PROMOTING THE ROSARY
by Damazio Ngoma O.P.
“Receive the Gospel of Christ whose heralds you are: Believe what you read; Teach what you believe; and Practice what you teach.”
These words are found in the rite of ordination to the diaconate. They are powerful words and at the same time quite challenging. We are Dominicans and our charisma is preaching for the salvation of souls. Preaching in the Dominican sense is holistic. It does not necessarily limit itself to the deliverance of a homily on the pulpit. One of the Dominican preaching out-reach is the promotion of the Holy Rosary. This is one of the tasks of this desk: to inform and remind the Dominican fraternity of their commitment to the Holy Rosary.
Historically, the devotion to the Rosary is not something strange in the Dominican family. Alain de la Roche is believed to be the first friar who connected the Rosary to St. Dominic in 1470. Hilda Graef one of the scholars in Mariology testified to this historical fact in one of her books entitled Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion. Some other scholars refuted Roche’s claims as baseless and based on false historical facts. St. Pius V who was a Dominican pope instituted the feast of the Rosary during his reign and attributed the naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto on 7th October 1571 to the prayers of the Rosary. Graef further reported that Vincent Conteson a Dominican friar developed Mariological views in one of his volumes basing his teaching on the growing belief in the inseparable union of mother and son and related this union to that of Jesus Christ with Mary his mother.
From the age of the enlightenment to the present age, several things took place regarding the devotion to the Holy Rosary and Mariology. Controversies, contradictions, misunderstanding happened among several scholars on Mariology. This was due to the fact that the devotion to the Rosary was not limited only to Catholics. There existed several Marian schools which developed their own teaching contrary to what the official teaching of the Church taught. Even within the Catholic Church too, different religious orders and congregations had each of them a unique understanding of Mariology. They had unique practices that reflected only part of the whole teaching on Mariology.
The Dominican Order embraced the Rosary and made it part of the Dominican Habit. There is a long tradition of the Dominican Rosary associated to the legend of our founder St. Dominic having received it from Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ. Right from the time of our founder St. Dominic, the Dominican Order have championed the promotion of the Holy Rosary world-wide. As Dominicans, wearing the habit which constitutes the Holy Rosary is enough evidence of our commitment to the Holy Rosary. It is part of our apostolate in which we preach the Christ’s mysteries. This ought to remind us of what we received. As friar preachers, we received the Gospel of Christ. The Rosary is the fruit of the progression of the Gospel of Christ. Do we therefore believe what we read? Do we teach what we believe? Finally, do we live what we believe and teach as Dominicans? This teaching is quite challenging considering our human fraity. One of the ways in which we can fulfil this commitment is to live the Gospel of Christ by reciting and wearing of the Holy Rosary. It is in this way that we will be witnesses to what we believe and what we teach.