How to Pray the Rosary [Illustrative Catholic Guide]
Table of Contents
Introduction on How to Pray the Catholic Rosary
The Rosary is a powerful prayer and practice of Catholic meditation. Loved by priests, sisters, laymen, and saints throughout the church, the importance and weight of this prayer has been echoed since it was first given to St. Dominic.
“Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother."
- Saint Padre Pio
This prayer is full of power! It’s a wonderful way to learn more about Jesus and to grow deeper in our faith. It’s not a robotic repeating of route prayers, it’s a method of meditating while we pray with our mouth and our heart.
Steps to learning the Rosary:
Understand the mechanics of the Rosary prayer
Learn the prayers of the Rosary
Learn the mysteries of the Rosary
Learn to make the Rosary a meditative prayer
If you are learning to pray the Rosary for the first time, a great plan is to print out the prayers, and then follow along with a video, like this one.
You can find a printable guide to the Rosary at the bottom of this article.
The Mechanics of how to Pray the Catholic Rosary
The Introductory Rosary Prayers:
The introductory prayers set the stage for the rosary. They prepare you for deeper reflection when you pray the decades. Either before or after the introductory prayers, a great practice can be thinking of personal needs and bringing them to Mary in the Rosary. She cares for you just like a loving mother, and wants to take your needs to Jesus. Take a moment to dedicate the Rosary to your needs.
Step 1 - Start by with the Sign of the Cross. "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Step 2 - While holding the crucifix, say the "Apostles Creed."
Step 3 - On the next single bead, pray the "Our Father." This is commonly said for the Holy Father's intentions.
Step 4 - On the next three beads, pray the "Hail Mary." These beads are for meditating on the virtues of faith, hope and love.
Step 5 - On the next single bead, pray the "Glory Be."
There are five decades, or groups of 10 small beads, that make up the main portion of the rosary. You’ll find that the prayers for each decade are repeated many times. This gives you an opportunity to reflect on the words, which are deeply rooted in the Bible and Christian tradition. They are powerful and filled with meaning.
Step 1 - On the bead or symbol before the first 10 bead section, first announce the first mystery.
Step 2 - Immediately following, pray the "Our Father."
Step 3 - On the next 10 beads, on each bead pray the "Hail Mary."
Step 4 - Immediately following, pray the "Glory Be."
Step 5 - Immediately following, pray the "O My Jesus."
Step 6 - On the next single bead, announce the next mystery.
Step 7 - Immediately following, pray the "Our Father."
Continue with the 10 "Hail Mary's", "Glory Be," and "O My Jesus," for each of the next four Mysteries until you are all the way around the Rosary.
The Conclusion Prayers:
Step 1 - After saying your last "O My Jesus," immediately follow with the "Hail Holy Queen."
Step 2 - Immediately follow with the "Let Us Pray."
Step 3 - End with the Sign of the Cross.
Wonder where the practice of using Rosary Beads came from? Learn here.
The Prayers of the Catholic Rosary
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; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from there He shall 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.
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.
Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was, in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
O My Jesus (The Fatima Prayer)
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Take all souls into heaven, especially, those most in need of thy mercy. Amen.
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.
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 toward 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 promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray (The Rosary Prayer)
Let us Pray. O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation. Grant, we beseech Thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
The Mysteries of the Catholic Rosary
The Mysteries of the Rosary are specific scenes from the life of Mary and Jesus. We announce these scenes before we begin each decade, and then meditate on that scene as we pray through our Hail Mary’s. There are 20 mysteries in total, and they are grouped into themes - The Glorious Mysteries, The Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Luminous Mysteries. The Catholic tradition is to pray the Rosary Mysteries on certain days of the week, and at certain times of the year.
The Glorious Mysteries
The Five Glorious Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Wednesdays and Sundays outside of Lent and Advent.
The First Mystery: The Resurrection
The Second Mystery: The Ascension
The Third Mystery: The Nativity
The Fourth Mystery: The Assumption
The Fifth Mystery: The Coronation of Mary
The Joyful Mysteries
The Five Joyful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays of Advent
The First Mystery: The Annunciation
The Second Mystery: The Visitation
The Third Mystery: The Nativity
The Fourth Mystery: The Presentation in the Temple
The Fifth Mystery: The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays of Lent.
The First Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
The Second Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
The Third Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
The Fourth Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
The Fifth Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death
The Luminous Mysteries
The Five Luminous Mysteries, instituted by Pope John Paul II in 2002, are traditionally prayed on Thursdays.
The First Mystery: The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
The Second Mystery: The Wedding Feast at Cana
The Third Mystery: Proclamation of the Kingdom
The Fourth Mystery: The Transfiguration
The Fifth Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist
When you announce the Mystery, take a moment to reflect on the scene, and then begin the decade with the scene in mind.
