I remember the first time I prayed an entire Rosary. I was twelve-and-a-half years old, and I had no idea what I was doing.
My baby sister was just born with a slew of medical issues that no one had anticipated. My grandparents came to stay with my other siblings and me while Mom and Dad were at the hospital with her.
When they arrived, they immediately sat down in the family room with my younger sister, my brother, and myself. They handed each of us a brand new Rosary.
“It’s time to pray,” they said. “The Blessed Mother will help us.”
So we prayed. Right there in the family room, before they even unloaded their suitcases.
My siblings and I knew the individual prayers of the Rosary. The Our Father (or Lord’s Prayer), the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be were part of our bedtime routines. And sure, we’d seen Rosaries before and even owned a couple ourselves. But as we all sat together united in prayer for the baby sister we had yet to meet, I knew that this prayer was unlike any I ever prayed before.
What is the Rosary, Anyway?
The Rosary might look like a fancy necklace, but it is so much more.
For centuries, people of faith have used everything from paths of stones to knotted ropes to strings of beads to keep track of their prayers. And that’s exactly what the Rosary does for us!
Made up of 59 beads, Rosaries also usually have a crucifix and a Marian medal. It is a sacramental that helps us keep track of the number of prayers we have said as we meditate on the lives of Christ and His mother, Mary.
How Does the Rosary Deepen Our Prayer Life?
How does praying the Hail Mary over 50 times help us grow closer to Jesus? Because knowing, loving, and communing with Him is the ultimate goal of prayer, right?
I think Pope St. John Paul II said it best:
Although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to be conformed ever more completely to Christ.
At the end of His life, Jesus gave us His Mother to be our Mother, too. It’s her deepest desire that we know her Son more and more. In our meditation on and recitation of the Rosary, we ask our Blessed Mother to bring our intentions and our very selves closer to the Heart of Jesus. And we all know that Jesus listens to His mother, right? Just ask the guests of the Wedding of Cana!
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How to Pray the Rosary
How do we pray the Rosary? Let’s take it step-by-step and bead-by-bead.
- Make the Sign of the Cross.
- While holding the crucifix, recite the Apostles’ Creed.
- On the first bead, recite the Our Father.
- On the next three beads, recite the Hail Mary (one per bead).
- In the space after the third Hail Mary bead, recite the Glory Be.
- On the next single bead, begin the first full decade. You will announce the first Mystery of the day (more on that below) and prayerfully consider it. Then, pray the Our Father.
- On the next cluster of 10 beads (or decade), pray one Hail Mary per bead.
- In the space after that decade, pray a Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer.
- Continue in this pattern for the next four decades as you move counter-clockwise around the Rosary. Announce and contemplate each Mystery, pray an Our Father, pray 10 Hail Marys, then finish the decade with a Glory Be.
- After all 5 decades have been said, conclude by praying the Hail, Holy Queen.
- Close with the Sign of the Cross.
The Mysteries of the Rosary
On each day of the week, we meditate on different Mysteries of the Rosary. The Mysteries are highlights of the events in the life of Jesus and His Church.
The Joyful Mysteries
We pray the Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Saturdays.
- The Annunciation
- The Visitation
- The Nativity of the Lord
- The Presentation in the Temple
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
The Luminous Mysteries
We pray the Luminous Mysteries on Thursdays.
- The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
- The Wedding Feast at Cana
- The Proclamation of the Kingdom
- The Transfiguration
- The Institution of the Eucharist
The Sorrowful Mysteries
We pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays.
- The Agony in the Garden
- The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Crowning with Thorns
- The Carrying of the Cross
- The Crucifixion
The Glorious Mysteries
We pray the Glorious Mysteries on Sundays and Wednesdays.
- The Resurrection
- The Ascension
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit
- The Assumption
- The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth
To dive deeper into the spirituality and meaning of each Mystery, look here.
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Cultivating the Habit of Praying the Rosary
Making a habit of saying that many prayers each day may seem overwhelming if you aren’t used to it! Just to be clear, praying the Rosary every day is not a requirement of the Catholic faithful. It is an act of devotion.
But anyone who has prayed the Rosary consistently for any length of time will regale you with testimonies about its power and the graces that accompany it.
If you would like to begin to incorporate the Rosary into your daily prayer, here are some helpful tips, tricks, and resources:
- Many Hail Marys at a Time // The Rosary is prayed here, live, every day at 7:45 a.m. eastern time.
- Find a Rosary podcast, playlist, or app // I like this recording by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
- Start small // Begin by just saying one decade a day (an Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be). Then, work your way up to pray an entire Rosary!
- Don’t go it alone // Find a prayer partner and commit to praying together. This could be your spouse, your children, or a friend! Encourage one another in your journey with Christ.
Growing in Love for the Rosary
I won’t say that my relationship with the Rosary has been fully committed since the day my grandparents placed the purple beads into my hands. There have been weeks, even months, that have passed without me picking up my Rosary and praying with it.
But Mother Mary is always there, always waiting with love to carry us to her Son. Pray with her, love her, and let her be a mother to you, too, through this beautiful prayer.
Your heart will be glad you did.
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