Lutheran/Protestant Rosary: The Mysteries

Lutheran Reformer Martin Chemnitz

The rosary prayers are commonly dismissed as ‘just for Catholics,’ but the devotion pre-dates the formation of the Lutheran and other Protestant churches at the Reformation; not only that, the rosary continued as a private devotion, especially among European Anglicans and Lutherans.

It’s certainly more of a Christ-based practice than getting into Transcendental or Eastern meditation using a ‘mantra’ derived from Hindu or Buddhist religious practice.

Many Protestants do use the rosary. When I was a Presbyterian child, I looked in the window of a Catholic church, seeing a rosary in the hand of a statue of Mary, and I counted the beads and tried to reproduce a rosary of my own in knotted string, since I didn’t know anywhere that one could buy a rosary. In college, at the Lutheran Concordia College, I managed to sneak away to a Catholic store in downtown Chicago and buy a rosary and an instruction leaflet. I prayed the rosary in my dorm room. I felt a bit guilty and unlutheran for doing it, and so I confessed to a Lutheran-from-birth friend that I prayed a modified rosary. She may have been a bit offended— she prayed her rosary unmodified.

One of the unique things about the rosary that sets it apart from similar non-Christian meditation is the use of mysteries. Mysteries are a group of Biblical events to think about (meditate upon) while you are reciting the words of the rosary. There are Catholic leaflets that have a small illustration for each rosary mystery.

Commonly one prays a group of 5 mysteries each time one prays the rosary. For each mystery, you say 1 Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, 10 Hail Marys (or substitute the Jesus Prayer), and end with one Glory Be (to the Father.) Catholics sometimes add the Fatima prayer after the Glory Be, but this is a modern addition.

A Lutheran rosary (with Lutheran rose symbol in the cross.)

The Joyful Mysteries are prayed on Mondays and Saturdays, and are optional for Sundays during the Advent/Christmas season. These mysteries tell the story of the birth and childhood of Christ.

The Sorrowful Mysteries are prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays, and are optional on Sundays during Lent. These mysteries tell the story of the suffering and crucifixion of Christ.

The Glorious Mysteries are prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays. They tell the story of the resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and some traditional events related to the end of Mary’s life on earth, and her going to heaven. These mysteries, being outside the scriptures, are often modified in Protestant use.

The Luminous Mysteries are a new addition to the rosary, made by Pope Saint John Paul II. They are prayed on Thursdays. (Before this, the Joyful Mysteries were prayed on Thursdays, and the Glorious Mysteries on Saturdays.) These mysteries are not part of the common Christian heritage of the rosary, but since they are all Bible-based stories about Christ (Christ’s baptism, the wedding at Cana, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper), they are easily able to be used by Protestants as well as Catholics.

The advantage of having the Mysteries is that when you are reciting the prayers of the rosary and your mind starts to wander or daydream, you have the mysteries to force your mind back on a more prayerful track. I myself, as a person with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) am very distractible, and so I usually keep a leaflet with pictures illustrating the rosary mysteries on hand when I pray the rosary. Keeping my eyes focussed on the picture help me keep my mind on track.

Posts on this blog related to the Lutheran rosary and Protestant rosaries:

My earlier posts on the Lutheran rosary are the most popular ones on this blog. I have decided to post a series of posts related to the topic on Saturdays. The next few will cover the four groups of rosary mysteries, and then we will move on to the prayers of the rosary. Next Saturday (God willing): the Joyful Mysteries

Wikihow: How to pray the Lutheran Rosary (12 Steps)

Chemnitz Society blog


Writing By Committee

Writing— fiction or any other kind— is a lonely business, and we have to have a certain amount of self-confidence in our work. If our Lead character is an elven android, we have to get stubborn when other people want us to transform our Lead into a neurotic werewolf or an Amish schoolgirl.

