Internationally acclaimed author Megan McKenna gives this Catholic tradition enriched modern relevance in a completely up-to-date guide to praying the Rosary, designed for general readers and incorporating the recent additions made by Pope John Paul II.
As a speaker, teacher, and bestselling Catholic author, Megan McKenna has informed and inspired audiences both in- and outside of the Catholic tradition with her warmhearted, contemporary approach to spirituality. Now she turns her attention to the Rosary, revealing the universality of this ancient practice and how it can enrich lives today.
Praying the Rosary--the act of counting off prayers with a string of beads in a rhythm of focused spiritual contemplation--is a practice that has existed for centuries and is common to many faiths. For the world's one billion Catholics it has become the most popular form of devotion. Though strongly associated with the Virgin Mary, the prayers of the Rosary are ultimately meant to bring those who say them closer to Jesus Christ, whose life and teachings are central to all branches of the Christian faith. This gives the Rosary an ecumenical dimension that is in sync with today's emphasis on the common bonds, rather than the divisions, among all Christians. In 2002, Pope John Paul II updated the Rosary by adding a new section on the teachings of Jesus, further emphasizing the centrality of Christ and the biblical Gospels at the heart of the prayers.Embracing this ecumenical attitude in Praying the Rosary, Megan McKenna explores the Rosary and explains how to pray it, incorporating the Pope's recent additions and revealing its relevance to a new generation. She breaks down the Rosary into its twenty components, prefacing each with a selection from Scripture that identifies the prayer's source in the Bible. Combining practical instruction with meditative reflections on the prayer's spirituality, she reveals the Rosary's richly contemplative nature and shows how praying the Rosary can inspire peaceful, calm attitudes, and an awareness of the universal spiritual mystery that connects all Christians.
In the midst of a revival of interest in the rosary, McKenna, a retreat leader and author of The New Stations of the Cross, weighs in with a fresh look at the traditional Catholic devotion that honors the mother of Christ. Anyone who expects a primer may need to search out a more basic guide, as this book assumes a fundamental understanding of the rosary. Although McKenna offers historical perspective and some instruction in how to pray the rosary, what she has to say will be most appreciated by existing practitioners and those seeking a more profound understanding of Mary. Finding little about the mother of Jesus in the Christian gospels, McKenna takes the few details that are known and develops them. She draws upon such sources as a Native American story in which Mary emerges as a believer, disciple, healer and "one who prays and listens to the community and who reflects upon the Word." At the heart of McKenna's book, however, are her thoughtful reflections on each set of the Rosary's "mysteries," including the "luminous mysteries" recently introduced by Pope John Paul II. In expanding on these sets of themed biblical scenes meant to be used as meditations for each section of the Rosary, McKenna is in her element, leading readers and those who will use this book to pray the rosary deeper into each scriptural passage. (April 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 05, 2004
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Excerpt from Praying the Rosary by Megan McKenna
Praying the Rosary with Mary as a Believer
Jesus Chris should be as a book always opened before us rom which we are to learn all that is necessary to know.
For Christians in the new millennium, the rosary or prayer beads are familiar aids to prayer. Originally all forms of beads--ropes with knots, cords tightly twisted around one's fingers or wrist or kept hidden in a pocket or under a surplice or apron--served as a reminder to follow the exhortation to pray constantly. Stories are told of the desert fathers and mothers beginning their day by collecting stones, counting them out in sevens, and filling their pockets with them. Then, as the day unfolded and they went about their duties they would finger a stone, pray, and then drop the stone as they walked to their next task; when all the stones were gone, they would stop and once again collect more. These prayers weren't meant to be finished, but were never-ending, a way of praying that was a way of life, drawing the observers daily into a deeper consciousness of being "followers of the way" (the first name for those who followed Jesus Christ).
With the advent of Western monasticism in the fourth century, members of the community were encouraged to learn all one hundred and fifty psalms that were prayed during the seven hours of the Office, the public prayer of the Church meant to draw all of creation--all of time and all the peoples of the world--into an endless prayer from East to West. This was the idea of ringing the world and encircling it, making all one in Christ. Since many could not read or found the task of memorizing the psalms a daunting proposition, they were allowed to substitute the Our Father "Paters" instead, and the recitation of one hundred fifty Our Fathers became a "paternoster." In the Eastern tradition the prayer that was recited was called the "Jesus Prayer" from the Scriptures: "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." This prayer was chanted slowly, carefully, silently or very softly over and over again, filling the one who prayed with a sense of the presence of God everywhere at all times. John Paul II refers to this tradition of prayer in his recent Apostolic Letter "On the Most Holy Rosary" when he writes: "The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation. Developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the 'prayer of the heart' or 'Jesus prayer' which took root in the soil of the Christian East." (p. 12, #5)
Just as the Jesus Prayer centered the believer on the person of Christ, so the praying of the Rosary is intended to center the believer on "a commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery." (ibid.) The heart and fullness of the Christian mystery is, of course, the person of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh of Mary, the Theotokis (she who bore the Word into the world). Jesus is a singular human being in history and then the Christ of the Word of God (the Scriptures) where this presence of the Risen Lord is given to the Church for all believers to ponder and to incarnate into their own lives now.
John Paul II refers to the Rosary as "a compendium of the Gospel" ("On the Most Holy Rosary," p.25, #18). And he quotes Paul VI to describe how the Rosary is a Gospel prayer and a Christological prayer.