Wednesday, December 23, 2009


So, Advent is here and almost gone and this is my first Advent post. It has been a busy few weeks with the end of the semester and writing for fun has fallen by the wayside. Here is a short Advent post I wrote for school as part of a paper on using music and art to teach the faith. It is about the song "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and how it uses the traditional "O Antiphons". 

The classic Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, is composed of verses which originated in the “Great O Antiphons”, antiphons which were, and still are, recited during evening prayer before and after the singing of the Magnificat during the seven days prior to the Christmas Vigil. This song can be used to teach the attributes of Christ. The attributes are: Wisdom (Sapientia), Lord (Adonai), Root of Jesse (Radix Jesse), Key of David (Clavis David), Dayspring (Oriens), Longed for King (Rex), and Emmanuel (Emmanuel), and are taken from the Old Testament titles of the coming Messiah.

Some Scripture references for each title are:
Wisdom -- Proverbs 1:20; 8; 9
Lord -- Exodus 3, Micah 5:2
Root of Jesse -- Isaiah 11:10
Key of David -- Isaiah 22:22
Dayspring -- Luke 1:78, 79
King -- Psalm 118:22, Isaiah 28:16
Emmanuel -- Isaiah 7:14; 8:8

The antiphons are prayed in the listed order, and by taking the first letter of the Latin words and reversing it, one gets “ero cras” which translates to “I will be here tomorrow”. Obviously the early monks who first wrote the antiphons chose the order of the attributes deliberately. The antiphons also include a petition asking the Redeemer to come and bring us prudence, redemption, delivery, freedom from captivity, delivery (again), enlightenment, and to save us. These are all very important petitions which are taught by the use of the antiphons. By popularizing the antiphons into song, they were much more widely known, and gave the ordinary people a way of learning more about the Lord and his coming.

A good reference that I used is the blog "What Does the Prayer Really Say" and is found here.  Another blog that has been doing a series on the "O Antiphons" is The Anchoress . You will have to scroll through the posts to find them, but it is well worth it. She also includes music and video in the posts-- great!

I wish everyone a safe, Blessed, Holy Christmas.

Thank you for reading and I will see you after the New Year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Specific directions for praying the rosary.

Traditionally, the different sets of mysteries are prayed on different days of the week, but you may pray any or all sets on any day.

The pattern is:
Joyful-- Monday, Saturdays (and Sundays in Advent)
Sorrowful--Tuesday, Friday (and Sundays of Lent)
Glorious--Wednesday and Sundays in Ordinary time.

A good graphic for what to pray on each bead is found at Our Lady's Rosary Makers and is reproduced here:

The numbers on the picture correspond to the following instructions:

1) Hold the crucifix in your hand, make the sign of the cross and recite the Apostles Creed

2) On the first bead pray one Our Father

3) On the next three beads pray a Hail Mary on each bead, then one Glory Be.

4) Begin the first decade on the next separate bead. Announce the first mystery and reflect on this moment in the life of Jesus and pray one Our Father.

5) For each of the next 10 beads continue your reflection on the first mystery and pray one Hail Mary on each bead. After the final Hail Mary finish the decade by praying one Glory Be.

6) Begin the second decade on the next separate bead. Announce the second mystery and reflect on this moment in the life of Jesus and pray one Our Father.

7) For each of the next 10 beads continue your reflection on the second mystery and pray one Hail Mary on each bead. After the final Hail Mary finish the decade by praying one Glory Be.

8) Begin the third decade on the next separate bead. Announce the third mystery and reflect on this moment in the life of Jesus and pray one Our Father.

9) For each of the next 10 beads continue your reflection on the third mystery and pray one Hail Mary on each bead. After the final Hail Mary finish the decade by praying one Glory Be.

10) Begin the fourth decade on the next separate bead. Announce the fourth mystery and reflect on this moment in the life of Jesus and pray one Our Father.

11) For each of the next 10 beads continue your reflection on the fourth mystery and pray one Hail Mary on each bead. After the final Hail Mary finish the decade by praying one Glory Be.

12) Begin the fifth decade on the next separate bead. Announce the fifth mystery and reflect on this moment in the life of Jesus and pray one Our Father.

13) For each of the next 10 beads continue your reflection on the fifth mystery and pray one Hail Mary on each bead. After the final Hail Mary finish the decade by praying one Glory Be.

14) At the centerpiece recite the Hail, Holy Queen and the Closing Prayer.

Here it is tradition to pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be for the Pope and his intentions.

Make the sign of the cross to finish.

Remember that the prayers are listed in this post and the mysteries are found in the October and November 2009 archives.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Rosary Mysteries—Part 4

This week I’ll finish up the rosary series since next Sunday starts Advent and a whole new source of posts.

