A constant characteristic of the pre-Vatican II Popes was to abhor novelty and to safeguard tradition, including traditional devotions.
Thus, if one could go back in time and ask any of the pre-Vatican II Popes why they never added "new mysteries" to the Rosary, the answer is easy to presume. "Because," the pre-conciliar Pope would say, "if I add 5 new mysteries, I will have to add 5 new decades. If I add five new decades, then the Rosary can no longer be called 'Our Lady's Psalter'. Now Catholic tradition and Our Blessed Mother referred to the Rosary as Her 'Psalter', because the 150 Hail Mary's of the 15-decade Rosary correspond to the 150 Psalms of David. It would be audacious of us to add 5 decades. This would be the decimation of the entire concept of Mary's 'Psalter', a term hallowed by centuries of usage, a term that explains the origin and essence of the Rosary, a term used by the Queen of Heaven Herself. Further, if we make this radical change to the Rosary, then what is to prevent more radical changes in the future?"
The entire history of the Rosary is bound up with the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament, otherwise known as the Psalter of David. From the dawn of Catholic history, monks and hermits prayed these Psalms as part of their daily liturgical life.
Saint Benedict, in his Holy Rule, explains that the monks of the desert recited the 150 Psalms every day. Saint Benedict arranged the Psalms for his monks so that all 150 would be recited in one week. This became the Divine Office (Breviary) that priests and religious recited every day until the post-conciliar aggiornamento revolutionized both Breviary and Mass.
Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that the Psalter of David, composed as it is of one hundred and fifty Psalms, is divided into three equal parts of fifty Psalms each. These three equal parts represent figuratively the three stages in which the faithful find themselves: the state of penance, the state of justice, the state of glory. Likewise, explains Father Anthony Fuerst, "the Rosary of Mary is divided into three parts of fifty Hail Mary's each in order to express fully the phrases of the life of the faithful: penance, justice and glory."
Heaven itself declared the immeasurable value of this Psalter. In 1214, Our Blessed Mother told Saint Dominic to "preach My Psalter" in order to rekindle faith, to convert sinners and to crush stubborn heresy. Saint Louis de Montfort tells the story in his magnificent work, The Secret of the Rosary.
"Saint Dominic," writes Saint Louis, "seeing that the gravity of the peoples' sin was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew to a forest near Toulouse where he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights. During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma."
Our Lady then appeared to him, accompanied by three angels. She said, "Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"Saint Dominic asked Her to tell him. Our Lady responded:
"I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach My Psalter."
At Fatima, the Mother of God did not ask for a radically updated Rosary. Through the children, she told us to recite daily "a third of the Rosary," and warned of dire consequences if Her requests were not fulfilled. Thanks to the latest update, however, every new book that recounts these words of Our Lady of Fatima will require a footnote to explain that when She said "a third of the Rosary," She meant 5 decades, since a third of the new twenty-decade Rosary is 6.66 decades.
It is puzzling that the post-Vatican II Popes constantly give our Lady something different from what She requests. Our Lady asked that the Third Secret be revealed in 1960. Pope John XXIII refused its release, as did his immediate successor, Pope Paul VI. In 1964, during the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI sent a Golden Rose to Fatima, something other than what She asked.
Obviously, Our Lady of Fatima's call for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for its conversion is more urgent than ever.
Despite this urgency, the Pope John Paul II's 13,500-word Rosarium Virginis Mariae treats Fatima as practically non-existent. This is one of the most baffling aspects of his Letter.Fatima, along with Lourdes, is mentioned only once in passing. The Pope took the time to explain each prayer of the Rosary: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc., but he makes no mention of the Fatima aspiration that Our Lady asked to be included after each decade: "Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need."
In the Apostolic Letter, this modest addition to the Rosary ordered by Our Lady of Fatima is ignored, only to give center-stage to John Paul's radical alteration. The Letter also contains no specific mention of Our Lady's "Immaculate Heart", nor any word of the Five First Saturdays of Reparation. It's almost as if Fatima never took place.
In the end this is one of the many reasons that we will adhere to the 15-decade Rosary of Saint Dominic, and not adopt the new 20-decade novelty. Nor will we teach the Rosary to our children through the pathetic medium of World Youth Day antics. Our Blessed Mother at Fatima taught the children to pray the Rosary as is, and to pray it with maturity, reverence and attention. We will teach our children to do the same. Deo gratias , Holy Mary , ora pro nobis