How to Pray the Rosary

The Rosary Prayers are powerful and efficacious in seeking Christ and as weapons against evil. The very power of the words themselves can lead those who feel weak in their prayer life toward a deeper relationship with Jesus, through his Blessed Mother (who always and only points the way to Him), by creating a general mood, and an attitude and posture of prayer, through which their open spirits can learn from the Holy Spirit.

The Rosary is a prayer taken directly from Holy Scripture, with the first part of the Hail Mary taken from the words of the Archangel Gabriel, who called Mary "Full of Grace," and the second part from the lips of Mary's cousin Elizabeth, who exclaimed, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!" The Holy Catholic Rosary is the life and ministry of Jesus, given to us by the Virgin Mary herself for meditation and prayer in an orderly, reverential manner, whereby we learn who Jesus is.

The Rosary IS not a mantra, nor a good luck charm, nor a magic spell, or to be worn as ornamentation.  To pray the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sweet chain linking us to God!

The complete Rosary consists of twenty decades divided into four sets of Mysteries said on specific days, each containing 5 decades: The Joyful, the Luminous, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious, which comprise the entire Rosary prayer. It is permissible to pray one set of Mysteries per day, consisting of five decades, or once around the rosary. Praying the 5 Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Saturdays, the 5 Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the 5 Glorious on Wednesdays and Sundays is a traditional way to recite, with the addition of the 5 Luminous Mysteries recited on Thursdays.

We begin the Rosary by blessing ourselves with the crucifix and saying the "Apostles' Creed," and then following the pendant beads above the crucifix,  say the "Our Father,"  three "Hail Mary" prayers, and one "Glory be to the Father."  We then meditate on the mysteries, say one "Our Father" and then ten "Hail Mary prayers" which correspond to the large (separate) bead and ten smaller beads, respectively, in each decade. Each decade is concluded with "Glory Be" (and optional Fatima prayer). At the end of the Rosary, say the "Hail, Holy Queen."

"The Rosary is my favorite prayer...The simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life."
John Paul II

"Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for Her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today."
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

"There is no problem, either material or moral, national or international, that cannot be solved effectively by the Rosary and by our sacrifices."
Sr. Lucia of Fatima


How to Pray using the Rosary

The rosary beads are arranged as follows:

At the bottom, or beginning, is the Crucifix, a representation of our Lord Jesus on the Cross, dying for us so that we are redeemed from sin and death. The crucifix is attached to the pendant, which contains five introductory beads, usually made with 2 large (or separate) and 3 small beads. The pendant is joined to the 5-decade loop with a centerpiece, which typically has a depiction of the Blessed Mother (or Jesus, the Holy Spirit, a Saint, or a rose, or a combination of these). The "loop" contains five decades of the rosary, so named because they consist of ten beads each.

Begin with the opening Preparatory Prayer as follows:

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
+In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.
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.

In some places it is now customary to recite what has come to be called the Fatima Prayer, which traces its beginning to Our Lady's appearance at Fatima in 1917:

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.

Take the crucifix in hand, and prayerfully 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;
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 whence He shall 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.

Next are the five pendant beads, and beginning with the first large bead, recite the prayer that Jesus taught us; "Our Father":

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name.
They 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.

On the next 3 small beads, recite once on each bead, to obtain the three theological gifts of faith, hope and love; "Hail Mary":

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.

And follow with the Gloria:

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 begin the decades, and these are prayed in groups of five decades. Each five decades is dedicated to what are called the Mysteries. There are four sets of Mysteries on which to meditate, The Joyful, the Luminous, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious, which comprise the entire Rosary prayer. It is permissible to pray one set of Mysteries per day, consisting of five decades. Praying the Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Saturdays, the Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Glorious on Wednesdays and Sundays is a traditional way to recite, with the addition of the Luminous recited on Thursdays.

The Joyful Mysteries:

(1) The Annunciation: The Angel Gabriel declares God's will for Mary to become the Mother of Jesus, and Mary humbly and amazedly accepts that Salvation will enter the world through her body.

(2) The Visitation: Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who carries John the Baptist in her womb, who leaps for joy at the sound of Mary's voice. We see a testament that within the wombs of all women live children with very present individual souls, present before their birth.

(3) The Birth of Jesus: Salvation entered the world in suffering, lived it in suffering and finished it in suffering. Suffering is the one and only thing that ALL human beings share in the world, and God chose to both share it with us, and to sanctify it by attaching it to God himself. Suffering is no longer empty and meaningless, but is purposed for the Salvation of the world.

(4) The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: Simeon proclaims the coming of the Lord. What do his ancient eyes see?

(5) The Finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple: Jesus says He is about His Father's work. He has always know who He is, and yet he submits in obedience to His earthly Parent and Guardian.

The Luminous Mysteries:

(1) Jesus' Baptism in the Jordan: The sky is violenlty rent, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus. God thunders "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased!

(2) Jesus' First Miracle at the Wedding of Cana: Jesus does His mother's bidding, and performs His first Miracle at her request, which she makes in sympathy for the humiliation of the wedding party. Do we suppose that if He listened to her then, that He later stopped honoring her requests for those humiliated and hurting in the world?

(3) Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom: The Kingdom of God is at hand. Not always in the future, but at hand this very instant, and then, and always.

(4) The Transfiguration: Jesus is revealed to Peter, James and John, with Moses the Law and Elijah the Prophet, Christ glorified above them all.

(5) The Institution of the Eucharist: This is My Body. This is My Blood. Jesus said it...why do so many not believe it?

The Sorrowful Mysteries:

(1) The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus prays to have the cup of suffering and death pass from him, but prays for his Father's will.

(2) The Scourging of Jesus: Jesus is cruelly flogged, the flesh is torn from His back.

(3) The Crowning with Thorns: A cruel mockery, and an irony none of His torturers know.

(4) Jesus Carries His Cross to Calvary: Falling three times under the weight of the cross, looking deeply and silently into the eyes of His mother...

(5) Jesus Dies on the Cross: He commends his soul to God, after giving us His mother as our own Mother

The Glorious Mysteries:

(1) The Resurrection of Jesus: Why do you look for Him among the dead? He is risen!

(2) The Ascension into Heaven Jesus returns to the Father, to come again as He left, in a cloud of glory!

(3) The Descent of the Holy Spirit: In the upper room, after 50 days, a sound like a rushing wind, and flames on the brows of the disciples.

(4) The Assumption of Mary into Heaven Jesus gives the reward to His Mother that His entire Church will later receive.

(5) The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and crowned with 12 stars.

On last large bead of the pendant, announce the First Mystery, then begin with the prayer that Jesus taught, the "Our Father...".  On each of the ten beads prayerfully recite the "Hail Mary..." At the end of the first decade, recite "Glory be to the Father....," and the Fatima Prayer, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins...."  (Note that the Gloria and Fatima Prayers fall on the space between the decade and the next mystery bead).  Repeat on the next four decades, announcing the next mystery at the start of each.

As you reach the centerpiece at the bottom of the rosary leading to the Crucifix again, recite to Mary the "Hail, Holy Queen" prayer:

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! our light, our sweetness, 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.
+In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Included with the gracious permission of my friend and colleague, 
Roberta Eicher, of Mary's Prayers Rosaries .


Related Links:


History of the Rosary

A beautiful Scriptural Rosary

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