"Everyone knows how thoroughly Romanist is the use of the Rosary; and how the devotees of Rome mechanically tell their prayers upon their beads. The Rosary, however, is no invention of the papacy. It is of the highest antiquity, and almost universally found among Pagan nations." Alexander Hislop
WHAT IS THE ROSARY?
The Rosary is at once a series of prayers and also a string of 55 beads used to count these prayers as they are recited (the larger version of the Rosary has 165 beads).
In its full version, the Rosary consists of 15 Paternosters (the Lord’s Prayer), which are addressed to God the Father; 15 Glorias and an extraordinary 150 Hail Marys! which are, of course, addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Prayer to Mary is repeated 10 times to every one recital of the Lord’s Prayer. Ralph Woodrow, author of the book Babylon Mystery Religion: Ancient and Modern, poses the question which every Roman Catholic needs to ask himself, and that is: "...is a prayer composed by men and directed to Mary ten times as important or effective as the prayer taught by Jesus and directed to God?"1
One would think that a prayer of such importance according to Roman Catholic teaching, would have been around since the inception of Christianity. This, however, is not the case. Even The Catholic Encyclopedia readily admits to the fact that: "There is little or no trace of the ‘Hail Mary’ as an accepted devotional formula before about 1050 A.D."2
The more common Rosary beads, usually found in white, gold or black, consist of a string or chain of beads divided into 5 sections, each made up of one large bead and 10 smaller ones. The larger Rosary has 15 sections.
The ends of the Rosary chain are joined by a medal decorated with an embossed image of Mary. From this medal hangs a short chain of beads, at the end of which is attached a crucifix.
As the shorter Rosary, which contains only 5 sections, is the more common of the two, it is prayed through 3 times, thus completing the full Rosary. The more devout Roman Catholics recite the Rosary daily.
Loraine Boettner, author of the classic book Roman Catholicism, explains the process: "Holding the large bead of each section in turn, one says the Our Father, and, holding the small beads, the Hail Mary for each separate bead. Between each section the Gloria is said..."3
THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ROSARY
‘Rosary’ is an ancient word meaning a garland (of roses or leaves etc.). Legend has it that the beads were originally made of Rosewood. Today, they may be made of glass or even stone. The Rosary was first implemented by the Roman Catholic Church in the year 1090 A.D., over 1,000 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church herself has acknowledged that the Rosary did not come into general use until the 13th century, and the practice was not officially sanctioned by the Roman Church until after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.
The exact time and place in regard to the origin of the rosary, or prayer beads, is difficult to trace. However, we do know that Buddhists and Muslims had been using a device for counting prayers similar to the rosary centuries before the Rosary was introduced to Roman Catholics.
According to unchallengeable historical fact, the rosary is a device which originated in Paganism and is commonly found throughout the many and varied religions of the world. Clearly, the concept of prayer beads or prayer counters had been in use for centuries, long before the Roman Catholic Church decided to continue this popular pagan tradition, furnishing it with a Christian veneer.
Roman Catholics cannot argue this point, for their own Church approved Catholic Encyclopedia states: "In almost all countries, then, we meet with something in the nature of prayer counters or rosary-beads."4 The same article cites a number of examples including a sculpture of ancient Nineveh, of two winged females praying before a sacred tree, each holding a rosary!
The Roman Catholic Encyclopedia also makes mention of a bead-string made up of 33, 66 or 99 beads which has for centuries been used by Muslims for counting the names of Allah, the Muslim god. Marco Polo, way back in the 13th century, was startled to find the king of Malabar using a rosary made of precious stones to count his prayers. Equally amazed were founding members of the Jesuits, St. Francis Xavier and his companions when, in their travels, they discovered that the Buddhists of Japan were also familiar with the rosary.
