What are your thoughts on Lutherans praying a “Lutheran” Rosary? Where can one obtain Lutheran Rosary beads?
I don’t see a problem with Lutherans praying the Catholic Rosary, especially as it was received at the time of the Reformation. It is a totally Scripture-based meditative prayer. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which is the basic Christian statement of faith and it uses the Our Father, which introduces each mystery, and the Hail Mary (Ave Maria), which is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary in the Gospel of Luke, and each section concludes with the Gloria Patri (Glory be the Father). After the Council of Trent Pope Pius V added the second part of the Hail Mary—“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” That petition could be omitted by Lutherans who don’t pray to Mary or the saints, as well as the Salve Regina and other more modern Marian prayers Catholics have added at the end. However, the Rosary comes out of Marian piety and to totally eliminate that would be to vitiate the devotion.
For readers unfamiliar with this practice, the Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and––added by Pope John Paul II in 2002––the Luminous. These aspects of the life of Christ serve as subjects for meditation.
The Five Joyful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays of Advent:
- The Annunciation
- The Visitation
- The Nativity
- The Presentation in the Temple
- The Finding in the Temple
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays of Lent:
- The Agony in the Garden
- The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Crowning with Thorns
- The Carrying of the Cross
- The Crucifixion and Death
The Five Glorious Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Wednesday and Sundays outside of Lent and Advent:
- The Resurrection
- The Ascension
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit
- The Assumption
- The Coronation of Mary
The Five Luminous Mysteries are traditionally prayed on Thursdays:
- The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
- The Wedding Feast at Cana
- Jesus’ Proclamation of the Coming of the Kingdom of God
- The Transfiguration
- The Institution of the Eucharist
Here’s how the Rosary is typically prayed. Begin on the short strand:
- The sign of the cross made with the crucifix on the forehead;
- Verses “O Lord, open my lips; O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me” (from Psalm 51), still on the Crucifix;
- The Apostles’ Creed, still on the Crucifix;
- The Lord’s Prayer at the first large bead;
- The Hail Mary on each of the next three beads (for the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; and
- The Glory be to the Father on the next large bead.
Praying the decades then follows, repeating this cycle for each mystery:
- Announce the mystery;
- The Lord’s Prayer on the large bead;
- The Hail Mary on each of the ten adjacent small beads;
- The Glory Be on the next large bead.
- The Salve Regina;
- The prayer “O God, whose only begotten Son…”;
- Any further intentions; and
- The sign of the cross.
The Rosary falls into the category of paraliturgical devotions. “Paraliturgical” means that it is a form of prayer used alongside the official liturgy of the church. It emerged in the late Middle Ages as a kind of lay breviary. Its repetitions are meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. The Rosary can be said privately or with a group. Since Vatican II Catholics have been discouraged from praying the Rosary during Mass. Instead they are to participate in the celebration of the Mass. But they could pray the Rosary before or after the Mass.
Now about a Lutheran Rosary: I had to google to find out what a Lutheran Rosary might be. The nature of paraliturgical prayer is that it is not really official, so there is no “Lutheran Rosary” in the sense of a form being authorized by a church body. But just as the use of the Catholic Rosary has been encouraged by popes and church leaders, so I remember that a couple of years ago some ELCA publication recommended the praying of a Lutheran Rosary during Lent. The form of a Lutheran Rosary I found on the internet is similar to the Catholic Rosary, but with the Pius V ending of the Hail Mary not used. Otherwise, the Hail Mary is a totally biblical text that a Lutheran should be able to say without reservation. The pre-Pius V text is: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.” This is the form of the Ave Maria that Luther knew and commended and that Zwingli included in his Service of the Word (pulpit office). The Lutheran Rosary that I saw adds the Eastern Jesus prayer—Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner. It ends with the Song of Mary, the Magnificat, and Luther’s Marian prayer based on the Magnificat, in place of the post-Reformation Catholic Marian prayers. Here’s a web site that describes how to pray a Lutheran Rosary.
In terms of where you can buy a Lutheran Rosary, I found several sites selling them on Google.com. Here’s a picture of a Lutheran Rosary from Google Images.
In googling about the Rosary I found out that rosary designs are among the most popular Christian tattoos. So you could always have it with you on your body! The image below this post shows a rosary tattoo with roses, reminding us (and the guy with the tattoo) that “rosary” means a garland of roses for Holy Mary, the Mother of God. The beads hailing her as “Blessed among women” are enclosed within the prayer taught by the Fruit of her womb, Jesus, and the acclamation of glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This is not a form of prayer I practice, although I’m not opposed to it. Those who have more information about a Lutheran Rosary—or testimony about the value of praying the Rosary—are welcome to post it in the comments.
Pastor Frank Senn