A Short Catechism on Prayer

traditional, Catholic, prayer, teaching, Roman Catholic, pray, catechism, doctrine, prayer

(This text was initially designed for college students but is useful to teens and older adults.)

Lord's Prayer  • Hail Mary

1. What is Prayer?

Prayer is the raising up of our minds and hearts to God, either to praise Him, or to thank Him, or to beg His grace; and therefore it is divided into Prayer of Praise, Prayer of Thanksgiving., and Prayer of Petition.

[Catechism of the Catholic Church, hereinafter ccc, sec. 2559 "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God."]

2. What does to praise God mean?

To praise God means to rejoice at His infinite Perfections, and to glorify and adore Him on that account (Ps. 9:2). [ccc 2649 "Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS.]

Examples: David in his Psalms; the three children in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3.); the Blessed Virgin (Luke 1:46-55)

3. Are we obliged to praise God?

Yes, we are; for this we were created. and this will one day be our eternal occupation in Heaven. (Rev. 4.)

"My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His holy name for ever, yea for ever and ever". (Ps. 145:21). "Be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." (Eph. 5:18-20.)
[ccc 2642 "The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb.[Cf. Rev 18:24; 19:1-8] In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial... ]

 4. Must we also thank God for His gifts?

Yes, for ingratitude is a detestable vice, whereas gratitude is the best means to obtain new benefits.

"In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God In Christ Jesus".(1 Thess. 5:18).

 5. Must we also beg graces of God?

"'Ask,' says Jesus Christ Himself, 'and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you' (Luke 11: 9).

 6. Is Prayer necessary to all?

Prayer is necessary for salvation to all who have sufficiently the use of reason.

[ccc 2697 "Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life ... insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart "We must remember God more often than we draw breath." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus)]

 7. Why is Prayer necessary to all?

Because God has commanded it, and because, without it, we do not receive the graces necessary to persevere to the end. [ccc 2591 "God tirelessly calls each person to this mysterious encounter with Himself."]

See St. Alphonsus, Admonitions, "[P]rayer is necessary for adults as a means of salvation; that is to say, that a person who does not pray, and neglects to ask of God the help requisite for overcoming temptations, and for preserving grace already received, cannot be saved." See CCC 2744.

 8. But does not God already know what we stand in need of?

Most certainly; but we do not pray to tell God what we stand in need of, but to acknowledge Him as the Giver of all good gifts, to testify our dependence on Him, and thereby to render ourselves more worthy of His gifts. [ccc 2559 "Man is a beggar before God."]

 9. What are the principal fruits of Prayer?

Prayer, 1. Unites us to God; 2. Makes us heavenly minded; 3. Strengthens us against evil; 4. Gives us zeal and energy for good; 5. Comforts us in adversity; and 6. Obtains help for us in time of need, and the grace of perseverance unto death.

Examples: Moses (Exod. 17:11); Samuel ("And Samuel cried unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day." 1 Kings 12:18 in the Douay Rheims, and 1 Sam 12:18 in the NIV.); also in the Douay see Judith 9, Esther 14; and the Machabees (2 Mac. 15:27). The first Christians prayed while Peter was in prison. (Acts 12:5)

 10. How must we pray that we may obtain these fruits?

We must pray, 1. With devotion; 2. With humility; 3. With confidence; 4. With resignation to the will of God; and 5. With perseverance.

 11. When do we pray with devotion?

When our prayer comes from the heart, and we avoid all distracting thoughts as much as possible.

'This people honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." (Matt. 15:8).

 12. Are all the distractions in prayer sinful?

They are sinful when we ourselves are the cause of them, or willfully admit or entertain them; but when we struggle against them, they increase our merit.

[Editor: This can be more easily understood if we think of the times we have a duty to pray, to direct our minds and hearts toward God, such as during the mass or sacraments. During worship we come to be in God's presence, to listen and speak with Him. Does it then make sense to willfully allow ourselves to be distracted? Also, it would be like calling someone over, by name, and making a standard request by rote but not paying attention to what you are saying, or to the person you are addressng. If you made a request like this to your employer, what do you think his response would be?]