The final set of mysteries is the Glorious Mysteries, which shows us the time from Jesus’ resurrection onward.

The first glorious mystery is the Resurrection. This is the moment when Jesus rose from the dead. This mystery gives us proof of the hope we have in a future life after death, where we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven in the presence of God. Scripture verses are Mt 28, Mk 16:1-18, Lk 24:1-49, Jn 20.

The second is the Ascension. This is the time when Jesus, after spending time with the apostles after rising from the dead, rose to Heaven to reign as King. Lk 24:50-53, Mk 16:19-20, Acts 1:8-11.

The third mystery is the Descent of the Holy Spirit. This is the time when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and Mary who were waiting and praying in the upper room on Pentecost. As Jesus had told them, the Father would send another advocate after he had risen to Heaven. The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to boldly preach the truth of Jesus to all. Acts 1:8-2:47.

The last two Glorious Mysteries come to us from Tradition. They are the Assumption and the Coronation.

The fourth mystery is the Assumption of Mary. Catholic Tradition holds that after her death, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was raised to Heaven body and soul. The Eastern Churches call this the Dormition, and hold that Mary did not die. This concept prepares us for what will happen on the final day—we will all be raised body and soul and go to our eternal home, which will hopefully be Heaven. This mystery gives us hope for the future. We can meditate on how we can change our lives to be more like Mary in her faith, trust and obedience to God.

The final Glorious Mystery (and final mystery of the entire Rosary) is the Coronation of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth. This is also sourced from Tradition, and is something that causes much difficulty for non-Catholics and some Catholics. Since we believe that Jesus is King of the universe, Mary, as his mother would be the Queen. This comes from both Biblical and non-Biblical reasoning. In a Monarchy, the mother of the King is revered as Queen Mother. This is true also in the heavenly Kingdom where we, the subjects of Jesus, revere his mother as our Queen. It also stems from the commandment to honor our father and mother. What better way for Jesus to honor his mother than to make her queen of the universe. In this mystery we can meditate on how we honor our own parents and on how we can hope to enter heaven after death.

Now we have lots of information and scriptures to use in our meditations while praying the rosary. Next I will discuss the virtues associated with the mysteries.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Rosary Mysteries-- Part 3

Today we will discuss the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. These mysteries cover the time from after the last supper to the death of Jesus. They are especially relevant in this month of November as we remember our friends and family who have passed on before us. Knowing that Jesus suffered and died can make the suffering and death of our loved ones a little easier to bear-- they do not suffer alone.

The first sorrowful mystery is the Agony in the Garden. In this mystery we think about the sorrow Jesus felt as he waited for Judas to betray him. Not only Judas' betrayal, but the inability of the disciples who were with him in the garden to stay awake to console him must have hurt him very much. We have all been betrayed by someone close to us at some point in our lives, and Jesus understands this-- go to him with this hurt and he will heal it.  The Scripture passages for this mystery are: Mt 26:36-49, Mk 14:32-42, Lk 22:39-46.

The second sorrowful mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar.  This is when Jesus is scourged by the Roman guards after being questioned by Herod. Jesus suffered in his body to make up for all the sins we would commit. Let us always remember this. Scripture passages: Mk 15:15, Jn 19:1

The third sorrowful mystery is the Crowning with Thorns. The Roman soldiers mock Jesus who has been accused of being "King of the Jews" by giving him a crown, but one made of thorns. We have probably all been pinched by a thorn from a rose and know how painful it can be. Imagine the pain of an entire rose bush worth of thorns being pressed into your head. Would we agree to allow this to happen to us to save someone we love from harm? To save someone who hates us? Jesus did.

The fourth sorrowful mystery is the Carrying of the Cross.  After being physically and verbally abused, Jesus is forced to carry his cross to the site of execution. Physically and emotionally drained, he needs help from a passer-by to carry the heavy load.  The cross is heavy with our sins, We can help Jesus to carry that cross by trying not to sin and asking for forgiveness when we do.

The fifth and final sorrowful mystery is the Crucifixion. Jesus died for all of mankind. Do we remember to thank him daily for this gift? He has paid our debt, but do we continue to gather new debts? Do we forgive others as he did from the cross?

Scripture passages for the entire set of mysteries: Mt 26:36-27:56, Mk 14:32-15:39, Lk 22:39-23:49, Jn 18:1-19:37.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1-- All Saints Day

Today we celebrate All Saints Day.  Celebrated on November 1, this feast of the Catholic Church reminds us of Jesus' instruction to "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). For who are the saints, but those who have lived their lives close to God, and as perfectly as possible.

