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The Rosary is composed of fifteen decades of Hail Marys. To each of these decades corresponds a mystery that pious people meditate and savor at leisure, repeating the Angelical Salutation. Before the first of these fifteen decades, one begins with the sign of the cross, the holy and sublime prelude to all Christian prayer and action; the Creed is recited as a profession of faith which will develop in the body of the devotion; then come three Hail Marys, homage to the three divine Persons of the adorable Trinity, or to the three states of Mary’s life, during Her childhood, in the time She lived with Our Lord and in the time She spent on earth after the death of Her Son.
The excellence of the prayers that make up the Rosary shows us the virtue and solidity of this salutary practice. First of all, the Credo is recited, the Apostles’ Creed, which has come down to us unaltered, passing for twenty centuries through the mouths and hearts of all Christian generations. This Creed, which the martyrs repeated with courage in the amphitheatres and even under the axe of the lictors, and which St. Ambrose calls the great arsenal in which are to be found all the weapons capable of overcoming and confounding error. It is, according to this holy doctor, like the standard which gathers under its shadow the whole Christian army. We recite the Creed as we begin the Rosary to revive our confidence, reminding ourselves that faith is of all dispositions the most necessary to make our prayer effective. “The efficacy of prayer, says St. Thomas, is derived from the faith that believes in God’s promise, and from the confidence in the word He has given us.” Trust is always presented to us in Scripture as the motive and measure of the graces that God pours out on us. In the Gospel, when a sick or poor person asked Him for some favor, Jesus asked: Do you believe that I can do this? With the prayer of the Creed, we repeat with the people of the Gospel: “Lord, I believe” in Your love, I believe in Your omnipotence.
The Creed was composed by the first twelve apostles themselves. When they went apart to evangelize the world, each of them formulated one of its truths. “It is a magnificent and ineffable marvel that this Creed, the work of a few men without knowledge or letters, should have spread from an obscure corner of Judea to all parts of the universe, and become the symbol not only of the peoples, but also of all those who were truly great men on earth, especially those who were firmly virtuous: giving to timid people the courage and the strength to brave persecutions and death, and triumphing everywhere over tyrants as well as philosophers, over sophisms as well as scaffolds. Without doubt, in order to establish the truth of the Gospel story, it would be sufficient if they had been publicly attested in the very places where they had been accomplished, if they had been confirmed by the witnesses, in the presence of the people and the magistrates, and sealed by them with their blood. However, this was not enough in the merciful designs of divine Wisdom: God willed not only that the facts of the Savior’s birth, passion, crucifixion, death, and resurrection should be recorded in the Creed; but that this testimony of the Apostles should be joined by the testimony of all contemporary Christians, and that expressed by the same symbol, it should be repeated, from age to age, by all those who would become members of the Church of Jesus Christ; that at all times, in all places, in persecutions as well as in peace, in private assemblies as well as in public, in the interior of families as well as in the temples, etc. , So that from all the voices of the Christian world gathered together there would result, as it were, only one and unique testimony, holding, if it is permitted to speak thus, by a first ring to the very facts of which it is the object, and having to be linked, by the last, to the glorious and triumphant Cross, with which, on the dreaded day, Jesus will appear on earth, to judge both those who will have believed and those who will have refused to believe.” (Fr. de Géramb.)
Immediately after having adored God the Father, His only Son, Our Lord, the Apostles add: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary.
Go now, go to the very ends of the earth, glorious Apostles; you have ensured the triumph of Mary throughout the ages. Go forth, immortal ambassadors of the greatness of your Queen; you have on your lips your imperishable credential in the eyes of all nations: He who was conceived of the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary.
Go away, Apostles, faithful servants of Mary, go away, and may impiety and heresy never again come to ask us with contempt what is this new devotion to Mary, which neither Scripture nor Tradition authorizes; Mary, from whom Jesus was born. The whole of religion is here. The only Son of God, Light of light, the true God of the true God, became man. He was born through Mary to temporal life, as He is begotten of His Father from all eternity. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary.
The most illustrious doctors of the Church, the Cherubim themselves, could not say anything more admirable in praise of the august Mother of God.
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Mother of God. Amen.
O Jesus! We are going to walk with You on the road to Calvary which was so painful for You. Make us understand the greatness of Your sufferings, touch our hearts with tender compassion at the sight of Your torments, in order to increase in us the regret of our faults and the love we wish to have for You.
Deign to apply to all of us the infinite merits of Your Passion, and in memory of Your sorrows, show mercy to the souls in Purgatory, especially to those who are most abandoned.
O Divine Mary, who first taught us to make the Way of the Cross, obtain for us the grace to follow Jesus with the sentiments Your Heart was filled with as You accompanied Him on the road to Calvary. Grant that we may weep with You, and that we may love Your divine Son as You do. We ask this in the name of His adorable Heart. Amen.