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How many times do we hear Protestant accusations against the Rosary? Last night I heard it again, and this time it struck a particular nerve. The basic challenge brought up was this - the Rosary is a prayer to Mary, the Catholic Church says the Rosary sums up all of the Gospel, therefore Catholics worship Mary, bypass Christ altogether, and are really not Christian at all.
In a word - hogwash!
So, let's clear up a few items.
The name 'rosary' has nothing to do with Mary, 'rosary' refers to the beads. The beads are a tool used to help us focus on the prayer within a noisy and busy world.
The Rosary is a SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE just like mediation, reading the Bible, or attending worship services. The Catholic Church has never taught it is a sin to abstain from this spiritual discipline. It is intended to help a Christian in our Christian lives. If it doesn't help you, then ignore it.
The Rosary does not focus upon Mary.
When reciting the Rosary, we recite the 'Apostles Creed', we recite the 'Our Father', and we recite the 'Glory Be'. In this, the Rosary does indeed summarize the entire Christian faith and the Gospel.
But what about all the Hail Mary's?
When reciting the 'Hail Mary', we honor Mary and her role in Jesus' life using the words recording in Scripture from the Angel. We also ask Mary to intercede (to pray to Jesus), for us and our needs just as we'd ask another living human being to pray for us. You can argue Mary cannot hear us or pray for us, but that is another issue altogether. The main point is that in the Rosary Catholics do not worship Mary. If she cannot hear or help us but the Rosary helps Catholics focus upon God and the work of Jesus, then what is the harm? If Mary and the communion of saints already in heaven can hear and help us, then what awesome help they are!
More importantly, when we recite the Hail Mary, we are asked to meditate on the major points of Jesus' life. These 'mysteries' include his baptism, his time as a child with the teachers in the Temple, his Transfiguration, his sacrifice on the Cross.
The Rosary is entirely about Christ. It is about his life, purpose and the Good News he brought. It is wholly Christian for those who take the time to understand.