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Frank Conko wrote:

Hi, guys —

According to the Bible, prayer should be said with meaning, not just repeating words over and over. If you do this, it becomes a mantra.

Nevertheless, when saying the Rosary, you are meditating on the mystery for the decade you are saying. So when meditating on the mystery, the words of the prayer, like the Hail Mary, just become a mantra.

  • Can you explain this for me and help me to understand the concept?

I've asked this question in other Catholic forums and never received an answer.

Frank

  { How is the repetition of the prayers in the Rosary different than a mantra? }

Paul replied:

Hello Frank.

With this forum you may get several good answers rather then just one.

Here is my take. There are four basic kinds of prayer:

  • adoration
  • contrition
  • thanksgiving, and
  • petition.

Praise is usually lumped in with thanksgiving and intercession with petition. The Rosary has all of these elements within it.

There are also three basic forms of prayer:

  • verbal
  • meditation, and
  • contemplation.

The Rosary is a combination of the first two, verbal and meditation. When you combine these, you are speaking formal prayer while thinking about important salvific events of the lives of Jesus and Mary. The formal prayer is meant to be the background music for the main act, which is our entering into these mysteries of the faith. There's nothing wrong with that; in fact it has been a very fruitful prayer form for many centuries.

To answer your question more directly, prayer should have meaning, but it doesn't always have to be the literal meaning of the words that are primary. The meaning of what is being meditated on coupled with the words, as secondary in significance, can be a very meaningful experience.

Peace,

Paul

Mike replied:

Hi, Frank —

Thanks for the question.

I sense the just concern in your question is based on the popular notion of the word "mantra" in the New Age movement, yoga and other non-Christian religions.

While there are similarities between Christian meditation, like the Rosary, and mantras found in other groups, Christian meditation is always focused on:

  • Jesus
  • His divine, redemptive plan for saving us, and
  • those who assisted in His plan.

Mantras associated with the New Age, yoga and other non-Christian religion are dangerous because of the goal or purpose involved like:

  • striving to drain every spiritual thing from your body until it is empty.
    This is crazy and is similar to putting out a welcome matt to Satan and his legions.

  • striving to drain every thought, word or deed out of your body, that is not of oneself.
    This is crazy too. The person is being trained to say: I am my own God, who needs Jesus and His one Church.

The similarities are in the meaning of the word: mantra: From Wikipedia:

The Sanskrit word mantra (also mantram) consists of the root man - "to think" (also in manas "mind") and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be "instrument of thought".

But again, the big difference is the purpose and goal of each practice. As Catholic Christians,
our goal is not to drain everything out of us or put us at the center of the world, but to put
Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, at the center.

Just my two cents.

Mike

Eric replied:

Frank —

Prayer should always have meaning and be sincere; we should avoid prattling on mindlessly, especially if we think that merely multiplying words will make us heard. Sometimes, admittedly, we get in a kind of rut and get distracted in our minds as we pray, but when this happens,
we should always bring ourselves back to the content of the prayer [and/or] the mystery we are meditating on.

Rosary meditation differs from a mantra. According to Wikipedia,

"A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation", (cf. spiritual transformation)."

The focus with a mantra is on the sound; the word is essential, even divine. It is given mystical significance. Mantras are almost always single words or maybe a small series of words uttered to induce a trance or altered state of consciousness.

This is very different from a Rosary.

  1. First of all, I think the Hail Mary and especially the Our Father are too long to function as mantras.
  2. Second, in the Rosary the focus is, not on the words of the prayers, but on the mysteries. The words fade into the background, which is the opposite of a mantra.
  3. Third, we attribute no exalted value to the words as a mantra does; they produce no spiritual transformation or altered state of consciousness. Obviously, we value the words as prayers, especially the Lord's Prayer as such, but they are not magical, divine or transformative.
  4. Nor is the goal to achieve any altered state of consciousness. The goal is usually a petition, or maybe even communion with Christ, as we meditate on the mysteries of his life and the life of our Lady.

I hope this helps.

Eric

Frank replied:

Thank you,

I appreciate your responding.

With the answers I'm getting, things are beginning to come together and are more understandable.

Frank

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