Catholics pray the Rosary because it’s a powerful prayer to God, through His mother, Mary.
Praying the Rosary has been a tradition in the Church for a long time. It’s a bit fuzzy who made it more formal; some say it was St. Dominic and others say it wasn’t. What really matters is that this prayer is super powerful.
Throughout Church history, many popes and saints have highly recommended that we pray the Rosary. St. Louis de Montfort said: 'When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.’
The Rosary begins with the recitation of the Apostle’s Creed, an Our Father, three Hail Mary’s and a Glory Be. Then there are five decades which each begin and end with an Our Father and Glory Be, and have ten Hail Mary’s in between. When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the events in Jesus’ life. There are the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. A step-by-step guide through the prayers is below. Or download a one sheet PDF here.
In various apparitions, Mary has appeared holding a set of Rosary Beads and has asked that we continue to pray this prayer. She always leads us to her Son, and presents our needs before Him. Prayer is about developing our relationship with God, and loving Him more, so it makes sense to get to know Him through the events of the life of Christ that we meditate on during the rosary. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
‘Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilisation 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 or the rosary. 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’ (CCC 2708).
Rosaries are not just decorations. Battles have been won because people prayed the rosary! There have been hearts converted, and impossible intentions answered too. Your life can only be blessed if you start praying the rosary.
How to pray the Rosary
The Rosary prayer actually consists of a series of smaller prayers, all of which take about twenty minutes to pray. First, you hold the rosary and begin with thesign of the cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the HolySpirit. Amen.
Next, holding the crucifix of the rosary, you pray the ancientApostles’ Creed, which is a summary of our baptismal promises: 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.
Holding the first bead above the crucifix, you then pray theOur Father, which is the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray: 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.
For each of the three beads that follow, you pray theHail Mary, which is derived, in part, from the greetings of the angel Gabriel and Mary’s relative Elizabeth in Scripture (Luke 1:28, 42). (One thing we might pray for during this introductory triplet is an increase in faith, hope, and love.) Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; 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 our death. Amen.
Next, you pray theGlory Be, which gives praise to the three persons of our one God: 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 end. Amen.
Next, we move into the heart of the Rosary—the five “decades.” These are groupings of ten beads separated by an individual bead. Each of these decades corresponds to a “mystery” in the lives of Christ and his mother. When you pray the Rosary, you pray it following one of four categories of mysteries: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries, and the Luminous Mysteries.
TheJoyful Mysteries, which are traditionally prayed on Mondays,Saturdays, and, during the season of Advent, on Sundays, are: 1. The Annunciation 2. The Visitation 3. The Nativity 4. The Presentation in the Temple 5. The Finding in the Temple
TheSorrowful Mysteries, which are traditionally prayed onTuesdays, Fridays, and, during the season of Lent, on Sundays, are: 1. The Agony in the Garden 2. The Scourging at the Pillar 3. The Crowning with Thorns 4. The Carrying of the Cross 5. The Crucifixion and Death
TheGlorious Mysteries, which are traditionally prayed on Wednesdays and, outside the seasons of Advent and Lent, on Sundays, are: 1. The Resurrection 2. The Ascension 3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit 4. The Assumption 5. The Coronation of Mary
TheLuminous Mysteries, which are traditionally prayed on Thursdays, are: 1. The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan 2. The Wedding Feast at Cana 3. Jesus’ Proclamation of the Coming of the Kingdom of God 4. The Transfiguration 5. The Institution of the Eucharist
On the bead before the first decade, youannounce the mystery, perhaps followed by a brief reflection or reading from Scripture.
Next, you pray anOur Father. Then, for each of the ten beads of the decade, you say aHail Mary, contemplating the first mystery as you pray.
After you pray the tenth Hail Mary, you pray theGlory Be, followed by the prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary in her apparition at Fatima: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those who have most need of thy mercy.
You repeat this cycle of prayers—announcement of the mystery, Our Father, ten Hail Marys, Glory Be, and the Fatima Prayer—for each of the five decades, meditating on the corresponding mystery as you move through each decade.
After completing the five decades, you pray theHail, Holy Queen: 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.
You then recite aconcluding prayer: Let us pray. O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Finally, you conclude in precisely the same way you started—with the sign of the cross.
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