual text of the mystery if you click on that link and read it is very unacceptable, as well. For instance:

    I approached the throne of the Trinity and then God the Father, Jesus my Son, and the Holy Spirit Who is God, crowned me with a crown of gold and jewels. There was great rejoicing in Heaven: the angels began to sing, "Glory to God! Glory to God! Glory to God!" and the saints began to sing "Blessed are You, oh God most high, for You have exalted Your servant Mary to be Queen: to be honored above all creatures." And the angels also joined in the praises by saying, "Blessed are You, oh God of host, for You have thought it worthy to exalt and crown the lowly creature Mary as Queen of the universe." My Son took me by the hand and led me to the throne prepared for me. "Sit here, My Mother," He said, "This throne is yours. I have prepared it for you. It is here that you will rule with Me for all eternity: it is here that you will intercede for the world and I will hear whatever you say for I love you and I wish to honor you." I said, "Oh my Son, it is good for me to be here but I also pray that soon Your apostles, Your disciples, and all Your people will be here with us to praise You, to love You for all eternity." "Yes My Mother," He said to me, "I will give to you whatever your heart desires and from now on all men that acknowledge Me as their King must also acknowledge you as their Queen and Mother."

    Let's think about a few ways this story is not acceptable (I'm deliberately avoiding using the word 'heretical', because it's not up to laypeople like me to make that declaration, but to the Church as a whole, and thankfully our Church does not pass judgment on the faith of other Christian bodies that are not even in communion with us because someone made a post on the internet; if you were to ask me personally, however, I would deem it heretical, and since it's an integral part of the Rosary prayers, I would say the same about the Rosary itself):
    • The RC text says that God is blessed for having exalted St. Mary, whereas we say the opposite in every hymn or paraliturgical song that I've ever heard (that she is blessed and exalted for having been chosen by God to bare the Savior), e.g., in the Sunday Psali for the Theotokos: You are exalted, more than the Cherubim, and honored more, than the Seraphim. The Son of God our God, you gave birth to, we glorify Him as God, and also worship Him.
    • St. Mary is also apparently queen of the universe? You won't find that in our hymns, I bet (at least not in so far as you can search them for that phrase here on this website's hymn database, as I just did; it came up with no results), and I don't believe it to be a case of "well, you prefer this phrase, while we prefer that one" (after all, we are both very strong in our devotion to the Theotokos), because those who made St. Mary into more than what she is were condemned by the whole Church long before Chalcedon or the invention/supposed revelation of the Rosary. Look up Collyridianism, which is mentioned in St. Epiphanius' Panarion, written in the 370s. Also, lest anyone goes there: it's kind of hard to say that her being 'queen of the universe' is somehow metaphorical or something when this is revealed in what are supposedly her own words, based on some kind of mysterious revelation of what she witnessed and underwent in heaven.
    • Does the Theotokos rule with Christ for all eternity? Even in our most laudatory hymns sung for Kiahk, like يا م-ر-ي-م, we say things like "The persistent servant will always praise her, for by His side that Day the Lady of Virgins shall be", which is tied to her role as our intercessor and faithful advocate, not as some kind of eternal co-ruler (cf. the earlier point about the problems of her being 'co-redemptrix'; like that, this giving her a role that is above the already very great and powerful and important role that she does have).
    • In the RC text, St. Mary tells Jesus that she prays that all His people will be with them in eternity, and in response He says "I will give you whatever your heart desires." How far is this from "Whatever He says to you, do it"! (John 2:5; the context is the wedding at Cana.) As with the first bullet point, the relationship is backwards. 
    That's enough. I hope this post isn't coming off as some kind of bitter ex-Catholic looking to vent his spleen at his former church. That's not it. If I hadn't been Catholic first, I most likely would not have come to Orthodoxy, since it was my old father of confession, a wonderful Dominican order priest, who first introduced me to St. Ephrem the Syrian, and from there...well, I took a turn! Notwithstanding that gratitude, I must stand against parts of the RC faith that are wrong, as I believe the devotion recommended by the OP is. And I say that as someone who both prayed it myself when I was RC and still to this day has a rosary in my drawer that was blessed by Pope John Paul II at a family friend's trip to the Vatican some years ago. (I keep it because it was obviously a very nice gesture on the friend's part, so it means a lot to me on that level that someone who was close to my family would gift it to me.)

