Personal Response by Karen Merkley
A rosary is a set of chained beads used to mark the recitation of certain prayers by Catholics. Typically, it consists of 50 beads, in groups of ten (a decade), with a larger bead before each decade. Specific memorized prayers are recited as a way of remembering aspects of the life and mission of the Savior. Catholics, with a deep sense of devotion and love of the Savior, reflect on His life and mission as they engage in these prayers and as they participate in the rituals and liturgy of the Catholic faith. We have great respect for their devotion to God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) don’t use a rosary, or set of beads marking a series of prayers, as used by Roman-Catholics or Anglo-Catholics.Mormons share expressions in prayer that are self-generated, dependent on the circumstances and events in their lives a t the moment of prayer. We see prayers as personal expressions of thanks, praise, desire, sharing, and longing before the Lord, and each one as unique as the moment it’s uttered. Our prayers do follow the scriptural pattern which invites us to 1) recognize and address Father in Heaven as our Father, 2) give meaningful thanks for noticed gifts from Him in our life, 3) petition him for forgiveness, and 4) pour out our hearts to Him in the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Though we follow that pattern, we do not recite prescribed memorized prayers, such as the “Our Father,” for example, verbatim.
How we engage the Father is a purely personal thing and depends on how openly and honestly and deeply we wish to commune with him. Rote prayers, uttered without thought, by any of us of any faith, miss the mark in the sense that they fail to reflect deep and spontaneous engagement in conversation with God. They don’t lead us closer or bring us further along in our personal relationship any more than duplicating yesterday’s phone conversation with a friend day after day would deepen that relationship. Prayer, in the sense that we practice it, is conversation with God that draws us nearer to Him and Him to us. It involves a process of self-discovery and reaching as we tap into our deepest thoughts and share those with Him who knows us best of all, and as we receive His responses along the way.
We respect others’ faith in Jesus Christ and desire to follow Him, regardless of the differences in theology. Sharing the commonalities and differences helps us to see and understand each other better. Another difference between Catholics and Mormons in regard to prayer is illuminated through one said after the rosary, which follows:
HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
To Mormons, Mary is not an intercessor. We pray directly to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. He alone is our Advocate with the Father. We do revere Mary, as do Catholics, as the mother of Jesus Christ, and love her faith, humility, goodness, purity, and willingness to bring Jesus Christ into the world.
This rosary prayer reflects another fundamental difference between Catholics and Mormons. While we believe, as Catholics, that Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, we also believe that the step towards becoming mortal was essential to the plan for our happiness. Mormons, therefore, rejoice that we have been gifted this possibility to learn through this imperfect earth experience, how to progress eternally and to return to our heavenly home. We see ourselves as daughters of God, as do Catholics, and also as women of great opportunity, away from home for a season, endowed with His power and the ability to become the highest in us through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
While we rejoice in the beauty of the gospel plan, and share the commitment to Jesus Christ of many of other faiths, we differ in these respects as we pray and commune with the Father of our individual spirits, in the name of His Son, a separate Being, even Jesus Christ.
I testify that the doctrines concerning Jesus Christ have been restored to the earth, and that they can be found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.