Ralph Woodrow reports that, "Among the Phoenicians a circle of beads resembling a rosary was used in the worship of Astarte, the mother goddess, about 800 B.C.! This rosary may also be found on some early Phoenician coins. The Brahmans (worshippers of one of the many Indian gods) have from early times used rosaries made up of tens of hundreds of beads. The worshippers of Vishnu (another false Indian god) give their children rosaries of 108 beads. A similar rosary is used by millions of Buddhists in India and Tibet. The worshipper of Siva (yet another Indian god) uses a rosary upon which he repeats, if possible, all the 1,008 names of his god."5
Followers of the Sikh religion, which developed in the 15th century in North India as a synthesis of Islam and Buddhism, also employ the use of prayer beads in their worship time. One painting depicts a raja worshipping the Hindu god, Rama, whilst holding a rosary. The rosary also features prominently in a 19th century painting from India of a Hindu ascetic.
The rosary was also part of the religious life of the ancient Mexicans. It was considered a sacred religious instrument. Reference is made frequently in sacred Hindu books of the rosary. Also, the Tartar religion of the Lamas in China use a rosary of 108 beads as part of their ceremonial dress.
Alexander Hislop, author of the highly recommended book The Two Babylons, an exhaustive investigation into the origins of Roman Catholic teaching and practices, makes the following significant observation that the Rosary requires, "...that a certain number of prayers must be regularly gone over; it overlooks the great demand which God makes for the heart, and leads those who use them to believe that form and routine are everything, and that ‘they must be heard for their much speaking.’"6
WHAT DOES THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE SAY?
Nowhere in the Roman Catholic Bible is any mention made of prayer beads. In fact, no mention of any kind of ‘instrument’ or ‘prayer aid’ is made. These things belong to the realm of paganism and have nothing to do with the true Christian Faith.
Neither does the Word of God in any way support or condone such a means of prayer as the Rosary. In fact, Matthew 6:7 is where we find Jesus actually condemning the act of repetitious prayer. Jesus Christ says: "In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their many words." In the original Greek text, the word used for babble is battaloge meaning (vain) repetitions. In other words, Jesus warns His people that they should not pray like the pagans who use vain repetitions, meaning "...do not be saying idle things i.e., meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases!"7
Jesus was here explaining to His followers that they were not to be as the pagans, who think that God will hear them because of their many words (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:1,2). With utter disregard to the command of the Lord Jesus, Roman Catholic priests instruct and encourage their parishioners to pray the prayers of the Rosary repetitiously on a daily basis. Alexander Hislop states that "...in giving penances after confession they (the priests) often assign a certain number of Hail Marys to be said. (It is taught that) the more such prayers are said the more merit is stored up in heaven."8
Although the Lord Jesus Christ did not formally fix the length that His follower’s prayers should be, according to His own words that we have just seen in Matthew 6:7, Jesus did command that His people should not repeat the same prayer over and over as though God did not hear us, or as if He would be moved merely by our much speaking. It is interesting to note that after instructing His disciples not to pray repetitiously, Jesus taught the Apostles how to pray by introducing them to the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:7-13). In literal defiance, the Roman Catholic Church blatantly ignores this teaching of Jesus Christ and instead instructs her followers to pray even this prayer repetitiously!
As Woodrow has said, "If this prayer (the Lord’s Prayer), was not to be repeated over and over, how much less a little mandate prayer to Mary!"9
It is stated in John 4:23 that the true worshippers of God would "...worship the Father in spirit and truth." "Spiritual worship is that where the heart is offered to God, and where we do not depend on external forms for acceptance."10 Worshipping the Father in truth is worshipping Him directly through the true and only Way, Jesus Christ (see John 14:6).
Many people have been deceived into believing that all is right with their souls as long as they perform a substantial amount of ‘religious duties’, including such ‘duties’ as praying the Rosary. God is not so much interested in our words as He is with our hearts. Merely reciting the same words over and over to Him is not, and has never been, a Christian practice and is wholly condemned in the Bible.
The great danger in repetitious praying is that it can easily become a mere speaking to God, words from the mouth rather than words from the heart. The true believer need not say much in prayer, for Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 6:8, "Do not be like them (the heathen). Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." Ecclesiastes 5:1 says in part: "...God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few."
