Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Family Rosary in the 1940s

A book published in 1942 for members of the Rosary Altar Society had this to say about the importance of the family Rosary and the methods for praying it in the home:
"His Holiness, Pope Pius XI, of happy memory, in his Rosary Encyclical Letter ‘Amid Ever-Worsening Evils,’ dated September 1937, wrote an emphatic message on the Family Rosary.

"Only through Catholic piety and faith exercised by the king and queen of each home, can the civilization which is our Christian heritage be strengthened, and to this end the family recitation of the Rosary is a powerful means of thwarting the cunning intrusions and blatant insolences of modern pagan heresies.

"No Catholic custom is better suited to heal family troubles, to unite quarreling partners, to instill love and obedience in the souls of children, to invoke health for the sick, to obtain rest for the souls in purgatory than the recitation of five decades of Our Lady’s Rosary -- especially in the intimacy of the family circle.

"This custom is associated with the family meal in the evening, which is usually the most convenient time to assemble the greatest number of members.

"Shortly after the evening table is left, the father or mother simply says: Let us say the rosary. The family members then kneel at the chairs on which each has been seated, and answer the introductory prayers of the Rosary.

"There are three methods of family Rosary recitation:

"The first method is after the manner of church recital. The leader, father, mother or eldest of the group recites the first part of the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory be to the Father, the Hail Holy Queen, and the final prayer throughout the five decades of the Holy Rosary.

"In the alternate method, the introductory prayers and the first decade are taken in the leading part by the head of the house, the second decade by the next in authority or age, the third by the next member, and so on. All others in the group answer with the latter part of the prayers of the decades. Then the leader recites the Hail, Holy Queen, etc.

"The third method is similar to the first in this, that the leader of the group alternates with the others in the group the recitation of the first part and the second part of the prayers through the several decades, but announces all the mysteries and does not transfer the lead to other single members of the group. This method is used by Dominican missionaries, and in Dominican communities.

"The second method is the more popular family procedure because it gives every member, from the oldest to the fifth in order, the interest of leading the first part of the decade prayers.

"However, methods are of second moment; so long as two or three are united in the name of God, there is Christ in the midst of them, and the family circle becomes like a domestic church for the Rosary devotion. The time involved is not great -- so the saying of the beads is no endurance test on any count. It is better to say it quickly than to omit it entirely."
The author then goes on to say that the custom of the family Rosary beads is "a custom to which many a soul later harkens back as the sweetest of memories of home."

Dolan, Dominic, O.P. (Ed); The Rosarian’s Handbook of the Society of the Rosary Altar (Marchbanks Press, New York, 1942), pp. 101-103.

All material from The Rosarian's Handbook used with the kind permission of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph.

Murillo’s “Madonna with the Rosary”, from Wikimedia Commons. In the public domain.


Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Nice post!

Marie-Jacqueline said...

Thank you, Catholic Mom. The Rosarian's Handbook is a small book packed full of good things. There's more to come!


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