“There is no problem… that cannot be solved by praying the Rosary” Sr Lucia of Fatima
The Rosary is a powerful prayer. It settles our hearts and minds. It reaches deep down into our souls and puts us at ease, creating a peace that is rare and beautiful. To put it simply: It is a heavenly prayer that just works. The word ‘Rosary’ originates from Latin and means a garland of roses (the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Blessed Virgin Mary). The rosary is a devotion in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is at its core a Christocentric prayer, meaning Jesus is at its centre. It is a beautiful combination of vocal prayer and meditation that centres upon the greatest Gospel mysteries in the life of Jesus and secondarily in the life of the Lord’s mother, Mary. It is also an incarnational prayer that serves to incorporate both body and soul into spiritual communion with Our Lord and our heavenly Mother. When one refers to the Rosary, it is usually understood to mean the five decades. Please have a look at the How to Pray the Rosary section if you are learning how to say this prayer.
HOW TO PRAY THE ROSARY
The Structure of the Rosary
The rosary has 59 beads, a crucifix, and a medal, with certain prayers for each of these different pieces. The prayers of the rosary can be divided into three categories:
Once you have read over the prayers of the rosary, please consider reviewing the following inspiring prayers:
The introductory prayers set the stage for the rosary. They prepare you for deeper reflection when you pray the decades.
Either before or after the introductory prayers, think of any needs or struggles in your life and bring them to Mary. She cares for you like a loving mother, and wants to take your needs to Jesus. If you are praying with a group, you can say your intentions out loud so the rest of the group can pray for them as well.
Step 1: While holding the crucifix, make the Sign of the Cross and pray the Apostles’ Creed
Step 2: On the first large bead, pray the Our Father (the prayer Jesus taught us), typically for the intentions of the Pope.
Step 3: On the next three small beads, pray the Hail Mary (a prayer to Mary, based on words of Scripture). These Hail Marys are often prayed for an increase in faith, hope, and love.
Step 4: In the space after the third Hail Mary, pray the Glory Be (a simple expression of praise and belief in the Holy Trinity). One you’ve prayed these introductory prayers, you are ready to begin the first decade.
There are five decades, or groups of 10 small beads, that make up the main portion of the rosary. Between each decade is one large bead set off by itself.
There are twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, and these are divided into the five Joyful Mysteries (said on Monday and Saturday), the five Luminous Mysteries (said on Thursday), the five Sorrowful Mysteries (said on Tuesday and Friday), and the five Glorious Mysteries (said on Wednesday and Sunday).
You’ll find that the prayers for each decade are repeated many times. This gives you an opportunity to reflect on the words, which are deeply rooted in Scripture and Christian tradition. They are powerful and filled with meaning.
As you pray the decades, you can also meditate on the mysteries of the rosary and learn valuable lessons from the lives of Jesus and Mary.
Step 5: On the next large bead, pray the Our Father.
Step 6: On each small bead in the decade, pray the Hail Mary.
Step 7: In the space after the 10th bead, pray the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (a prayer Mary revealed to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917).
Repeat steps 5–7 for the remaining four decades. Pray an Our Father on the large bead and a Hail Mary on each of the 10 small beads, followed by the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer.
The closing prayers are prayed on the medal, and they end the rosary. With these prayers we ask God and Mary to watch over us, guide us, and help us become a-better-version-of-ourselves.
Step 8: Pray the Hail, Holy Queen (a prayer asking for Mary’s help) and the Rosary Prayer (a prayer of hope that our lives will be changed by the rosary).
Step 9: While holding the crucifix, make the Sign of the Cross.
As you practice praying the rosary, these prayers will become second nature to you. There’s a rhythm to the rosary. As you enter into that rhythm, you’ll begin to think less about the words and more about the meaning of the words. That’s when you begin to unlock the power of the rosary.
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.
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.
Pray for us O holy mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
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 by meditating upon 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.
A POWERFUL PRAYER
The Marian Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal in 1917 constitute one of the most important events of the last century. This apparition was formally approved by Church authorities. It is different from all other approved Marian apparitions because of a particular miracle that occurred, known as the ‘Miracle of the Sun’. It was as though Heaven itself was asserting the authenticity of the apparitions on 13th October 1917, when over 70,000 people witnessed this public miracle (many of whom were hardened sceptics of the apparitions).
The apparitions at Fatima were to three children – Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia – and they were essentially Rosary apparitions. In these apparitions, Mary appeared to the little children six times (from May to October). Each time she appeared, she held a Rosary. In the previous century, Mary had shown her delight in the Rosary by praying parts of it with St Bernadette during the Lourdes apparitions, but at Fatima, the Blessed Mother’s witness to the importance of the Rosary took the form of maternal command. In each of the Fatima apparitions, Mary said that the Rosary should be prayed daily for peace in the world and an end to war. The young visionary, St Jacinta, was once asked what Our Lady emphasised the most in her apparitions, and she responded that it was the daily Rosary.
Another significant aspect of the Fatima apparitions came during the last apparition on 13th October 1917, when Our Lady described herself as ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’. The importance and power of the Rosary for our times was confirmed again by Sister Lucia during her last public interview in 1957 to Fr Fuentes:
‘As for the Holy Rosary, in these last times in which we are living, the Blessed Virgin has given a new efficacy to the praying of the Holy Rosary. This is in such a way that there is no problem that cannot be resolved by praying the Rosary, no matter how difficult it is – be it temporal or above all spiritual – in the spiritual life of each of us or the lives of our families, be they our families in the world or Religious Communities, or even in the lives of peoples and nations.’ (Sr Lucia, 1957)
AN IRISH PRAYER
In the famous book, Ireland’s Loyalty to Mary, the author powerfully charts the role of the Rosary in Irish life and the strong devotion to the Rosary of the Irish people. The following quote speaks evocatively:
‘The music of the Rosary has been heard in Ireland for the last seven hundred years, and its splendid triumphs shine out from the pages of our history as brightly as the stars of God. It was the Rosary of Mary that kept the flag of the Faith flying proudly in the face of every battle, and in the teeth of every breeze. It was the Rosary of Mary that won the victory over all the powers of hell during terrible periods in which Godless persecution raged. It was the Rosary of Mary that gave our forefathers grace to live like saints, and die like martyrs, when there was no altar round which they could cluster to receive the Body of the Lord. It was the Rosary of Mary in our beautiful language too, that preserved and perpetuated the Faith when churches were plundered, when the altars were overturned, when the tabernacles were rifled, when the lights were extinguished, when the Mass was proscribed and a price placed on the head of the poor hunted priest and friar.” (Ireland’s Loyalty to Mary, Fr Augustine OFM CAP)
The Irish people have clung unto the Rosary in times of persecution, times of impoverishment and hardship. One telling account of the tremendous love that our forefathers had for the Rosary came during penal times and was written by the hand of the man who was sent to persecute and kill Catholics in Ireland: Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was an English military leader bearing the title ‘Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland’. During his military campaign in Ireland, he sought to rid the country of Catholics and made the following report back to his superiors in England:
‘ All is not well with Ireland yet. You gave us the money, you gave us the guns. But let me tell you that every house in Ireland is a house of prayer, and when I bring these fanatical Irish before the muzzles of my guns, they hold up in their hands a string of beads, and they never surrender.’