Today when we speak of Rosary, many think of the Marian Rosary, which originated in the 13th century and traces its origin to St. Dominic. The Rosary became popular as the devotion of the illiterate masses. It has the same number of Hail Marys as there are psalms in the Bible. The Marian Rosary, with four sets of mysteries, is the most popular catholic devotion today. There was, however, an ‘Our Father Beads’ common in monastic traditions, much prior to the Marian Rosary. The lay brothers, who were unable to read or pray the Divine Office in Latin, were obliged to say the Lord’s prayer a certain number of times (50 to 150 times) every day. Some devout lay people also were praying similarly. They used pebbles or beads strung upon a cord to count the repetitions. Those strings of beads are commonly known as Pater-noster (Our Father), even when they are used to recite Hail Marys in the Marian Rosary. In the flow of centuries, the Pater-noster beads went out of vogue and the Marian rosary became popular.
B. The Our Father Rosary
The Our Father Rosary is a popular prayer, like the former Marian Rosary of three sets of mysteries (Psalter). It commemorates, or rather celebrates, the salvation history recounting the Bible. The Our Father Rosary has been divided into three sets of five mysteries each. Each set of mysteries is dedicated to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the three persons of the Holy Trinity. The prayer is designed as an effective way of contemplating the mysteries of salvation unfolding in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Church and world as creation, redemption and sanctification. The mysteries start with creation and end with the last judgment and the final manifestation of the Reign of God.
Mysteries of CREATION
1. The Creation of the Universe
2. The Creation of Humans
3. Human Sin and God’s Promise of a Saviour
4. The Election of Israel as the People of God
5. The God of Love and Compassion
In the beginning God our Father created the world and humans. He created man and woman (Adam and Eve) “in his own image and likeness” and placed them in the Garden of Eden as the crown of all creation. God blessed them, told them to multiply and made them stewards of the whole of creation. They lived in perfect harmony with nature - all plants and creatures. Humans, however, disobeyed and sinned against God. They broke off from the love of God and exiled themselves from his presence. The entire creation had to suffer the consequence of Sin. Creation itself is waiting to be freed from the bondage of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. The merciful Father, who wills the salvation of every human being, continued to accompany humanity. He made a covenant with humankind and promised a redeemer to deliver them and to lead them in the path of salvation. God enlightens all cultures and religions through the Word and Spirit in their journey toward the Father.
Mysteries of REDEMPTION
1. The Birth of the Saviour in a Manger
2. The Inauguration of the Reign of God
3. The Institution of the Eucharist
4. The Passion and Death of Jesus
5. The Resurrection of Jesus
From the beginning of creation the ‘seeds of the Word’ are present among humans. However, God chose a particular people for the Word of God to become fully manifest. He chose Abraham and entered into a special covenant with him. God gave the Law and sent prophets and teachers to his chosen people until the coming of the Savior. God’s election of one people is not rejection of others. In the fullness of time, God sent his only begotten Son to be incarnate and to redeem humans. Jesus announced the Reign of God and invited all to receive it. All His actions proclaim that “God is love.” Jesus spoke of God as his own Father and spoke of himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Through his teaching, miracles, the example of his life and above all through his passion, death and resurrection, He brought new life so that all could return to the Father. He gives everyone the fullness of life. In him the understanding of “neighbor” becomes universalized, yet remains concrete and particular. As true God and true man, Jesus Christ sheds light on the mystery of God and mystery of humans. The Risen Jesus is present and active through the Word of God and the Eucharist. Through the Holy Spirit He is available as a friend to all humans on the journey home to Abba, Father. Like a good shepherd, He leaves the other ninety-nine and goes looking for the one that got lost. He died for the sins of all. He always lives to make intercession for all. Jesus hears the prayers of all because every genuine prayer is prompted by the Spirit of God mysteriously present in every human heart. He assures that whatever is asked in his name to the Father will be granted. Even the devils/evil spirit obeys when commanded in the name of Jesus. Jesus bestows on his devotees the precious gifts of love and peace, for He is “God of love and peace.”
Mysteries of SANCTIFICATION
1. The Universal Divine Daughter/Sonship
2. The Christian Divine Daughter/Sonship
3. The Spirit of Charity and Truth
4. The Spirit of Unity of the Humankind
5. The Final Manifestation of the Reign of God
The saving will of God is revealed through the working of the Holy Spirit, first in creation and then in incarnation. The Holy Spirit who is Lord and Giver of Life was hovering over the original void at creation. He has spoken through the prophets and sages. He descended upon Jesus at his baptism. God the Father sent the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, Mother Mary and all present on Pentecost - through the intercession of Jesus - to be the sanctifier and advocate of all believers. The Spirit, through baptism, gives humans a fuller understanding of the teaching of Jesus. He leads them to the Father, through adoption as children of God. The Spirit is present and active in the Church, making her the universal sacrament of salvation. The Bible and the teachings of the Church are very explicit on the universal presence and action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit “who breathes when and where he wills” is present and active also beyond the visible frontiers of the Church. His presence and activity are universal as prophesied: “I will pour out my spirit on all mankind.” “The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature.” He is “that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human life.” The mission document Ad Gentes recalls: “Without doubt, the Holy Spirit was active in the world before Christ was glorified.” Through the universal presence of the Holy Spirit, God the Father offers everyone the possibility, in a way known to God, of being associated with the paschal mystery in all times and places. The Holy Spirit invites all to a life in the Spirit by following virtues, fruits of the spirit, and giving up evil, fruits of flesh and world.