The saints are those who dwell in heaven with God, including the Old Testament Patriarchs, the Apostles, the martyrs of the early church (and modern times) and all those who gave witness to Christ in their lives. (see Pope Benedict's homily from All Saints Day 2006).

Why do we honor the saints? Do they need our honor? No, but we do. We need to remember them so that we may imitate them and one day join them in heaven in the presence of God. As Pope Benedict states in his homily, "The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him."

May all the saints pray for us and lead us to heaven by their examples.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

More about the Mysteries--Part 2

In looking at the mysteries in chronological order, the second set would be the Luminous Mysteries, introduced by Pope John Paul II in 2002. These mysteries fill in the time between the traditional Joyous and Sorrowful mysteries and highlight the public life of Jesus. For an in depth explanation of the Luminous Mysteries, you can read section 21 of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter   I will try to limit this post to pointing out the scripture passages that relate to each mystery.

The first luminous mystery is the Baptism of Jesus. We see this in Matthew's Gospel, chapter 3, verses 10-17, where Jesus approaches John to be baptized in the River Jordan.

Our second Luminous Mystery is the miracle at the Wedding Feast in Cana. Here Jesus performs his first public miracle at the urging of his mother Mary (Jn 2:1-11). This passage is useful in showing how Mary intercedes with her son for those in need (us), as she did for the wedding couple. This, after all, is what the rosary is all about-- praying with Mary to Jesus. And what is prayer? It is many things, but it can be a petition to God for some favor for ourselves or others. Asking Mary's help, just as the wine steward did, causes her to go to her son with the request. The only stipulation? In Mary's words, "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5)

The third luminous mystery is the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the call to conversion. This is the call of Jesus and the Gospels in general, but can be specifically seen in the following passages: Mark 1:14-15 ("The kingdom of God is at hand"), Mark 2:3-13 ("Child, your sins are forgiven."), and Luke 7:47-50 ("Your faith has saved you; go in peace.").

The fourth luminous mystery, The Transfiguration, is, in the words of John Paul II, "The mystery of light par excellence" (RVM 21). It is found in all three synoptic Gospels: Luke 9:28-35, Mark 9:2-8 and Matthew 17:1-8.

The fifth luminous mystery is the Institution of the Eucharist, commonly known as the Last Supper. This account is again found in all three synoptic Gospels and is central to our faith. We see this account in Mt 26:20-30, Mk 14:18-26, Lk 22:14-20.

So we now have plenty to meditate on for the Luminous Mysteries. Both EWTN and OurLadyWeb have good meditations with small pictures for each of the mysteries.

Next: Two more sets to go!

More about the Mysteries-- Part 1

The first set of mysteries are the Joyful Mysteries. As listed in my last post, they are, the annunciation, visitation, nativity, presentation and finding.  These are the most 'Marian' of all the mysteries, as Mary plays a larger role in these mysteries than in all the others. This fact makes the rosary objectionable to many non-Catholics, who see the rosary as a 'prayer to Mary', which it is not.

The rosary is a prayer of contemplation (or meditation) on the life of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of Mary and as recorded in scripture. It is a prayer prayed with Mary, not to her.  Even the Hail Mary, which many object to, is scripture based and is a plea to Mary, the mother of Jesus, to pray for us to her son.  If the scriptural basis of the Hail Mary surprises you, check out the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 28,35,42 and 48.

The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation, is found in Luke's Gospel, chapter 1, and is the announcement of the conception of Jesus as told to Mary by the angel Gabriel. (Lk 1:26-38)

The second joyful mystery, the Visitation, directly follows in Luke's Gospel, and shows us Mary's concern for her cousin Elizabeth. (Lk 1:39-56)

The third joyful mystery, the Nativity, is the well known story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem as recorded in Luke, chapter 2, verses 1-20.

The fourth joyful mystery, the Presentation, concerns the circumcision of Jesus and His dedication to the Lord, as was required of all firstborn sons according to Jewish law in those days. (Lk 2:21-38)

The fifth and final joyful mystery is the Finding of Jesus in the temple, which relates the incident of losing Jesus in the crowd at Jerusalem for 3 days and eventually finding him in the temple with the teachers. (Lk 2: 41-50)

Now that we have the references, we have something to meditate on. Your meditation doesn't have to last long, however much time you have is ok, as long as you do it.

By reading the associated scripture passages, thinking about them from memory, singing Christmas or church songs, reading poetry or other people's thoughts on each one of these mysteries, looking at a picture depicting the scene, or thinking of how a mystery relates to our personal life, we are praying the rosary as we should. By doing this,we are contemplating the Gospel story and growing closer to Jesus.

