Tag Archives: Rosary

Sad state of affairs: Rosaries as gang symbols

June 7, 2012

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CNS photo / Paul Haring

I’ve never thought of a rosary as a something that “denotes membership in an organized gang.”

But apparently the Anoka-Hennepin School District does.

We’re not talking about the kind of Catholic “gang” that gathers for Sunday worship at your local parish. We’re talking the variety that instigates violent crime and other mayhem.

According to a story I read today on the CBS-Minnesota website, the district told a 15-year-old student to remove a rosary he was wearing as a necklace.


The district’s discipline policy forbids “any apparel, jewelry, accessories, or matter of grooming which by virtue of its color arrangement, trademark, or any other attribute (as a primary purpose) denotes membership in an organized gang.”

Jake Balthazor, who is Lutheran, said he wears the rosary to support and pray for his grandmother, who has breast cancer — something the district didn’t initially realize, according to an update of the original story, and school officials were hoping to find a compromise.

Although I wouldn’t advocate wearing a rosary this way — the beads are intended to aid prayer after all, not to serve as jewelry — the boy’s heart is in the right place.

But, before you criticize the district for lacking common sense, you should know that it was apparently operating on information provided by local police.

The story said the district recently received a letter from a police liaison stating: “A new issue came up recently that is interesting regarding rosary beads. Some gangs do use them as clothing symbols. The gangs identified around here that have been using them are the Latin Kings and the Surenos.”

How sad is that?

One good use for a rosary would be to pray for an end to gangs like these that do nothing more than inflict physical, emotional and spiritual pain on youth, families and struggling neighborhoods.

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Pray the Rosary by turning the pages

March 11, 2010


Life of Jesus cover

“The Life of Jesus: An Illustrated Rosary,”

by Mary Billingsley

Artist Mary Billingsley has offered a wonderful gift to the world, a unique, new way to pray the Rosary that stirs the senses, touches the heart and renews the soul.

First, for those unfamiliar with the chain of beads or those who need a refresher course, she spells out the words of all the individual prayers, and in beautifully drawn info graphic style labels exactly how to use each portion of a Rosary.

Her clever paintings then accompany beautifully sounding, simple to grasp language for each prayer of each of the five decades of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary that long have been part of the Catholic tradition, plus the newer Luminous Mysteries added by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

No Rosary needed

One doesn’t even have to have a Rosary to pray the Rosary with this gorgeous 56-page Eerdmans book that’s a lovely combination of art and text. Just read and pray and turn the page.

If you’re the type of person who takes comfort in your Rosary beads, you’ll get new meaning by reading along as you pray as you always have.

Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict Groeschel notes in a foreword that Billingsley crafted this work for children, but that “children of all ages” will find value in the rich text and colorful, creative paintings that depict scenes from the Scripture.

Paintings that fill the senses

While the text tells the Bible stories in plain English, the paintings are busy, eclectic works that force readers to scour every corner for the little  details that Billingsley has dropped in to make elaborate scenes.

They are the fruit of a unique process in which Billingsley takes found objects — an old gate, a hand-made crutch, a hunk of ribbon — and creates a shrine of a scene from Jesus’ life — Finding Jesus in the Temple,  the Marriage Feast at Cana, the Last Supper — which she then paints.

Every time you look at one of the scenes you’ll see something you hadn’t seen before.

The whole package of words and pictures makes almost sensory overload, but what it really does it add additional meaning to what can often can become prayer by rote. — bz

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Most useful and used gift book you could buy this Christmas is about, of all things, the Rosary

December 1, 2008


“The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved,”

by Gary Jansen

It’s one of those small, easy-to-handle books, only 100 pages or so, and the pages are of the 5 inch by 7 inch variety, but “The Rosary” may be one of the most useful gifts you wrap this Christmas.

Gary Jansen, a book editor by trade, rediscovered the Rosary as a prayer of transformation, a prayer of peace and a prayer of hope, and his little book will help others do the same. As he explains about his own “dark night of the soul,” “God had not abandoned me; I just hadn’t been listening.”

He wrote “The Rosary” as a short introduction on how to listen to God’s words in day-to-day life and as a reminder that we are never alone.

There’s some introductory pages that offer down-to-earth questions you may have asked yourself at one time or another, like: How long have Catholics been praying the Rosary? What’s the point of repeating Hail Mary’s over and over? What’s behind the “mysteries” of the Rosary?

Jansen offers this simple way to look at the Rosary:

See the Rosary as sitting with Mary and paging through a scrapbook of Jesus’ life; it will let you know Jesus on a whole new level, an emotional one, a loving one, and a familiar one.

But can we ever just sit and take the time to do the Rosary?

We 21st century people may have to re-learn how to reflect, not “just do it.” Just the opposite of doing, Jansen encourages praying the Rosary as a way to sit with the stories in each of the four mysteries — Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious:
  • See them as the high points in the life of Jesus;
  • Think about their meaning;
  • Become a character in the scene (for example, a waiter in the gospel story of the Wedding Feast at Cana), and ask yourself how you might have reacted, what you would be thinking were you there at the time, what you might have done in response.

Don’t know thing one about the Rosary? There’s an easy to use how-to section.

After you’ve read those introductory pages, though, you’ll find Jansen’s work useful time after time as you pray The Rosary. Just pick up at Page 39.

You’ll see the opening prayers, and then a scripture passage and beautiful painting that goes with each of the 20 mysteries to help you focus on that aspect of Jesus’ life story. None is more than one page, most very short, and the simplicity is perfect for helping target your attention.

Art buffs will appreciate the credits in the back that identify each of the paintings and their artists.

All will appreciate this Faith Words imprint (http://www.faithwords.com). — bz

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