instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Self-guided study in the School of Mary

On Vox Nova, Michael Iafrate has a post taking "a radical view of the Rosary," in which he writes of his personal history praying the Rosary. When he gets to the present day, he says:
it is still difficult to integrate the rosary as it has been traditionally practiced into my self-understanding of what it means to follow Christ, to be a Christian.
And he lists the five "subversive mysteries of the Rosary" developed by a Capuchin novice named Br. Vito.

I'm all for rolling your own mysteries (assuming you aren't in some way obligated to pray the traditional ones). The school of Mary doesn't offer bad courses.

Still, a risk to picking out events from the Gospel to fit a certain theme is that it can lead to a distortion of the message.

Just looking at the first "subversive" mystery, for example, the Magnificat is of course a part of the Visitation. To meditate on the Magnificat as a model of liberation may be fruitful, but to see those verses only in those terms is to lose the larger context.

Here are the themes of the traditional mysteries of the Rosary:
  • The Incarnation of Christ.
  • The Passion and Death of Christ.
  • The Resurrection and Glory of Christ.
With the Luminous Mysteries, the blessed Pope John Paul II added the theme of
  • The Public Ministry of Christ.
And that's about it. It doesn't imply a perspective, or point of view, or theology, or vocation, or need, or circumstance. The one who prays the Rosary supplies that. The Rosary supplies the template of Jesus' life from Mary's eyes.

So if you're going to develop your own mysteries for regular use, I would merely ask whether you will be praying to form yourself according to the Gospel, or forming the mysteries according to yourself. And if you're doing it because you find that meditating on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is difficult to integrate into your understanding of what it means to follow Christ, then maybe the difficulty lies in your understanding, not the mysteries.