For centuries, Catholics, and even non-Catholics, have taken great consolation and strength from praying the Rosary. We recite it in large groups, gathering together in community and we pray it individually, in contemplation and silence.
The Rosary we pray in its current form was officially approved by St. Pius V in 1569. In his 2002 Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Blessed John Paul II stated that “the Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium…..With the rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of His love.”
I was recently given a prayer book entitled, Our Lady’s Psalter. The Rosary of The Mystery of Christ. Fr. Marco Testa has translated from Latin, an earlier form of the Rosary having its origin in German Cistercian and Carthusian monasteries of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Fr. Testa explains that “sometime between 1409 and 1415, Dominic of Prussia, a Carthusian monk, composed fifty meditations or clauses (clausulae) summarizing the principal mysteries of the life of Jesus. These were recited after the Holy Name of Jesus, ending with ‘Amen.'”
Fr. Testa explains further that “the clausulae in this collection are known as the Oldest Rosary Clausulae….they are representative of the Rosary as a continuous meditation on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with a definite Marian perspective and emphasis. They are inspired by Sacred Scripture, Catholic theology and in some instances, apocryphal literature…..When praying what we may call the clausular rosary, these brief doctrinal statements or clausulae are inserted into the Hail Mary after the Holy Name of Jesus. A dialogue of prayer ensues which engages either our Lord Jesus Christ or His Holy Mother in a conversation that invites one to contemplate the Mystery of the redemptive Incarnation. It is a prayerful dialogue, at once both Marian and Christocentric…..Unlike the Dominican rosary which assigns particular mysteries to the different days of the week, the clausular rosary consecrates a particular mystery of the life of Jesus to each Hail Mary….this form of prayer aims to lead towards contemplation of the Mystery of Christ.” This collection contains both the original Latin prayers and Fr. Testa’s English translation.
Here’s an example of how to pray the clausulae:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, Who commanded the angel to say, “Hail, full of Grace” for thou hast given glory to the heavens; God and peace to the earth. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
I was fortunate to be given a copy pretty much “hot off the presses,” and have found it to be a very contemplative way to pray. In praying the clausulae, it seemed like I was invited to meditate further on the mystery of Mary’s fiat, and the mystery of Jesus Christ. I’m looking forward to praying the Clausular Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in Holy Hour. While this form of prayer is very suited to contemplation, Fr. Testa has led the Clausular Rosary in group prayer.
I would encourage everyone to try this “more ancient form of the rosary,” especially as the Church celebrates the Year of Faith.
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