Sunday, August 21, 2022

Praying the Rosary as a Mormon

The evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
-- 2 Nephi 32:8

Apparently I am not the only Mormon to have been directed to pray the Rosary. Michelle Wiener posted this in 2020:

I haven't spoken much about this -- much less written about it -- but in a sacred experience I had a couple years ago, I was told to "pray the Rosary." While this is common to many Marian-type apparitions (this was not the Virgin Mary speaking, but it wasn't Heavenly Mother, either!), I tried to make it clear that I was not Catholic, but Mormon. But She would not take "no" for an answer. 

Wiener ended up with a "Mormon feminist version of the Rosary that I wrote back in 2019, after struggling for several years to come up with a version that worked." In my case, despite the very Catholic (i.e. not-Mormon) nature of the Rosary prayers and Mysteries, the Spirit has insisted that I not modify them in any way -- that I not invent a "Mormon Rosary" for myself but rather pray, primarily in Latin, the actual Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as revealed to St. Dominic and expanded by Popes Pius V and John Paul II, and by the Fátima visitant.

I was also directed to track down and read a particular book (I was given its title in French) by the 19th-century French mystic Éliphas Lévi, who was, among his other spiritual pursuits, a Roman Catholic priest. I have not finished it yet, but early in its pages the case is made that no one should ever, on the grounds that he imagines himself to have a higher or truer understanding of God, scruple at joining himself to the common prayers of mankind. "What God hath cleansed, call not thou common or unclean."

I think this is correct. To cavil, over matters of theological opinion, at something so obviously holy and inspired by God, is to be like the Pharisees, or like those who in their misguided piety dared to say "holier than thou" to Joan of Arc and Joseph Smith.

Beyond this general lesson, I assume I have something important to learn from the content of the Rosary itself, but I'm letting that come in its own time. I suppose a focus on the immediate family members of Jesus Christ, and on how their exaltation is inseparable from his own, is not really as foreign to the spirit of Mormonism as all that.

One of the scriptural objections to Rosary-type prayers is the warning in Matthew against "vain repetitions":

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matt 6:7-8).

But Jesus didn’t say God hears us the first time, making repetition unnecessary; he said God already knows what we need before we ask him, making a prayer uttered only once just as superfluous as one repeated many times. The “vanity” then must lie not in the act of telling God something he already knows (what, if that were the case, could be more “vain” than to pray “thy will be done”?), but in the superstitious expectation of being heard for one’s much speaking.

I have yet to work out all the whys and wherefores, but in the meantime there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that God wants me to pray the Rosary — not a “Mormon Rosary,” but the Rosary — and that the full reason for this will become clear in time.

Does he want you to do so as well? That’s between you and the Holy Spirit of God.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This memory is hazy, and I can't really grasp the event with perfect clarity…but I was saying grace over a meal and the thought that a wrote prayer is more meaningful than the prayer I just recited simply came into my mind. I've basically been saying the same prayer since I was a kid; "Father in Heaven, thank you for this day and for this food. Bless the food to nourish and strengthen our bodies. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I believe I learned the prayer from my older siblings, although it's possible that I learned it from my parents; but it isn't my own invention as everyone in my family says the same prayer. When I say grace, if I'm in a hurry, I'll say this prayer without deviating from the words I transcribed above. Otherwise, I'll add a few things here and there, but generally I stick to the same pattern. The fact that it is learned is interesting to note though. It means that whatever blessing I say now with the most frequency, is probably the same blessing my children will say (in some form or another). So I realized there were two ways forward, either I stop using this prayer and try to say unique prayers with each meal, or I compose a more meaningful prayer that I can use as grace the majority of the time. I am also a Mormon, so it is frowned upon to do this….but I did it anyway and I have to say that the repeated prayer has since been confirmed as Good multiple times since. Your writings on praying the rosary have been tugging at me to do the same.

dang said...

That comment wasn’t meant to be anonymous. That’s what I get for trying to publish a comment from my phone.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@dang

Saying grace is a clear case where a rote prayer should be acceptable or even preferable. I mean, the content is going to be the same every time anyway, whether or not you try to vary the phraseology.

Since returning to the faith, I’ve found it very hard to get back into the habit of saying grace. I very often forget to do so. When I do remember, I use a memorized prayer: “Benedic, Domini, nos et haec tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi, per Christum Dominum Nostrum. Amen.” (Praying in Latin is the Mormon logic of praying in Jacobean English, taken to the next level.”

Lady Mermaid said...

It's nice to see other non-Catholics develop an affinity for Catholic practices. I developed a similar conviction about praying for the dead despite growing up low church Protestant. The Holy Spirit came upon me when I was reading historical fiction about the Wars of the Roses in England. I noticed the characters praying for their dead loved ones and was quite moved by it. This led me to research the practice of praying for the dead. While I don't usually do scripted prayers, I follow the Eastern Orthodox practice of praying for every dead person except those canonized as saints. While praying for the dead is not part of my church tradition, I feel led to do it. It's really helped me cope w/ the passing of my uncle last year.

As far as scripted prayers, I believe that Jesus was talking about using long prayers to show off one's spirituality. It's more of an issue of pride, not the number of times or words of a prayer. One can pray a scripted prayer w/ sincerity of the heart. Prayer itself is an act of co-creation w/ God. Yes, He already knows our requests, but He wants us to participate in creation. Praying is making a desire a concrete reality.

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