The Rosary is a meditative prayer based on Scripture. When we pray the Rosary, we ask Mary to pray for us as we seek to grow closer to her son Jesus by contemplating His life, death, and resurrection.
The Rosary is a prayer that always accompanies me; it is also the prayer of the ordinary people and the saints … it is a prayer from my heart.Pope Francis
What is the Rosary?
In the early thirteenth century, St. Dominic was preaching the Gospel to combat various heresies in Europe. He founded the Order of the Dominicans in 1215 to grow this community spreading the Good News. However, he found himself frustrated with the heresy occurring despite their efforts, and he called on the Blessed Mother to guide him. Tradition holds that Mary appeared to him in 1221 and revealed the Rosary to him, encouraging him to share the prayer with others.
The Rosary devotion is comprised of several prayers, which are all rooted in Scripture. Under “How to Pray: The Rosary,” you can read about the traditional order of these prayers in the Rosary devotion. People often pray with rosary beads to guide their time in prayer, though they aren’t necessary to pray the devotion. However, if you don’t have a rosary, consider inspiring wonder with the Bishop Sheen X Hallow Rosary.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty …”
We begin the Rosary with the Apostle’s Creed. Traditionally a Catholic prayer, you might recognize it from Mass. Each line comes from Scripture but from different books, including the Gospels, 1 Peter, 1 Corinthians, Acts, and more.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
“Hail Mary, full of grace …”
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.St. John Paul II
The Hail Mary prayer is the heart of the Rosary. We pray 10 Hail Mary’s within each of the five decades – totaling 50 Hail Mary prayers at the end of your devotion. This prayer, in which we ask Mary for her intercession, is rooted in Scripture. The first line comes from the first chapter of Luke, when the angel of the Lord announced Christ’s coming to Mary.
“Glory Be to the Father …”
The Glory Be is often referred to as the doxology, a word that comes from Greek, meaning an expression of praise or glory. This prayer is quite common and straightforward — we pray for God to be glorified.
Each of the five decades of the Rosary highlights a mystery from the life of Jesus. There are four sets of mysteries, each containing five pivotal moments from the life of Jesus — including the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Glorious mysteries. When praying the Rosary, we enter into one set of mysteries at a time, walking with Mary and Jesus as we meditate on the depths of God’s love for us. The Church traditionally prays certain mysteries on certain days of the week, as follows:
- Monday: Joyful
- Tuesday: Sorrowful
- Wednesday: Glorious
- Thursday: Luminous
- Friday: Sorrowful
- Saturday: Joyful
- Sunday: Glorious
Joyful mysteries (Monday, Saturday)
The Joyful mysteries invite us to enter into the wonder of Jesus coming to earth as a baby. We see through Mary’s eyes the incredible story unfold – the angel appear (The Annunciation), her cousin Elizabeth’s reaction (The Visitation), the birth of her son (The Nativity), and the incredible events that point to who this child is and what he will do (The Presentation and Finding in the Temple). We are invited to do as Mary did and “ reflecting on them in [our] heart[s]” (Luke 2:19).
Sorrowful mysteries (Tuesday, Friday)
The Sorrowful mysteries help us relive the death of Jesus. We not only remember it, but we also enter into it – we sit beside Jesus in the garden before he is arrested (The Agony in the Garden). We see The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross … and then we stand at the foot of that cross beside Mary through her son’s Crucifixion and Death. Through meditating on these events, we attempt to encounter the suffering Jesus endured for us truly. We feel this pain and loss even more deeply as we imagine seeing it happen through the eyes of his mother.
Luminous mysteries (Thursday)
Through the Luminous mysteries, we meditate on occasions of Jesus’ life on earth: his Baptism, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist. St. John Paull II wrote, “In the Luminous mysteries, apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background … Yet the role she assumed at Cana accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, also echoed by John the Baptist, is placed upon Mary’s lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you.”
Glorious mysteries (Wednesday, Sunday)
In the Glorious mysteries, we meditate on the awe-inspiring, hard-to-wrap-your-brain-around miracles that took place after Jesus’ death. We experience the joy of the risen Christ, imagining ourselves as Mary or the first disciples (The Resurrection). As we pray, we see Jesus’ Ascension into heaven and send the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The last two mysteries are the only two that are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture but rather come from hundreds of years of tradition based on passages from Revelation and Song of Songs. In these last two mysteries, we celebrate that where Mary – who Jesus has given us to be our mother – goes, we too hope to go one day (The Assumption and Coronation of Mary).
Why do we pray the Rosary?
Think of the Rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sand castles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the Rosary.Edward Sri, “Why Pray the Rosary?”
Just as Dr. Sri explains, the Rosary is a prayer tool for people of all ages, enduring different things, and who might have different levels of familiarity with the devotion. The reason behind the Rosary is fairly simple — Mary was present for the joyful, sorrowful, luminous, and glorious moments of Christ’s life. So, we pray with Mary through the life of Christ to grow closer to Him. We might pray with Mary for a special intention, or we might need a moment of solace with the Blessed Mother and her Son, Jesus. Any reason to pray the Rosary is a beautiful reason.
When do we pray the Rosary?
We can pray the Rosary at any time of the day or night. While some people prefer to pray with beads, this isn’t necessary to spend time with Mary and Jesus. The full Rosary usually takes about 15 – 25 minutes, but remember, you can always pray one decade (an Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, a Glory Be) if that’s all the time you have.
If you’re looking to add the Rosary to your prayer routine intentionally, consider the following times for prayer:
- If you take daily walks, consider adding the Rosary. You could pray it with Hallow, or carry your rosary beads as you walk.
- Pray the Rosary on your commute; listen and pray along as you start or end your day at work.
- Pray as you prepare dinner.
- Pray as you get ready for the day or prepare to fall asleep.
How to Pray: the Rosary
Begin with the Sign of the Cross.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Holding the crucifix, pray the Apostles’ 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; 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.
On the first bead, say an 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 each of the next three beads, say a Hail Mary.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Pray a Glory Be.
Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Pray the first decade.
- Announce the mystery
- Say an Our Father on the large bead
- On the 10 small beads of each decade, say 10 Hail Marys while meditating on the mystery
- After each decade, say a Glory be
- Then, a prayer Mary taught the children at Fatima (often called the Fatima Prayer):
- 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 your mercy. Amen
Repeat this pattern for the remaining decades.
Our Father > 10 Hail Marys > Glory Be > O my Jesus
After the 5 decades, conclude with the Hail Holy Queen.
Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your 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.
Close with 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.
End with the Sign of the Cross.
You can pray the traditional daily Rosaries, the Scriptural Rosary, and the Chant Rosary in Hallow. You can also pray with Bishop Barron’s Rosary and hear his introduction and tutorial to this devotion.
We look forward to praying the Rosary with you on Hallow.