The Rosary is a form of meditative prayer that uses a prayer beads. The most common form of rosary was developed by the Dominican religious order, and consists of five “decades” of ten beads each, separated by some space with one bead in between. At the beginning of the rosary there is a short strand with a crucifix at the end, one large bead, three small beads, and another large bead.
Why pray the Rosary?
The Rosary is an important aid to meditative prayer. As we pray the decades of the Rosary, we on each decade we focus on one of the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary, and also any personal special intentions that we may have. Through the Rosary, in a mystical way we participate in the life of Mary, whose entire life was focused on her Son Jesus Christ. As we often say in the Catholic Church about veneration of Mary – “She always brings us to Christ.”
While it is true that the Rosary is not a form of extemporaneous “just talking to God” prayer, it is equally true that we don't always feel like extemporaneous prayer. Sometimes we simply want to be with God. The Bible says that we often don't know what to pray for, but the Spirit itself will pray for us, through “groanings too deep for words.” The Rosary is a great door into that kind of prayer which is as valid and holy as any other form of prayer and accessible to everyone. You don't need a doctorate in theology to figure out the Rosary.
An Aid to Meditative prayer.
Thus, the Rosary is much more than the mindless repetition of a certain number prayers as though they were magical incantations to weave a spell. The Rosary is an aid to meditative prayer. The Catholic Church is a very physical religion. We involve all of our senses, and that includes touch. Many Catholics carry a Rosary in their pocket, and simply touching the Rosary, in a time of spiritual need, can bring spiritual comfort and a reminder that God is always with us, especially when the going gets rough.
The Rosary as a family prayer.
One of the more important uses of the Rosary is as a family prayer. The family that prays together, stays together, and the Rosary is a good way to introduce our children to the importance of prayer. In this and all other uses of the Rosary, we should never pray the Rosary as a simple recitation. It must always be approached with focus, respect, reverence, and purity of intention.
The Mysteries of the Rosary
Traditionally, there were 15 Mysteries of the Rosary – three groups of five – the Sorrowful, Joyful, and Glorious Mysteries. Most often, one set of five mysteries was prayed so the typical Rosary prayer was five decades. Some religious orders, however, use Rosaries with 15 decades.
In the 20th century, Saint Pope John Paul added a fourth set – the Luminous Mysteries.
Each of the sets of Mysteries focuses on a different period in the Life of Christ, and each mystery relates to Christ. Each mystery has a “fruit” which is the positive expression one hopes to gain from the prayer.Joyful Mysteries
- The Annunciation. Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
- The Visitation. Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbors
- The Nativity. Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty (poor in spirit), Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor
- The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: Purity, Obedience
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: True Wisdom and True Conversion, Piety, Joy of Finding Jesus
- The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit, the Healer.
- The Wedding at Cana. Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary. The understanding of the ability to manifest-through faith.
- Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in God (Call of Conversion to Messiah)
- The Transfiguration. Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness
- The Institution of the Eucharist. Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration
- The Agony in the Garden. Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin, Uniformity with the will of God
- The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit of the Mystery: Mortification, Purity
- The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit of the Mystery: Contempt of the world, Courage
- The Carrying of the Cross. Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
- The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord. Fruit of the Mystery: Salvation, Forgiveness
- The Resurrection. Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
- The Ascension. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope and desire for ascension to Heaven
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Mystery: Holy Wisdom to know the truth and share with everyone, Divine Charity, Worship of the Holy Spirit
- The Assumption of Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death and True Devotion towards Mary
- The Coronation of the Virgin. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance and Crown of Glory, Trust in Mary's Intercession
How to pray the Rosary.
Make the Sign of the Cross and while holding the crucifix of the Rosary, recite the Apostle's Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen
Pray the Lord's Prayer on the first large bead. Pray three Hail Mary's on the next three beads. Pray the Glory Be on the next large bead.
For each decade thereafter, at the beginning of the decade announce the Rosary. Pray the Lord's Prayer on the large bead, ten Hail Mary's on the small beads, and then the Glory be to the Father at the end of each decade.
At the end of the Rosary, we pray the Hail Holy Queen prayer and make the Sign of the Cross.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you we cry, the children of Eve;
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this land of exile.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
your eyes of mercy toward us;
lead us home at the end
and show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus:
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.