Speaking Out: To wear or not to wear rosary

By  Mary French, Youth Speak News
  • September 30, 2020

The message of Our Lady of Fatima from a century ago continues to echo today: Pray the rosary every day. Our Lady of Medjugorje has also said we should keep a rosary on us at all times.

So, it begs the question: How do we properly wear the rosary?

The modern rosary evolved from the knotted ropes third-century monks used to track their recitation of the Bible’s 150 psalms. Eventually, a similar system was created with fewer beads for laypeople to also keep track of their prayers, with the gradual addition of prayers and mysteries appearing.

The rosary is an expression of piety closely tied to the Church’s sacramental life. Paragraph 1676 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses the following about its great importance: “The piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. ... It creatively combines the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion.”

Because of its great blessings and the great pleasure praying it brings to Our Lady, Catholics everywhere have found multiple ways to keep the rosary near them at all times, whether that be in their purse, on their car’s rear-view window or as a bracelet or rosary ring.

Some wonder why they are not allowed to wear one as a necklace as well. To be clear, the Church and catechism do not prohibit a rosary around one’s neck. However, it isn’t necessarily endorsed.

If we are to wear a rosary, we should be attentive to why we do so in the first place: as a sacramental and a blessed gift from Our Lady, the rosary should be revered.

Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed people wearing rosaries as a flashy fashion accessory, including celebrities attending the annual Met Gala. But if we don a rosary without genuine piety or purpose, we are not only disrespecting the prayer itself, we are also sending the wrong message that it is OK to do so.

Contemplate your motivation for wearing a rosary. Is it to get attention? Are you wearing it with no intention of actually praying the rosary or as an ornamental expression of your faith? If the answer to either of these is yes, you are wearing the rosary for the wrong reasons.

Some people and religious orders have a special devotion to praying and meditating on the rosary. Because of this, some religious habits include wearing a rosary, often as a cincture. In particular cases, some laypeople may have a specific devotion to the rosary and wear it so that they constantly have it on hand. 

The key here is that a “habit” is symbolic of a devotion — not just clothing, but a lifestyle and commitment. The reason for wearing any religious habit is outwardly expressing an interior relationship to God, not to make a statement or appear a certain way to the world. The thought of wearing a rosary should be met with the same careful consideration.

Wearing a rosary inspires us to examine how and why we pray the rosary in the first place. It is indeed a great gift, necessitating great respect. Thus, it is vital to keep a constant check on your intentions. Can you just as well keep the rosary in your pocket so you can have it on hand?

(French, 22, is a fourth-year liberal arts student at Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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