+JMJ+ Last week we began looking at how to pray the Rosary, not why but how. We looked at the three basic prayers that make up the body of the Rosary. Well, maybe the bones of it. Oh, let me not get tangled up right here in the intro or we’ll be here all day. We’re here to take a look around and explore in a stress-free way, after all. The basic prayers are the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. True, we only took a first and exceedingly brief glance at them in the previous post, but this is not the time or place to go deeper–because we could dive deep with just those prayers or any one of them, and perhaps we will. Later. Right now we’re just getting familiar with the lay of the land, getting a feel for things. And remember, there is a Rosary right here on the blog that you can use while you read this or anytime you like.
Now you’ve probably seen the Rosary booklets in stores or in your parish. Somebody left one in a pew or in that back of the church. And you’ve probably seen the images in those booklets or online showing what bead is for what. I’ll include one here anyway.
For now you can get hold of an inexpensive rosary (also probably available at your parish gift shop or local Catholic bookstore) and start getting familiar with the way they feel in your hand, and start saying the basic prayers on the proper beads. Don’t worry about doing everything just right or all at once or more than one mystery per sitting at first. Better to build up gradually than to feel like it’s too much and give up before you even give yourself a chance.
The first thing you probably noticed when you held your rosary beads for the first time was the crucifix. Maybe your rosary has a cross instead. That’s what you’ll hold when you say the first of the opening prayers later. (There are several things we’ll be adding to our rosary later, but not right now.) We’re going to go right on to the Our Father bead that’s the last one on the pendant (the short strand). Say the Our Father.
Then move on to the first set of ten beads. Sometimes they’re smaller than the Our Father beads, sometimes they’re all the same size. These ten beads are the Hail Mary beads. Say one Hail Mary on each of the ten beads.
Say one Glory Be at the end of the ten Hail Mary beads.
Woohoo! Look at you! You’ve finished one decade of the Rosary! Time for a cuppa, don’t you think?
Once you feel comfortable with those basics, we can add some more. There are prayer intentions (“For an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity”), the Mysteries (“First Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation”) and more that you can begin to add. Let your eyes wander on the Rosary pages and don’t fret about trying to remember all of these things. With time and practice you simply will remember more and more, agonizing and memorizing not necessary.
There are many various ways to pray the Rosary and none of them are “the right” way, they are all just different ways. Reading about the development of the Rosary and other devotions was one of the first things that fascinated me about Catholicism. I’ve discovered that, like the faith itself, the Rosary meets you where you are but refuses to leave you there. The Blessed Mother always points to her Son and tells us to “Do whatever He tells you.” And we can always get closer to her and to Him, and do what He tells us better, too.
If you have one of those Pray the Rosary booklets or some other illustrated Rosary guide (like the one here on the blog), you might want to turn to that now and begin looking at the images there. The Rosary has been called a “Bible on a string” and that is one of my favorite ways of thinking of it. It’s a way of getting to know the life of Christ, a way to pray and meditate on the Gospel, reading at first, and then, later, without reading, anytime, any place, and all you’ll need are your hands. You won’t need your beads, but, hey, use ‘em if you got ‘em. I’ve found myself with no beads but plenty of time on many occasions, including driving around, and lack of beads (or lack of a safe way of using them) was no obstacle to getting in a few decades of prayer.
You may notice in your Rosary guide that certain sets of beads (Mysteries) are generally said (prayed) on certain days.
- Joyful: Monday and Saturday.
- Sorrowful: Tuesday and Friday.
- Glorious: Wednesday and Sunday.
- Luminous: Thursday.
Whichever day you’re reading this, you might want to turn to that set of Mysteries now. If it’s Monday, turn to the First Joyful Mystery or whichever one you are drawn to, and go over the text and images for a few minutes, not trying to learn them as if you were going to be quizzed on it later. Just look at it the way a child looks through a new book, or, better, through a much-loved old book, happy to meet the same worn pages the way we are happy to meet with old and dear friends. Well, the pages will be new to you at first but they will be old friends further along the road.
Some Rosary guides have passages of Scripture to help you enter into the Gospel setting and scene. I think that’s a powerful way to pray the Rosary, with Scripture and images, reminds me of the Ignatian idea of entering into the story, putting oneself right into the scene. (Not that I’ve done that, I’ve only read about it. But it is a goal of mine to do the Spiritual Exercises.) I post a thread on Twitter on Fridays with artwork I’ve found. I have archived links for many of the past Rosary threads. You might join in sometime and see if praying the Rosary that way appeals to you. You never know which images will appear (or if I will post the right ones) in the thread. (I never know either, it’s always a surprise to me, too.)
I hope this stress-free way of approaching the Rosary is helpful to you. If it seems that we are taking our time in our exploration, it’s because we are. You can always go on ahead if you like. There is no one way of doing this so do what works for you. I find that I remember better when I don’t rush around trying to force myself to memorize large quantities of information. I prefer to let things sink in and surprise myself later with what I remember. (These days I truly am surprised when I remember anything, but that’s another story.)
Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. May we grow in holiness and virtue during this Easter season, praying the Rosary and practicing devotion to the Lord, by His grace become united with Him and becoming the saints we were always 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
- 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).
- See Fr. Timothy Gallagher on the Discerning Hearts site for lots and lots of good stuff about Ignatian Spirituality.
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Images: In the banner, an image from Pixabay, public domain. Rosary schematic and description, by Huhsunqu. (2006-02-11), License CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons. A crucifix from set of rosary beads, from Pixabay, public domain. The Wedding at Cana, by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain. The Annunciation, by Fra Angelico, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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Copyright: All original material on Catholic Heart and Mind is Copyright © 2009-2023 Lee Lancaster. All rights reserved. Read more.
Annotated TOC for the Learn to Pray the Rosary series.
Annotated TOC for all series.