A new devotional seeks to rekindle love of the rosary using an ancient practice promoted by St. Louis de Montfort
In today’s world, many regard the rosary as outdated. They associate this pious practice more readily with gray-haired ladies in the pew than with techno-savvy millennials. To combat this trend, and to help breathe life into a custom that may have become rote even for those who love it best, Fr. Edward Looney has written a new devotional. A Rosary Litany: Renewing a Pious Custom uses an ancient practice promoted by St. Louis de Montfort to offer Catholics of all ages a new window into the rosary.
Fr. Looney, a recently ordained priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, said that the inspiration behind the devotional came while talking with a friend about praying the rosary. “My friend shared with me that he prayed the rosary using this method [of St. Louis de Montfort] and found it to be beneficial. What you have to understand is that my friend was not an avid rosary devotee. So this was a major breakthrough for him.”
After learning more about the devotion, Fr. Looney adopted the practice and “found it to be very conducive to reflection and meditation. I started sharing it with others who also found it helpful.”
The small and beautiful prayer book focuses on a method of praying the rosary originally promoted by St. Louis de Montfort and later encouraged by recent popes. It consists of adding a “meditative phrase” in the midst of each Hail Mary of the rosary. These “additional phrases guide and focus the meditation of the mystery within the context of the Hail Mary.”
St. John Paul II recommended this practice in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, where he said, “Pope Paul VI drew attention, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, to the custom in certain regions of highlighting the name of Christ by the addition of a clause referring to the mystery being contemplated. This is a praiseworthy custom, especially during public recitation. It gives forceful expression to our faith in Christ, directed to the different moments of the Redeemer’s life.”
As an example of this custom, during the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation, someone could pray: Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, “announced by the angel Gabriel,” Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
This method of praying the rosary is especially helpful for the wandering mind. The deliberate insertion of a meditative phrase into the Hail Mary focuses attention on the mystery instead of any distracting thoughts. Fr. Looney agrees that “A Rosary Litany helps to [unlock the heart of the mystery], because in the midst of prayer, we pause to consider who Jesus is and what he did for us.”
Many have been changed by this ancient custom. As one reader who shared their experience said, “I say the rosary more often and now I pray with fewer distractions. I also concentrate more fully on each decade and each Hail Mary.”
A Rosary Litany is perfect for those who are just getting started praying the rosary, or for the veteran whose prayer is becoming dry and rote. It is a great method of praying the rosary that is both ancient and new. One can rest assured that many saints have prayed in this manner, while breathing new life into a staple of Catholic spirituality.
The release of this new devotional is exactly what we need during this month of May to rekindle our devotion to the Blessed Mother.
To read Kathryn Jean Lopez’s interview with Fr. Looney in Aleteia click here.