"Great is the mystery of the faith! This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, celebrate it, and live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2558 emphasis mine).
To pray the rosary is to enter into these mysteries of our faith with our mind, body and spirit. We can pray the rosary at any time, driving in the car, waiting in line, when we are by ourselves or with others, or as a family. You can pray it in the chapel, before you get up in the morning, or before you go to sleep. You can pray it while exercising -- praying two sets of rosaries, which consists in contemplating 10 mysteries of our Lord's Jesus life -- will make for about a 40 minute walk. Correspondingly, praying one set of mysteries -- 5 events of Jesus' events would be about a 20 minute walk, etc. If prayer is “a surge of the heart … a simple look turned toward heaven” as St. Therese of Lisieux said, then it is prayer to look at beautiful artwork and praise God for the beauty He inspired. Reading only one word or line of Scripture is sometimes all that is needed to make our “hearts burn within us” (cf. Lk 24:32). So, if we can't find a twenty minute chunk of time to pray one rosary -- we can always find time to pray one word or line or contemplate one mystery -- which will only take a few seconds to a few minutes.
Praying a rosary consists in praying four sets of mysteries:
The Joyful mysteries recall Jesus’ incarnation, birth and childhood; the Luminous recall Jesus’ public ministry;
the Sorrowful recall Jesus’ passion and death, and the
Glorious speak of Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, the birth of the Church and Mary being raised to heaven.
Each set of mysteries includes five events which signify that part of Jesus’ life. Then, each event is meditated on while praying 10 Hail Marys; thus it is often spoken of as a decade.
Even one prayer prayed with the heart draws us closer to God! Yet, prayer, as we all know, doesn’t always feel good and we don’t always experience God’s presence -- sometimes our prayers just seem dry and lifeless. Yet, persevering in prayer even when we don’t feel God’s presence is perhaps the most beautiful prayer, for then we are choosing to pray for God alone, and not for the gifts and graces of consolation that he bestows on us.
Prayers of the Rosary
Each prayer of the rosary is powerful and contains in itself boundless grace and a limitless source of reflection. Many of them have come from heaven. They provide a foundation of prayer on and through which we meditate on the mysteries of Jesus.
The Sign of the Cross – calls to mind both Jesus’ sacrificial offering and the faith we have in the Blessed Trinity, Who surrounds us and protects us as we sign ourselves in this holy way.
The Apostle’s Creed – is a summary of our faith. "Let the Creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in your faith." St. Augustine
The Lord’s Prayer – “is the most perfect of prayers” – for the words we say are words given by Jesus, Himself, when the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. It is said that the words of the Our Father contain in itself every prayer and praise to God. It also revealed to us that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who fashioned us out of dust, is also Our Father! We can call God our “Father” because Jesus has revealed it and because the Spirit of the Son makes him known to us and grants us a participation in the relationship of Jesus and the Father … by Baptism, he incorporates us into the Body of Christ; through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, [making] us other “Christs” (cf. CCC 2780, 2782, 3332).
In the Hail Mary, we recite again the Archangel Gabriel’s words to Mary, remembering Mary’s “Yes” which brought about the greatest event in all of history – the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity – in which Jesus, the most holy Son of God, became flesh, taking on our human nature in order to become “like us in all things but sin” (cf. Heb 4:15). When Mary brings us Jesus, we, like Elizabeth, cry out in the fullness of the Holy Spirit saying “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb;” and add our request “Holy Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of death.” When we ask Mary to pray for us, that’s exactly what takes place! She prays and intercedes for us each time we ask her – drawing close to us now and at the hour of our death!
The Glory Be – is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving – recalling the Glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit at all times.
The Fatima Prayer – This prayer was given to us by Our Blessed Mother herself. After Mary revealed to the children of Fatima the horrors of hell. She said that to save sinners, God wants to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She said by consecrating ourselves to her, by taking part in communions of reparations on the First Saturday of every month, and by praying and offering sacrifices for sinners, many souls would be saved. She concluded by saying, “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need” (July 13, 1917).
So, pray in order to encounter the true and living God as the Holy Spirit inspires you – whether it is one prayer, one mystery, one decade, one set of mysteries —or all four sets of mysteries.
Let us pray with our heart, mind and body, recalling the great things God has done for us!
The Mysteries of the Rosary
Below are some Scriptural suggestions to use for meditations.
Since all of Scripture proclaims Christ, many other Scripture verses can speak to you and help you contemplate the mysteries of our redemption.
The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary
Prayed on Mondays and Saturdays
1. The Annunciation -
“The Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin named Mary.
He went and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean. The angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favor. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.'
Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’
'The Holy Spirit will come upon you,’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her six month for nothing is impossible to God.'
’I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’
And the Angel left her (cf. Luke 1: 26-38, The Jerusalem Bible).
2. The Visitation -
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed God’s word to you would be fulfilled.'” (cf. Lk 1: 39-45).
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
4. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple -
Mary and Joseph present Jesus to the temple, “as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord" (Luke 2:23).
"Do you not know you are a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?" (Cor 6:19).
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple -
The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary
“Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” (Luke 2: 41-49).
Traditionally Prayed on Thursdays
1. The Baptism of Jesus -
Jesus appeared at the river Jordan asking his cousin John to baptize him. John was confused. This is Jesus, the one whom he foretold, the one whom he is not worthy to carry his sandals. Jesus said, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15).
2. Wedding at Cana -
"Do whatever He tells you" Now there were six stone water jars... each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, 'Fill the jars with water.' So they filled them to the brim. 'Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.' Jesus did this as the beginning of his sins... and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him"(cf. Jn 2:5-11).
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
4. Transfiguration -
“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone” (Mt 17: 1-8).
5. Institution of the Eucharist -
“’Do this in remembrance of me’... For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (1 Cor 11:24, 26).
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary
Traditionally Prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays
1. The Agony in the Garden -
“’My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.’ He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will’”(Mk 14: 34-36).
“He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground” (Lk 22:44).
2. The Scourging at the Pillar -
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged” (Jn 19:1).
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:3, 6).
3. The Crowning with Thorns -
“The soldiers led Jesus away into the praetorium, at the same time they assembled the whole cohort. They dressed him royal purple, then wove a crown of thorns and put it on him and to salute him, ‘All hail King of the Jews!’ Continually striking Jesus on the head with reed and spitting on him and pretending to pay him homage” (Mark 15:16-20).
4. Carrying the Cross -
“The LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all” (Is 53:6).
“They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (Jn 19:17).
5. The Crucifixion -
“They crucified Jesus, and with him two others...
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’ When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (Jn 19: 18, 26-28, 30).
The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary
Traditionally Prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays
1. The Resurrection -
"Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?'
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,'Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!'
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni,' which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, 'Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
Mary went and announced to the disciples,'I have seen the Lord,' and then reported what he had told her" (Jn 20: -18).
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28: 18-20).
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mk 15-19).
“As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight … suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1: 9-11).
3. Descent of the Holy Spirit -
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2: 1-4).
4. The Assumption -
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name” (Lk 1: 46-49).
5. The Coronation -
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1).
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let him who hears answer, ‘Come!’ Let him who is thirsty come forward; let all who desire it accept the gift of life-giving water” (Rev 22:17).
This is a companion piece to my previous article: The Truth of the Rosary - Is it Just a String of Beads and a Superstitious Practice that Worships Mary?
Copyright Janet Moore 10-13-2014