John asked:

My friend says praying the rosary is repetitive prayers and that I shouldn't be doing that. I didn't know how to answer him.

Patrick Madrid replied:

"... This is a common argument that's raised by bible believing, non-Catholics, typically Evangelical Protestants or Fundamentalist Protestants who will argue on the basis of Matthew chapter 6 verse 7 that Catholic prayers, repititious prayers that are condemned by Christ. He says in Matthew chapter 6 verse 7, "and in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do for they think that they will be heard for their many words." ... what Jesus was condeming there is not repetition ...

He was condemning the fact that these gentiles were praying to, number one, gods who were not even there: Zeus, Apollo, Athena, all the various gods and goddesses of the pantheons of the Greeks and the Romans ... some of the Church fathers say there were actually demons. But regardless they certainly were not divinities. They did not have the ability to hear prayers much less answer them. ...the pagans had a practice of running through litanies of titles for the different gods and goddesses because they didn't really know which of the titles, Jupiter for example, wanted to be called on that particular day. And maybe Jupiter would only answer your prayer if you addressed him as the title that he wanted to be called by on that particular day. So not to leave anything to chance what they would do is they would go through these long interminable litanies: oh Jupiter, oh Zeus hurler of thunder bolts, oh Zeus this that and the other. And they would go through as many different combinations as they could hoping that they would hit on the right one so that Zeus and Jupiter would answer the question or the prayer that day...

We can prove that Jesus was not condeming repitition because when Jesus gave us the very prayer that he said is how we should pray, the Our Father, which we read about in Matthew chapter 6 verses 9 through 15. He says to pray like this, and this prayer from the very beginning the early Christians including the apostles and those that they mentored, their disciples, they understood that the Our Father was not just a prayer to say once and never say it again. But it was a prayer that was intended to be repeated. We can also prove this by looking at the fact that Jesus when He was in the garden of Gethsemane He repeats His prayer three times...the cup of this passion that He was about to undergo would pass from Him. But not His will, but God's will be done.

Next thing we can do is point out in the Psalms there are many places, for example Psalm 136, Psalm 150, Daniel chapter 3 where we see an ongoing series of repititious prayers that are not simply in the bible but they're actually inspired by God. So God Himself inspired these prayers to be prayed endlessly. What are we told in the bible? Pray always. And the psalms which include many repititious prayers, the same phrase or statement repeated over and over again, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of men and women to pray them.

Lastly you can look at Revelation chapter 4 where you see the saints in heaven. It says that they, day and night, never ceased to sing, holy holy holy is the Lord God almighty who was and is and is to come. And it goes on to say and whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne who lives forever and ever this is the prayer that they pray..."


© 2012 Immaculate Heart Catholic Radio

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Show air date: November 28, 2012

Question appeared in show: 35:15

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