Home  >  University Mission & Ministry  >  Worship  >  Devotionals

Devotional Prayer & Other Catholic Traditions: 

Devotional prayer refers to the numerous forms of personalized prayer that have grown up outside, but complementary to, the liturgical prayer of the Church. These devotions include the rosary; the Stations of the Cross; pilgrimages to shrines in the Holy Land and Rome, Marian shrines, and those dedicated to saints; novenas; litanies; and similar expressions of faith. (United States Catechism for Adults, USCCB, 2006)


The Rosary

from Busted Halo (

What are the origins of the rosary?
Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers: 

Since the earliest days of the Church, people have used prayer beads or cords with knots in them to help them keep track of their prayers. (This practice is not limited to Catholicism, by the way; prayer beads are also found in religions such as Hinduism and Orthodox Christianity.) Christian monks used to pray the 150 psalms, and since lay people were not able to memorize 150 separate psalms, many began praying 150 Our Fathers. In the Middle Ages, a time when the "Hail Mary" prayer became widely known, it became common for people to pray 150 Hail Marys instead. This developed into the rosary as it is prayed now. There is an old tradition in the Church that Mary herself appeared to St. Dominic (1170-1221) and gave him the rosary to help as he preached against the Albigensian heresy, a heresy which denied the Incarnation of Christ.

When praying each decade of the rosary, Catholics meditate on key moments in the life of Christ, called "mysteries." by the late fifteenth century, the mysteries of the rosary looked almost exactly like the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries that we pray today. In 2002, the rosary was enriched by the addition of five new mysteries suggested by Pope John Paul II. These are called the Luminous mysteries and are a testament to the fact that the rosary continues to inspire prayer and new ways to engage with Christ.


Stations of the Cross

from Busted Halo (

What are the Stations of the Cross?

 Neela Kale Answers:

The Stations of the Cross (sometimes also called the “Way of the Cross” or Via Crucis, in Latin) are a traditional devotion tracing the events on the way to Christ’s crucifixion. The devotion has its roots in the practice of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, especially to sites along the way to the cross. In the fifteenth century, as it became difficult for Christians to visit Jerusalem, the Franciscans began to erect outdoor shrines in Europe to recall these holy places, and in later centuries the devotion took root throughout the entire Church.

Traditionally, there are fourteen stations:
Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus takes up his cross
Jesus falls the first time
Jesus meets his mother
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Jesus falls the second time
Jesus meets the weeping women of Jerusalem
Jesus falls the third time
Jesus is stripped of his garments
Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus is taken down from the cross
Jesus is laid in the tomb

Not all of these stations are found in scripture; they are based on extra-biblical traditions surrounding the passion of Christ. (In 1991 Pope John Paul II released a “Scriptural Way of the Cross” which closely follows the gospel accounts of the passion.) Traditional prayers that accompany this devotion allow us to meditate on the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross. It is often prayed on Fridays, especially during the season of Lent, sometimes accompanied by live actors portraying the events of the passion.


Feast Days & Marian Feast Days

How come Mary has so many feast days and different names? 

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers: 

Feast days (and solemnities and memorials) are days in the liturgical calendar where the Church highlights and honors an aspect of the Lord, of Mary, or of a particular saint. The Marian days usually fall into different categories. Some of them commemorate a particular event in Scripture, such as the Annunciation or the Visitation. Others highlight various apparitions, such as the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Fatima. Still others relate to dogmatic statements about Mary, such as the Solemnity of the Assumption, or the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Other Feast days are based on popular Marian devotions (Our Lady of the Rosary, etc.). Similarly, the many different titles of Mary acknowledge the breadth of her experiences and influence. Some of her titles relate to her life as the mother of Jesus (Theotokos, or "God-bearer," or Our Lady of Sorrows). Other titles are geographic, commemorating her apparitions in certain places (Our Lady of Lourdes, etc.) Some of her names relate to the Catholic belief that she continues to pray for us and four our needs (Advocate, Comforter of the Afflicted). There are also many names that center on imagery and symbolism (one very beautiful name is Star of the Sea, indicating that Mary can help us orient ourselves towards Christ). 


Feast of the Annunciation (Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord)


March 25 - This is the Feast of the Annunciation. This is the Feast day for the Sisters of Chairity of the Incarnate Word, The Founders of the University of the Incarnate Word. To learn more go to: 


Originally a feast of our Lord, but now celebrated as a Marian feast, the feast of the Annunciation dates back at least to the fifth century, and the date of the feast, which is determined by the date of Christmas, was set at March by the seventh century. 

The Annunciation, as much as or even more so than Christmas, represents Christ's Incarnation. When Mary signaled to Gabriel her acceptance of God's Will, Christ was conceived in her womb throuhg the power of the Holy Spirit. While most of the Fathers of the Church say that Mary's fiat was essential to God's plan of salvation, God foresaw Mary's acceptance of His Will from all eternity. 

The narrative of the Annunciation testifies powerfully to the truth of the Catholic tradition that Mary was indeed a virgin when Christ was conceived, but also that she intended to remain one perpetually. Mary's response to Gabriel - "How shall this be done, because I know not man?" (Luke 1:34) was universally interpreted by the Fathers of the Church as a statement of the Mary's resolution to remain a virgin forever.