The National Catholic Review

I can't figure out if this is a blessing or a curse.  A computerized Rosary, the "Rosary Companion," which has the mysteries and even Hail Marys and Our Fathers spoken aloud, is now available.  On the one hand, it may be a boon for the lonely, for those for whom age or infirmity makes it difficult to fiddle with the beads of the old-fashioned model, or for those who find it difficult to remember all the "mysteries" that go with each day of the week.  I, for one, find trying to remember the mysteries a distraction to prayer instead of an aid to it: a little booklet or guide is always helpful, and so having them spoken aloud is quite a welcome idea.

On the other hand, as we used to say in Philadelphia, cut me a break.  "Use the Rosary Companion with the head phone jack in church."  That's from the company's website.  Aren't you supposed to be fully, actively and consciously participating in the, um, Mass? 

Actually, I rather like the old Rosary.  The one that doesn't talk.  It looks like this.  

Here's a suggestion from the Rosary Companion website, which calls it the "ultimate" First Communion gift: "Now, if your in the car on the way to work or errands, what better time to pray the rosary? Equipped with a memory chip, this companion actually remembers where you are no matter how many times you start and finish. Each time you push the rose imprinted center button, you will Pick up right where you left off , easily completing your rosary throughout the day, even on the busy days when your 'on the go.'"

Oh, and it looks like candy, too.  Like a delicious vanilla treat with cherry and lemon and lime jujubes.

Readers are welcome to weigh in about this mystery: Talking Rosary: blessing or curse?

Comments

Anonymous | 8/2/2009 - 6:09am
 "That's from the company's website.  Aren't you supposed to be fully, actively and consciously participating in the, um, Mass? "
I think they mean when one goes to church to pray, not to Mass. You make it sound like the only time people go to chruch is for Mass.
Anonymous | 8/1/2009 - 7:32am
Interesting and I do like the question posed by the first commenter... will it draw someone closer to God? I am not sure it will, but the question is what is essential and the answer to it is not mine to give.
As someone who thinks of the Rosary as almost contempletive, I call it "engaged disengagement," I would not like this. Again - that is for me.
I recall my slow and often reluctant return to the Catholic church nearly 20 years ago. I got it it my head to start praying the Rosary again after buying one in a Paris church in a moment of emotional desperation.
There is a part of me that reflects on that at this moment and thinks of the absolute struggle it was to re-learn how to pray the Rosary. A relative, so grateful that I was even thinking of anything Catholic, fell over herself to get me a pamphlet from her parish, published by the Marians in Stockbridge, MA.
What a challenge it was to read and fumble with my beads! That engagement somehow helped me in a way that a talking rosary could not. At least  - that is what I think!
Thought provoking post as usual Fr. Jim!
Anonymous | 7/31/2009 - 12:13pm
There are a number of rosary apps on iTunes, some are free, and they're all more clever than this device, so unless one is without an iPod/iPhone, I'm not sure why you wouldn't just carry a wallet card with the mysteries listed.
Anonymous | 7/30/2009 - 3:01pm
Does God really care if we forget which mystery we ''should be'' praying?  Perhaps on a certain day a particular mystery might suffice for a whole rosary...depending upon what is going on in one's life.
Anonymous | 7/30/2009 - 1:23pm

Dear Messrs. Lakeonovich and Bindner; Yes, good points.  It all depends on the "fruit" of how one uses this, to borrow some Pauline language.
 

Dear Fr Hart: Ignatius owes a lot to Benedict!
 

Dear Mr. Stangle: Oh yes, a distraction when you have to remember not only the mysteries but what day you're supposed to do them on.  I love meditating on the mysteries (and the new ones from John Paul II I especially enjoy) but who can remember which set goes with what day without looking?  Lots can.  I can't.  Thus the distraction.  But I love the Rosary all the same.
 

James Martin, SJ

Anonymous | 7/30/2009 - 12:36pm
Remembering the mystery is a distraction? I mean like there are 5 (five!) mysteries to remember. Maybe think of it as a challenge, the attempt at which builds character. Oh, yes, some of us use our fingers. 
Ever been at a Mass where the priest flips the big book one way, then the other way, then looks puzzled and flips back and then back again. Finally, the awaited mysterious missing phrase. "Amen". What a letdown. Any potention for this gadget to lend help here?
Anonymous | 7/30/2009 - 12:11pm
Not here to weigh the merits of the Talking Rosary, just to observe how nice it was that a Jesuit would post an image of a Benedictine-style Rosary with the commentary. In anticipation of July 31, happy feast day Fr. Martin!
Anonymous | 7/30/2009 - 11:49am
I guess it can be a prayer aid.  I presume the tape plays the first half of the prayer and allows the user(s)  to pray the second half.  Of course, in a group it is better to appoint someone else leader rather than use a machine.  Does it have a companion booklet with the words of Hail Holy Queen?
 
I guess it depends on how one is praying.  If one is using the Rosary as a kind of mantra to settle down and decompress for the day, I see nothing wrong with it.  There are yogic companion tapes with the mantra Om on it to which one can chant along.
 
This whole topic raises the issue of why people pray.  Thinking that God needs any of our advice is hubris, which is why I don't go for intercessionary prayer.  However, using prayer to put ones self in perspective as a child of God (and not a member of his board of advisors) is much more useful.  For example, praying for the cause of vocations is a waste of time.  Praying for discernment of one's own vocation may be helpful if one is actually considering the issue.  When I was a sixth grader, they asked us to pray for vocations and I tried it once (3 Hail Marys).  At that age, it was a waste of time and a disincentive to further prayer.  When the track to the priesthood and religious life began at age 12 or 14, it was a legitimate request.  Until we emancipate the young from their parents at a much younger age, asking tweens to pray for vocation does more harm than good.
Anonymous | 7/30/2009 - 11:33am
Blessing or curse?  The analysis is simple: does the talking Rosary draw us closer to God?