"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Sunday 24 October 2010

[Irenikon] Rosary" of St. Seraphim of Sarov, appears to be older than the Latin Rosary

Some people have asked why the Orthodox don’t pray the Rosary as Roman Catholics and some other non-Orthodox do. Others object to Orthodox praying the Rosary since, in their view, this is not an Orthodox devotion, but peculiar to Roman Catholicism.
In hope of shedding some light on the subject, we publish the following letter of Father Alexander Gumanovsky, a spiritual son of Father Zosima, who was himself a spiritual son of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Fr. Alexander begins his letter with a quote from Fr. Zosima:
…I forgot to give you a piece of advice vital for salvation. Say the 0 Hail, Mother of God and Virgin one hundred and fifty times, and this prayer will lead you on the way to salvation. This rule was given by the Mother of God herself in about the eighth century, and at one time all Christians fulfilled it. We Orthodox have forgotten about it, and St. Seraphim has reminded me of this Rule. In my hands I have a hand-written book from the cell of St. Seraphim, containing a description of the many miracles which took place through praying to the Mother of God and especially through saying one hundred and fifty times the O Hail, Mother of God and Virgin. If, being unaccustomed to it, it is difficult to master one hundred and fifty repetitions daily, say it fifty times at first. After every ten repetitions say the Our Father once and Open unto us the doors of thy loving-kindness1. Whomever he spoke to about this miracle-working Rule remained grateful to him…
The elder Zosima greatly valued and loved Bishop Seraphim Zvezdinsky and always spoke of him as that saintly Bishop. Bishop Seraphim Zvezdinsky performed the Rule of the Mother of God every day, and; when he performed it he prayed for the whole world, embracing in is this Rule whole life of the Queen of Heaven.
He gave one of his spiritual children the task of copying a plan which he included his prayer to the Ever Virgin Mary. Here it is:
First decade: Let us remember the birth of the Mother of God. Let us pray for mothers, fathers, and children.
Second decade: Let us the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin and Mother of God. Let us pray for those who have lost their way and fallen away from the church.
Third decade: Let us remember the Annunciation of the Blessed Mother of God—let us pray for the soothing of sorrows and the consolation of those who grieve.
Fourth decade: Let us remember the meeting of the Blessed Virgin with the righteous Elizabeth. Let us pray for the reunion of the separated, for those whose dear ones or children are living away from them or missing.
Fifth decade: Let us remember the Birth of Christ. Let us pray for the rebirth of souls, for new life in Christ.
Sixth decade: Let us remember the Feast of the Purification of the Lord, and the words uttered by St. Simeon: Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also (Luke 2:35). Let us pray that the Mother of God will meet our souls at the hour of our death, and will contrive that we receive the Holy Sacrament with our last breath, and will lead our souls through the terrible torments.
Seventh decade: Let us remember the flight of the Mother of God with the God-Child into Egypt. Let us pray that the Mother of God will help us avoid temptation in this life and deliver us from misfortunes.
Eighth decade: Let us remember the disappearance of the twelve-year old boy Jesus in Jerusalem and the sorrow of the Mother of God on this account. Let us pray, begging the Mother of God for the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer.
Ninth decade: Let us remember-the miracle performed in Cana of Galilee, when the Lord turned water into wine at the words of the Mother of God: They have no wine (John 2:3). Let us ask the Mother of God for help in our affairs and deliverance from need.
Tenth decade: Let us remember the Mother of God standing at the Cross of the Lord, when grief pierced through her heart like a sword. Let us pray to the Mother of God for the strengthening of our Souls and the banishment of despondency.
Eleventh decade: Let us remember the Resurrection of Christ and ask the Mother of God in prayer to resurrect our souls and give us a new courage for spiritual feats.
Twelfth decade: Let us remember the Ascension of Christ, at which the Mother of God was present. Let us pray and ask the Queen of Heaven to raise up our souls from earthly and worldly amusements and direct them to striving for higher things.
Thirteenth decade: Let us remember the Upper Room and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the Mother of God. Let us pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me (Psalm 51).
Fourteenth decade: Let us remember the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, and ask for a peaceful and serene end.
Fifteenth decade: Let us remember the glory of the Mother of God, with which the Lord crowned her after her removal from earth to heaven. Let us pray to the Queen of Heaven not to abandon the faithful who are on earth but to defend them from every evil, covering them with her honoring and protecting veil.
After every decade Bishop Seraphim prayed his own prayers, which he revealed to no one, so that only the Lord and the Queen of Heaven knew these prayers.
Thus, we can see that the Rosary is a completely Orthodox form of devotion to our Lady.
Those who follow the Western tradition should follow one of the standard forms, i.e. the opening consisting of the Sign of the Cross followed by the Lord’s Prayer; or O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise and the Glory be… followed by the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation (three times). After this, either five or fifteen decades (each preceded by the appropriate mystery) are recited; and after the decades, the conclusion consisting of the Regina Coeli and the appropriate collect.
Those who follow the Eastern tradition could very easily follow the form cited above, ending with the hymn, It is truly meet to call thee blessed.
What is essential is to daily seek the intercessions of the Mother of God, so that in drawing closer to her, we may be drawn closer to her Son, our Savior, Jesus, with whom she now reigns eternally in Heaven.
1. The Full text of the prayer is: Open unto us the door of thy loving-kindness, O blessed Mother of God, in that we set our hope on thee, may we not go astray; but through thee may we be delivered from all adversities, fix thou art the salvation of all Christian people.
 For Pope Benedict on the Rosary, likened to Eucharistic communion, click here


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Laura said...

Hello Fr. David, and thank you so much for this post! I am both fascinated and delighted to read this piece about evidence of the Rosary in the Orthodox Church. I am a Roman Catholic and have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and the prayer of the Rosary - it was through the prayer of the Rosary that I returned to Christ some five years ago and I believe there is no greater prayer we can pray to implore the intercession of our Blessed Mother than it. It is particularly awe inspiring to read that St. Seraphim shared that praying 150 Hail Marys each day is "vital to salvation" as I certainly was pulled from the brink of hell and restored to life in Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation due to the interior changes that were prompted in me through this prayer. I did not connect the prayer of the Rosary to these changes at the time but looking back and through God's revelation since then, this certainly was the path by which He called me back to Himself. May He be praised, adored and loved forever and ever! And may our Mother Mary be loved and honored forever for her complete surrender to God's Will and the care she extends to all her children even now from Heaven. I have prayed the Rosary pretty much every day since October of 2007 and my life, and my husband's and children's lives have been transformed. I believe the Mother of God is truly the bridge by which all will be brought to unity in Christ and I will be asking for this with each Rosary I pray going forward. I also am going to begin praying with the Rule that has been put forth by St. Seraphim in your blog, the 15 reflections shared, as a means to enrich my experience and understanding of this venerable, beautiful and powerful prayer. God bless you, Father David, for sharing this. My prayers for your continued recovery.

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