 13. What should we do in order that we may be less distracted in our prayers?

Before our prayers we should, as far as possible, banish all worldly thoughts, and represent the Omnipresent God in a lively manner to our mind.

Ecclesiasticus 18:23 "Before prayer prepare your soul: and be not as a man that tempts God."[But compare the NAB.] [St. Francis de Sales tells us: "Pray for your prayer's success."]

 14. When do we pray with humility?

When we address our prayers to God with a sincere acknowledgment of our weakness and unworthiness.

'The prayer of him that humbles himself shall pierce the clouds." (Ecclesiasticus 35:21: compare Sirac 35:17NAB). See also the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke18:9-14.)

 16. When do we pray with confidence?

When we firmly hope that God will hear our prayer, inasmuch as it is conducive to His honor and to our salvation.

"Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavers is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord" (James 1:6-7).

 16. Why may and ought we to have this firm hope?

Because God can give us all good things, and, for the sake of Jesus, will also really do so, as our Savior Himself solemnly assures us, saying: "Amen, amen I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you". John 16:23; compare Mark 9:23-24.

 17. But why do we not always receive what we ask for?

1. Either because we do not pray as we ought; or
2. Because that which we ask for is prejudicial to our salvation; or
3. Because we do not persevere in praying; therefore we must also pray with resignation to the will of God, and perseverance.
 
[See also 1 John 3:22,  John 15:7, 1 Peter 3:12, 1 John 5:14-15, Phil. 4:6 , i.e. have confidence, avoid evil and anxiety, and let God and his word abide in you, be part of you. Hebrews 11:6 ]
[Fasting can help, Acts 14:23, and Matt. 17:21, see footnote to this verse in the NAB.]
 
["Abbe Zeno said, 'If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks.'" Desert Fathers. See Matt. 5:44.] [An "enemy" can be merely one who "opposes the interests of another" according to the dictionary.]

 18. When do we pray with resignation to the will of God?

When we leave it entirely to Him to hear us when and how He thinks proper.

"Father, not my will, but Yours be done". (Luke 22:42).

 19. When do we pray with perseverance?

When we do not desist, although we are not aware of being heard, but continue to pray the more fervently.

Example of the woman of Chanaan (Matt. 15:22-28.); parable of the friend who asked for three loaves (Luke 11:5-8, compare the NAB). [See also the Widow and unjust Judge. Lk 18:1-8.] [See also how Jesus prayed for long period in a quiet place. Luke 6:12.]

 20. Must we always use a set form of words in our prayers?

No, this is done in Vocal Prayer only; but there is also an Interior or Mental Prayer, called meditation.

[For Vocal Prayer see the Catechism of the Catholic Church sections 2700 to 2704.]

 21. In what does Meditation consist?

It consists in reflecting upon the life and sufferings of Jesus, upon the Divine Perfections, or other truths of our religion, in order to excite in our hearts pious sentiments, but especially good and efficacious resolutions.

[For Meditation see ccc sections 2705-2708. See also the meditation section in Awaken to Prayer.]

22. When ought we to pray?

Christ says 'that we ought always to pray, and not to faint' (Luke 18:1). [See ccc sections 2742-2743.]

[Pray constantly as St. Paul teaches in Eph. 6:18, 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 5:20. ]
CCC 2757: "Pray constantly" (1 Thess 5:17). It is always possible to pray. It is even a vital necessity. Prayer and Christian life are inseparable. See ccc 2742-43, cf. Jesus' hour of prayer.

 23. How is it possible to pray always?

We pray always when we frequently raise up our minds and hearts to God, and offer up to Him all our labors, sufferings, and pleasures. Yet at certain times we are to pray in an especial manner.

1. In time of temptation and other urgent need, and during private and public calamities; 2. In the morning and at night; before and after meals; when the Angelus bell rings; and when we are in the Church. [See About Traditional Basic Catholic Prayers.] [See also the Prayer of the Heart and Prayer without Ceasing.]

 26. Why should we particularly pray in the Church?

Because the Church is especially the house of God and of prayer, where all that we see and hear is intended to raise our minds and hearts to the meditation on Divine things.

