My Grandmother's Rosary Beads
Today I looked in detail into the Rosary Beads of my grandmother, and their meaning, because they are part of my family heritage. You see I was raised in a Roman Catholic family.
Some time ago I had the dutiful honor of going through some family heirlooms and possessions. I had seen these blue rosary beads that belonged to my grandmother Dorothy. They and other things had sat a while waiting for me to make time to really take a look. And now was time for me to take that look and for this particular item, to recall its meaning and discern concerning the same. I recall many years ago, when still a Roman Catholic youngster, those days when we went to “Mass” and seeing those old “holy” nuns holding their beads and saying the rosary. I recall having an awe of them and somewhat fear as well. Now was the time to refresh myself and review this practice and this set of beads with a mediatrix in the middle and a crucifix at the bottom.
Now up front, I must say that today I neither bear nor claim either a Protestant or Catholic position in matters of faith, but instead cleave to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, in a (I hope) non denomination sense, including total independency from Rome, of which this set of rosary beads speak. I suppose the Catholic reader would label me Protestant, but I deny them the right to give me that title (1 Cor 1:12).
My findings were as follows-as to the practice of saying the Rosary. It involves going up from the crucifix around the circle of beads and back down to the crucifix. There may be some variations to this, but the general gist is captured herein:
• Sign of the Cross
• Apostles Creed recited
• Our Fathers recited
• Hail Mary’s recited
• Glory Be Prayer
• A meditation
• Hail Holy Queen Prayer (the one I’ve chosen to take a look at below)
• More Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers
• The Fatima Prayer
• Let us pray (from the Breviary)]
• St Michael Prayer
• Sign of the cross
As stated above, I want to look more closely at one aspect of this practice, specifically the Hail Holy Queen Prayer, given below verbatim:
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy (1), our life (2), our sweetness and our hope (3), to thee do we cry (4), 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 (5), thine eyes of mercy towards us (6), and after this, our exile, show unto us (7) the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary (8)! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God (9), that we may be made worthy (10) of the promises of Christ.
I have labeled ten places, in order to allow the reader to follow my thoughts. In respect for my grandmother I hold no ill will towards her, nor Roman Catholics per se, but I must say right now that I found things to be disturbing. Here is a review of but ten problems with the Hail Holy Queen prayer (you will notice the title of the prayer itself has a problem or two, but for brevity we’ll stick to these ten):
The title mother of mercy is not biblical. As a matter of fact, Mary herself said Luke 1:47 to God that her spirit rejoiced in “God my Savior.” This is her tacit admission that she herself is a sinner and also in need of a Savior. To call her the mother of mercy is a troubling concept. Romans 9:16 tells us that it is God that shows mercy. She cannot be the mother of mercy, she needed it too!
Mary is next referred to as “our life.” Colossians 3:4 says “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. Christ is our life, not Mary.
In Romans 15:13, reference is made to the God of hope. 1 Corinthians 15:19 speaks of having hope in Christ in this life and for the next. To say Mary is our hope is to place her into God’s position, the same thing as done above with life and mercy. This is troubling.
To thee do we cry, it says next, meaning unto Mary. This forgets the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). This isn’t about asking others to pray for us on earth, which is a normal practice of believers. But rather this is looking to Mary in a mediatrix role, one which in practice elevates her to the place of Christ who alone is mediator. This is troubling as well.
Next: The use of the term Advocate for Mary, it makes one think of 1 John 2:1 “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Why is Mary being exalted, yet again, into the place of Christ?
Here I cannot help but think of the publican, of Luke 18:13 who said unto God “God be merciful to me, the sinner”. See also #1 above concerning mercy.
Next is prayer language asking Mary to “show unto us”, the Lord Jesus. Yet we read in 1 Corinthians 2:12 the following: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Notice the Spirit of God is the Divine Person who reveals the things of God to believers, not a mediatrix. Why put Mary into that role?
Pray for us. See #4 above. Also, she is not still a virgin. She had other children.
The title Holy Mother of God is a difficulty. First, let us affirm that Jesus is full Deity, and we affirm Trinitarian doctrine. And we affirm that Mary was the earthly mother of Jesus. But this is a title that we find disconcerting. Its inferences are somewhat true, Jesus is God, and Mary was His human mother, a chosen vessel from among sinful humanity to bear the Incarnate Son of God. It isn’t a necessity today to battle the Arians by using this title. A simple thus saith the Lord from scripture suffices in many places where the deity of Christ is questioned by heretics. Yet it is also a misleading thing to use terminology that is extra-biblical, that exalts a human being, like this does. Mary as mother of God encompasses much more in our thoughts than Mary as the mother of Jesus does. It exalts her not Him.
Worthiness/Made worthy is a real concern. There is ever in Catholicism the underling concept of merit that confuses and misleads people in their thinking about what constitutes true acceptance and standing before God. Colossians 2:10 says “ye are complete in Him…” This is tremendous. The believer, however weak and imperfect, can rest in the assurance that faith in Christ gives the position of perfection before God. This isn’t perfection or worthiness in ourselves, but instead, we are complete in Him. Ephesians 1:6 tells us the believer is “accepted” in the Beloved. The “Beloved” is Christ. Here again is a positional truth that such prayers to Mary miss and even deny. The believer is complete and accepted in Christ, and doesn’t need a mediatrix to pray for something the believer already has.
So, the reader may ask, what is my point in writing? It is simply as stated above. This is my birth heritage, Roman Catholicism. I decided to look at these blue beads and review the Rosary in detail as a prayer that is suggested for “Christians” to recite. Biblical examination shows it falls short.
It replaces the role of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the mediatrix work of Mary being emphasized.
It denies believers there true standing before God in Christ, and leaves them grasping for something that a true believer HAS already. What is of interest is the increasing & broad failure of even Protestantism along these lines.
In practice it turns the eye of the professing Christian unto Mary, and therefore away from Christ. He seems too harsh to approach, so one goes thru Mary instead, who is more merciful it seems.
The bible warns of vain repetition in prayer. This Rosary is precisely that.
The picture of the rosary beads themselves, tells the story. At the bottom is a crucifix, which neglects the fact that Jesus is no longer on the cross. Anyway, traveling above Him at the crossroads, so to speak, both going up the rosary beads, and then back down, one must go through Mary. My conclusion is that it is not a Christian practice to say the Rosary. It is a downright danger to souls. It clouds and replaces the truth. The truth is no doubt there, for I heard the true gospel even while in Catholic circles (Christ died for sinners, Christ is risen). The problem is that the truth was clouded inside such extra/anti-biblical concepts, so much so that the truth, though present, is HARD TO SEE. Thank you for taking time to read this review of…the Rosary.