Alright, so you know how to pray the rosary, it starts with the Creed and you have ten Hail Marys in a decade, and you close with a nice Hail Holy Queen. But really, is that all it takes to pray the rosary?
The short answer is “no”, however I can’t just leave it with that, so let me elaborate.
By your lonesome
When you pray the rosary silently by yourself it is okay to whisper the words and even trail off in the quality of audibility. You may even pray completely silent, making no sound. That is completely fine, however a certain reverence must always be present. The rosary, that is in your hand, is a weapon; and, when you are praying with it, give it the same amount of respect that you would a sharp blade, because unlike a gun there is no safety switch. In addition, like a sharp blade – let us say it is a sword – there is a proper way to hold it. Hold it proud, with respect, hold it with the intent and full knowledge that every time your fingers move from one bead to the next the devil is screaming in terror and rage, giving into the deadly sin of wrath. Know that you are playing an active role in the spiritual battle for good, and for the souls of others (not just your own soul). Sit up, kneel, stand straight and be focused, meditate on the life of Christ. Meditate on the life that Christ wants you to live with Him, on how you must unite your will, your sufferings, your joys, your worries, and your thanks with the all-powerful Triune God.
With Others (Matthew 18:20 For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”)
Now, this is a different matter than praying by yourself. Yes, the rosary that you hold in your hand in the midst of a group is the same as the rosary you prayed so diligently by yourself. It is still a sword. However, now you are one of the commanders. You are a leader, riding your horse into battle, for you have rallied a small platoon of soldiers and are now all together charging full speed at the enemy. Naturally, this is why there is no excuse for inaudibility, trailing off or losing focus of the battle at hand. You, whether you are leading the rosary, responding or taking turns from leading and responding, must pray the rosary like the battle cry it is. This is no time to whisper, this is a time to declare! “Hail Mary, full of Grace!” – “Our Father, who art in heaven!” Speak these truths like a king giving a speech and like St. Ambrose when he brought the Emperor Theodosius to his knees (Righteous story of the Emperor’s repentance after he had committed a terrible sin). Pray with the confidence of knowing that all the angels in heaven are backing you up and that Christ, Himself, is there present. That should strain from you nothing less than a clear and audible proclamation of the mysteries of Christ’s life.
How to Pray the Rosary (Just in case you forgot)
The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part of the Hail Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and––added by Pope John Paul II in 2002––the Luminous.
The repetition in the Rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s spirit dwells. The Rosary can be said privately or with a group.
- The Five Joyful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays of Advent:
- The Annunciation
- The Visitation
- The Nativity
- The Presentation in the Temple
- The Finding in the Temple
- The Five Sorrowful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Tuesday, Friday, and Sundays of Lent:
- The Agony in the Garden
- The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Crowning with Thorns
- The Carrying of the Cross
- The Crucifixion and Death
- The Five Glorious Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Wednesday and Sundays outside of Lent and Advent:
- The Resurrection
- The Ascension
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit
- The Assumption
- The Coronation of Mary
- The Five Luminous Mysteries are traditionally prayed on Thursdays:
- The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
- The Wedding Feast at Cana
- Jesus’ Proclamation of the Coming of the Kingdom of God
- The Transfiguration
- The Institution of the Eucharist
Praying the Rosary
Familiarize yourself and/or your group with the prayers of the rosary.
- Make the Sign of the Cross.
- Holding the Crucifix, say the Apostles’ Creed.
- On the first bead, say an Our Father.
- Say three Hail Marys on each of the next three beads.
- Say the Glory Be
- For each of the five decades, announce the Mystery, then say the Our Father.While fingering each of the ten beads of the decade, next say ten Hail Marys while meditating on the Mystery. Then say a Glory Be. (After finishing each decade, some say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: “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.”)
- After saying the five decades, say the “Hail, Holy Queen, followed by this dialogue and prayer:
- V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
- R. 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 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.
- Real Men Pray the Rosary (http://realmenpraytherosary.org/)
- How to Pray the Rosary (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/devotionals/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary.cfm)