Conducted by Fr. JOHN SYMON
Question—Why is the rosary now recited so seldom in our churches and why do priests almost never mention this devotion in sermons?
N. P., London, S.W.
Answer—There a re quite a fewchurches wherethe public rosary is still held and of course many of us. even if we are only a relative minority among the total Catholic population. still try to recite this prayer either alone or in the family circle. It remains true that the rosary has fallen on evil days and that the annual observance of October as the month of the rosary is only a shadow of what it used to be. For the sake of those Catholics who are disquietened by this change in our devotional habits, it is important to keep the whole matter in 'perspective. This means taking a hard look at church history and remembering that the majority of the saints did not say the rosary as we know it. Certainly Our Lady herself did not do so! If the'rosary is much less popular than was 20 years ago, this is in part an under standable reaction to the exaggerated preaching of the recent past when too often it was implied that only those who used this particular form of prayer could be considered good Catholics. These naive exaggerations sprang from mental laziness and a failure to think; a similar laziness is also behind the inability of so many to see the continuing place of the rosary and other devotions, subordinate to the renewed liturgy, but existing along with it. Twenty years ago we were often told to ignore the continental practice of Latin Dialogue Mass and to get on with (Air rosary. but since the Council the lazy thinkers assume that all they have to do is change the rubrics of the Mass, push the statues out a church. and drop devotions like the rosary. Instead of being told that the rosary is the highest form of Catholic prayer after the Mass, we are now told with equal naivety that "the rosary is out." From the earliest centuries Sunday or weekday services, providing something additional and extra to the Mass, have been a valuable element in Christian life. It i., true that by and large only a minority have ever come to these services but for this minority they have been well worthwhile. Now that over the last five years the Mass itself has acquired a more intelligible form, it is only to be expected that our popular devotions should be rethought and should be more clearly relatedto the liturgy. Meanwhile it is useless simply to exhort us to come to the rosary said in public in a deadly. dull fashion. It is true that out' piety should include a place for the Mother of God but the rosary is only one among several ways of doing this. We can give Mary her place either by the rosary, or by meditating on the scriptures concerning her, or by celebrating her feasts as they recur in the liturgy. The rosary helps many people to pray and, if we are among them, we should continue to use lilt; if, on the other hand, we do not find the rosary helpful, we should look for some other form of private prayer and certainly we must continue to give Mary her place in our prayer-life. Simply because he does not say the rosary a member of the Church is not thereby less Catholic than someone who does: it is a means. not an end.