A Defense against Error: Leo, the Rosary, and Christian Unity, Part 2 of 10

Oct 9th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog Posts, Catholic Life and Devotion

This is the second in a ten part guest series by Beth Turner, the wife of Barrett Turner. Beth and Barrett were received into full communion at Easter 2010 and live in Virginia with their four children. Beth’s story of her journey into the Catholic Church can be found at Saved by Love: A Seminary Wife’s Journey.

One Purpose of the Holy Rosary: Defense Against Error

Saint_Dominic_Receives_the_Rosary St. Dominic receiving the Rosary from the Blessed Virgin Mary

“And so, in Mary, God has given us the most zealous guardian of Christian unity… We have elsewhere brought it to the attention of the devout Christian and not least among the advantages of the Rosary is the ready and easy means it puts in his hands to nurture his faith, and to keep him from ignorance of his religion and the danger of error.” (Adiutricem 24)

Pope Leo XIII regularly commends the Holy Rosary as a defense against heresy, ignorance, and error. The prime historical example he cites is St. Dominic’s propagation of the devotion against the Albigensian heresy during the 13th century. He calls the Rosary a weapon against “the violence of heresy” and “the whirlwind of an age of error.”

A Protestant reader may already be rolling his eyes at this point in my post because of the mention of “heresy” and what he assumes I mean about his faith, but Pope Leo XIII directs a good portion of his commentary to the Catholic faithful. “It is indeed a cause of great sorrow…that so many Catholics should be such in name only, and should pay to religion no honor or worship” (Octobri Mense 2). One imagines Pope Leo XIII might be sympathetic to the oft-expressed Protestant frustration with Catholics who seem not to take seriously what their own Church teaches. Present difficulties of this sort include Catholics who defend the murder of the unborn. Another modern error is a refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Church’s liturgy. None of us is exempt from the great danger of being caught in the whirlwind.

So when Catholics petition the Mother of God in the words of the Hail Mary, “pray for us sinners,” we do not exempt ourselves from the title “sinner”. Among these sins, we recognize the possibility of culpable ignorance and error about the very Faith we hold. The Gospel we’ve been given is not deficient, but our own understanding of it can be. This is true of lukewarm Catholics who fail to adhere to what they know, but even those who seem most devout are not immune.

To correct our deficient understanding, we must inquire ever more deeply in both prayer and study. The teachings of the Church are a treasure, rich and deep, and they often surprise us. We should be open to correction by our brothers and sisters, and sensitive to the conscience which speaks quietly to us of our errors. Above all, we must open ourselves to correction by the Lord Jesus through His body on earth, the Church. We should not be ashamed to acknowledge what we lack in understanding. God is more than willing to fill us up in this regard. Protestants too must practice humility about their own understanding of the Gospel as they seek greater wisdom from the Holy Scriptures.

It is a source of great joy to see a spirit of cooperation and humility reign between Protestants who love the Truth and Catholics who diligently study and conform their lives to the teachings of the Church, but there is still a great struggle against error to be had. The fullest sort of unity cannot be ours until these errors are overcome. Called To Communion is a wonderful resource for examining and emerging from these errors. For those who do not have time to devote to an intense study of the Church’s doctrine, the Holy Rosary is a vital devotional resource for helping to overcome ignorance and error both within and outside of the Church.

Part 1 of this series is available here.

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