Fiver for Sorrow, Ten for Joy
A Consideration of The Rosary
L. Neville Ward
Ward who is a Methodist has written what can only be described as a thoroughly researched, well thought out book on what is deemed to be a very significant part of the prayer life of a Catholic – The Rosary. The Rosary is a form of prayer that revolves around a string of prayer beads. The string usually contains 50 beads, split into 5 groups of 10 (decades), on which different prayers are said, plus 5 beads and a crucifix which hang on separate string between 2 decades. On these extra 5 beads, the preparation prayers are set, which are: Our Father, the Apostle’s Creed and 3 Hail Mary’s, with a kiss placed on to the crucifix. These prayers are said to prepare oneself for the rhythm of prayer that is to follow in each of the decades.
Each of the decades has a different theme to it, which each theme coming from a different mystery to which there are 3 mysteries; each mystery is said on different days of the week: Mondays and Thursdays, Tuesdays and Fridays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the one of the 3 mysteries being said on Sundays, depending on when in the liturgical year is it. The mysteries are: The Joyful Mystery (Mondays and Thursdays; Sundays from Advent to Lent), The Sorrowful Mystery (Tuesdays and Fridays; Sundays in Lent), and The Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays and Saturdays; Sundays from Easter to Advent).
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy is set out in a way that mimic The Rosary as the book has 15 chapters which is illustrative of the 15 themes (5 from each decade). Each chapter is a mediation of each theme including Ward’s take on the theme. Ward has gained an insight into the world of a different domination alien to his own, but through it, he advocates for unity. Unity in the church. Ward has written his book so that other Christians of different dominations can gain an insight themselves and about a way of prayer that is strongly associated with Roman Catholic Christianity.
The book is certainly insightful as it has helped transform my understanding of The Virgin Mary. Prior to reading this book I would have said that Mary was no more special than you or I and for that reason we should not pray to Mary. However, since reading the book, I now understand that as Mary was the first Christian –she carried Christ – we can look to Mary as someone who went through a lot in her life. We should learn from her on how to deal with what God is calling us to, no matter how radical or unconventionally, just as Mary did. Mary was a Jew but also a Christian, who was pregnant out of wedlock, who was remarkably wise beyond her years – it is reckoned that she was just a teenager when she gave birth. Mary was certainly a remarkable figure. For those reasons she was certainly in a juxtaposition, of not knowing who she was in terms of societal expectations, but knowing fully who she was and were she stood with God, which is much more important and more valuable.
Mary is someone that we should perhaps aim to emulate to be like, in our willingness to be radical changed, we need to realise that. That we, humans are resistant to change. We are drawn to regularity, comfort, but we ought to learn from Mary and from Simon Peter who as recorded in Gospels, was called to follow Jesus was radically changed, including receiving a new name.
Radical change of a Christian, like that of Mary and Simon Peter, can only be achieved through an intimacy of love and devotion of God (that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit) from the Christian and if desired by God. One way of developing an intimacy with God is by learning from other denominations of the Christian faith, whether it be The Rosary (or other form of prayer beads/rhythmic prayer), incense, a cappella Psalm singing, Icon writing, Evangelical Charismatic worship music (bands, songs) as some examples from other denominations. The unorthodox approach that Ward takes in describing The Rosary and the mediations based on the different Mysteries is a clear example of a Methodist trying to learn more about different denominations (Roman Catholicism), so that his knowledge and experience of the Church, universally, is expanded. It is imagined that by penning this Ward is helping other Christians to learn and experience more about a different denomination other to their own.
It is this process of learning about different denominations that encourages Christians to come together and worship God in a collective manor, but also in a diverse manor, as a reflection of creation itself. Fundamentally, it should be a process of understanding, not of fighting. It is process of learning from the past, after all the first murder was over Worship of the God.
In conclusion, what Ward presents in his book a thoroughly researched collection of mediations on each topic contained within each mystery of The Rosary. This in order to help a believer who is not familiar with The Rosary or to give a Catholic a fresh perspective into a way of praying that is a significant part of the Catholic belief. In the fresh perspective of this book it helps a believer to familiarise oneself with an understanding of different forms of prayer and worship within the universal church, which includes praying through Saints, asking them to intercede on your behalf.