    TL;DR: Wrong is wrong. Let's not muddy the waters to no good end. RC devotions belong to RCs, just as our own Orthodox devotions belong to us.
  • Well said, brother. Well researched and said.
  • hey, great to 'see' you again, jeremy!
    happy feast of the cross
    :)
    thanks so much for that, i'll reference this from time to time, thank you, when i am trying to explain that orthodox and catholic Christians don't believe the same thing. 
    (regular questions from internet loving protestants who worry that i may be 'going to hell')

    the orthodox Christian understanding of saint mary is really balanced and well thought out by our lovely church fathers, thanks for explaining it well, and may the prayers of saint mary and all the saints be with everyone who has been discussing this, so that we can understand it better.

  • I believe that it's worth it to mention that the way in which St Louis Marie de Montfort writes cannot suggest that Mary could have such an important role in our salvation. She can help us greatly, for sure, however he does not suggest she could be anything like a "Co-Redeemer". In the opening chapter of his book "True Devotion to Mary", he writes:

    "[Mary] is in comparison with his Infinite Majesty, less than an atom, or rather she is nothing at all, because He only is "He who is", and thus by consequence that grand Lord, always independent and sufficient to Himself, never had, and has not now, any absolute need of the Holy Virgin for the accomplishment of His will and for the manifestation of His glory."

    Pope Francis has also quite recently tried to clear the confusion arising from the title of "Co-Redeemer" given to Saint Mary. See his recent comments on the issue (stated on the eve of the feast of the Assumption):

    "we need to be careful: the things the Church, the saints, say about her,
    beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole
    Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a
    child for his or her mother — some are exaggerated. But love, as we
    know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.”

    This is not to suggest that the previous pope which you quoted is wrong, but its possible that his words were misinterpreted. 

    Regarding the immaculate conception, I will not try to convince you of anything as this is a debate which has been ongoing for many years and its not worth my time to attempt to  change anyone's mind. However in response to your question of "what are we to say of the flesh that He took from her in the incarnation, then? Is He not really human?", I would ask you: Weren't Adam and Eve also human, even though they had no sin at first? Or was it their sin that made them human, like you are suggesting?

    In terms of the mysteries of the Assumption and the Coronation, I would argue that these do not focus on Christ - a mistake in my wording- but they are deeply connected, for without Christ neither of these events would have occurred. Also I am not sure where exactly that text comes from which you have linked, with the recount of the coronation. By my understanding the mystery of the Coronation is taken from Revelation 12:1-6, which implies nothing about Mary ruling with Christ (the only issue which you have raised which I believe qualifies for heresy), so I'm unsure about this. All your other points against the text are just comparisons with the hymns of the Church, which I do not believe is enough basis to call anything heresy.


  • edited October 7
    @Copt333

    I teach high-functioning teenagers with Autism for a living. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching those with Autism is to respect someone's opinion, as during many points in a conversation, it is best to "agree to disagree" and respect each other.

    Many of us on here are from other denominations, including Catholics. I would say a good token of advice is to not talk about different cuts of meat in a room full of vegans.

    That's what trying to explain the Immaculate Conception to Orthodox Christians is like. I believe all those who commented on here have been polite.

    Pope Shenouda one wrote that a person without an open heart may hear your words, but they will not listen.

  • edited October 8

    I agree with everything you have said. I never did anything to show disrespect towards the opinions of people on this forum, unless theological debates aren't allowed now? Especially in Non-Orthodox inquiries.

    Anyway, that being said I never intended for this post to infringe on anyone's beliefs or for this post to become a theological debate. I understand that the opinions which have been stated here are the teaching of the church, and of course these cannot be changed. I will agree to disagree like you have said, however I would also just say that there is a lot of misconception about the Catholic church and its beliefs in the Orthodox community, which I believe tends to hide the goodness in it.
  • I don't write anything to slander or further misconceptions of the Catholic community among Orthodox or anyone. 

    As for Montfort or whether or not any RC Pope has been misunderstood, that's immaterial to the question of whether or not such things should be advocated for among Orthodox people. I only bring them up because nobody outside of RCism would've heard of this stuff, so it's easy for RCs such as those of the uniates to present RC devotions as being acceptable. Acceptable in your church, sure, but not in ours. We need only compare what you pray and find orthodox with what we pray as Orthodox Christians and see that they are not the same, and that yours introduces what, from where we are, are deviations from the Orthodox faith. This is nothing other than taking seriously the very good Latin maxim Lex Orandi - Lex Credendi (The law of prayer is the law of belief), which I would hope both of our respective churches would take seriously enough to use what we pray as a body as our yardstick by which we measure everything else (hymns and prayers do not end up in our liturgies for no reason, after all). Hence, that we do not see eye to eye on things like these devotions is a big red flag for me. Whether or not you personally feel such comparisons are worthy of substantiating charges of heresy is another matter, since this is just a thread on a message board, and at any rate the RCC is already rejected as heretical for its many deviations from Orthodoxy dating back many centuries (before the Rosary, before Montfort, etc.).
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