HOW TO PRAY THE ROSARY

The intention of the Holy Rosary is to echo throughout eternity God’s choice from all time: to join all of humanity to Himself through Mary. He initiated this plan by blessing her to be the Mother of His Son, and the vessel through which mankind would receive all the graces of salvation in Jesus Christ. And He continues to choose to have Mary serve Him in distributing His graces to the human race in her specific role as Mother and intercessor for all of our needs. 

The Most Holy Rosary is a powerful prayer tool for both public and private use. Some of the ways in which it can be utilized include, but are not limited to: an opening to our daily prayers, a time for the family to come together to pray, a meditation to prepare us for Holy Mass, or as a devotion at public gatherings throughout the year. 

The Holy Rosary is not exclusive of the very specific recommendations we are called to follow when it comes to the traditions we hold within the Holy Catholic Church. As with many other aspects of the practice of the Catholic faith, however, though there are particular guidelines for our conduct, there are no set rules or regulations. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way of praying the Rosary. Sometimes we get lost in the soothing rhythm, sometimes it is active meditation, sometimes it is filled with petitions for those He places on our hearts, and sometimes it may serve to help train our souls in various virtues, such as perseverance in overcoming distractions while praying. So whether we recite the words of the prayers vocally or mentally, use our imagination to assist in meditating on the Mysteries or pray without thoughts, follow the beads or simply hold them in our hands- it simply comes down to a matter of heart; it is a matter of our intentions to draw closer in our relationship with God. When embarking on this journey, essentially our goal is to allow God to guide us in prayer as we listen patiently to the Holy Spirit working within us. 

There is, however, one important point to remember regarding quantity and quality. So as not to lose its effectual power, the Holy Rosary is not about how many Hail Mary’s we “say,” but the way in which we pray each prayer from our hearts. It is not in a repetitious formula that graces are drawn down upon us, but rather in the prayer from the depths of our souls where we encounter and unite with the indwelling Most Holy Trinity. In a sense, we become divine by joining our hearts with the Most Holy Trinity in prayer Who is, of course, Our Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In essence, through this power of unity we transcend our humanity into the supernatural realm within us. 

Whatever struggles we may face when praying the Rosary (distractions, dryness, etc.), we should never walk away from this devotion feeling discouraged. In these times, simply focusing on the prayers themselves, and the glory they bring the Father can bear much spiritual fruit. 

Beyond its primary role of drawing us into a deeper and more personal relationship with God, the Holy Rosary brings us into an intimate communion with our Heavenly family. This includes Our Blessed Mother, the Angels, the Saints, friends and family that have gone home to Heaven and all of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. All of those whom we consider part of our Heavenly family we call upon to pray with us and for us. 

Before beginning this prayer, while holding the Rosary beads within our hands, it becomes significant to realize what Pope John Paul II points out in his apostolic letter, The Rosary of the Virgin Mary. Take note of the way the beads converge upon the Crucifix, which represents the beginning and end point of the Rosary’s prayers. The life and prayer of believers is always centered upon Christ. 


PART I: OPENING PRAYERS

1. Preparation 

After a “moment” of silence to attempt to quiet our minds and our souls, we start by making the Sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 


2. The Apostle's Creed 

Then recite the Apostle’s Creed on the Crucifix: 

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 thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Sprit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.


3. The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be

On the next bead we pray the Our Father:

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. 


On the next three beads we pray three Hail Mary's, asking the Blessed Mother to pray with us that we may increase in the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity:

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. 

On the next bead we offer praise to the Holy Trinity as we pray the Glory Be:

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. 


PART II: MEDITATING ON THE MYSTERIES 

4. Praying The Decades Of The Rosary

When we reach the next large bead, which is usually a medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we announce the first of the five Mysteries we will be meditating upon. General guidelines are used that indicate which set of Mysteries are to be prayed on a specific day:

Mondays and Saturdays: Joyful Mysteries 

Tuesdays and Fridays: Sorrowful Mysteries 

Wednesdays and Sundays: Glorious Mysteries 

Thursdays: Luminous Mysteries

We pause before each Mystery, asking the intercession of Our Blessed Mother to help us to contemplate and understand the sacred Mystery at hand, and to help us bear the fruit of this Mystery. 

At the start of each decade, we read a passage from the Sacred Scriptures to help provide a foundation for the events we are about to contemplate. Since it is the inspired Word of God, meditating on the Scriptures opens our hearts to hearing God to speak to us in His language. After absorbing this passage, we pause to prepare our minds to reflect on that decade’s particular Mystery from Christ’s life, and the virtues displayed by Jesus and Mary. It is extremely important to become still and focus one’s attention on the Mystery at hand, for listening and meditation are nourished by silence. During this time we can use our minds to visualize the scene that has just been depicted in the Scriptural account. We investigate the details of the setting with our five senses and reflectively place ourselves in the scene that is being contemplated. We can use our imaginations to observe and interact with those present in the Mystery, or even attempt to experience what it must have been like to walk in their shoes. This time of silence and preparation is significant because it directly impacts the degree to which we truly encounter the living Christ while praying the Holy Rosary. It can help us to listen to how He is speaking to our hearts and meeting us where we are at in our daily lives as we mystically partake in these Mysteries of His life. It also helps to prevent this devotion from becoming a formula of prayers, which we mechanically repeat. 

We begin meditating upon the first Mystery by praying 1 Our Father on the next large bead, and continue contemplating the Mystery while reciting 10 Hail Mary’s on the small beads. We finish this Mystery by praising the Most Holy Trinity in praying 1 Glory Be before the next large bead. This sequence of praying 1-Our Father, 10- Hail Mary’s, and 1- Glory Be comprise a complete Decade of the rosary. 

After each decade the Fátima Prayer should also be prayed immediately following the Glory Be.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in need of Thy mercy.
 
We continue meditating upon each mystery by praying a Decade exactly in the same sequence. 


PART III: CONCLUDING PRAYERS

After the completion of five mysteries (5 decades), the following is customarily said on the large bead or medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

5. Hail 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. 

(Verse) Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. 

(Response) That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


6. Rosary Prayer, The Memorare, and the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

The following powerful prayers should also be said immediately following the Hail Holy Queen: 

The Rosary Prayer 

(Verse) Let us pray,

(Response) O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation. Grant, we beseech Thee, that while meditating on these Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen. 

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 thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother. To thee do we come, before thee do we kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in thy clemency, hear and answer them. Amen. 


Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel 

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. 


7. Intentions 

We now offer to Our Father the intentions of Our Blessed Mother: 

These include prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father in Rome, and for Peace (see Prayer Intentions of the Rosary).

Now is also the time we pray with the Blessed Mother for our own personal intentions, which the Lord places on our heart.

On the next bead we pray one Our Father in honor of Our Blessed Mother's Intentions.

On the following three beads we pray three Hail Mary’s in thanksgiving to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

On the last bead we pray one Glory Be.


8. Conclusion

It is optional to conclude with a Litany of the Saints on the Crucifix: 

Here we ask those Saints close to our hearts to remember to “pray for us”. Example: Our Lady of the Passion- Pray for us, St. Joseph - Pray for us, St. Michael the Archangel- Pray for us, St. Teresa of Avila- Pray for us, St. Francis de Sales- Pray for us, St. Jude- Pray for us, St. Paul of the Cross- Pray for us, etc. Amen. 

After a “moment” of silence, we conclude by making the Sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

***If the Holy Rosary is prayed in a group, typically the leader will say the first part of the prayer and the bold type is the response offered by all who are gathered.

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