[The modern catechism, published in1992, suggests places that are favorable for prayer. However they are not the only places. Actually anyplace can be a place for prayer.
 
"ccc 2696 The most appropriate places for prayer are personal or family oratories, monasteries, places of pilgrimage, and above all the church, which is the proper place for liturgical prayer for the parish community and the privileged place for Eucharistic adoration." See also, ccc 2691
"ccc 2743 It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. Our time is in the hands of God:
It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking." St. John Chrysostom.]

 26. For whom must we pray?

We must pray for all people: for the living and the dead; for friends and enemies; especially for our parents, brothers and sisters, benefactors, spiritual and temporal Superiors [such as employers and political leaders], and also for [separated Christians and non-Christians].

[ccc "2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. (Phil 2:4; cf. Acts 7:60; Lk 23:28, 34.)"] See ccc 2635-36.
 
 'I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings he made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in high station, that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity' (1 Tim. 2:1- 2 in the Douay-Rheims, compare the NIV). [See footnote to this passage in the NAB.]
Application. Consider how happy you are that you, [mere dust and ashes,*] are allowed to speak to God, the Most High, as a child speaks to his father. Pray, therefore, often and willingly, and always with as much devotion as you possibly can, both at home and in the Church.
 

[*On Ash Wednesday we are reminded of this when the priest marks us with ashes and says: "Remember thou art dust..."]

 
Also useful would be the Instruction on Prayer in the catechism of the Council of Trent.

You could also compare the material above with the catechism of Pope Pius X, the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas on the five qualities of prayer, and lesson 28 of the Baltimore Catechism on Prayer.


§ 1. On the Lord's Prayer.

[ccc "2773 In response to his disciples' request "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11:1), Jesus entrusts them with the fundamental Christian prayer, the Our Father.
2774 "The Lord's Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel," [Tertullian] the "most perfect of prayers." [St. Thomas Aquinas] It is at the center of the Scriptures.
2775 It is called "the Lord's Prayer" because it comes to us from the Lord Jesus, the master and model of our prayer. 2776 The Lord's Prayer is the quintessential prayer of the Church..."] See The Prayer of the Church and generally part four section two on the Lord's Prayer.
 

27. Which is the most excellent of all prayers?

The most excellent of all prayers is the Our Father, or the Lord's Prayer.

 28. Why is the Our Father called the Lord's Prayer

Because Christ our Lord has taught it to us, and commanded us to say it (Matt. 6:9-13).

 29. What does the Lord's Prayer contain?

It contains a short Preface and Seven Petitions.

 30. What do you call its Preface?

These words: ' Our Father who art in Heaven.'

 31. What does the Father remind us of?

That God is our Father, so good and so worthy of veneration that there is no earthly father like Him; and that we, therefore, ought to pray to Him with a childlike reverence, love, and confidence.

 32. Why do we say our Father, and not my Father?

Because, God being the Father of all men, we are all His children, and should therefore love one another as brothers, and pray for one another (cf. Mal. 2:10). [See new testament instances of the command to love one another. cf. Heb. 2:11.]

 33. Why do we add these words: 'Who art in Heaven'?

To call to our mind,
1. That God, though he is everywhere, dwells especially in Heaven, where we shall one day see Him face to face (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12) (see also the New Testament use of God and Heaven.)
2. That we are but pilgrims upon earth, and that our true country is in Heaven; and
3. That when we pray, we must detach our hearts from all earthly things, and raise them up to Heaven.

 34. What do we ask for in the First Petition:

'Hallowed be Thy name'?

That the name of God may never be profaned or blasphemed, but that God may be rightly known, loved, and honored by us and by all men. ccc 2807-15.

 35. Why is this the First Petition?

Because we are to esteem the honor and glory of God more than all things else.

 36. What do we ask for in the Second Petition:

'Thy Kingdom come'? ccc 2816-21.
1. That the kingdom of God, the Church, may be more and more extended upon earth;
2. That the kingdom of divine, grace and love may now be established in our hearts, in order that,
3. After this life, we may all be admitted into the kingdom of Heaven.

