Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A novel Rosary?

One of my many peeves with today's church is innovation, and particularly with JPII's addition of "The Mysteries of Light" to the holy Rosary. I found a very interesting article from 2002, right after the pope announced his meddling. Yes I said meddling. The old, boring Rosary was good enough for 1,000 years, but not for JPII. In today's church, if we can't totally do away with traditional things, we must change them. Here is one such example.

The Twenty Mysteries of the Rosary?
by John Vennari

"When one lives by novelty, there will always have to be a new novelty."
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

On October 16, 2002, Pope John Paul II marked the 24th Anniversary of his papacy with the release of the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in which he proclaimed a "Year of the Rosary" from October 2002 to October 2003. The document also contained a major innovation from a Pope whose Pontificate has been marked by a steady stream of novelties. He announced that he would add five new mysteries to the Rosary.

Word of the new mysteries was reported first on October 14 by various news agencies claiming that information was leaked from Vatican sources.

Father Richard John Neuhaus from First Things magazine found these early reports hard to believe, and told The Chicago Tribune that the Pope was not likely to alter the Rosary. "That he would suggest," said Neuhaus "or even declare some kind of official change to the Rosary is totally atypical, totally out of character." Neuhaus then said that the Pope does not have the authority to mandate changes in such a prayer.1

Father Neuhaus is correct that a Pope cannot mandate such changes, but he is mistaken to claim that the Pope's change of the Rosary would be "out of character" for this Pontiff of post-Conciliar aggiornamento. Even the secular press recognizes John Paul II as a man with a passion for setting papal precedents.

The New York Times' Frank Bruni wrote on October 15: "Time and again, Pope John Paul II has boldly gone where other Popes have not: a synagogue, a ski slope, distant countries with tiny populations. Tomorrow, he will apparently cross another frontier, making a significant change in the Rosary, a signature method of Catholic prayer for many centuries." 2

Bruni failed to mention that John Paul is also the first Pope to kiss the Koran,3 participate in rock'n'roll liturgies,4 allow Altar Girls, permit "lay ministers" to distribute Communion at his Papal Mass,5 suggest a "common martyrology" that contains Catholics and non- Catholics, praise documents that call the need for non- Catholics to convert to the Catholic Church an "outdated ecclesiology," 6 take part in "inculturated" ceremonies that includes pagan ritual,7 and convoke pan-religious prayer meetings that include Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Snake-worshipers.8

On the same theme, Rueters said, "Changing one of Christianity's most fundamental prayers after nearly a millennium will be a typical way for the 82- year-old Pope to crown 24 years of a pontificate marked by bold initiatives sometimes taken against the advice of aides." 9

The "new mysteries" of the Rosary took everyone by surprise. Thus I have postponed publication of Part III of my World Youth Day series10 in order to comment on this latest "bold initiative".

The Apostolic Letter

Two weeks previously, the pontiff announced he was preparing a document to stress the value of the Rosary. He urged the faithful to recite the Rosary, including together as families. John Paul said then that he wanted people to "rediscover the beauty and depth of this prayer".

The Pope, for a good part of the Apostolic Letter was true to his word. Much of Rosarium Virginis Mariae is praiseworthy, even edifying. How can one argue with the promulgation of a "Year of the Rosary" in order to revitalize practice of this Holy devotion? How can one find fault with the Pope's call to pray the Rosary for peace? How can one complain when the Pope laments that families are fragmented, that they often get together only to watch television, and that they should set some time aside to pray the Rosary together instead?

Also of interest was the Pope's frequent references to Blessed Bartholomew Longo (1841-1926) who was baptized Catholic, left the faith to become a satanic priest, and then repented, converted back to Catholicism and became an apostle of the Rosary. This is a beautiful lesson that conversion is possible even in apparently hopeless cases.

It is probable that the Letter will do much good in revitalizing Rosary devotion. Tens-of-thousands of Catholics who do not follow the details of Vatican events, will simply learn through the press, or from parish priests, that the Pope wants a renewed devotion to the Rosary and they will comply. I have little doubt that this Letter will produce its desired goal to inspire more Catholics in this holy exercise.

Yet at the same time, countless Catholics are baffled at the unnecessary addition of five new mysteries. What is this strange post-conciliar belief among today's Church leaders that Catholics will not find a traditional devotion interesting unless John Paul updates it? Why is it thought necessary to disfigure our devotions in order to capture a Catholic's attention? Why was it requisite for the Pope to put his personal stamp on the Rosary, rather than simply promote it as is: as did all the Popes before him, as did countless saints, and as did the Mother of God at Fatima?

The New Mysteries

The addition proposed by the Pope, called the Five Luminous Mysteries, also called the "Mysteries of Light," center on the public life of Christ. They are:

  1. the Baptism of Christ in Jordan,
  2. the Wedding Feast at Cana,
  3. the Announcement of the Kingdom,
  4. the Transfiguration,
  5. the Institution of the Eucharist as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.

These new mysteries, according to John Paul, are to be placed between the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries.

The Pope says that these additions are not mandatory, and explains his reason for the change. "I believe" he writes, "that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary, it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between His Baptism and His Passion." 11

Do you know of any Catholic, any saint, any Pope who ever considered the Rosary "lacking" in Christological depth? Did not the saints and the Popes constantly speak of the excellence of the Rosary? Did they ever suggest a radical addition to alter the structure of the Rosary in order to "improve" what was already excellent?

Reaction to the new mysteries has been predictable: everything from traditional Catholics who call it an "outrage," to Medjugorje followers who claim it "bears all the hallmarks of Divine inspiration". Once again, the much-vaunted "Pope of unity" has launched a novelty that divides Catholics.

And the question is, why?

Perhaps we should first ask, why not change the Rosary?

Read the rest of the article here


ignorant redneck said...

Gotta say, i see obth sides of this issue.

My own approach is to use the Luminous mysteries on Thurrsday--I see the rosary as primarily a set of meditations on the life of Christ, and these mysteries should be meditated on.

At the same time, I use the old forms of all the prayers, because I find the modern forms to be a bit watered down.

Sometimes, we use Latin.

The modern Church just seems to confuse me!

The Rockin' Traddy said...

As it confuses most people.

All of the ambiguities and innovations of the last 40 years have done nothing to promote the faith, but even more to confound and confuse.

My favorite quote from the article is this:"At Fatima, the Mother of God did not ask for a radically updated Rosary. Through the children, she told us to recite daily "a third of the Rosary," and warned of dire consequences if Her requests were not fulfilled. Thanks to the latest update, however, every new book that recounts these words of Our Lady of Fatima will require a footnote to explain that when She said "a third of the Rosary," She meant 5 decades, since a third of the new twenty-decade Rosary is 6.66 decades."

We ought not to be meddling around with these things. He could just as easily of asked for a new devotion, perhaps with rock music and dancing. They could've called it World Youth Day or something similar. What do YOU think?

Santiago Chiva de Agustín said...

Hello. Do you know why the young people pray the holy rosary?
See it:
Santiago (Granada, Spain)