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300 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated


; RVM). In the letter, the Holy Father added the five additional

mysteries that he called the Luminous Mysteries: the Baptism of the

Lord, the Miracle at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God,

the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist.

The repetition of the ten Hail Mary’s with each Mystery is meant to

lead us to restful and contemplative prayer related to the Mystery. Many

who say the Rosary think of the words as background music that leads

them to rest in the divine presence. The gentle repetition of the words

helps us to enter the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s Spirit dwells.



While the liturgy is “the summit toward which the activity

of the Church is directed” and “the font from which all her

power flows” (SC, no. 10), it is not possible for us to fill up

all of our day with participation in the liturgy. The Council

pointed out that the spiritual life “is not limited solely to par-

ticipation in the liturgy. . . . according to the teaching of the

apostle, [the Christian] must pray without ceasing” (SC, no.

12). Popular devotional practices play a crucial role in helping

to foster this ceaseless prayer. The faithful have always used

a variety of practices as a means of permeating everyday life

with prayer to God. Examples include pilgrimages, novenas,

processions and celebrations in honor of Mary and the other

saints, the rosary, the


, the Stations of the Cross, the

veneration of relics, and the use of sacramentals. Properly

used, popular devotional practices do not replace the litur-

gical life of the Church; rather, they extend it into daily life.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council recognized the

importance of popular devotions in the life of the Church and

encouraged pastors and teachers to promote sound popular

devotions. They wrote, “Popular devotions of the Christian

people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with

the laws and norms of the Church” (SC, no. 13). More recently,

Pope John Paul II has devoted an entire apostolic letter to a