 37. What is the meaning of the Third Petition:

'Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven'? ccc 2822-27
We ask that we and all men may do the will of God on earth as faithfully and cheerfully as the Angels and Saints do it in Heaven; and
We profess that, in all things, we submit ourselves to the holy will of God.

 38. What do we ask for in the Fourth Petition:

Give us this day our daily bread'?

We ask that God would give us all that is daily necessary for our soul and body. ccc 2828-37.

 39. Why does Christ bid us ask for our daily bread?

To teach us that we should wish only for necessaries, not for riches and abundance.
"Having food and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content." (1 Tim. 6:8).

 40. What do we ask for in the Fifth Petition:

'Forgive us our trespasses, as We forgive them that trespass against us'? ccc 2838-45.

That God would so forgive us all our sins as we forgive others who have offended us. [See Luke 6:37.]

 41. May those who do not forgive expect forgiveness themselves?

No; on the contrary, they pass judgment upon themselves as often as they say the Our Father.
"Forgive your neighbor if he has hurt you; and then shall your sins be forgiven to you when you pray." (Eccius. 28:2. Compare Sirach 28:2 in the NAB.)

 42. What do we ask for in the sixth Petition:

'Lead us not into temptation'? ccc 2846-49
We ask that God would remove from us all temptations and all the dangers of sin, or, at least, give us grace sufficient to resist them.

43. By whom are we tempted to sin?

1. By our own flesh or concupiscence; 'for the flesh lusts against the spirit' (Gal. 5:17)
2. By the World, i.e., by its vain pomp, bad example, and wicked maxims; and
3. By the Devil, 'who, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour' (1 Pet. 5:8).

 44. Why does God permit us to be tempted?

1. To keep us humble;
2. To try our faithfulness or to punish our unfaithfulness; and
3. To increase our zeal for virtue, and our merits.
 
1. 'Lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me' (2 Cor. 12:7). 2. "[F]or the Lord your God tries you, that it may appear whether you love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, or not." (Deut. 13:3). 'Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for when he hath been proved he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him' (James 1:12).

 45. Is temptation in itself a sin?

Temptation in itself is not a sin; but to expose ourselves heedlessly to temptation, or to yield to it, is a Sin.
For our consolation and Instruction, Christ Himself allowed the Devil to tempt Him (See Matt. 4:1-11)

 46. What must we do in order that we may not yield?

We must especially watch and pray, as Christ our Lord says: 'Watch and pray that enter not into temptation' (Matt. 26:41).

 47. What do we ask for in the Seventh Petition:

'But deliver us from evil' ccc 2850-54.
That God would preserve us from all evil of soul and body, especially from sin and eternal damnation.

 48. Why do we add the word 'Amen,' or 'So be it'?

To express by it our ardent desire, and also our confidence of being heard.
Application. Always say the Lord's Prayer with reverential attention, remembering that we have received it from our Divine Redeemer Himself.
CCC 2856 "Then, after the prayer is over you say 'Amen,' which means 'So be it,' thus ratifying with our 'Amen' what is contained in the prayer that God has taught us."
 
§ 2. On the Angelical Salutation.
[ccc "2682 Because of Mary's singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her."] 

49. What prayer do Catholics usually say after the Our Father?

The prayer which is said in honor of the Mother of God, and is called the Angelical Salutation., or Hail Mary.

 50. Why do we add the Angelical Salutation to the Lord's Prayer?

That the Most Blessed Mother of God may second our weak prayer by her powerful intercession with her Divine Son.

 51. How many parts has the Hail Mary?

Two parts: A Prayer of Praise and a Prayer of Petition.

 52. Of what is the Prayer of Praise composed?

1. Of the words of the Archangel Gabriel: 'Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women' [see Luke 1:28 in the NIV]; and

2. Of the words of St. Elizabeth: 'And blessed is the fruit of thy womb,' to which we add the name of Jesus. [See Lk 1:42 in the NIV.]