Even if the Rosary were a biblically legitimate form of prayer, the same words need not be prayed over and over. Jesus clearly speaks against this in Matthew 6, condemning it as a pagan practice.
Loraine Boettner wisely states: "The Bible teaches that the true believer should pray to God reverently, humbly, and with a believing and thankful heart, thinking of what he is doing and of the great King to whom he is praying. It is a distinguishing mark of Roman Catholicism, and also a matter of primary importance between Romanism and Protestantism, that a Roman Catholic ‘says’ or ‘recites’ his prayers, while for the most part the Protestant speaks extemporaneously, with his own words, thinking out his praise, petitions, requests, and thanks as he prays. For a spiritually minded person the mechanical use of beads destroys the true spirit of prayer."11
PRAYERS TO MARY?
I felt it important at this point to pay particular attention to the fact that in the numerous prayers which make up the Rosary, the number of prayers that are directed to Mary far outweigh those addressed to God the Father. The ratio is 10 to 1! Even more remarkable is the fact that there are NO prayers at all in the Rosary addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ or even prayed in His name!
The Bible, God’s Holy and infallible Word, is quite clear in its instructions concerning prayer. Even in the Roman Catholic Bible the Lord Jesus is quoted as saying: "...I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete" (John 16:23b,24).
And in John 14:14 Jesus says, "If you ask anything of Me in My Name, I will do it."We see then, from the very words of Jesus Christ, the only instructions that Jesus gives concerning whom prayer is to be directed towards, is either the Father in Jesus’ name or to Jesus Himself in His own name. It is vital for the Roman Catholic to realise that THERE ARE NO INSTRUCTIONS IN THE ENTIRE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE TO PRAY TO ANY OTHER, NOT EVEN TO MARY!!
THE PAGAN WAY IS NOT THE CHRISTIAN WAY
We believe we have provided clear and indisputable evidence that the use of the Rosary has no basis in Holy Scripture and that it is not even a Roman Catholic invention, but is in fact of pagan origin. Moreover, we have seen that the Roman Catholic Church freely admits to this in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Though many practices and traditions in the Church of Rome originate from paganism, a fact which Roman Catholic scholars readily admit to, the attitude is that it is perfectly logical and valid to take the old pagan rites and practices of the heathen and, with them, worship the true God.
In other words, the argument put forth by the Roman Catholic Church is that, if pagans worship their false gods by burning candles or using prayer beads, why then can’t we worship the true God in the same way. Woodrow illustrates further, "If some pagan tribe observed 40 days in honor of a pagan god, why should we not do the same, only in honor of Christ? Though pagans worshipped the sun towards the east, could we not have sunrise services to honor the resurrection of Christ, even though this was not the true time of day He arose. In other words, why not adopt all kinds of popular customs, only instead of using them to honor pagan gods, as the heathen did, use them to honor Christ?"12
Pagans also worshipped and prayed to a mother-goddess. Roman Catholicism has copied the popular practice of mother worship, replacing pagan goddesses such as the Egyptian Isis, or Astarte and Diana, with a Christian identity, Mary.
The pagans also had various gods and goddesses who were individually associated with specific days, occupations and events in life. This pagan tradition has also been faithfully continued by the Roman Catholic Church, the ‘gods’, so-called, being replaced with ‘saints’. Throughout history heathen religions have also bowed down to and worshipped statues and idols of pagan deities. The Roman Catholic Church does exactly the same, though calling them by different names. The well known statue of ‘St. Peter’ in Rome was formerly recognized as a statue of the Roman god Jupiter. Many of the old pagan gods of time past are alive and well today, hidden in Roman Catholic saints!
