You might have flipped on the television and noticed a fashion trend. A celebrity is making a public appearance with a rosary dangling around his or her neck but behaving in a way that does not quite match the purpose of the sacred object. While it is not uncommon to see the beads worn for show and glamor, such acts are discouraged by the Catholic Church. However, there are acceptable reasons to wear a rosary.
Catholic Church law does not ban the wearing of rosary beads for pious reasons and as a statement of faith. But sporting a rosary solely for secular purposes is considered inappropriate. The Church places a strong emphasis on praying and treating the rosary with reverence, faith and devotion to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. "Sacred objects, which are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated reverently and are not to be employed for profane or inappropriate use even if they are owned by private persons," according to the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law.
Saint Dominic popularized the rosary in the early 1200s as a tool against sin and heresy. Tradition holds that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic, giving him a beaded chain and instructing him to recite the rosary. However, Dominican theologian Fr. Ennio Staid has said that devotional prayers to Mary predated Saint Dominic but that the saint and the Dominicans were effective at promoting the rosary, according to the magazine "This Rock."
Significance of the Rosary
The Catholic Church teaches that praying the rosary is praying the Gospel. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the rosary "opens ourselves to the mystery of God's love by focusing our attention on the scriptures." In 2002 Pope John Paul II wrote in a letter called "The Rosary of the Virgin Mary" that the rosary is at the heart of Christian life, offering a "familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization."
Praying the rosary requires recitation and meditation. Catholics pray what are known as five "decades," which consist of five different meditations about the lives of Jesus and Mary and 10 "Hail Mary" prayers. An "Our Father" separates each set of Hail Marys. A decade ends by praying the "Glory Be." The beads are used to keep track of the prayers.
The late Father Patrick Peyton is known as "The Rosary Priest" because of his devotion to promoting family prayer, especially the rosary. His Family Theater Productions created radio and later television programs featuring Hollywood stars, including Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart and Loretta Young, to advocate prayer and morals. Father Peyton's slogan, "The Family that Prays Together Stays Together" became the motto of his cause.
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