Corresponding scripture can also be read before during each mystery announcement to help picture the corresponding scene. A sample list of scripture for each Rosary can be found here.
How to pray (not just say) the Catholic Rosary
The Rosary is not meant to be a ‘vain repetition,’ but when we simply recite the words of the Rosary, shutting off our mind, the prayer can become very hallow. It’s meant to be so much more than a series of words! The Rosary is a prayer, and to that end, meant to bring us into deeper relationship with our Lord.
To enable the Rosary to be a prayer, we have to turn it into a meditative prayer. As we announce each mystery, the following Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s are meant to invite us into reflecting on that mystery in a deeper way.
Father Peyton explains in his book, The Family That Prays Together Stays Together, that the Rosary is more than a series of prayers to be recited. Rather, it is “a series of thoughts to be dwelt on, to be turned over in the mind, to be applied in daily life.”
This can be a concept understand, but it’s the key to unleashing the power of the Rosary. When praying the Rosary, try to let the words flow past you, almost like a chant - allowing your mind to enter into prayer.
Saint Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, explains this practice. “For a Christian, vocal prayer must spring from the heart, so that while the Rosary is said, the mind can enter into contemplation of each one of the mysteries.”
St. Josemaria Escriva, also provides another simple, but often overlooked suggestion. He encourages us to pronounce each Our Father and Hail Mary clearly and without rushing. In doing so, we will better express our love for Mary and Jesus. When praying the Rosary, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mumbling and our rushing through the prayers. We were given these special prayers. Remembering that the Our Father was handed down to us from Jesus and that the Hail Mary is taken directly from Scripture should help us to understand the power and holiness of these words, and enter into a prayerful state.
How to Pray the Catholic Rosary more often
For many Catholics, the Rosary has become a practice of daily prayer. Pope Pius XI encourages us “Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors."
1. Carry the Holy Catholic Rosary with you.
The easiest way to start making the Rosary part of your faith practice is to make sure that you have one with you. Carrying one daily makes it incredibly handy when you have an unexpected chuck of time in your schedule. Instead of starting to scroll through your phone, take out your Rosary and bring yourself to God’s presence.
This is why we designed the Rosary Card - it’s a Rosary that you can actually carry in your wallet. It’s the same size as a credit card, so there’s no excuse for not having it with you all the time!
2. Use a Rosary audio track or video.
When you are just starting to learn this prayer, it’s very helpful to have an audio track or video to pray along with. Say the words along with the speaker as they lead you through the prayer.
One of the best Rosary videos is by Father Mark Mary from Ascension Presents. You can find more information on this great video here.
This can be especially helpful while on long drives. While praying the Rosary only when you drive is not encouraged, since it’s much harder to meditate while driving, it can be a great practice if that’s the only time that you can find.
3. Add it to a daily routine
Many Catholics have a certain time of day or certain place in their routine where their practice of the Rosary sits. There are many parishes who say the Rosary immediately before or after daily mass. Some people say it first thing in the morning. A helpful practice could be cutting your lunch break a little shorter, and saying it right after or before your meal. Adding the Rosary into your daily routine is a great practice to say the Rosary more often, and further make holy your day.
4. Pray it while you wait
Whenever we encounter a period of waiting, most of us tend to look at our phone. The Rosary can fill those waiting times, and make them holy. Even if you don’t have time for a full Rosary, saying a decade or two is a wonderfully way to call down God’s presence. Your next traffic jam, waiting room visit, or line at the coffeeshop can become much efficacious as you use the Rosary to pray.
5. Pray with a group
One of the best ways to pray the Rosary is to pray in community. Whether it’s one person, a family, or in a larger group, a Rosary is multiplied when prayed in community. Normally you’ll have one leader guide the Rosary, and everyone else follow along. It should help remind you of the communal aspect of our faith, as you call down grace together.
Try out these tips, and here are five more tips on how to make the Rosary a daily practice.
Pray the Rosary [Catholic Guide] Free Printable PDFs:
How to Pray the Rosary [Catholic Illustrative Guide] - PDF File
The Prayers of the Rosary [Catholic Guide] - PDF File
Mysteries of the Rosary [Catholic Guide] - PDF File
PDF of this Article [Pray the Rosary Catholic Guide] - PDF File
Pray the Rosary Conclusion
The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen illustrates the depth of the rosary as he said, "The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description."
We have been given a powerful prayer in the Holy Rosary. Use this How to Pray the Rosary Catholic Guide to learn and make the Rosary part of your daily faith life.
The Rosary Card - Built For Convenience
As you learn to pray the Rosary, check out our Rosary Cards. They are designed for convenience (same size as a Credit Card) and make it much easier to pray the Rosary often.
See more options here.
Please let me know how your journey with the Rosary is going, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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