Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Pray the Rosary

Mysteries Rosary
The center of this Rosary lists all of the mysteries of the rosary

The Etsy Rosary Guild is honoring October as the Month of the Rosary. In light of that, I would like very much to write a post explaining how to pray the rosary. It is my hope that non-Catholics who read this will have a better understanding of the rosary and that Catholics my gain deeper insight into the prayers that mean so much to them.

The rosary is not a stagnant, archaic prayer which Catholics pray by rote because they are “supposed” to. Rather it is a dynamic, fluid prayer which brings spiritual life to the person who prays it with an open heart. It is a mediation which is capable of giving deep insights into the life of Our Lord and can deepen our relationship with Him. It is a prayer which evolves and grows to meet the needs of each subsequent generation while, at the same time, remaining anchored in the deepest of church traditions. The mysteries of the rosaries are as relevant to today's needs as they were when they first came into use.

Because the 20 mysteries are the focal point of the rosary, it is important to spend a little time speaking about them before getting into the “How to” of praying the rosary. As a convert to the Roman Catholic faith, I know many Protestants look askance at the rosary and praying to Mary as though it were bordering on idolatry. It isn’t. With the exception of the Apostle’s Creed, which even Protestants pray, and with the exception of the concluding prayer, all of the basic prayers and mysteries of the rosary are deeply rooted in scripture.

The 20 mysteries are broken down into 4 themes or groups consisting of 5 mysteries each. The common practice is to meditate on each of these mysteries, one at a time, while praying the corresponding decade of 10 Hail Marys. I am not going to share any of my insights into the mysteries of the rosary because several members of the Rosary Guild are going to write about the mysteries. Also, some members are going to write about how to pray the rosary contemplatively. Therefore, I am simply going to list the mysteries with the scriptures that they were taken from. This will give a good overview of the scriptural basis of praying the rosary.

The Joyful Mysteries

1. The Annunciation – Luke 1:26-35, 38
2. The Visitation – Luke 1:39-45, 56
3. The Nativity – Luke 2: 1, 3-20
4. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple – Luke 2:22-35
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple – Luke 2: 41-51

The Luminous Mysteries ~ The Mysteries of Light

1. The Baptism of Jesus – Matthew3:1-2, 5-6, 13-16a; Luke 3:21b-22
2. The Wedding at Cana - John 2:1-11
3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God – Matt 4:17; Matt 5:1-16
4. The Transfiguration – Luke 9:28-36
5. The Institution of the Eucharist – Luke 22:14-20

The Sorrowful Mysteries

1. The Agony of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane – Luke 22:39-36
2. The Scourging at the Pillar – John 19:1
3. The Crowning with Thorns – John 19:2; Mark 15:17-19
4. The Carrying of the Cross - John 19:16-17; Luke 23:26
5. The Crucifixion – Luke 23: 33-49

The Glorious Mysteries

1. The Resurrection – Luke 24:1-12
2. The Ascension – Luke 24:50-52; Mark 16:19
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit – Acts 2:1-13
4. The Assumption of Mary – Rev 12
5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Rev 12:1

The basic prayers of the rosary are the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer also known as the Pater Noster, the Hail Mary prayer also known as the Avé Maria, and the Doxology which many Protestant are familiar with. I have them listed here for people who may not be familiar with them.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of 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. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He will come again 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 the life everlasting.

The Lord’s Prayer also known as the Pater Noster

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Matt 6:9-13

The Hail Mary Prayer also known as the Avé Maria

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen.
The first part of the prayer: “Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you” comes from Luke 1:28, and is a quote of the greeting that the Angel Gabriel gave to Mary during the Annunciation. The next sentence: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”, quotes part of the greeting that Elizabeth gave to Mary and can be found in Luke 1:42. The rest of the prayer is simply a prayer of petition for Mary pray for us.


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without out end. Amen.

There are many other prayers that are traditionally recited as part of the rosary, but they are optional and do not comprise the basic structure of the rosary. One of those prayers is the prayer of Fatima

Prayer of Fatima
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell
And lead also souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.

Another prayer of the rosary is the "Salve Regina"
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary,
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The last prayer that most people pray is the “Memorare”

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Before beginning to pray the rosary, decide which of the 4 groups of Mysteries you wish to meditate on. Then it is common to pick the rosary up, hold the cross in your right hand and the rest of the rosary in your left hand. While making the sign of the cross, the person prays: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

The traditional form of praying the rosary is as follows:

· Recite the Apostle’s Creed
· Pray an “Our Father” on the first large bead
· Pray one “Hail Mary” on each of the following 3 beads. The first “Hail Mary is for an increase of Faith. The second “Hail Mary” is for an increase of hope. The third “Hail Mary” is for an increase of charity.
· Pray one “Doxology”.
· Pray one “Prayer of Fatima”

· Announce the first Mystery of the group you have chosen.
· Pray an “Our Father” on the next large bead
· Pray one “Hail Mary” on each of the next 10 beads
· Pray one “Doxology”
· Pray one “Prayer of Fatima”

· Announce the second mystery of the group you have chosen
· Pray an “Our Father” on the next large bead
· Pray one “Hail Mary” on each of the next 10 beads.
· Pray one “Doxology”
· Pray one “Prayer of Fatima
· Follow this format until you have finished with the 5th mystery of the group and finished with the last 10 “Hail Mary” prayers.

· Finish with one last recitation of the “Doxology” and one last recitation of the “Prayer of Fatima”

After the last “Prayer of Fatima” most people pray the “Salve Regina” and the “Memorare”


Sarah said...

Thank you. I have been looking for a fairly short and simple explanation on how to pray the rosary and this is the best one I have seen so far. Time to print this out and stick it in my purse!

Laude Arts and Gifts said...

Thank you so much for letting me know my article was helpful to you. That means a lot to me.