Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Novus Ordo of the Rosary - A New Rite of the Rosary?

The Novus Ordo of the Rosary:
Reflections on the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II
Rosarium Virginis Mariæ

A New Rite of the Rosary?
In Sacrosanctum concilium: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963) the Second Vatican Council directed the reform and promotion of the liturgy according to certain principles and norms. Particularly important amongst these was “that the full and active participation of the faithful in the liturgy be fostered”. Put simply, the laity were being asked to pray the Mass much as they had long prayed the Rosary: with “acclamations and responses”, “actions, gestures, bodily attitudes” and “reverent silences”; with a “noble simplicity”; and with “appropriate adaptations made for pastoral and cultural reasons”.


While the Council had a great deal to say about how the Liturgy should be renewed, little guidance was given as to how such popular devotions could also be renovated, except that they should be made to harmonize with the Liturgy. As a result new rituals for Mass, the various sacraments, associated rites (such Eucharistic worship outside of Mass and communion to the sick), funerals, religious professions and so on, appeared in the decades after the Council.

Documents of The II Vatican Council - HERE


In his recent apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariæ, Pope John Paul II proposes to celebrate the twenty-fifth year of his pontificate, the fortieth year since the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the progress of the new millennium of grace, with a Year of the Rosary. Not only does he suggest that we pray the Rosary more often in that year, but that we re-examine every aspect of how we pray the Rosary:


  • The cycle of mysteries itself: John Paul suggests an additional five new mysteria lucis, Mysteries of Light or Luminous Mysteries – about which I will have more to say below
  • The way the mysteries of the Rosary are announced: he suggests the addition of a clause more fully explicating the mystery to be contemplated; the use of religious art, especially icons; the reading of passages of the Scriptures; and even commentaries on more solemn occasions
  • The rôle of rhythm, breathing and silences in the Rosary: it may be that he has in mind here the rather hurried machine-gun rattle sometimes heard before or after Mass in some parishes
  • The rich meaning of the Pater, Ave and Gloria prayers: the Pope suggests we look again at the doctrinal content of these prayers and be especially conscious that the ‘centre of gravity’ of the Hail Mary is the word ‘Jesus’
  • The use of repetition: John Paul suggests that the use of repetition in the Rosary should be not a dry and boring multiplication for its own sake, but rather a meditative technique parallel to the ‘Jesus prayer’ of the Eastern Church and expressing a tireless and ever-fresh outpouring of love (much like the Holy, Holy, Holy of the angel host or St Peter’s triple testimony of his love for Christ)
  • The nature and uses of Rosary beads
  • "The trimmings of the Rosary" (its opening and closing prayers such as the Creed, prayers for the pope, the Fatima prayer ‘O my Jesus’, the Salve Regina: John Paul II suggests we choose these carefully and look at concluding each mystery with a prayer for fruits specific to that particular mystery
  • The indulgences associated with Rosary
  • Appropriate adaptations for children and young people
  • The distribution of mysteries of the Rosary throughout the week: he suggests that the Joyful Mysteries now be celebrated on Mondays and Saturdays, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursdays, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Taken together this range of suggestions can be seen as a new-look Rosary for the third millennium, replete with new reasons to pray it, indeed a long-awaited Novus Ordo for the Rosary, forty years after Vatican II initiated the renewal of all the Church’s ritual and devotional life.

A note about the ‘Co-Author’ Blessed Bartolo Longo

Biography - English Version
Spanish Version

Though John Paul II notes the devotion of many great saints to the Rosary, he singles out Blessed Bartolo Longo whom he beatified in 1980 and here calls ‘the Apostle of the Rosary’. Sinner, satanist, social worker and saint. A very modern saint in so many ways, his life spanned a good part of nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He grew up in a pious Southern Italian family where the Rosary was prayed daily, but as an adolescent he drifted away from the Faith. He studied law at the University of Naples, which was by then a rather different place to the university at which St Thomas Aquinas has been both a student and later a professor.

At university Bart became enmeshed in unsavoury political movements, free masonry and the occult. He entered the satanic ‘priesthood’ and on the night of his ‘ordination’ the walls shook with thunder, while blasphemous, disembodied shrieks knifed the air. He fainted with fright and for a long while afterwards was deeply tormented both physically and psychologically.

His family kept praying the Rosary for him. A friend warned him he was going mad and took him under his wing, introducing him to wise and holy people for support, especially a local Dominican priest, Alberto Radente. Father Alberto gave Bart detailed instruction in the Catholic Faith, including of course the writings of their compatriot Aquinas.

Bart believed he was called to a dedicated single life, and not to be a priest, religious or married man. He took up an apostolate of preaching against the very occultism which had so messed him up, trying to extricate fellow students at university, student parties and cafes from the grip of this ‘spirituality’ and to provide them with basic instruction in the true faith. He also took up the care of the poor and the sick in this particularly depressed part of Italy, founding a convent of Dominican nuns to care for poor girls and bringing in the Christian brothers to care for the boys. Like his friend Leo XIII, author of encyclicals not only on the Rosary but also on theology of St Thomas Aquinas and the social doctrine of the Church, Bart understood the necessary connection between contemplative prayer (such as the Rosary), sound theology (such as he offered in his catechism classes), and social action on behalf of the maginalized.

When at one stage Bart was tempted to despair of ever being truly forgiven for his wicked past, his Dominican confessor reassured him that by preaching the Rosary he would work out his salvation under grace. Bart then demonstrated enormous imagination in doing just that – the sort of creativity John Paul II is looking for today. He organized talks, courses, booklets, new novenas, parish missions, even an annual Rosary Festival which included music, fireworks, races and a lottery! Like John Paul, Bart was a dramatist who understood the importance of engaging all the senses in prayer. He encouraged devotion to the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, for instance, and built for it a famous shrine. He was still working at the Shrine, promoting prayer, catechism and confession, when in 1926 – surrounded by the poor children for whom he had laboured – he died praying the Rosary with them at age 85.

Given how often he is cited in Rosarium Virginis Mariæ, he might be considered its heavenly ‘Co-Author’ with John Paul II.

Reactions:

1 comments/comentarios:

Hitler ordered to kill Erich Klausener, the leader of Catholic Action. Besides Nazism founded their own church when the relations with the Catholic Church went wrong. The link you provide about the book Hitler wrote shows no evidence of what the former priest said. I wonder: Where are the photocopies of the suposed secret files of the Vatican? Moreover John Paul II opened archives of the Vatican to the public.