The Bible’s Viewpoint
Should Christians Use the Rosary?
“MARY and the Rosary are the best ways to approach Almighty God in prayer.”—Jean.
“If you needed any help from Mary, it could be most effectively obtained through the use of the Rosary. I would never go anywhere without it!”—Kevin.
“We were taught that you must pray to God through Mary.”—Jeannine, a former Catholic nun.
Is there a real basis for such confident reliance on the Rosary? Did God, Christ, or Mary recommend its use? What do history and God’s Sacred Word say about it?
Most people who use the Rosary believe that the practice originated with Christianity. However, historical evidence discloses that the practice of reciting prayers and counting them on a string of beads predated the beginning of Christianity. Commenting on the origin of the Rosary, The World Book Encyclopedia reports: “Prayer beads are of ancient origin, and were probably first used by the Buddhists. Both Buddhists and Muslims make use of them in their prayers.” The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that prayer beads were universally familiar to non-Christians for centuries and were in use long before the Catholic Church adopted the Rosary.
Mary and the Rosary
Mary is called “Queen of the Holy Rosary.” She is accredited with admonishing Catholics to “Pray the Rosary.” The most common Rosary, “The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” is traced to the 12th century C.E. and reached its definitive form in the 15th century. The Rosary and Mary go hand in hand, since she is seen as the promoter of the Rosary and the one to whom the greatest importance is given in prayer.
Why all the emphasis on Mary and the Rosary? In reply Catholic authorities point to what the angel Gabriel said to her: “Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28, The New American Bible) Mary appreciated that her part in the conception and birth of Jesus, although important, was insignificant when compared to the exalted position that the Son she was to bear would receive. Concerning him, the angel Gabriel went on to say: “Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. . . . His reign will be without end.”—Luke 1:32, 33, NAB.
Notice that attention was to focus, not on Mary, but on the Son she was to conceive—Jesus. He was the one who would be great and rule as King. (Philippians 2:9, 10) Nothing is said about appointing Mary as the “Queen of the Holy Rosary.” Mary did, however, receive a blessing; she became the mother of Jesus.—Luke 1:42.
Mary was not an ambitious woman, seeking prominence. She was happy and content to be a humble worshiper of the Most High God. Her meek, submissive disposition is revealed by her response to the angel Gabriel when she said: “I am the handmaid [servant] of the Lord.” (Luke 1:38, The Jerusalem Bible) Throughout her life, Mary proved to be a sincere woman of faith, a lover of righteousness, a loyal and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ who joined with fellow worshipers in humbly praying to Almighty God. The early Christians prayed with Mary, not to her.—Acts 1:13, 14.
Prayer and the Rosary
Christians view prayer as a most valuable provision of the Creator—a real gift to be highly prized. Prayer is respectful speech to Almighty God. It should convey our innermost feelings and heartfelt thoughts. “Prayer should be an expression of one’s friendship with God,” says the New Catholic Encyclopedia. Petitioning God should never become a meaningless routine, nor should we hold rigidly to some favorite set of memorized words.—Matthew 6:7, 8.
Does the Rosary contribute to such meaningful prayers? Jeannine observed that reciting “Hail Marys” on the Rosary “became unconsciously repetitious.” Repeating the same words on the Rosary did not bring her closer to God. Said another former Catholic nun, Lydia: “I did not find anything instructive in reciting the Rosary. I would have preferred reading books on religion.” Repetitious prayers serve no useful purpose, since God has promised: “Before they call, I will answer.” (Isaiah 65:24, NAB; Matthew 6:7, 8, 32) Almighty God appreciates and answers petitions that are said with the right motive and that come from an honest and sincere heart. The Rosary does not help a person to approach God with meaningful, heartfelt prayers.—Psalm 119:145; Hebrews 10:22.
How to Approach God
The only acceptable way to gain access to the “Hearer of prayer” is through Jesus Christ. (Psalm 65:2) Jesus plainly taught: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, JB) Mary was not invited to share this responsibility and serve as an intermediary. If Mary had been granted this unique privilege, surely Jehovah would have made it known.—Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1, 2.
The Rosary and recitation of memorized prayers originated outside of professedly Christian lands. Praying to Mary ignores what Jesus taught, that “no one can come to the Father except through [him].” Thus, the Rosary and Mary are not God’s way to approach Him in prayer.