Sixth decade of the Rosary
In the month of october, we traditionally honor Mary, and no devotion is as popular as the rosary. Historically, this has been one of the most loved practices in Catholic devotion, taking different forms throughout the centuries. The rosary that most of us are familiar with praying is known as the Dominican Rosary. As originally developed, it consists of three sets of five mysteries, with each mystery containing a decade (or set of 10) of Hail Mary prayers, totaling 150.
The rosary allowed many of the faithful in Western Europe who could not pray the 150 Psalms contained in the Liturgy of the Hours — the community prayer of priests and nuns — to align their prayer with the daily prayer of the Church. According to pious tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave the rosary to St. Dominic. In 2002, St. John Paul II advocated adding a fourth set of mysteries to the Rosary, known as the luminous mysteries, to further contemplate the life of Jesus.
In different spiritual traditions within the Catholic Church, variations of the rosary developed. Some rosaries differed in the number of decades; containing six or seven decades. Some rosaries focused on different mysteries or had differing numbers of prayers within each decade. Careful observers will note that our Blessed Mother is seen holding a rosary in images of her apparition at Lourdes. Her rosary is usually depicted with six decades. At different times, a sixth decade has focused on an additional mystery or on praying for a particular intention. Since my arrival in Spokane, I have encouraged the faithful to pray a sixth decade of the rosary for vocations to the diocesan priesthood and religious life.
The Church in the United States also marks October as a month dedicated to the protection of human life. The first Sunday of the month is observed in parishes as Respect Life Sunday. This celebration always falls close to the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary — Oct. 7.
All of these themes tie together intimately: the rosary, the protection of human life, and vocations. Our Lady is mother to all and, as she told the visionaries at Fatima, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph.
So this October, let us renew our devotion to the rosary and to praying for the unborn, the infirm and all those threatened by the culture of death. I also ask that when you pray the rosary, please pray a sixth decade for vocations. If we seek renewal in the life in the Church, we must pray for vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and holy marriage. In Mary our mother — whom we were entrusted to by Jesus while he hung on the cross — we find our truest advocate for life, for faith, and for the mission of the Church. If we turn to Mary, we can be sure that her Immaculate Heart will triumph here in Eastern Washington and throughout the world.
Mary, protectress of the unborn, pray for us.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us.