Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Today the Church honors the Lord's mom (and ours too) with this feast focusing on the rosary. Tradition has it that the rosary was given to St Dominic by Mary in the 12th century. Before that time, the devotion of praying 150 Psalms or Our Fathers on a string of beads was practiced by many of the religious in the Church. Could you imagine how long those prayer meetings went?
The Hail Mary prayer is mostly scripture and comes from the Gospel of Luke. In the 16th century, the phrase, "Holy Mary mother of God pray for us now and at the hour of our death" was added and then later ratified at the Council of Trent.
What is it that freaks out non-Catholics about the Hail Mary prayer? Besides the obvious that we are asking Mary to pray for us instead of going straight to Jesus, (though it never seems bad for them to ask others to pray for them rather than going straight to Jesus)
I propose this as the real reason why the rosary and the Hail Mary prayer are so maligned:
I think the Hail part is what really gets people steamed. They think we are hailing Mary the way the crowds hailed Caesar in Roman times! They think it is a term of worship. Well, for the 100th time on this blog, Catholics don't worship anyone but God alone . When the Scripture was written in the original koinonia Greek, (which I studied for a total of 1 year in college, which makes me an expert) the term was translated as rejoice, or be glad. So the angel Gabriel was saying "rejoice or be glad Mary, you who are full of grace!"
I suspect angels are pretty theologically orthodox considering they spend a fair amount of their time worshiping God in Heaven. So they know better than to worship Mary, and so do we. Therefore, considering the real meaning of the word hail, we conclude that the Hail Mary prayer is a wonderful devotional prayer of intercession asking the Lord's mother to go to bat for us in prayer. The rosary consists of this prayer repeated in decades while meditating on the events of Jesus life. The rosary is not vain repetition for two reasons. First, we don't pray it thinking we will get God's attention because of the many words, because we already know he hears our prayers. Secondly, its not vain, its efficacious and has a long track record of being a powerful way of intercession.
Pope Pius the fifth in 1571 attributed the Christians' victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto to all of Christendom praying the rosary. This day used to be called the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, now called the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.