By Mary Sayad

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    The Rosary

    The history of the rosary evolved over many centuries while spanning a variety of countries and cultures. The actual origin is unknown however, we do know that the Hebrews had a counting system that would likely have been adopted by the Christians. We also know that the 150 Psalms from the Old Testament and the Paternoster (Our Father) were recited daily so we must assume that this was the very beginning of the rosary.

    >From 65 AD to the early 20th century, the rosary progressed starting in the Middle East to Continental Europe. The faithful people of Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Latin America with the assistance of Our Blessed Mother during her apparitions, were learning how to pray the rosary.

    A brief outline with relevant dates and additions are as follows:

    In Syria, 65 - 150AD the first Apostolic catechism was initiated for the new church and members would pray the Lord's Prayer three times a day.

    St. Anthony the Great of Egypt (251 -356AD) - not to be confused with St. Anthony of Padua - introduced the Byzantine Rosary by forming knots on a woolen cord for the purpose of counting the prayers. He is the founder of Christian monasticism.

    In 431AD Mary was declared Theotokos, Greek word for God-Bearer. In Turkey, heretics stated that Mary was the 'Mother of Christ" not the mother of God. The Christian community was outraged and marched in the streets repeating, "Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners".

    In Germany, Blessed Herman (1014-1054) who was deformed from birth became a Benedictine monk at the age of 20. His skilled hands made musical instruments and when he became blind, he wrote hymns including the renowned "Salve Regina". While praying during his sufferings, he would add, ".to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears". This plea ends our rosary recital in the "Hail Holy Queen".

    During the 600's the Angel's greeting "Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you" is recited 150 times in Europe while using the knots, and at this time in Russia, the Byzantine Rosary introduced larger knots between each decade.

    The woolen cord became the Paternoster cord in the 1100's and instead of the traditional 150 knots, the cord contained 50 knots to be used three times a day and by the end of that century, "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" was added.

    Saint Dominic Guzman was the founder of the Dominican Order. He had a strong devotion to Our Lady and he urged the people to pray to her. Our Blessed Mother appeared to him in France in 1208 and taught him how to recite the rosary. The term "rosary" is applied during the 1200's. In addition, during this period beads of glass, wood and semi-precious stones began to replace the knots.

    In the 1300's, The Glory Be becomes part of the rosary. The word "rosary" is now commonly applied. Roses are acknowledged as Our Blessed Mother's favorite flowers.

    In the 1400's meditation of the Mysteries of Jesus and Mary are added to the rosaries.

    Around the 1600's, The Apostles Creed, which was authored by the original Apostles of Jesus, was added to the rosary recital.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe of Mexico (1531), Our Lady Of Lourdes of France (1858) and Our Lady of Fatima of Portugal (1917) appears to children and at each apparition she carries a rosary and she encourages them to pray with the rosary.
    In Italy, September 1883, Pope Leo XIII declares the rosary a "most glorious and effective prayer". Today, our holy Pope John Paul II calls us to prayer and promotes daily recital of the rosary.

    The Edition of Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary defines rosary:

    1) (a) A series of prayers consisting in its common form (Dominican Rosary) of fifteen decades, each containing ten Aves preceded by a paternoster and followed by a Gloria Patri, and each related to a mystery or event in the life of Christ or the Virgin Mary which is contemplated during its recitation. (b) A string of beads for keeping count of the prayers thus recited.

    2) A garden or bed of roses. 3) A chaplet or garland as of roses. 4) A collection of literary collections.

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    Beloved Friends,

    The rosary, as we know it today, was in the making for 2000 years! Our Blessed Mother magnificently assisted in designing its formula in order for us to reap the benefits of reciting it. The prayers and meditations of the life of Jesus and Mary are contained in these string of beads to help us imitate their perfect humility and unconditional love. Indeed, St. Joseph's obedience and commitment was immeasurable in protecting Our Savior and his Blessed Mother.

    In the world today there is an inversion of reality where right is wrong and wrong is O.K. Crimes of hate, greed and unmentionable atrocities are prevalent. False pride permeates our society. Mostly for convenience, innocent children are murdered before they are born via the abortion law. Morals have declined and our society is desensitized to evil and sin. War is a result of sin.

    Our world is in dire need of conversion and when we pray the rosary daily, we are empowered in improving the world as well as our lives. Mary was the perfect disciple of the Lord and through the rosary she gently guides us. Mary is the key to salvation and the rosary is our weapon against sin and temptation. While holding up rosary beads, Fr. John Corapi on the Catholic TV channel, EWTN (Eternal Word Network), poignantly demonstrates, "Don't leave home without it"!

    Through constant prayer, we have the power to change natural law. Throughout the centuries, Our Blessed Mother has been urging us to pray the rosary. Listen to Our Blessed Mother's urgings and pray more often, receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist and endeavor to emulate Jesus and Mary's life through obedience to God's commandments.

    Thank you for your continued prayers for the safety of our troops and their families.

    Your companion in prayer,
    Mary