FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Matthew 6:7 and the Rosary
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Hello everyone. Protestants always use this verse: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" - Matthew 6:7 to attack the Rosary. What are your thoughts on this? What are the flaws of this criticism?

Thanks, CatholicKnight
First, I would point out that they pray the Our Father.  The ones that don't have a formal liturgy might not pray it all the time, but if they know the bible they're familiar with it and they probably pray it from time to time.  Also, they probably refer to it as "the Lord's Prayer," rather than the "Our Father."  They'd probably know what you mean if you referred to it as the Our Father, but it's good to know the terms they tend to use.  I learned it in Sunday School as a protestant, when I was about five years old.  It wasn't something we ever prayed regularly, but everyone joined in when we did.  It was one of those things we did enough times as little children that we memorized and never forgot.  I would also ask them, is it OK to pray the Our Father more than once?

After that, I would explain to them the different kinds of prayer as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paying particular attention to articles 2704, 2708, 2712, 2723, and 2724.






2700 Through his Word, God speaks to man. By words, mental or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the heart should be present to him to whom we are speaking in prayer: "Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls."2

2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master's silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.3

2702 The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.

2703 This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.

2704 Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized to the extent that we become aware of him "to whom we speak;"4 Thus vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer.


2705 Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the "today" of God is written.

2706 To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

2707 There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower.5 But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.

2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.


2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."6 Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves."7 It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.

2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty ant in faith.

2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we "gather up:" the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.9 Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, "to his likeness."

2714 Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit "that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith" and we may be "grounded in love."10

2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him.11

2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the "Yes" of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid.

2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come"12 or "silent love."13 Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the "outer" man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

2718 Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. The mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

2719 Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb - the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not "the flesh [which] is weak") brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to "keep watch with [him] one hour."14


2720 The Church invites the faithful to regular prayer: daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist, the feasts of the liturgical year.

2721 The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart.

2722 Vocal prayer, founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ's example of praying to his Father and teaching the Our Father to his disciples.

2723 Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.

2724 Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.

See the FE page on this here:
Jesus told the story of two men who went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a publican.
The Pharisee made a very long extemporaneous prayer while the publican repeated over and over again "Lord have mercy on me."
Jesus said that the publican's prayer was the one that was heard. 
The key word is "vain." Repetitions aren't the problem, but vain ones. The Pharisees would make a grand show and spectacle of their works and words, parading them around, so to speak. This is why Jesus said they have received their reward already; they did not do it in a spirit of humility or in love, but in pride.
Credidi Propter, I can say that not all Protestants say the Lord's Prayer. I was in church every Sunday and Wednesday of my youth, and I did not know the Lord's Prayer (I of course knew of it) until my high school tennis coach had us pray it before matches. It was considered a "vain repetition" to use any set formulae for prayer - even the one our Lord taught us!

TheCatholicKnight, I would say it is (or, should be) obvious that the emphasis in our Lord's admonition is on "vain," not "repetition." I think this refers to the practices of the Gentile pagans of the Middle East. The Greek word in question is βατταλογέω, which means to "babble" or "stammer"; the KJV understood this as "to use vain repetitions," that is "useless" repetitions. The ancient pagans would repeat nonsense syllables (such as "A-A-E-E-E-I-I-I-I-O-O-O-O-U-U-U-U-U, each syllable on a different note) in hopes of influencing the gods or spirits or demons and would rattle off interminably looooong lists of names and titles in order to find the one that "sticks" with whatever numinous entity they were attempting to persuade.

Protestants may find certain Catholic practices repetitive, and even if I were to grant that, which I don't, they are not remotely the same thing. Even if one objects to praying to saints or angels, Catholics still make use of actual, meaningful language in our prayers, so it's a totally different phenomenon.
One of the things to point out to Protestants is how the Catholic Church is like a mirror image of the Old Jewish temple.

One of the old Jewish traditions is to teach by repetition (learned this from a Protestant pastor) and also point out the the Rosary first not just vain repetition of prayers but meditation on the Bible and point out the Bible passages that the Rosary is based on then further point out when is it ever a bad thing to meditate on Bible passages. Praying the Rosary is in actually praying and mediation on the life of Jesus and Mary. Mary is the Queen of heaven, per Jewish tradition the queen is the king/s mother, not his wife. Catholic are consistent across the board, with the Bible, with Jewish tradition, etc....

One could take this a step further and talk about confession. In the Old Testament once a year Jews were to make a pilgrimage to the Temple and atone for their sins by offering sacrifices which the priest offer on the altar, either kill a calf, or dove or burn grain etc on the altar on behalf of the sinner to God. Confession is going to the Temple (the Church) and offering repentance to Jesus (the once and for all sacrificial lamb) to the priest who is acting in persona Chisti.

or when Protestants say Catholics pray to statues point them at the Old Testament passages that describe how God descirbed how to build the Temple with gold, statues etc.

The thing about many of the Protestants I speak with these days, they blow shofars at their services, wave the Israeli flag (which is a secular Israeli state) and are fully convinced that the Jews are saved without recognizing Jesus as the Christ despite Jesus' very own parables to the contrary. When I point out how the Catholic Church is just the continued tradition of the Jewish Temple recognizing Jesus as the prophesied Christ they back off. Usually for two reasons: first, they do not know how to respond, second they really cannot handle a Catholic that can go head to head to them with the scriptures.

Haydock is your friend!
Another thing to take into consideration is the blind man, Bartimeaus. He cried out over and over again, "Lord Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!" The people in the crowd around him tried to shut him up. He kept on crying out. Finally Jesus called him to him. He received his sight and became a follower of Jesus.
(10-04-2016, 11:59 PM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]Another thing to take into consideration is the blind man, Bartimeaus. He cried out over and over again, "Lord Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!" The people in the crowd around him tried to shut him up. He kept on crying out. Finally Jesus called him to him. He received his sight and became a follower of Jesus.

Good point. This issue is rooted in the whole take a single verse out of context and use it as an attacked on Catholics. or different denominations for that matter. You can point out other scripture that demonstrates how persistence is rewarded. One of the reasons for my reversion to Catholicism is the trait of looking at ALL the scripture around a topic and understanding the big picture rather than using a single verse as a weapon.

Mark 10:46-51 - Persistent blind man
Luke 18:1-8 - The Persistent Widow
1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing
Luke 11:5-10 - Ask and it will be given to you
Matthew 15:22-28 - Persistent Caananite woman
Hebrews 13:15 - Continually offer sacrifice and praise to God