PDA

View Full Version : A friend died and I went to the Rosary. What was that all about?


Drum God
07-21-2006, 12:25 AM
A friend of mine died Tuesday and the Rosary was held today. I have spent very little time attending Catholic services, so I didn't really know what to expect. Can any of you take a moment to explain what all that was?

A woman spoke and they were obviously prayers. This went on over and over. Each time, she began with a one line introduction (as near as I could tell, a phase of Jesus' life). This introduction was followed by her saying the beginning of the Lord's Prayer and the mourners chorally saying the last half. Then a whole bunch of stuff, ending with a prayer in Spanish. Then, this whole process began again. I saw many of the women clutching beads in their hands. I did not see any men with beads. Some of the mourners were clutching cards with Jesus' image on one side and some text on the other.

After all of this, the woman speaking consoled the mother, husband, and daughters of the deceased. She then approached the body, prayed for a moment, and exited. Two new women went to a kneeling rail in front of the casket and the whole process began again, this time entirely in Spanish. The Spanish speaking mourners, both men and women, repeated various prayers that the women began.

After this, some songs were sung and some stories were read, all in Spanish. As this was going on, mourners went to visit the family of the deceased.

Now, I consider myself to be Christian. I know the Lord's Prayer and have been in various Protestant churches. I haven't done much in Catholic churches. Who teaches all of these prayers? I can't imagine funerals happen so often that everyone, even the children, have memorized all these things. I know that the beads are Rosary beads, but what are they for? What were these cards about?

I am not intending to make light of any of this or argue whether it is right or wrong, or anything like that. It's clearly not my sort of thing, but it's okay if others find meaning in it. I'm just curious what it all meant.

If it matters, the deceased was a thirty-four year-old Hispanic married mother of three girls. Her name is Belinda and she died of a heart attack.

Guinastasia
07-21-2006, 12:33 AM
The Rosary is a prayer to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. (AKA the Virgin Mary, or the Blessed Mother). The beads are to keep track of the prayers as they are said. I can't remember how many decades are in a Rosary, but each decade starts with an Our Father, then 10 Hail Marys. And then, there's a Glory Be said in between, or before each, I can't remember that either.

The Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
***
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death
Amen

I think the Nicene Creed is said at the beginning. Damn, it's been a while since I've done a Rosary. Longer than I care to remember.

Typically, the person leading the Rosary says the first part, the "Hail Mary, full of grace" stanza, and then the congregation joins in on the "Holy Mary, Mother of God" part.

(Dopers if I'm wrong, I appologize, like I said, it's been a looooong time!)

OttoDaFe
07-21-2006, 01:02 AM
More than you really want to know about the Rosary (http://rosary-center.org/howto.htm).

The first stanza of the Hail Mary commemorates the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she had been chosen to bear the Saviour. The second stanza is the actual prayer to the Mother of God. (Note that contrary to the belief among some that Catholics "worship" the Virgin, it's a request for her intercession before the Throne.)

ODF, surprised that he remembered so much of the subject. Except that the "Luminous Mysteries" are a new one on me.

saoirse
07-21-2006, 01:38 AM
There are five decades in the rosary. A rosary can be said while contemplating the sorrowful, joyful or glorious mysteries. What it really is is a Catholic method of meditation. Once you have the form down, the repetition of the prayers sort of decenters your mind, so that you're open to insights into the nature of God.

Guinastasia
07-21-2006, 01:41 AM
That, and I'd like to add condolences for your loss.

As for the children knowing the prayer by heart, doesn't surprise me. The Hail Mary is probably the first prayer a Catholic child learns, very early on. By the time I was six, I probably could have recited it in my sleep.

Little Plastic Ninja
07-21-2006, 02:03 AM
As for the cards -- we called them 'holy cards' back when I was in Catholic school. We got them all the time. They're fairly inexpensive, a bit cheaper than a postcard in most cases unless they're very elaborate, and I guess are something like a physical prayer. Lots of them have various Jesuses on them -- Jesus with the Sacred Heart, Jesus on the Cross, Jesus just being Jesus. Lots, lots more have various saints. My mother collects these in particular; you'd be amazed how many of them end up as bookmarks in books that finally get sold at used bookstores. :D

I remember hearing a priest tell the story of ministering to the appallingly poor in some rather unfortunate area of Mexico. He gave a woman several hundred dollars so that she could build a more permanent home for herself and her family -- cinder blocks, I think, instead of dried and rotting wood.

