A Protestant Praying The Rosary, Pt. 2
I'm Ed The Protestant. In the fall of 2021 Greg Smith (creator of Considering Catholicism) invited me to not only consider the Catholic faith, but to record our (already ongoing) conversations for his podcast. If you're a Protestant considering Catholicism, I invite you to listen and consider.
Despite attending church all my life and knowing a fair amount about the Bible, up until a couple of years ago I knew almost nothing about church history. Protestants almost never talk about what happened in the world of Christianity between New Testament times and the Reformation. Just pretty much...never. No names, no events, nothing worth talking about except maybe blaming Constantine for subverting the whole thing, and maybe those horrible Crusades, which just prove our point. For us, church history started with Martin Luther.
Well, really not even Luther. It started with our denomination, which is to say: we pretty much have an empty past. No talk of saints, martyrs, great church thinkers. Augustine, Aquinas? Maybe a good quote here and there, but stay back!
Those people were Catholics.
Because of this, I had no feeling of connection with the church worldwide, or all the believers who've gone before. The phrases 'great cloud of witnesses' and 'communion of the saints' held no meaning for me. In the Protestant world there was really only...now.
Then several years ago I listened to a series of lectures on the history of Christian Theology by Philip Cary It was my first decent exposure to the long history of the Catholic Church. I had NO IDEA the church was that well formed, that early on. I spent a lot of time thinking about those lectures, even went back and listened to all thirty lectures again. All that history, all those centuries, I now felt, could not be ignored.
Now as I connect more and more with Catholicism, and especially praying the Rosary, I feel...how to say this...like I'm in the flow of a great river. The saints who've gone before me--I can ask them to intercede. The dead who’ve gone before--I can still pray for them. From Abraham all the way to right now it's one continuous, ongoing story, and it's one that I fit into. It's like we're all in the same room together. This has directly to do with me seeing Jesus' story through Mary's eyes as I pray and meditate.
I'm joined to that history.
One of my favorite moments in the whole Rosary is when I pray the 'Glory Be' (doxology). I love these lines:
As it was in the beginning
Is now and ever shall be
World without end.
Those last three words thrill me every time. I can't tell you how comforting and faith-building it is to pray them. I've known them since I was young, but they've taken on new meaning. The saints, Mary, all who've gone before--they're still going. They, we, will continue on and on.