Introduction to the Rosary

Rosary on Bible

Not to sound cliché, but in light of “Pandemic Living” and all that comes with it — working from home, school online, economic uncertainty, health concerns, outdoor Mass or even live streaming Mass — things are definitely different for most families right now… and for the foreseeable future.

A priest once told me that, in the family, the mother is the heartbeat and the father is the source of strength and wisdom. If you want to know how a family is “getting on,” look no further than how mom and dad are getting on. Is the mom frazzled? Calm? Worried or anxious?

What about dad? Is he exhausted physically? Emotionally? Spiritually?

Parents’ emotions trickle down through the family and become the rhythm of daily life within the household. In our uncertain times, how can we heads of households provide the “reset” our families need when our normal rhythm is continuously being thrown off by the latest news?

Our Blessed Mother herself has provided the answer…

The Rosary is our most powerful spiritual weapon.

As we’re continually bombarded with discouraging words and images, the Rosary is a weapon we can use to combat discouragement, and focus our thoughts on the hope offered to us in Jesus Christ.

This powerful prayer includes five sets (decades) of ten Hail Marys, each introduced with an Our Father and concluded with the Glory Be. Before each decade we are given a moment in the life of Jesus Christ to focus our thoughts on.

This pandemic affords us the opportunity to gather for family prayer more often, to reset our rhythm, and to focus on what ultimately matters.

When we take time as a family to focus on key moments in the life of Jesus — his compassion, generosity, selflessness, forgiveness, patience — we’re showing our children and our families a better way. We are showing them the Way. The prayerful repetitions slow our minds and calm our spirits through familiar words, as we contemplate Christ’s birth, public ministry, passion, death, Resurrection, and triumph.

With each mystery, we see how these “pictures” of Jesus’ life can truly begin to shape our own:

 

·       Joyful Mysteries – Events surrounding Jesus’ birth

·       Luminous Mysteries – The Mysteries of Light, centered on Jesus’ public ministry

·       Sorrowful Mysteries – Details of Jesus’ passion and death

·       Glorious Mysteries – Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over death

Why the Rosary?

Around the year 1221, Mary appeared to Saint Dominic and told him that “Prayer and penance are the only way to win souls.” Mary disclosed, in her wisdom, that we grow in fellowship by praying for others — and by sharing our own needs, so that they may pray for us.

She was arming us for battle. Each and every warrior counts — and as we pass this knowledge along to our children, they too will be strengthened by our guidance, by our example, and by the mysteries of Jesus’ life.

Why turn to Mary in times of spiritual battle? Shouldn’t our focus be on God and His Son?

I think Edward Sri put it best in his book The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries. He explains that seeking Mary’s intercession is not disconnecting us from our Lord, but rather, tying us more closely together within God’s family. When a sibling speaks to his or her mother on behalf of a brother or sister, the father feels great pride in his children for responding to one another’s needs — he doesn’t feel left out of the equation.

Mary is the Mother of our spiritual family!

We aren’t so much praying to Mary, as we are asking her to pray for us, because she is the mother, the heartbeat. To honor her certainly doesn’t take away from our worship of God. As we appeal to Mary for help and guidance, we celebrate and recognize all of the wonderful things God has accomplished for us throughout salvation history.

In addition, if you pay attention to the words of the Hail Mary, you’ll see that the center of this prayer is actually “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” Our repetition of this prayer is a celebration of the mystery of God becoming man. We rejoice, along with all of heaven and earth, in awe of God’s great love for us.

Through Mary, we come to an even greater love of her Son, and a better understanding of the great sacrifice He has made on our behalf.

What are the prayers of the Rosary?

The Sign of the Cross

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

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.

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.

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst 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

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.

The Fatima Prayer

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

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 towards 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 promise 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 meditating upon these mysteries of the 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.

 

When praying the Rosary, you have the choice to simply acknowledge each mystery with a moment of silent contemplation, or, as often happens when praying in groups, someone may choose to go into brief detail regarding each mystery. There are countless books, pamphlets, apps, and other online resources where you can explore the different approaches to the mysteries of the Rosary.

Be on the lookout for future blog posts, where we’ll highlight some of our favorite resources.

Here is a very brief summation of the twenty mysteries:

 

On Mondays and Saturdays we pray the Joyful Mysteries:

1st Joyful Mystery ~ The Annunciation

2nd Joyful Mystery ~ The Visitation

3rd Joyful Mystery ~ The Nativity

4th Joyful Mystery ~ The Presentation of Jesus to Simeon

5th Joyful Mystery ~ The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

 

We pray the Luminous Mysteries, on Thursdays:

1st Luminous Mystery ~ The Baptism of Jesus

2nd Luminous Mystery ~ The Wedding at Cana

3rd Luminous Mystery ~ The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God

4th Luminous Mystery ~ The Transfiguration

5th Luminous Mystery ~ The Institution of the Holy Eucharist

 

We pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays:

1st Sorrowful Mystery ~ The Agony in the Garden

2nd Sorrowful Mystery ~ The Scourging at the Pillar

3rd Sorrowful Mystery ~ The Crowning with Thorns

4th Sorrowful Mystery ~ The Carrying of the Cross

5th Sorrowful Mystery ~ The Crucifixion

 

And we pray the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays and Sundays:

1st Glorious Mystery ~ The Resurrection

2nd Glorious Mystery ~ The Ascension

3rd Glorious Mystery ~ The Descent of the Holy Spirit

4th Glorious Mystery ~ The Assumption

5th Glorious Mystery ~ The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

What to do now

Tonight, I encourage you to begin exploring the Rosary.

Perhaps you already have a rosary in your home. If you do, pick it up. Dust it off, and feel the beads as they move through your fingers. Simply moving the beads through your fingers can bring a sense of immediate peace. If you’re already familiar with the prayers, close your eyes and try to recite them quietly to yourself.

Relax. Don’t pressure on yourself.

For now, just enjoy the rhythm of the prayers. As you say them, try to clear your mind and just focus on the words you’re saying.

I recommend finding a quiet spot for this activity — maybe a comfy chair, after the kids have gone to bed.

Before you know it, you’ll be feeling so comfortable with these prayers that you may find yourself turning to them automatically in times of turmoil or struggle.

The goal is for this practice to become so instinctual, that your whole family begins to do the same.

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