But lonely writing, and the self-confidence it needs, is not what we learn in schools. I remember from my own school days what happened when Teacher gave out a writing assignment. The chattier children all consulted one another about the assignment. What does Teacher really want? Does this count as doing the assignment? And, inevitably, they consulted with one another about their work. I’m writing this, is that okay? No, it’s weird, you have to change this into that.

The result of all that consulting was that the assignments of the chatty children got more conformist, more conventional, more bland and boring. Which is what you need to get good grades in school. Nowadays, it also prevents arrest of children whose imaginations run toward weapons and crisis.

Not all the schoolchildren of my past were the chatty, consulting type. I remember one boy in the ninth-and-tenth grade classroom at San Jose Christian School, who turned in a story about American POWs in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp that was a bit close to being Hogan’s Heroes fanfiction. I’m sure that if he had consulted anyone he would have been discouraged. Fanfiction wasn’t a thing in those days; people just called it ‘plagiarism.’ But I envied the kid and wished I had the courage to write something like that. Of course, my imagination would have turned out a Star Trek/Hogan’s Heroes mashup. Maybe with a little Batman thrown in.

As grown-up writers we still are not absolved from the writing-by-committee, thou-shalt-groupthink mentality. College writing classes, writing workshops and critique groups, which common amateur-writer ‘wisdom’ says we need, all enforce the idea that our writing becomes magically better when we have a peer group of ‘enforcers’ to keep us in line.

But what really happens when we submit our works to our peers for judgment? We get condemned to an endless cycle of futile rewrites until there is nothing of originality or of risk left. And if we submit the rewritten-to-death work to another group of our peers, we will have more input about more things we just have to fix in another rewrite…. We end up violating Heinlein’s Second Rule: You must finish what you write.

Writer Dean Wesley Smith had a cool way of getting around the writing-by-committee temptation. He’d write something for a workshop or writing class, and immediately submit it to a publisher. Often it was the stories that his peers hated and picked-to-pieces that were the first to sell to publishers.

No great writers ever produced their great novels through groupthink or writing-by-committee. They had the courage to write, alone, and stand up for what their minds produced. Even if they were like Kafka and wrote about a guy turning in to a bug.

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Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing: Dean Wesley Smith

Killing the Top 10 Sacred Cows of Publishing: Dean Wesley Smith

IWSG: Following Heinlein’s Rules

Writers and would-be writers, since we work alone, crave rules that will promise success. Lots of people make up rules for writers— English teachers who have never published anything, or even written anything, wannabe writers who like to boss other wannabes around, people trying to sell writing classes or writer services or recruit writers to be victimized by a vanity press….

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

The best rules for writers come from known writers who have actually written stuff, and made a living from writing. Robert Heinlein was such a writer— his science fiction is still read today— and he invented 5 simple rules for writers.

I have a book by Dean Wesley Smith about Heinlein’s rules. Smith is also a professional writer. He got that way by following Heinlein’s rules, he says. Smith has written over 100 novels and an unknown number of short stories, in his early career he was entirely traditionally published and has now gone indie, and I have actually heard of him and have some books he wrote on my shelf.

Heinlein’s rules worked, therefore, for Dean Wesley Smith, at least. Will they work for you? Probably better than writing advice from people who have never made a living at writing, who perhaps have never finished a novel or even a short story.

Here are the rules— Heinlein called them business habits:

1. You must write.

2. You must finish what you start.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

4. You must put it on the market.

5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

Things are a little different today, as Dean Wesley Smith points out in his book. Putting a written work on the market can now mean indie publishing it. Keeping it on the market until sold can mean keeping an indie published work up, even if it doesn’t sell very well, instead of pulling all your work down because it’s ‘not good enough.’

As the ultimate Insecure Writer, I’m shy about submitting my work for publication, perhaps because of my Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps it’s just I am afraid of being judged by people who just don’t get me. But in keeping with Heinlein’s rules, I put up some of my work on Wattpad, and plan to do more there— a non-fiction work, and a new book of my poetry, both of which may become, in a longer version, at least Smashword ebooks and perhaps proper books (if I can figure out how to format for Lulu and how to afford a decent book cover.)

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