As was mentioned earlier, the Roman Catholic Church does not deny that many of its most popular practices originated in pagan religions. The Catholic Encyclopedia states the following: "We need not shrink from admitting that candles, incense and lustral (‘holy’) water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in the rites paid to the dead. But the (Roman Catholic) Church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adapted many other things...like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments, etc., which were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; THEY WERE COMMON TO ALMOST ALL CULTS!"13
The same publication also freely admits that, "Water, oil, lights, incense, singing, procession, prostration, decoration of altars, vestments or priests, are naturally at the service of universal religious instinct..."14 Now to the natural man, this does sound logical. But to the spirit-filled born again believer, it is recognized as an evil concept. Our next chapter will explain.
HOW NOT TO WORSHIP GOD
The whole concept of worshipping the One True God in the same manner as pagans worship their false gods, is utterly detestable in the sight of God. It is an unacceptable form of worship. The true God must be worshipped according to the directives He has given in His Holy Word, the Bible, and not in accordance with how a man may think or feel at the time, no matter how sincere he is. Sincerity never justifies the means, nor does it make up for a belief in a false gospel and therefore a false god. An ignorance founded on sincerity is no grounds for pardon from God but only further condemns the believer of false teachings and practitioner of ungodly pagan traditions.
We learn this from God’s very own Words, recorded for us in Deuteronomy 12:30,31: "...Do not inquire regarding their gods, ‘How did these nations worship their gods? I too, would do the same.’ YOU SHALL NOT THUS WORSHIP THE LORD, YOUR GOD, because they offered to their gods every abomination that the Lord detests..." The abominations here spoken of that the Lord detests are the very methods and religious inventions which come from the mind of man and are considered as proper and right worship of God. You CANNOT come to God on your own terms or based on ungodly traditions, but only in accordance with what God has said.
And in Deuteronomy 13:1, God says: "Every command that I enjoin on you, you shall be careful to observe, NEITHER ADDING TO IT NOR SUBTRACTING FROM IT." (cf. Deuteronomy 13:18; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18,19). THERE IS NO PLACE FOR THE INVENTIONS OF MAN IN THE WORSHIP OF GOD. Without true saving Faith one cannot please God (see Hebrews 11:6).
We see an example of this kind of prohibited worship exhibited by Israel in the Old Testament. In Exodus 32 we are told of their fashioning a golden calf. In verse 5 we see Aaron proclaiming, "...tomorrow is a feast of the Lord (Jehovah)." The Jews did not presume that the image they had made was in itself a god, but they had made it to represent the true God, whom they thought they could worship through the image of the golden calf. God has expressly forbidden this form of worship. The second commandment of God says: "You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or in the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; YOU SHALL NOT BOW DOWN BEFORE THEM OR WORSHIP THEM..." (Exodus 20:4,5a). Significantly, while THIS COMMANDMENT IS QUOTED FROM THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE, IT IS STRANGELY OMITTED IN MOST CATHOLIC CATECHISM’S LISTS OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and the majority of Roman Catholic approved books which carry the Imprimatur!
Further examples of Israel displeasing God by following the traditions of heathen nations and incorporating their manner of worship, may be found in 2 Kings 17:15, where we are told that Israel had "...followed the surrounding nations WHOM THE LORD HAD COMMANDED THEM NOT TO IMITATE." In Jeremiah 10:2 we see God’s warning to His people, "Thus saith the Lord, LEARN NOT THE CUSTOMS OF THE NATIONS..." In other words it is God’s command that HIS people have nothing whatsoever to do with the religious teachings, traditions, customs and practices of any who are not His people (see Romans 16:17; 2 John 10,11).
In all this we see clearly that one way the Christian is most definitely NOT to worship the true God is in the same manner that the pagans, the heathen nations, worship their false gods. This immediately rules out the use of the Rosary, as well as many other paganistic Roman Catholic practices such as candle burning, the mother-goddess worship of Mary and other heathen inventions.
These practices, however much they may be accompanied by sincerity to worship and please the true God, can never do so. God Himself has said in relation to the way pagans worship their false gods: "YOU SHALL NOT THUS WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD" (Deuteronomy 12:31).