Defenses against two common objections to the Holy Rosary, written, we hope, with a little humor.
“Vain Repetition” — The Big Canard
This is probably the objection Protestants have to the Rosary, that “vain repetition” is condemned by God. They take this objection from Our Lord’s words: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7, King James Bible)
God does not condemn repetition , but vain repetition. Vain, according to Webster’s dictionary, means: “1: having no real value: IDLE, WORTHLESS 2: marked by futility or ineffectualness: UNSUCCESSFUL, USELESS 3: FOOLISH, SILLY 4: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s achievements: CONCEITED.” Obviously the Catholic Church does not allow or encourage anyone to pray in this manner. However, Protestants seem to think that all repetition is vain. Here is a list of proofs from the Bible, which prove that this is not so.
- Psalm 135 — a biblical prayer — repeats “for His mercy endureth for ever” at the end of every one of its 27 verses.
- Apocalypse (Revelation, according to King James) 4:8: “…they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”
- In the account of Our Lord’s Agony in the garden of Olives, both Saint Matthew and Saint Mark say that He prayed using the same words. (Matthew 26:44; Mark 14:39)
- The word “Amen” is used over and over in Holy Scripture, and is, as well as “Alleluia,” a regular part of any Protestant’s prayer. Yet you never hear them say that that is vain repetition!
- Also, the Psalms were the official prayers of the Jews, which they prayed regularly. Our Lord Himself would have repeated them over and over again.
Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C. gives this very good explanation: “If you take the principle behind your objection, and push it to its full conclusion, you could say the Our Father but once in your life. If you said it once each year, it would be repetition. How often may you say it? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day? If daily, what would be wrong with saying it hourly? If you have just concluded one Our Father, why may you not begin it again at once? Does it suddenly become an evil prayer?” (Radio Replies , First Volume, page 288.) If you are allowed to pray something only once, you’d better keep a dictionary with you and cross out the words as you use them!
Is the Rosary Pagan?
Anti-Catholic Protestants sometimes claim that the Rosary is a syncretic blending of Christianity with non-Christian religions. It is true that many religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddism) use similar strings of beads as counting devices for prayers. So what? The fact is that all religions have common elements: holy books, buildings or other places set aside for worship, liturgy, music, vocal prayers, meditation, art of some sort (with only extremely rare exception), preachers, and many many others. To label Catholicism “pagan” because Hindus and Buddhists have prayer beads is logically equivalent to saying that, because Jimmy Swaggart (one Protestant minister who made this silly claim against the Rosary) and Anton LeVay (Satanic priest) both use electronic amplification in their services, then Swaggart must be a Satanist.