Instead of buying the blocks, she bought dozens and dozens of holy cards and papered her entire little house with them. :(

"Yeah," he said, "after that we just started building their houses. Easier all around."

Guinastasia
07-21-2006, 02:09 AM
You tend to get a lot of prayer cards from funerals-my dad has a whole mess of them.

I also used to get a lot of them in school.

SnakesCatLady
07-21-2006, 02:28 AM
For what it is worth, I feel for the family of your friend. I hope that peace will be with them and comfort them.

Cunctator
07-21-2006, 06:33 AM
Except that the "Luminous Mysteries" are a new one on me.They were added to the traditional sorrowful, glorious and joyful mysteries in 2002 by the late Pope John Paul II.

Lsura
07-21-2006, 06:35 AM
A rosary can be said while contemplating the sorrowful, joyful or glorious mysteries.

There are also the Luminous Mysteries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosary#Luminous_Mysteries) (added in 2002).

tomndebb
07-21-2006, 06:57 AM
The links and discussion do a decent job of describing the form and content of the rosary. I would add a little more on the use of the rosary.

The rosary is a meditative prayer. Each recitation of a Hail Mary is not intended to be prayed in the manner of an individual appeal to God. Rather the repetition of the same verses over and over (verses that have long been memorized so that one does not have to read them or even consciously attend to them during the recitation), provides a state in which one can concentrate the mind on contemplating the Mysteries. Buddhists have a similar prayer techniquie in which they also "count" prayers on beads while they meditate on some belief of deeper meaning than the indiviual prayer.

I suspect that the earliest rosaries were composed of far fewer individual prayers and that the addition of extra prayers were simply accretions that someone thought was a "good idea" at one time or another that got added to the ritual.

Since it is based on a set of prayers that all Catholics know and provides a ritual that does not require that a priest lead it, I suspect that it came to be a popular prayer at gatherings where a contemplative prayer would be more appropriate than a full religious service. (In other words, when the family and friends of the deceased would gather in the evening, they could all recite this prayer together, even if they could not get a priest out to the house before the actual funeral.) Since it is meditative in nature, they could concentrate on their wishes for the deceased, individually, but the antiphonal nature of the individual prayers (a leader beginning each prayer and the rest of the group reciting the ending), lends itself to a community service. No one has to prepare a sermon. No one has to select specific biblical readings (provided anyone could read). No one has to be trained and ordained to perform specific rituals.

Over the years, the rosary has fallen out of common use in some Catholic cultures, (particularly in the U.S.), so what used to be a very common experience in the U.S. tends to be limited to a few (generally ethnic immigrant) groups.

As to the difference between the actions of the men and women, for some reason a number of cultures came to view the rosary as a "woman's" prayer and a lot of men in those cultures do not keep actual rosaries on their person. Since the prayers are recited antiphonally, no one other than the leader actually has to have a physical rosary in their hands. So the women (who already have a rosary in their purse) will haul their beads out during the prayer while the men simply respond to what has been spoken.

Bambi Hassenpfeffer
07-21-2006, 11:49 AM
And in case you're interested, here's the whole Rosary in English (http://worland.com/magdalen/rosary.htm) and Spanish (http://devocionario.com/maria/rosario_1.html).

You can see how the repetition in it easily leads to a meditative state.

Guinastasia
07-21-2006, 11:56 AM
A lot of Catholic men tend to have the plain, ordinary black beaded rosaries-I think my dad's are like that, and my grandfather's too.

Among Catholics, too, you tend to get tons of those things-the cheap, plastic ones, and the nicer sets. I still have my mother-of-pearl beads from my First Communion.

OttoDaFe
07-21-2006, 01:49 PM
They were added to the traditional sorrowful, glorious and joyful mysteries in 2002 by the late Pope John Paul II.That explains it. The last time I "jiggled the beads" was at my mother's Rosary in 1979. Thanks.

Kizarvexius
07-21-2006, 07:38 PM
May I add (and I hope it's not too inappropriate to say so in GQ) that it's very nice to see a question on the SDMB about religion -- Catholicism, even -- that is answered respectfully without any snide comments from the militant athiest set?

A pleasant change.

elfkin477
07-21-2006, 07:51 PM
How does one decide if they'd like to do a Rosary for the dead? All but one funeral I've been to has been Catholic (I'm not, ftr) but I've never seen a Rosary done.

JRDelirious
07-21-2006, 08:44 PM
My regrets and sympathy Drum God and for your friend''s family.

