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October 15, 2002

Seems to me they've lost focus of the meaning of focus.

Pope John Paul and whoever else helps him think up these things is getting ready to alter the rosary. Ok, ok, you're think what the heck does some tradition Roman Catholics do have to do with anything. Well, I'm Southern Baptist, so I really would have even less concern over it, but I wanted to point out something.

Ok, so supposedly this change is to "attempt to try to deepen and make more complete Christians' identification with Christ," a senior Vatican official said. Well, that's sounds good enough. The Vatican says they'll increase the "mysteries" in Jesus' life from 15 to 20. As I understand it the rosaries works like this. You have a bunch of beads on a necklace looking thing (that I'm told by Catholics you aren't supposed to wear around your neck) and you run the beads through your fingers one at a time and the size or shape of the bead helps you to remember a certain thing to pray or meditate on. That's fine, sort of like a simplified prayer list. Obviously 15 of the beads (I'm guessing that there are individual beads to represent each one) are reminders of certain "mysteries" in Jesus life that the person is to meditate on. Still sounds fine to me.

Here's what make me take note. If the whole purpose of this thing is to focus more on Christ, then these "mysteries", one would think, would be things that are dictated by Christ's life and teachings. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. Rather than saying, "Hey, dudes, y'know here are five mysteries in Christ's life we really should be meditating on!" (Ok, I know the Pope in most likelihood does not frequently use the word "dudes" but I'm paraphrasing. Work with me here.) I wouldn't have thought twice about it. But as of the time of this announcement, they haven't yet made the list of these five extra "mysteries". Now if you're focusing on Christ, shouldn't the form of that focus be dictated by Christ Himself, His works or His teachings, rather than just deciding you want to do something, then finding bits and pieces to string together to make it up? The rosary hasn't changed in a long, long time. Roman Catholicism has some tradition I have a really hard time with, but the rosary is one I think is a good idea, but it's form should follow the subject it's about, not the other way around. In fact that's basically the problem I have with the other traditions, they make scripture take a backseat to tradition, or just some idea some guy had and told everyone to start doing.

I attended a Southern Baptist church several years ago, where the pastor had started a tradition during Baptism to have a bowl of salt and a lit candle there on the baptistry. After he dunked the person, he'd dab his finger in the salt and put it on their tongue, then he'd hand them the candle and tell them they were to be the salt and light to the world. Nice thought, nice symbolism, but not part of the ordinance of Baptism. I wasn't alone in my objections to his playing around with the symbolism God gave through Baptism. (also this shows you that Catholics are not the only ones that can have problems with the proper placement of scripture, tradition and symbolism)

If there are another five "mysteries" of Christ that seem to leap out at everyone from the Bible, then add them to the rosary, but don't put form ahead of function. That where most of the problems in the Roman Catholic Church have come from.


Posted by Jack Lewis at October 15, 2002 07:27 AM