I went to the Catholic website called “Catholic Answers” and noticed the following: “As the prayers themselves witness, the Church teaches us that we should pray not only directly to God, but also to those who are close to God, those who have the power to intercede upon our behalf. Indeed, we pray to the angels to help and watch over us; we pray to the saints in heaven to ask their intercession and assistance; we pray to the Blessed Mother to enlist her aid, to ask her to beg her Son to hear our prayers. Further, we pray not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of those souls in purgatory and of those brothers on earth who are in need.” It continues with this to say about the rosary: “There are six fundamental prayers in each decade - there are fifteen decades in a full rosary (which takes about forty-five minutes to say) - composed of ten ‘Hail Marys.’ Each decade is bracketed between an ‘Our Father’ and a ‘Glory Be,’ so each decade actually has twelve prayers. The Catholic rosary is a devotion dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God. (CCC 971) Each of the fifteen decades focuses upon a particular mystery in the life of Christ and his Blessed Mother. It is customary to say five decades at a time while meditating upon one set of mysteries.”
There is much in these statements that is not biblical. Because there are many readers who wonder why Catholics pray the rosary and how it is done, most of this article will address that subject. But there are a couple of other points that need to be made first. First, when mentioning “the Church,” this is a reference to the Catholic Church, not the Church that Jesus Christ is the Head of, because His true Church follows Him according to what His Word - Scripture - says, not what man-made tradition dictates down through the centuries. Also, if His true Church is following His Word, then they understand that Jesus has made it clear that we are to do as His Word tells us. God does not share His throne or His authority with anyone else. “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). First Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ is the only One we are to pray to in order to reach God.
The Catholic Answers section quoted above also includes a reference to purgatory which is also unbiblical. In speaking of Jesus, 1 Peter 2:24 says, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by Whose stripes you were healed.” Jesus’ death brought immediate spiritual healing and life for those who accept the work that He did; there is no middle place where souls go before they enter heaven or hell because Jesus paid the complete price for our sins once and for all upon the cross. The total work was done at the cross. Hebrews 1:3 makes this clear: “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” In other words, true Christ-followers cannot believe both in purgatory (which has no Scriptural reference) and in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
As for the rosary, the Catholic Answers website explains that, “The word ‘rosary’ comes from Latin and means a garland of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary. If you were to ask what object is most emblematic of Catholics, people would probably say, ‘The rosary, of course.’ Catholics are familiar with the images: the silently moving lips of the old woman fingering her beads; the oversized rosary hanging from the waist of the wimpled nun; more recently, the merely decorative rosary hanging from the rearview mirror.”
The website continues by saying, “The rosary is a devotion in honor of the Virgin Mary. It consists of a set number of specific prayers. First are the introductory prayers: one Apostles’ Creed, one ‘Our Father,’ three ‘Hail Marys,’ and one ‘Glory Be.’”
Catholics should be well aware of the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” But they rationalize praying the rosary by pointing out that, in the preceding four verses (1 Tim. 2:1-4), it says that “Paul instructs us to pray for each other, claiming that this means it [prayer] cannot interfere with Christ’s mediatorship: ‘I urge that prayers, supplications, petitions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone…. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior.’”
In this Scripture passage, Paul is exhorting the living people in the church to pray for each other, sharing our burdens and concerns for one another and supporting one another. However, Catholics are taught that this is an exhortation to pray for others (including those who are dead) and that it also applies to the saints in heaven who, as Revelation 5:8 reveals, according to Catholics, intercede for us by offering our prayers to God: The verse says: “The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” But re-read that quoted verse again to see that it does not say that saints are opening prayer requests or interceding for any prayer requests to God. Rather, the saints are directing all prayers to God (the Lamb), where they rightly belong.
Concerning the actual prayers of the rosary, the Catholic Answers website tells us that, “between the introductory prayers and the concluding prayer is the meat of the rosary: the decades. Each decade - there are fifteen in a full rosary (which takes about forty-five minutes to say) - is composed of ten ‘Hail Marys.’ Each decade is bracketed between an ‘Our Father’ and a ‘Glory Be,’ so each decade actually has twelve prayers. First we must understand that they are meditations. When Catholics recite the twelve prayers that form a decade of the rosary, they meditate on the mystery associated with that decade. If they merely recite the prayers, whether vocally or silently, they’re missing the essence of the rosary. It isn’t just a recitation of prayers, but a meditation on the grace of God. It is the meditation on the mysteries that gives the rosary its staying power.”
The prayers include the mysteries that should be meditated on with Bible verses that do, to some degree, give some event from Scripture. The Joyful Mysteries are these: the Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38), the Visitation (Luke 1:40–56), the Nativity (Luke 2:6–20), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:21–39), and the Finding of the child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41–51).
Then come the Sorrowful Mysteries: the Agony in the Garden (Matt. 26:36–46), the Scourging (Matt. 27:26), the Crowning with Thorns (Matt. 27:29), the Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17), and the Crucifixion (Luke 23:33–46).
The final Mysteries are the Glorious: the Resurrection (Luke 24:1–12), the Ascension (Luke 24:50–51), the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4), the Assumption of Mary into heaven (Rev. 12), and her Coronation (cf. Rev. 12:1).
The Catholic website also has this self-denigrating statement: “With the exception of the last two, each mystery is explicitly scriptural. True, the Assumption and Coronation of Mary are not explicitly stated in the Bible, but they are not contrary to it, so there is no reason to reject them out of hand. Given the scriptural basis of most of the mysteries, it’s little wonder that many Protestants, once they understand the meditations that are the essence of the rosary, happily take it up as a devotion. We’ve looked at the prayers found in the rosary and the mysteries around which it is formed.”
While most of these mysteries are found in Scripture, the fact that the last 2 are not found in Scripture should discredit the claim that the rosary is wholly Scriptural. We must know Scripture when it comes to discerning truth from error. I challenge all individuals to read and learn the Scriptures. Jesus warned that people could be mistaken because they don’t know Scripture. The Bible tells us that if we know the Scriptures, we will know the truth indeed! As for the rosary, for all of the sincerity on the part of those who pray it, they are still sincerely wrong because it goes against the Lord and His Word. It becomes a matter of rightfully dividing the Word of God as Paul points out that the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. May we do the same.