May 11, 2012 by Nicole
People of my generation who were fans of Scooby Doo probably remember Velma’s catchphrase each time new clues to the mystery materialized. In terms of rosary prayer, though, mysteries are not mysterious in that sense of the word.
Meditation on the mysteries of the rosary, of which there are traditionally three, (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious, though now there are four since the Blessed John Paul II introduced the Luminous mysteries in 1992 as a way of further contemplating Jesus ministry) is a very effective means by which one can draw closer to God. In the sense of being “mysterious,” rosary mysteries contain knowledge and Truth that reason alone cannot comprehend. I think that one of the things that I find so beautiful about the rosary is that each mystery contains Truths about God and His Son that remain hidden unless God reveals them. That in and of itself is incredibly special.
In the months leading up to and following my pilgrimage to Lourdes since I have used my rosary as a devotion to God (provided that I work hard not to get distratcted, which for me is difficult at times), I can honestly say that there are times when this form of prayer opens doorways between me and God that I often feel are closed, missing, or inaccessable.
Today, I want to reflect on the opening prayers of the traditional Catholic rosary: the Sign of the Cross and the Apostle’s Creed.
The Sign of the Cross is probably the only prayer that is both a physical and visual means of praying, and if you “cross” yourself, you are gonna give yourself away as a Catholic, Anglican, or in some cases, a Lutheran. It seems to me that this prayer, which is “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” is essentially no different than when my other Protestant brothers and sisters pray in “Jesus most holy and precious Name” (Or some variation thereof.) The main difference that I notice is that Catholics tend to both open and close their prayers this way.
One time I tried to figure out exactly what this prayer “means,” mostly because it is so short. What exactly are you “saying ” in those 13-15 words? I think that if I were to articulate everything that this tiny prayer encapsulates, I would think of it along the lines of honoring how role each part of the Divine Trinity blesses me. I would probably say something more like:
Heavenly Father, I open (or close) my prayers in the goodness and very essense of Who you are: holy, loving, merciful. I offer this prayer in the Name of the Father, who created me and gave me life, in the name of the Son, who willingly suffered and died for me that I could be saved by Grace, and in the Holy Spirit, who dwells within me and guides me in my daily walk with You.
The Apostle’s Creed, which is prayed on the Crucifix, is a profession of what we believe as Christians. The Crucifix is a central fixture of Catholic churches; my husband once said that the cross in Protestant churches is “bare” because it represents the alive, risen Christ who has conquered death (I know that you read this bold, Randy, so sorry if I misquoted you. 🙂 ) the cruciform of the rosary, regardless of denomination, is a powerful reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice and its purpose. As you approach the rosary devotion, it represents the core foundation of our faith, and depending on what day of the week you are praying your rosary, it takes on slightly different significance (more on that in future posts).