The Rosary old and… new?
Beautiful article in the Remnant about the reasons why the “luminous mysteries” should be discarded.
The first one is the historic origin of the Rosary in the Psaltery. When monks started to have the obligation to read all the Psalms (150 in number) every day, the increasing number of conversi (lay people who lived in the monastery helping the monks, generally to expiate grave sins or otherwise to perfect themselves but without becoming monks) made it necessary to create a comparable devotion accessible to them. As most conversi were illiterate, they started to be given the task of reciting 150 Pater Noster every day. In time, this devotion spread to the generality of the lay people in form of 150 Ave Maria. Thus we have a direct link to the Rosary with the Psaltery. An addition of a fourth cycle of mysteries makes of the entire rosary a cycle of 200 Hail Marys and the traditional link with the Psaltery is lost.
Secondly, the division of the Rosary in three parts and three sets of mysteries has been traditionally linked to the Trinity. This is why Pope Paul VI says that the Rosary is wisely distributed in three parts. The addition of a fourth part destroys the traditional link of the Rosary with the Trinity.
Thirdly, in any innovation of the Rosary there is an element of change. After the innovation madness of the last decades, we now know that change is not something good in itself; on the contrary, it creates confusion. What has been honoured and considered orthodox praxis by the centuries should be transmitted unaltered to the following generations. If it ain’t broken…….
Fourthly (and this is not in the article, but is a fact nevertheless) the Rosary has been shaped in his main traits by Marian apparitions to St. Dominic, Blessed Alan de la Roche and lastly to the children of Fatima. The idea that a Pope should add his own suggestions on how to improve on various Marian apparitions really, really doesn’t feel right.
Further interesting elements emerge from this article: the first is the attempted ravaging of the Rosary by the notorious Annibale Bugnini (it is amazing not only what damage the man has caused, but what further damage he wanted to cause), attempt stopped by Pope Paul VI who therefore spared the Rosary from undergoing the same treatment Bugnini inflicted to the Mass. The second is the laud given by the notoriously anti-Catholic New York Times to JP II’s “suggested” changes. Please note the words of the Article: JP II is commended for “crossing another frontier”, because in the NYT’s world if you cross a frontier of traditional Catholicism you must be doing something good. More explicitly, the NYT informs his probably unaware readers that the Pope will be “making a significant change in the Rosary, a signature method of Catholic prayer for centuries now”. Now, the NYT is certainly not interested in the improvement of Catholic spirituality. What it is interested in, is that something which has gone on for centuries is now going to change. They know very well that every time someone gives a shove to a traditional devotion, the faith is weakened as a result. The third is that even in the Vatican’s mind the changes reflect the late Pope’s “creativity” and “courage”. That “creativity” in relation to traditional Catholic devotions be not only contemplated, but even praised speaks volumes about the theological approximation and tireless devotion to “change” which used to afflict the Vatican in those years. Only eight years later, we read these words with stunned disbelief. That they could come from the Vatican is even more disquieting than the fact that they should be praised by their enemies at the NYT.
A bad History teacher doesn’t change History and a bad teacher of Catholicism doesn’t change Catholicism. But both will transmit their mediocrity to their pupils.
This is, of course, no theological matter. Still, traditional Catholic devotions play (or should play) an important role in a Catholic’s life and should be therefore left alone. It is now high time to abandon the shallowness and fashion-conscious thinking making us believe that “change” be something good. Change for the sake of change is not good and is not courageous, and “creativity” is nothing to do with tradition.
I invite you to recite the Rosary every day, and to do it as many generations before us have done.
Posted on August 6, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged Annibale Bugnini, Catholicism, conservative catholicism, John Paul II, Luminous Mysteries, Paul VI, the rosary, Traditional Rosary. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Thanks for this post, Mundabor. I have always resented the Luminous Mysteries and do not pray them, but I felt a bit guilty about feeling this way. You have put into words what I felt in my gut but did not know how to express. I can now avoid the Luminous Mysteries with a clear conscience!
I had your feeling about a lot of things: the guitars, the stupid songs, the effeminate “peace ‘ n love” atmosphere, the disturbances of the children in the indifference or ineffective shushing of their parents; the priests trying to become politicians. As you, I initially had a sense of “it seems wrong, so I must be wrong”.
In the meantime I reached the conclusion that if it seems wrong from a perspective of respect and proper reverence for Christ it probably is and if my grandmothers would have considered it wrong, it most certainly is.