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How do you recite the Carthusian Rosary?

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The Carthusian Rosary does not have five mysteries which are different according to the days of the week. Yet to each Hail Mary there is consacrated a particular mystery of the life of Christ, and the Our Father (which could be preceded by the Glory be to the Father, etc.) is simply inserted in the series of 50 Hail Mary prayers to give to the full prayer a Trinitarian and doxological conclusion.

Who recites it is always free, however, to pause at will on a particular mystery and to repeat it for as many times as he wishes to do so, also adding other mysteries from the life of Christ, or else changing the wording of the themes according to one’s own personal devotions. The formula is therefor more flexible from that of the Dominican Rosary as more widely known.

As it aims to lead towards contemplation, the vocal recital could be paused as soon as one begins to enter, and the person simply remains in silence with the Lord. Then, when this more contemplative phase comes to an end, the vocal recital starts again slowly. Finally, according to the time available, it would not be necessary to recite all 50 Hail Mary prayers, but everybody can choose the number that he can or wants to recite, sohowever that more attention is given to heed more to quality than to quantity. Ten Hail Mary prayers said slowly while attentively meditating one or more Christological mysteries, are more appreciated that thirty of them hastily recited. Yet again, the aim is above all to arrive at authentically contemplative prayer.

 Following are the 50 themes of Dominic of Prussia:

1. …Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit during the Annunciation of the Angel.

2. … Jesus, who together with you who has conceived him, visits Saint Elizabeth.

3. … Jesus, to whom you, virgin in body and soul, have given birth with joy.

4. … Jesus, whom you have fed from your virginal breast, adoring in him the creator.

5. … Jesus, whom you have swaddled in clothes and placed him in a crib.

6. … Jesus, who the Angels celebrated singing Gloria in excelsis, and the shepherds visited in Bethlehem.

7. … Jesus, who received his circumcsion on the eighth day, and was given the name of Jesus.

8. … Jesus, who the Magi adored while filling him with gifts.

9. … Jesus, who was carried by you to the Temple and presented to God, his Father.

10. … Jesus, who was received in the arms of old Simon, and recognized by the holy widow Anna.

11. … Jesus, with whom you fled into Egypt, because of Herod’s persecution.

12. … Jesus, with whom you returned home seven years later, as told by the Angel.

13. … Jesus, lost in Jerusalem when he was twelve years old, and found again in the temple after three days.

14. … Jesus, who each day grew further in age and grace before God and men.

15. … Jesus, whom John had baptized in the Jordan and shown out to be the Lamb of God.

16. … Jesus, who, having fasted for forty days in the desert, has won over the temptations put to him by the Enemy.

17. … Jesus, who, after having chosen the disciples, preached the kingdom of God.

18. … Jesus, who opened the eyes of the blind, healed lepers, rose to their feet paralyzed persons and freed those possessed by the devil.

19. … Jesus, whose feet were washed with Mary Magdalene’s tears, dried with her hair, anointed with her perfume.

20. … Jesus, who rose Lazarus and other persons who were dead.

21. … Jesus, triumphally acclaimed by his people on Palm Sunday.

22. … Jesus, who in the Last Supper instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

23. … Jesus, who in the garden, after having prayed for long, sweat profuse blood.

24. … Jesus, who, meeting his enemies, gave up himself willingly into their hands.

25. … Jesus, captured and bound with force by those sent by the Jews, was so led to the high priest.

26. … Jesus, who, being falsely accused, was blindfolded, hit and covered with spit.

27. … Jesus, before Caiphas and Pilate, is given the burden of the cross to bear like a malefactor.

28. … Jesus, has his clothes taken off and is cruelly whipped on order given by Pilate.

29. … Jesus, crowned with thorns, is covered with a purple mantle and hailed king by mocking soldiers.

30. … Jesus, who is condemned to a wicked death and led to face torment between two thieves.

31. … Jesus, nailed to the cross and made to drink gall and vinegar.

32. … Jesus, while praying for his murderers, said: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."

33. … Jesus, who said to the thief who was crucified on his right hand: "Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in heaven."

34. … Jesus, who said to you, his Mother: "Mother, here is your son" ; and to John: "Here is your Mother."

35. … Jesus, who cried from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

36. … Jesus, who said: "I thirst!", and after having tasted the vinegar he cried out: "It is all accomplished."

37. … Jesus, who at the end cried out: "Father, in your handsI put my spirit."

