Matt C. Abbott
Green Bay priest's new rosary devotional
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By Matt C. Abbott
September 16, 2016

The following is an email interview I conducted with Father Edward Lee Looney, a priest-author from the Diocese of Green Bay. Father Looney has written five books on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help and recently published a new rosary devotional titled A Rosary Litany.



Why did October become the month of the rosary?

Father Looney: There are many reasons why we observe October in honor of the rosary. On October 7, the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly Our Lady of Victories. In 1571, the Turks were defeating the Christians in war. Pope Pius V called on the entire world to join together in reciting the rosary for the success of military efforts to defeat the Turks. We know the end of the story! The Christians won, and to honor Our Lady, Pope Pius V established the feast of Our Lady of Victories.

It's been very common since that time to pray the rosary during October. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), during his pontificate, wrote several documents, many with the ranking of an encyclical, others simply apostolic letters; but all were in anticipation of October, exhorting the faithful to pray the rosary. He gave special indulgences to those who would also recite the Litany of Loreto or pray the rosary in common at a parish church.

Lastly, as we trace the historical development of October and the rosary, it would be significant to note that in 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to the Fatima shepherd children. During this Mariophonic event on October 13, the sun began to spin in the sky. During the apparitions in Fatima, Our Lady identified herself as Queen of the Holy Rosary, and encouraged its recitation to obtain peace in the world.

Why should people pray the rosary?

Father Looney: There are many reasons why people should pray the rosary. I'll give three. First, many of the saints of our traditions prayed the rosary. I think of those most especially not far removed from our historical time: Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina, Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta, Saint John Paul II. Another holy person, Thomas Merton, said he would never go without the rosary. If it was a way for holiness for these saints, it is good enough for me. Secondly, it provides an opportune moment for us to reflect on the life of Jesus. The mysteries consider his early beginnings, public ministry, and his passion, death, resurrection, and glorious Ascension. If you didn't pray the rosary, would you reflect about these events of Jesus' life? The rosary gives us one way to do this in which we focus our thoughts on holy things. Thirdly, we ask Mary over and over again to pray for us not only in this moment but at the hour of our death. We can be certain that our mother will honor this request!

You recently published A Rosary Litany. How is it different from other rosary devotionals?

Father Looney: Saint Louis de Montfort wrote in The Secrets of the Rosary about two ways in praying the rosary, one was an intentional offering of each decade and the other, a shorter method, would curb distractions. Many rosary meditation books fall within the realm of the first category, offerings of the mystery. There is some reflection which guides and focuses our meditation on the mystery. My book develops what Saint Louis de Monfort recommended as a shorter method to curb distraction.

At the end of The Secret of the Rosary, de Montfort recommends the insertion of a pious phrase after the name of Jesus. This is what he meant by curbing distraction. For example, in the joyful mysteries: thy womb Jesus, incarnate; thy womb Jesus, sanctifying; thy womb Jesus, born in poverty, etc. I brought this suggestion to a logical conclusion by extending it to all ten beads of a decade. This is different than the scriptural rosary when a person reads a passage of scripture before each Hail Mary. This method inserts the qualifier after the name of Jesus (in some cases Mary's name, too) so it becomes a part of the prayer itself. By focusing on the name of Jesus, it allows our Marian prayer to emphasize its Christological importance.

Don't you feel like you are adding something to the rosary? Going against tradition?

Father Looney: The tradition is quite old. The Carthusians practiced this first, long before there ever was what we call the Dominican rosary. Since it goes back to being promoted by Saint Louis de Montfort, I think we are in good company! Even Blessed Paul VI wrote about it in Marialis Cultus and Saint John Paul II in Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

What inspired you to write the devotional?


Father Looney: A friend of mine began praying the rosary in this fashion after he listened to a talk by Dr. Edward Sri from Lighthouse Catholic Media. He shared the method with me; I used it, and found it to be very beneficial. I started to make up my own phrases and thought I should write them down to share with others. When I was in the Holy Land, I prayed at many of the rosary sites, asking the Lord what phrases I should use in the mystery. I shared the document with several of my friends who thought that I should publish it. I'm happy I did. I receive many emails, and some people go to great lengths to find my parish address and send me a note of gratitude via the postal service. The testimonials I receive have been humbling. Many people indicate they pray the rosary with greater frequency now and actually feel like they meditate on the rosary. I am happy to have said yes, just like Our Lady, to this project.

Why do you call it A Rosary Litany?

Father Looney: Blessed Paul VI calls the rosary a litany like succession of Hail Marys. But when we use this method of qualifying Jesus' (or Mary's) name, it takes on the form of a litany.

How can people get a copy of the book?

Father Looney: They can visit my website arosarylitany.com and follow the link to order the book. There will soon be an audio version of this rosary available.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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