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Carthusian Night Office

Carthusian Rosary

Carthusian Night Office

Life of Christ Rosary

I remember coming across this style of rosary when I was a teenager; I don’t recall connecting it to the Carthusians. There are several variations to this style. I will describe one approach, and then a bit more around that. Most will be aware of the 15-decades rosary, the 150 Hail Marys connecting to the 150 psalms and forming a parallel (even for those who could not read) to the Daily Office with its psalms. Each decade has a “mystery” – something to meditate on for the ten Hail Marys. The connection with the psalms was broken by the introduction of five more mysteries, five more decades.

The Carthusian Life of Christ Rosary has 50 prayers. Each prayer begins:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus

but then, instead of continuing with the petition, “Holy Mary, Mother of God…”, there is something about Jesus. So the first one becomes:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus

conceived in you by the Holy Spirit at the annunciation by the angel.

  1. Jesus, conceived in you by the Holy Spirit at the annunciation by the angel
  2. Jesus, with whom you visited Saint Elisabeth in the hill country, and whom John the Baptist recognised while yet in his mother’s womb
  3. Jesus, to whom you gave birth with joy
  4. Jesus, whom you wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger
  5. Jesus, whose birth the angels celebrated singing “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will”, and whom the shepherds visited in Bethlehem
  6. Jesus, who was circumcised on the eighth day and given the name which is above every other name
  7. Jesus, who was sought for and worshiped by the Magi
  8. Jesus, whom you carried to the Temple and presented to God, His Father
  9. Jesus, who was lovingly received in the arms of old Simeon, and recognized by the holy prophetess, Anna
  10. Jesus, with whom you fled into Egypt as directed by the angel, to avoid Herod’s persecution
  11. Jesus, with whom you returned home after seven years, when directed by the angel
  12. Jesus, left in Jerusalem when He was twelve years old, and found in the Temple after three days
  13. Jesus, who each day grew further in wisdom and grace before God and people
  14. Jesus, whom John baptised in the Jordan and called the Lamb of God
  15. Jesus, who fasted forty days in the desert and overcame the temptations put to Him by Satan
  16. Jesus, who called the disciples and proclaimed the kingdom of God
  17. Jesus, who healed the sick, freed the possessed, and raised the dead to life
  18. Jesus, whose feet Mary Magdalene washed with her tears, dried with her hair, and anointed with her perfume
  19. Jesus, who was transfigured on Mt. Tabor in the presence of Peter, James, and John
  20. Jesus, who raised Lazarus to life after he had been dead for four days
  21. Jesus, who was welcomed as the Messiah as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday
  22. Jesus, who at the Last Supper instituted the Most Holy Eucharist
  23. Jesus, who prayed in agony in the garden of Gethsemane
  24. Jesus, who, betrayed by Judas and abandoned by His friends, willingly placed Himself in the hands of His captors
  25. Jesus, who, captured and roughly bound, was before the high priest
  26. Jesus, who was denied three times by Simon Peter and was falsely accused, mocked, beaten, and spat upon by the crowd
  27. Jesus, who was scourged at the pillar on orders given by Pilate
  28. Jesus, who was wrapped in a purple robe, crowned with thorns, and hailed as king by mocking soldiers
  29. Jesus, who before Caiaphas and Pilate was condemned to a wicked death 
  30. Jesus, who was given the burden of the cross to bear like a criminal to the hill of Golgotha
  31. Jesus, nailed to the cross beneath the inscription “This is the King of the Jews”
  32. Jesus, who prayed for His murderers, saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”
  33. Jesus, who said to the thief at His right  “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  34. Jesus, who said to you, His Mother, “Woman, here is your son”, and to the Beloved Disciple “Here is your mother”.
  35. Jesus, who cried out upon the cross:  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
  36. Jesus, who said “I thirst”, and after having tasted the vinegar offered to Him said “It is finished”
  37. Jesus, who at the ninth hour cried out “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”
  38. Jesus, who for us, poor sinners, suffered a cruel and painful death. Alleluia.
  39. Jesus, whose side was pierced with a spear and from whose Sacred Heart Blood and Water poured out for the forgiveness of our sins
  40. Jesus, whose sacred body was taken down from the cross and lovingly received in your arms 
  41. Jesus, whose body was wrapped in a shroud and laid in the tomb by holy people
  42. Jesus, whose tomb was sealed and guarded by Pilate’s soldiers 
  43. Jesus, who descended to the dead and proclaimed the good news
  44. Jesus, who rose from the dead on the third day
  45. Jesus, who after His Resurrection appeared frequently to His disciples and friends to strengthen their faith
  46. Jesus, who, before you and His apostles, ascended into Heaven on the fortieth day and was seated at the right hand of the Father
  47. Jesus, who, as He had promised, sent the Holy Spirit to you and to His apostles on the day of Pentecost
  48. Jesus, who finally called you, His dearest Mother, to Himself
  49. Jesus, who wants to call us to Himself after this life and receive us into the joy of His Father’s Kingdom
  50. Jesus, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns triumphant and glorious forever

So for fifty times, we repeat Luke 1:28 & 42, and then the reflection about Jesus. Now, if we are touched by the particular reflection, we may quietly rest prayerfully, meditatively at that point, or even reflect on this further. And we can proceed, uncrushed, as we feel moved. There is no need to get to the end of the fifty.

Some versions follow each section about Jesus with “Alleluia!” Some proceed after that (or skip the “Alleluia”) to the usual, “Holy Mary, Mother of God…” Some divide the fifty prayers into five groups of ten, preceding each such group with “Our Father,…” and using the common rosary beads.

The above form of the rosary is attributed to the Carthusian Dominic of Prussia (1382-1461). The history of the rosary is much more a mystery (did you see what I did there?!) than people might think. Importantly: pray as you can, not as you can’t! So adapt prayer until you find what “works” for you.

If you want to read more about the above particular style, here are some links:
Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Hermitage
University of Dayton
The Urban Monastery and here
Life of Christ Rosary and here
Ampleforth Abbey
Holy Countenance

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