As mentioned by tom~, the system of repetitive ritual prayer is used by many religions as a way of creating a state-of-mind for contemplation of the sacred; plus, ritual prayer that does not require ordained clergy is useful when you may not always have access to a Priest.

And Drum God the ritualistic prayers are learned early on and will stay with you if you get the chance of hearing them often enough. Think of the Pledge of Allegiance or the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner. Remember, the full practicew of Catholicism involves full attendance at Masses and Rosaries and other celebrations where you will participate in many call/response prayers. We're not just taling Lord's Prayer/Hail Mary/Gloria/Salve, Regina but also major parts of the Mass, the Creeds, the Act of Contrition, a number of Litanies, and so forth.

How does one decide if they'd like to do a Rosary for the dead? All but one funeral I've been to has been Catholic (I'm not, ftr) but I've never seen a Rosary done. It is up to the family. There are a series of standard setups (e.g. the wake, or the novenas and other such based upon a specific number of days, months, etc. from death) but basically any group of Catholics can decide to have a Rosary.

If you get the US-based or Satellite TV channel EWTN ("Eternal Word Tlevision Network"), you will find Rosaries being broadcast mornings and evenings.

Cunctator
07-21-2006, 10:05 PM
How does one decide if they'd like to do a Rosary for the dead? All but one funeral I've been to has been Catholic (I'm not, ftr) but I've never seen a Rosary done.The family and friends of the deceased just decide to meet in the church and say the Rosary. It doesn't require much organisation. I've been at several funerals in the last couple of months where people have got together in the church the night before, said the Rosary and then sung the Office of the Dead.

doreen
07-21-2006, 10:23 PM
How does one decide if they'd like to do a Rosary for the dead? All but one funeral I've been to has been Catholic (I'm not, ftr) but I've never seen a Rosary done.
I've never seen the Rosary said at a funeral but I often see it said at wakes. Possibly more often than the average Catholic, since I am a member of my parish's Rosary Altar Society, and we attend the wake of a deceased member as a group and say the Rosary.

Lissla Lissar
07-22-2006, 12:04 AM
As I understand it, it's Apostles Creed, Lord's Prayer, three Hail Marys, The Glory Be, the O my Jesus Fatima prayer, and then five decades, each beginning with the Our Father and closing with the Glory Be and the Fatima prayer. At the end you pray a prayer that I can only remember half of, which starts "Hail, Holy Queen".

Is it really the Nicene creed?

The Eastern Orthodox churches uses knotted prayer cords in a similar way. Each knot is a Jesus Prayer (some variation on "Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner"). As tom mentioned, it's a meditative form of prayer. I find it a lot easier to concentrate while doing something that reminds me physically of where my attention should be than when I'm doing free prayer.


Ritual prayers really do stick. I can still recite the whole Anglican Morning Prayer service. The Rosary was a cinch, except for the weird mental block on remembering the Hail Holy Queen part.

Is the Fatima prayer generally added, or only used by some?

tomndebb
07-22-2006, 12:09 AM
How does one decide if they'd like to do a Rosary for the dead? All but one funeral I've been to has been Catholic (I'm not, ftr) but I've never seen a Rosary done.As I noted, earlier, there are a number of groups in the U.S. where the rosary is falling out of general use. At a wild guess, (and I could easily be wrong), if you do not live near a Portuguese-American community, you may not have been to many Ethnic Catholic funerals. (Even the Irish in your newck of the woods tend (in my memory) to have become more "American" than "Irish-American.") Thirty years ago, we did not recite the rosary at my Dad's wake. There were a great many Protestants among our visitors and we felt a Scripture service would be more inclusive and appropriate.

It is also possible that there have been rosaries prayed for people whose wakes you attended, but that they were scheduled slightly off-time from the normal calling hours so that the recitation would not cause any discomfort to non-Catholics who were coming to pay their respects. (I have seen this done a couple of times, where the calling hours are 3:00 - 5:30 and 7:00 - 9:00 and it is "mentioned" among the Catholics that the rosary will be recited at 5:30 or 6:40.)

elfkin477
07-22-2006, 02:15 AM
At a wild guess, (and I could easily be wrong), if you do not live near a Portuguese-American community, you may not have been to many Ethnic Catholic funerals. (Even the Irish in your newck of the woods tend (in my memory) to have become more "American" than "Irish-American.")

