How I learned to pray the Rosary

+JMJ+ There will be more Rosary art posts but today I want to write about a different aspect of the Rosary. I’ve written about why I began praying the Rosary and about my conversion (see links at the end of this post). This is the first post in a short series about how I learned to pray the Rosary. I remember thinking I would “never be able to learn all of those prayers” in those early days. But it didn’t take long at all because it was a lot simpler than I realized at first. I’m going to write about the Rosary and its prayers in a few posts so I can take a closer look at some things without loading down this one post with too much. For now here are some thoughts that helped me. Maybe they’ll help someone else, too.

You don’t have to use beads…but it helps

You really don’t have to have Rosary beads to pray the Rosary. It helps, but you can use your fingers or whatever helps you keep up with where you are in the prayers. I’ve had to do that a few times. Personally, I prefer using the beads. I like the way they feel and they do help me focus, because, let’s face it, our minds jump around a lot. No matter how interested we are in something, our minds always wander off. The beads are there to involve more of our senses so that the Rosary doesn’t become a mere intellectual exercise. It helps us learn to involve the whole person in our prayer and in our walk with Christ.

Because that’s what this whole thing is about: our walk with Christ. Christianity was called The Way. It’s what Mark calls it. Praying the Rosary and meditating on the life of Christ is a way of learning to walk through life as a Christian, a way of walking The Way. It’s a way of learning how to pray, what to pray for, how to respond to life’s joys and sorrows and everything in between.

You probably already know the basic prayers

You probably already know most of the basic prayers of the Rosary. But don’t worry if you don’t. There are many booklets, pamphlets, CDs, and videos on YouTube that will help you. You can also use the Rosary here on this blog. Over time you’ll remember more and more. You’ll also notice that the basic prayers occur in a pattern: One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, One Glory Be, for each Mystery. So just focus on those three prayers at first. 

The Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer)

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.

“Lord, teach us to pray.” This is what the Savior’s disciples asked him. Of course, any answer coming from him would be a perfect answer. His answer was what we call the “Our Father” or the “Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer is a perfect model of how we should pray and for what things we should pray, and in what order…The Lord really did answer the apostles’ request to teach them how to pray. The Our Father teaches us the goal of prayer, the means of prayer, and the obstacles to be overcome. Glory be to him for, as we conclude this prayer at holy Mass [and pray it during every Rosary], his is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever!

Catholic Answers, tract, The Our Father – The Lord’s Prayer.

The Hail Mary (the Ave Maria, the Angelic Salutation)

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.

This prayer came literally from heaven, as it was first pronounced for human ears by the Archangel Gabriel when he appeared to Our Lady to receive her consent to be the mother of our Savior. Along with the Lord’s Prayer, with which it is usually prayed, it comes not as a mere human composition but as a prayer composed by God for our help and instruction.

Catholic Answers, tract, Hail Mary.

Glory Be (the Doxology)

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 “Glory Be” is far and away the most common Christian prayer after the Our Father and the Hail Mary. This prayer is called a doxology, from the Greek word meaning an expression of glory or praise. Christians usually use it as a way of summing up all their feelings and intentions at the end of some longer prayer. In a sense, the glory of God is the purpose and the content of all our prayers and actions, and so we bring them all together as our act of glorifying God in the Blessed Trinity.

Catholic Answers, tract, Glory Be (Doxology).

You can add the Apostles’ Creed later. It’s fairly brief and you’ll have it memorized before you know it.

You don’t have to pray the whole thing at once

You don’t have to pray the whole Rosary, not all at once. (You don’t have to pray it at all, but I’m assuming you want to if you’re reading this.) There are Fifteen Mysteries of the traditional Rosary (Five Joyful, Five Sorrowful, and Five Glorious), or twenty if you use the Five Luminous Mysteries given to us by Pope St. John Paul II. All Twenty Mysteries are included in the Rosary on the blog so you can pray it the way you like. Start out with one Mystery at a time, add more after a week or so. There’s no rush and it’s not a competition with others. (That reminds me: I’ve tried to pray with Speed Pray-ers before and I don’t recommend it. Oy! More about that in a later post.)

Just like riding a bike, well, like learning to

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re praying at first. Remember when you were first learning to ride a bike? You had to pay attention to every little thing. Only later, after you got used to it, after it was familiar to you, did you begin to enjoy riding. You could finally relax and look around and enjoy the experience. For me learning to pray the Rosary was just like that. My focus was on the exterior mechanics of saying things and keeping my place, and not so much on the interior praying and not at all on meditating. There was so much to remember, it was all so new.

But once I started using the little blue Pray the Rosary illustrated booklet, and bought a copy of the Rosary CD by Dana and Fr. Kevin Scallon, things began to change for me. I used to play that CD in the car on the way to and from work, every day. I played it at home and everywhere I went. And a lady at the parish where I was received helped me, too. She would sit beside me and let me pray with her. Several people prayed the Rosary out loud before Mass (I still think that’s one of the best ways to prepare for Mass) and I was thrilled to be able to join them. I also remember being positively terrified when my friend suggested that I should lead the Rosary. Later at a different parish I got over my terror and led the Rosary many times. Now I enjoy it, praying and leading. I thought I would never learn it all but I did. And you can, too. I’ll link to this stuff in the notes below.

That’s all for now. I’ll be writing more about this in the days and weeks to come. Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. May we spend this Easter season growing in holiness and virtue, praying the Rosary, and, by His grace, becoming united with Christ, becoming the saints we were meant to be. God bless you, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+

Join me on Fridays for the Rosary Project Live on Twitter at 8pm ET, 7pm CT, to cultivate a culture of Light, Life, Love, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, for the conversion of sinners, and for the salvation of souls. There’s also a Rosary on the blog you can use anytime.

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” — Padre Pio

Notes and Links

  • Read more about what led me to pray the Rosary before I was even really a Catholic.
  • Read more about my conversion in general here and here
  • The Our Father – The Lord’s Prayer, a tract from Catholic Answers.
  • Hail Mary, a tract from Catholic Answers
  • Glory Be (Doxology), a tract from Catholic Answers.
  • Rosary Project: Pray the Rosary right here on the blog. All Twenty Mysteries with galleries of images for each Mystery. Available 24/7/365 for free.
  • Rosary Project Live: Pray the Rosary with me live on Twitter each Friday at 7pm CDT, 8pm EDT. I begin the thread about fifteen minutes early with some psalms or something to help prepare us to pray. Meet up on my Twitter profile page.
  • Pray the Rosary blue booklet, by Fr. Patrick Peyton: Paperback, Kindle.
  • Rosary CD, by Dana and Fr. Kevin Scallon (Amazon affiliate link, see Full Disclosure below).

Subscribe via email: While you’re here, subscribe to get new blog posts, updates on projects like the ebooks, giveaways, and who knows what else. And thank you very much!

Image: St Dominic Receives the Rosary from the Virgin Mary, stained glass in Carlow Cathedral, via Wikimedia Commons, photo by Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE. Rosary photos via Pixabay, public domain. Madonna of the Rosary, by Lorenzo Lotto, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain, showing all fifteen of the traditional Mysteries of the Rosary.

Full disclosure: When you make any purchase through my Amazon affiliate links (or my general Amazon link) on this site, I may make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you. And thank you for your prayers and support.

Copyright: All original material on Catholic Heart and Mind is Copyright © 2009-2023 Lee Lancaster. All rights reserved. Read more.

Series Navigation
Annotated TOC for the Learn to Pray the Rosary series.
Annotated TOC for all series.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.