Monday, October 17, 2011

The 15 Decade Rosary

The rosary—as it has been for centuries—is at the center of the private devotions buttressing liturgical practice, and in this Month of the Rosary, it is timely to summarize reflections on it, and the larger truth it expresses, devotion to Christ through Mary.

I have turned to many resources in this study over the past few years since I began praying the rosary on a regular basis, and lately I have found much that resonates with my private devotions in the works of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, and his marvelous books, The Secret of the Rosary, and True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (I would recommend you seek out the older editions in hardback) are crucial guides.

One aspect that leapt out in my study is that the five decade rosary I have been using is not the fullest expression of the rosary of tradition, as the Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

"The Rosary", says the Roman Breviary, "is a certain form of prayer wherein we say fifteen decades or tens of Hail Marys with an Our Father between each ten, while at each of these fifteen decades we recall successively in pious meditation one of the mysteries of our Redemption."

The birth of the rosary as a feast day of the Church is powerfully connected to Catholic martiality by one of the great martial popes, Saint Pius V, who called forth the knights and armed men of Europe to fight in a decisive battle, noted by the Catholic Encyclopedia.

“On the day of the Battle of Lepanto, 7 Oct., 1571, he was working with the cardinals, when, suddenly, interrupting his work opening the window and looking at the sky, he cried out, "A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army". He burst into tears when he heard of the victory, which dealt the Turkish power a blow from which it never recovered. In memory of this triumph he instituted for the first Sunday of October the feast of the Rosary.”

Saint Pope Pius V wrote in the Papal Bull of 1569 Consueverunt Romani—two years before the battle of Lepanto.

“And so Dominic looked to that simple way of praying and beseeching God, accessible to all and wholly pious, which is called the Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which the same most Blessed Virgin is venerated by the angelic greeting repeated one hundred and fifty times, that is, according to the number of the Davidic Psalter, and by the Lord's Prayer with each decade. Interposed with these prayers are certain meditations showing forth the entire life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thus completing the method of prayer devised by the by the Fathers of the Holy Roman Church.”

This aspect: “showing forth the entire life of Our Lord Jesus Christ” at each praying of the fifteen decades is very powerful, and is not enjoyed by praying only five, which results in a somewhat disjointed approach I had never noticed before praying the full fifteen.

Enjoy this Month of the Rosary and pray a fifteen decade rosary, which are hard to find but I found one at, where else, 15 Decade Rosaries, a wonderful apostolate.