38. … Jesus, who for us, poor sinners, has suffered a cruel and painful death.

39. … Jesus, whose side was pierced with a spear, pours out Blood and Water for the forgiveness of our sins.

40. … Jesus, whose sacred body was brought down from the cross, was received in your arms according to a pious saying.

41. … Jesus, whose body was wrapped in a sheet and wrapped with herbs and sspices was laid in the grave by holy men.

42. … Jesus, whose grave was sealed and guards put beside it by the Jews.

43. … Jesus, whose holy soul descended to Hades, to conduct the holy patriarchs to heaven.

44. … Jesus, who rose from the dead on the third day, filling you, his holy Mother, with an ineffable joy.

45. … Jesus, who after his Resurrection often appeared spesso to his disciples and friends to strengthen their faith.

46. … Jesus, who, before you and his apostoles, ascended into heaven and is sitting on the firght hand of the Father.

47. … Jesus, who, as he had promised, sent the Holy Spirit on his apostles on Pentecost Sunday.

48. … Jesus, who has finally called you to him, oh sweet Mother of his, placing you on his right hand and crowning you with glory.

49. … Jesus, who wants to call us after this miserable life, us servants of his and yours, and receive us in his Father’s Kingldom.

50. … Jesus, who reigns together with the Farther and the Holy Spirit, and with you Most Holy Mother, triumpant and glorious for ever.

 After Adolph of Essen’s vision, the use was confirmed of having each theme followed by an Alleluia. Each mystery of the life of Christ, including the Passion mysteries, thus become above all else an action of grace and praise to Dio, for the Love which he has revealed and offered through them. This is the air of joy which runs through the Rosary, and it cannot but remind us of the renowned ‘Akathistos hymn’, its equivalent, which is sung in the Christian East.

Domenico di Prussia raccomandava infine una preghiera mariana per concludere il Rosario:

"Oh Immaculate, ever blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God; oh Temple of God, the most beautiful of all temples; oh Doorway of the Kingdom of Heaven through which the whole world has been saved, do hear me mercifully, and become my sweet protectress, for me a poor and wretched sinner. Be my help in all my needs. Amen."

 How the Carthusian Rosary persisted in time

Even after the "Dominican Rosary" appeared, which had the Carthusian for its inspiration (and in which it has therefore always ‘survived’), the saying of the Carthusian Rosary such as it is, was never lost completely among Christians. It continued being kept in honour up to the 17th century, and praised by holy men (particularly by the Benedectine monk Louis de Blois), and is recited in the vicinity of Trèves up to the present day. Its practice had mostly diminished above all due to the indulgences which were granted by Popes to the "Dominican Rosary", convinced as they were of the authenticity of St Dominic’s vision which never took place. Yet even this Rosary evolved in some German and Swiss regions, where after the name of Jesus they added some themes reminescent of those of Dominic of Prussia; to this type of Rosary were granted the same indulgences by means of a Vatican decree of the 21st January 1921. It was this practice that was recalled by Paul VI in Marialis cultus and, basing oneself on this document, it was the practice which Pope Jophn Paul II proposes to extend.

 A few suggestions

The original Carthusian Rosary

At first, the recital of the Hail Mary ended immediately after the theme (followed therefore by the final Amen and then the Alleluia), the second part not being yet universally made use of, neither with the Carthusians themselves with whom it first appeared. In thus always concluding with the mystery of Christ, an accent was made on the Christological dimension of the prayer, the same as was Mary’s role which leads to her Son. Nothing at all impedes one from praying that way even today. The Alleluia said after the Amen could be followed by a brief silence, and this way of recital leads more easily to contemplation.

Ecumenical value of the original Carthusian Rosary

The ecumenical value of the original Carthusian Rosary cannot but be underlined. Since the text of the greeting to the Virgin having been taken from the Word of God, it could actually be recited together with Protestant brothers and sisters (see the document of the Dombes Group on "the Virgin Mary in the history of salvation"), and the themes which track the life of Christ attribute to this prayer a Christocentric aspect which conforms with them in a perfect manner. We have also already referred to the existing harmony between the Carthusian Rosary and the "Akathistos hymn" which is so close to the heart of Oriental Christians, through the introduction of the Alleluia after each theme.

Second part of the Hail Mary prayer

For whoever choses to go back to the original form of the Carthusian Rosary, yet wishes also to keep the second part of the Ave Maria prayer, a simple method would be to recite it before each Glory prayer.

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