[See ccc sections 2676-2677.]
'Hail' is a term of salutation, equivalent to 'Ave or 'Salve,'
and means 'Be well,' 'Health to thee,' or 'I salute thee' (The Trans.) [See "hail" in the American Heritage Dictionary.]
The word "grace" means God's favor, but there is a complicated theology behind the use of this word. See the traditional catholic teaching on grace at our site, the Columbia encyclopedia and the Catholic Encyclopedia. You can also see the grace entry in Vines Bible Dictionary. Finally look at the material on grace in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 53. When did the Archangel Gabriel speak those words?

When he announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would become the Mother of God (Luke 1:28).

 54. When were the above words spoken by St. Elizabeth?

When Mary went into the hill country, and visited her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:42).

 55. Why do we address Mary by these words: 'Full of grace'?

1. Because Mary was replenished with grace, even before her birth [doctrine of the Immaculate Conception]; 2. Because she always increased in grace; and 3. Because she brought forth the Author of all graces.
[CCC "508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. "Full of grace", Mary is "the most excellent fruit of redemption": from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life. "]

 66. Why do we say: 'The Lord is with thee'?

Because God is, in a most particular manner, with
the Blessed Virgin, wherefore she is justly called the
Chosen Daughter of the Heavenly Father, the true
Mother of the Divine Son, and the Immaculate
Spouse of the Holy Ghost.
 

[CCC "495 Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus", Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord". In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos)."] "And since the holy Virgin brought forth corporally God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God..." IF anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Qeotokos), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, "The Word was made flesh"]: let him be anathema. Council of Ephesus, 431 AD.]

 57. What is the meaning of these words of praise:

'Blessed art thou among women'?

That Mary is the happiest of all the daughters of Eve:
1. Because she was chosen before all to be the Mother of God;
2. Because she alone is a Mother and, at the same time, a Virgin; and
3. Because the first woman entailed a curse on the world; Mary, on the other hand, brought us salvation.
 

[CCC 488 "The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life." See Lumen Gentium, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican II, starting in section 51.]

 

[CCC"497 The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit"[Mt 1:18-25; Lk 1:26-38], said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee.[Mt 1:20] The Church sees here the fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.[Is 7:14 (LXX), quoted in Mt 1:23 (Greek).]"]

 58. Why do we add these words: 'Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus'?

To show that the veneration of Mary is inseparable from the veneration of Christ, and that we praise the Mother for the sake of the Son.

 59. Of what is the Prayer of Petition composed?

Of the words which were added by the Church:
'Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.'
 

60. Why were these words added by the Church?

1. That we may profess by them before the whole world that Mary is truly Mother of God, because her child is truly God; and 2. That we may often implore the assistance of her prayers in all our necessities, and especially for obtaining the grace of a happy death.

 61. Why should we often pray for a happy death?

1. Because our eternal salvation depends on the last moments of our life; 2. Because, at that critical time, the temptations are commonly more violent and more dangerous; and 3. Because perseverance to the end of life is a special grace, for which we ought continually to pray (Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Can. vi. 22).
"Nevertheless, let those who think themselves to stand, take heed lest they fall, and, with fear and trembling work out their salvation, in labours, in watchings, in almsdeeds, in prayers and oblations, in fastings and chastity: for, knowing that they are born again unto a hope of glory, but not as yet unto glory, they ought to fear for the combat which yet remains with the flesh, with the world, with the devil, wherein they cannot be victorious, unless they be with God's grace..." Council of Trent, Session 6, chapter XIII, On the gift of Perseverance.

 62. Has the Blessed Virgin great influence with God?

Certainly; for it has never been heard yet that any one who had recourse to Mary, and with true devotion implored her intercession, has ever been abandoned by God (St. Bernard).
 
(ccc 969 "Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation .... Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."
"970 "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it." See, Lumen Gentium, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican II, starting in section 51.]

 63. What prayer do we say when, morning, noon, and night, the bell is rung for the 'Angelus'?

We say the following:
The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost. Hail, Mary, etc.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word. Hail, Mary, etc.
And the Word was made flesh. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary, etc.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may, by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Even if we live in countries or in places where such public signal is not given, nevertheless, as this pious exercise [has been] strongly recommended by the Church, and several Popes have granted many spiritual favors and indulgences to those who daily and devoutly practice it, [it would be beneficial] to say this prayer with great devotion every day in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. (The Translator.)

