Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'd like to know the Catholic teaching or opinion on rosary similarities with eastern religion prayers like chanting mantra.

I checked something about chanting mantra and it uses the same way of focusing on every word and even the way how it sounds.

share|improve this question
2  
    
no, my question is different! I'm not asking if if it's a vain repetition. I'm asking what the Catholics say about the similarities and how it is different! –  Grasper Aug 7 at 13:48
1  
That's exactly what the linked question asks without bringing up eastern religious prayers. The accepted answer will probably help you out too. –  LCIII Aug 7 at 13:53
2  
@Grasper: Don't fret. Nobody's closing your question as a duplicate. LCIII just mentioned the other question because it is similar, and might be of additional interest to you or other visitors. –  Flimzy Aug 7 at 14:03
1  
@Grasper To avoid confusion and to elicit a pointed answer, please define mantra. –  FMS Aug 7 at 21:32

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I agree with Matt Gutting, and I would add that the direction of focus is an important difference. Disclaimer: I am answering from the Catholic perspective here, and my knowledge of other religions is not extensive.

Edit, in response to people asking for a source.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2708 reads: Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina [meditative reading of Sacred Scripture] or the rosary[emphasis added]. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him[emphasis added]. (516, 2678)

The Rosary is meant to focus on God. When a Catholic is "meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary," he or she is thinking deeply about and objective truth that exists outside of his or her own mind. The goal of this exercise is not the change of one's own mental state, but rather furthered knowledge of and love for God. ("Spiritual Awareness" is not synonymous with this goal, because Catholics understand spirits to be either the Holy Spirit, or angelic, or demonic. Thus, a general ability to perceive and receive influence from spirits or a sense of "being spiritual" is regarded as a liability or a vulnerability, because demonic spirits could potential appear disguised as God or angels.) Edit, thanks to Matt for a great comment: "Spiritual Awareness" could mean the condition, not of being aware of many spirits, but of being aware of the condition of one's own soul. But awareness of the condition of one's own soul is also not a goal of Christian prayer. 1 Cor 4:3 says "...I do not even pass judgment on myself" and Christ's constant exhortations in the Gospels to "remain vigilant" lead to the teaching that we do not necessarily know, nor do we seek to know, the exact condition of our own soul. We should examine our conscience, and repent promptly of any sin, but self-awareness gained of long introspection is not a goal of the Christian life.

For a Catholic, peace of mind is incidental, not essential, to the practice of meditating on the Mysteries. For example, a lack of inner peace, a sense of distraction, or a sense of dryness or distaste are not regarded as flaws in the meditative technique, but are rather regarded as an invitation by God to continue praying, and to gain more merit from it for having persevered through a lack of interior consolation. So there is a secondary difference: That in the Catholic Rosary, interior mental trials are to be endured (though willful distraction should be avoided), while I believe that mantras are meant to combat directly such interior disquiet. A prolonged period of spiritual desolation in prayer is regarded as an ordinary part of the spiritual life, and is not considered a consequence of the proficiency in meditation of the person who experiences it. (See this article from the online Catholic Encyclopedia on the states or ways of the spiritual life:

"In the works of St. John of the Cross these purifications are called nights, and he divides them into two classes, the night of the senses and the night of the spirits. In the state of beginners the soul is often favored by God with what are called "sensible consolations" because they have their beginning and are felt chiefly in the senses or sensible faculties. They consist in sensible devotion and a feeling of fervour arising from the consideration of God's goodness vividly represented to the mind and heart; or, from external aids, such as the ceremonies of the Church. *These consolations are often withdrawn, and a state of desolation ensues, and then the passive purification of the senses begins.* [emphasis added]"
share|improve this answer
    
I would say that "spiritual awareness" is not necessarily "awareness of spirits", but perhaps "awareness of one's own spiritual state". Perhaps the answer could be updated to allow for that possibility? –  Matt Gutting Aug 7 at 20:54
    
@magistermurphy Answers are greatly enhanced by citing and/or linking to references. –  FMS Aug 7 at 21:09
    
This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Aug 8 at 2:32
    
You're right, of course. I was writing from memory. Please give me a day or two to track down references. –  magistermurphy Aug 8 at 11:15
    
I hope these sources will answer your questions. Please comment again if you think there is more need for clarification. –  magistermurphy Aug 8 at 12:13

According to Merriam-Webster, a mantra is

a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating

So I suppose that one might consider a Hail Mary or the other prayers used in the Rosary as a sort of mantra. Whether one would really want to depends on your view of meditation and meditative prayer.

Merriam-Webster's Concise Encyclopedia entry for mantra states:

Repetition of a mantra can induce a trancelike state and can lead the participant to a higher level of spiritual awareness.

That's not the Catholic intention when engaged in meditative prayer. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops' document on How to Pray the Rosary states:

The repetition in the Rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ's spirit dwells.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church further adds in paragraph 2723:

Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.

And in paragraph 2705:

The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.

In other words, this meditative prayer is not intended to lead one into a trance or semi-hypnotic state, though I suppose one could argue that it's intended to produce a "higher level of spiritual awareness". Instead, it's intended to help one focus on a spiritual saying, event, or person, and allow God to show us how we can apply the spiritual meaning contained therein to our own lives.

In a loose sense, then, one could say that the Hail Mary as used in the Rosary is a sort of mantra, but it's not intended to be used for the same purpose that a mantra such as om mani padme om is. There are similarities, and again differences.

share|improve this answer
    
"higher level of spiritual awareness" this may just be opening channels to demonic influences. –  FMS Aug 7 at 19:11
    
In a loose sense, then, one could say that the Hail Mary as used in the Rosary is a sort of mantra I may have pointed this out in another of your answers. It seems the answers appeal to both sided ... it is either a mantra or not ... –  FMS Aug 7 at 21:12
    
Depends on how specifically you define "mantra". If a mantra is something repeated for the purposes of meditation, then yes, the Hail Mary is a mantra. If a mantra is something intended to induce a trancelike state and a higher spiritual awareness, then no, the Hail Mary is not a mantra. –  Matt Gutting Aug 7 at 21:21
1  
(I will also leave a comment for the Grasper) perhaps mantra should be defined first before the question is answered to avoid confusion. –  FMS Aug 7 at 21:31
    
If the question asks for similarities, and I believe there are also differences, I believe my answer should provide both. –  Matt Gutting Aug 7 at 21:57

In Shamanism | New Advent mantras are incantations.

Reciting the Holy Rosary is praying, which is raising one's mind and heart to God [cf. Penny Catechism, 141], therefore, they are diametrically opposed.


From What is a Mantra?, mantras don’t have particular meanings ― they are simply 'vibrations of consciousness', therefore, there isn't any intersection between praying the rosary, and chanting a mantra. There is no analogy - even remotely - between the two.


The question hasn't defined what a mantra is, therefore, there cannot be any [let alone meaningful] comparison between praying the rosary, and chanting mantras. That would be a difference to begin with.

share|improve this answer
    
In Shamanism, that does seem to be the case - assuming that New Advent is correct about that; I'm trying to find a corroborating source. In New Advent's description of Jainism, however, a mantra does seem to be something much more like a prayer. Not precisely the same, but more like. –  Matt Gutting Aug 8 at 0:27
    
@MattGutting New Advent search: mantras only under Shamanism are mantras defined. Let the research continue ... –  FMS Aug 8 at 1:17
    
From here What is a Mantra? the decription here is consistent with the definition under Shamanism: According to the Vedic tradition, the ancient sages were able to hear the subtle vibrations produced by everything in nature―the sounds of the wind, [...] –  FMS Aug 8 at 1:24

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.