Actually, all the funerals have been in a Portuguese-Irish community: Taunton, MA. My mom's family is entirely Portuguese and Irish. If it's at the wake, however, I supose that makes the difference. I've only been to one wake (at age 7) and it was for an Irish relative, not a Portuguese one.

Mathochist
07-22-2006, 04:19 AM
That, and I'd like to add condolences for your loss.

As for the children knowing the prayer by heart, doesn't surprise me. The Hail Mary is probably the first prayer a Catholic child learns, very early on. By the time I was six, I probably could have recited it in my sleep.

Yeah, there's something that just gets in your skull about the prayers. I remember a Colbert Report where he launched into the Apostolic Creed and I just dropped into lockstep. I haven't been to a mass in ages, but when you hear, "I believe in one God, the Father almighty..." it's like you never left.

tomndebb
07-22-2006, 11:01 AM
If it's at the wake, however, I supose that makes the difference.Pretty much. I have never been to a funeral where they recited the rosary. The morning of the burial they are already going to celebrate Mass and then have prayers at the gravesite (and they may have had a brief prayer service before the closing of the casket at the funeral home), so wedging in the rosary would be a bit much. When it is prayed, it is usually on a day prior to the funeral.

Drum God
07-23-2006, 01:02 AM
Thank you for this wonderful discussion. I haven't been able to post in a few days and I was amazed to come back and find such a lively discussion. The information presented here has been enlightening. I, too, appreciate the utter absence of people wishing to criticize the practice of Catholicism or religion in general.

The Rosary that I attended was held on Thursday evening, two days after my friend died. The funeral was Friday morning, so these were two separate events. My schedule prevented my attending the Friday service, so I went to the Thursday Rosary. I didn't know what to expect and I didn't much understand what was happening even while I was there. The constant repetion didn't make much sense. Now, I see that that repetition is an important part of the Rosary, and leads to the worshipper's desired mental state. I actually kind of like that. In the churches that I may most familiar with, the minister, or whoever, leads the prayer by saying whatever is on his/her minds. Sometimes, I'm listening and I don't necessarily wish to pray about what the leader is talking about. I kind of like how this Rosary takes that away.

Thank you also for the kinid words of condolensce. Belinda was a special lady who left us much, much too soon. She was a teacher's aide at our school and she helped many young people. She worked with some of the most challenging kids in our school and helped straighten them out. She was wonderful to work with and would do anything to help. Her passing is a loss to our school and our community.

monavis
07-23-2006, 08:31 AM
Catholics believe that the Rosary was given to Saint Dominic by the Virgin Mary. It is a way to contemplate the life of Jesus and Mary's Place in it. Mary is believed to be an intersessor to Jesus. They believe (at least the one's I know) that saying the prayers and the Meditations is pleasing to God,and honoring Mary as mother of Jesus.

Monavis

yBeayf
07-23-2006, 02:03 PM
As I noted, earlier, there are a number of groups in the U.S. where the rosary is falling out of general use. At a wild guess, (and I could easily be wrong), if you do not live near a Portuguese-American community, you may not have been to many Ethnic Catholic funerals.
Just as a data point, from my own experience, we Italians here in Houston still say the rosary at funerals.

Best Topics: cola syrup uses names for balls jinx coke freemason cost como chingas svengali card deck jew jew eyeball sell domain godaddy girl friday origin hells kitchen petrosa garbage disposal accident sucking blow casket weight flintstone song 6 lane highways dinger baseball eel texture sybil gooley usa h stamp sas shoes clearance transformer colors insurance pronunciation stripper stage names koo koo kachoo gypsy con prepare guava alum cartoons 16 parkside lane im gellin broken digital clock cousin's daughter girls with overbite winterland ballroom bike rack lock eating poison ivy oz didn't give nothing to the tin man return address without name what do you call people from nevada foot of bed trunk my other brother darryl underground water line finder how long is sherry good after opening midas brake pads cost sabra price is right stretched acl graft symptoms how to get rid of annoying neighbors is helium a mixture difference between morphine and morphine sulfate why do ants bite humans best stethoscope for respiratory therapists highest air pressure humans can survive what to expect jury duty why do sodastream bottles expire who is the only us president to have been divorced where are archived orders in amazon body paint that won't rub off gas fireplace automatic shut off how to get cash when bank is closed can i freeze chocolate chip cookies euphemism for taking a dump egr valve ford taurus best white elephant gifts reddit pronounce summa cum laude troy bilt lawn tractor troubleshooting how long does triple bypass surgery take