 

64 Why do we say this prayer?

1. To give thanks to God for the Incarnation of Christ; and 2. To honor the Blessed Virgin, and to recommend ourselves to her protection.

 

65. What is the Rosary?

It is a very useful and easy form of prayer, mental as well as vocal, which was introduced by St. Dominic in the thirteenth century, was approved by the Church, and has, since then, always been practiced and recommended by her. [Catholic. Encyclopedia: Rosary.]
This form of prayer is called Rosary because it is, as it were, a chaplet of the most beautiful prayers and meditations, wherein the principal mysteries of our religion are wreathed like fragrant roses. Hence the name. It is divided into three parts, each part consisting of five Mysteries. The first five are called the Joyful Mysteries; the next five, the Dolorous or Sorrowful Mysteries; and the last five, the Glorious Mysteries. It is true that in the Rosary the same salutation is often repeated; but this ought not to surprise us more than that, in Psalm cxxxv the words, 'His mercy endurs for ever,' are repeated twenty-seven times; or that the Angels in Heaven incessantly sing, 'Holy, holy, holy.' Nor ought this practice to appear tedious to us, since the mind is, in the mean time, to be occupied with the contemplation of the Holy Mysteries.
The titles of honor, which are given to our Blessed Lady in the Litany of Loretto, as Mystical Rose, Tower of David, Morning Star, etc., are symbolical expressions taken from the Holy Scripture, and are applied to her on account of the eminent privileges and graces conferred on her. [Catholic Encyclopedia on the Litany of Loretto.]
Application. Honor the Blessed Virgin in a most particular and childlike manner. Implore her assistance in all your necessities and concerns, and strive eagerly to imitate her charity, patience, purity, and other virtues.
 
[ccc 971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."[Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56.] The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.... This very special devotion ... differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."[Lumen Gentium 66] The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary."Cf. Paul VI, MC 42]
 
[ccc "2678 Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours."]
 

"39. Finally, insofar as it may be necessary we would like to repeat that the ultimate purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to glorify God and to lead Christians to commit themselves to a life which is in absolute conformity with His will. When the children of the Church unite their voices with the voice of the unknown woman in the Gospel and glorify the Mother of Jesus by saying to Him: "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked" (Lk. 11:27), they will be led to ponder the Divine Master's serious reply: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Lk. 11:28) While it is true that this reply is in itself lively praise of Mary, as various Fathers of the Church interpreted it [St. Augustine] and the Second Vatican Council has confirmed,[Cf. II Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 58] it is also an admonition to us to live our lives in accordance with God's commandments. It is also an echo of other words of the Savior: "Not every one who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Mt. 7:21); and again: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn. 15:14). " Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus,


Rev. John Fander, A Full Catechism of the Catholic Religion, (1876) pp. 311-319. Imprimatur, John Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop of New York, February 19, 1876. This text was originally published in Germany in 1847 and became the "standard" catechism in Germany. "This Catechism, however, is not intended so much for Children and for Elementary Schools as for Colleges, for Teachers, and for Private Instruction." The text quoted here is from the Fifth American Edition. Some editing has occurred to replace archaic words, etc. Additional material, such as links, and text in brackets are not part of the original and not covered by the imprimatur. (This term means that the bishop named has given ecclesiastical approval for this book's publication. See Canon 822 and following.)

Everything presented here is for non-commercial religious and educational purposes only. No other use is intended or permitted.

A catechism is a "book giving a brief summary of the basic principles of Christianity in question-and-answer form" according to the dictionary. You can see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Roman Catechism, which is the Catechism of the Council of Trent. The modern Catholic Catechism was promulgated in 1992 and the English edition published in 1994. Previous catechisms are online at the Nazareth Master catechism as well as the modern Catholic Catechism, which is also published on the Vatican web site.

This page was updated last on 1/21/2009.


This web page is the responsibility of Rev. Roger J. Smith, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Comments are welcome. Mail the Pastor! To see our many other pages click on index below.

Home
Awaken to Prayer
Index of all parish pages