If you don't have a Bible handy, you can access the Catholic online version at the US Catholic Bishops site , or many different versions at either or Bible Gateway .com 

(not responsible for content on linked to sites)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mysteries of the Rosary

Now that you know the prayers of the rosary, you will need to know the mysteries.

There are 20 mysteries, which are events in the life of Jesus and/or Mary, taken from scripture; or events concerning Mary taken from the Tradition of the Catholic Church, of which there are two. The mysteries are divided into 4 sets of 5 and a set of five mysteries is usually what is meant when speaking of 'praying a rosary'.  Traditionally, there have been 3 sets of mysteries, with the fourth set added by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

The rosary has been called a summary of the Gospel, since it traces the Gospel story from beginning to end, and you will notice the chronological order of the mysteries. The addition of the Luminous Mysteries, the public life of Jesus from his baptism to the last supper, rounded out this Gospel summary.

The purpose of the mysteries is to have something to meditate on during prayer, and this meditation is an intergal part of the rosary. Without this meditation, the rosary becomes, in the words of Pope Paul VI, "...a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7)."

The mysteries are Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious.


1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity
4. The Presentation of Jesus
5. The Finding of Jesus preaching in the Temple


1. Jesus' baptism in the Jordan
2. The wedding feast at Cana
3. The proclamation of the Kingdom
4. The Transfiguration
5. Institution of the Eucharist


1. The Agony in the garden
2. The Scourging
3. The Crowning with thorns
4. Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion


1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption of Mary
5. The Crowning of Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth

Next: Putting it all together-- the prayers and the mysteries combine to make the rosary.

Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus (2 February 1974), 47: AAS (1974), 156.
Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (16 October 2002)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Prayers of the Rosary

The prayers included in the rosary are: Apostle's Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Fatima Prayer, Hail Holy Queen and the closing prayer.

The Apostle's Creed
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; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sits 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 life everlasting.

The Our Father
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hollowed 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.

The Hail Mary
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 death.

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.

The Fatima prayer
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.

The Hail Holy Queen
Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, 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 valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The closing prayer
O God, whose only begotten son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that by meditating on 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.

The prayers translated into many different languages may be found here

Next: the Mysteries of the Rosary.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Lady of Fatima and the Rosary

Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal to 3 children in 1917. She requested they (and we) pray the rosary daily. Our Lady appeared on the 13th of the month, each month, from May to October.

On October 13,1917 during a torrential rain storm, Our Lady appeared, the sun broke through the storm, and while the children were in the midst of their vision of the Blessed Mother, those in attendance were witness to a miracle. The sun appeared to fall from the sky, and many thought the end was very near. They witnessed the sun spin on its axis, change colors and 'dance' in the sky. After this miracle, the people and the grounds, which had been soaking wet moments before, were completely dry. Even the secular press recorded the miracle on the front page of the paper the next day!

What does this mean for us? I think it means that God still performs miracles. Since Our Lady predicted the sun miracle, I think it means the vision really was the Mother of Jesus.

And, I think it means we should heed her call to pray the rosary daily. Is it easy? Yes and no. The rosary itself is not a difficult prayer, but to pray it effectively, meditating on the mysteries, takes time. In our hectic lives, we probably can't pray a full 20 decades daily as many Popes and saints have done, and as many religious still do, but we can start with 10, or 5 or even one. Even starting with one decade daily is a powerful way to improve our prayer life. It becomes easier to add another decade weekly (or monthly, as your schedule allows) until a full 10 decades are such an important part of your day that you don't want to miss it.

Personally, I struggle with this. I go through phases of daily rosaries, followed by phases of weekly rosaries or less. But in this month of the rosary, I will recommit to a daily rosary. Who will join me?

Here is a link to the official site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal:

Next: How to pray the rosary.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October is the month of the Rosary

October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. This month I will focus on what the Rosary is and why Catholics pray it.

Why the Rosary for October? On Oct 7,1571, a huge naval battle was fought off the Bay of Lepanto. Christian ships were outnumbered, and loss of the battle, as well as an invasion of Europe was imminent. Pope Pius V urged all Catholics to pray the rosary to ask God's help in winning the battle, and entrusted the fleet to the Virgin Mary. The battle was won by the Christian fleet, and Pope Pius V declared Oct 7 the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, later changed to the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's in a name?

Two sides of the Catholic coin. Funny name for a blog, eh? What does it mean? Well, it could mean lots of things. Scripture & Tradition. Old & New Testaments. Latin & English. Martha & Mary. Rendering to Caesar & rendering to God. The widow's mite & the rich man's gift. I'm sure there are lots more, but this will do for now.

I'll address these topics and more, with a different topic each week.