HOUSTON, TX – October 18, 2015
No form of extra-liturgical devotion to Mary is more widely practiced among the faithful or found by them to be more satisfyingly complete than the Rosary, which has come to be regarded as the very badge of Catholic piety. No form of extra-liturgical devotion to Mary has been recommended more warmly or frequently by the Popes. With perhaps two exceptions, all the Sovereign Pontiffs from Sixtus IV in 1478 down to John XXIII, especially Leo XIII (in 23 documents, ten of them encyclicals entirely on the Rosary) and his successors, have extolled this form of prayer, which has been the favorite, moreover, of such saints as Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, Louis de Montfort, Alphonsus Liguori, Don Bosco, Bernadette, and many more.
The authentic Rosary is a happy combination of vocal and mental prayer, each of which is essential to the devotion. It is incorrect to say that meditation is “the very essence of the Rosary devotion,” for vocal recitation of the prayers is also of the essence. Meditation is, of course, the nobler element, the “soul,” while vocal prayer is the “body” of the devotion. The Rosary, Pope Leo XIII declared, “is composed of two parts, distinct but inseparable — the meditation on the mysteries and the recitation of the prayers. It is thus a kind of prayer that requires not only some raising of the soul to God, but also a particular and explicit attention” (Incunda semper). Hence, as Pope Pius XI stated, they err “who consider this devotion merely a boresome formula repeated with monotonous and singsong intonation” (Ingravescentibus malis). Moreover, as Pius XI put it, “both piety and love, although always breathing forth the same words, do not, however, repeat the same thing, but they fervently express something ever new which the loving heart always sends forth.” And finally, in the words of Pius XII, “the recitation of identical formulas, repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays, and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly heart of Mary (Ingravescentibus malis). — Mariology, Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M.