Thursday, June 24, 2010


On my Tolkien-related website, I define a geek as "Someone who's passionately interested in something most people pay little or no attention to." I've been a Tolkien geek for over 40 years now. I'm also a geek when it comes to religious trivia (although I'd claim that some of it isn't trivial). I'm especially geeky for things that have historical reasons behind them, such as why the saint's day for Martin of Tours is celebrated like a feast even though it's officially a memorial.

This leads into my saying that there's one thing John Paul II did that really bugs me: adding the luminous mysteries to the rosary. Not that I have anything against the mysteries involved. But it cuts the rosary loose from at least some of its historical moorings, and I think that's too bad. There's a reason that the rosary had a total of 15 decades with ten "Hail Mary"'s in each. That's 150 "Hail Mary"'s. There's something else that's a set of 150: the psalms. An early purpose of the rosary was to serve as a substitute for praying the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) for people who were illiterate - which was most people in those days. Those who could read would pray the 150 psalms contained in the Office, and those who couldn't would say their 150 Ave's. Tacking on another 50 "Hail Mary"'s loses that historical connection. It's probably a problem only for geeks, but I think it's too bad. Dominicans have traditionally used fifteen-decade rosaries (I've thought about making a Dominican rosary but it's a bit daunting). I'm hoping they haven't gone to twenty.

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