“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” - Lucia dos Santos
Praying the Rosary is a wonderful way to grow deeper in faith, and meditate with Jesus. 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. Then as you memorize the prayers this guide should help you stay on track.
How to Pray the Rosary Printable Guide linked at the bottom of the article.
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What is the Rosary?
The Rosary is a method of prayer, which involves contemplating the mysteries, or scenes, of the life of Jesus, through the eyes of his mother, Mary.
This contemplation is the heart of the Rosary. Contemplation is a form of praying in which we think about, mull over, and meditate on the specific scene. We put ourselves in the scene and make it present to us. It's a way of praying to immerse ourselves in the life of Jesus, and listen to what he wants to teach us.
In many ways, the Rosary is praying alongside Mary, and seeing Jesus through her eyes. Scripture tells us that ‘Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:19) That is why Saint John Paul the Great wrote that the Rosary ‘though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer.’ Meaning, it is a prayer that is focused on Jesus and his life.
The word rosary comes from Latin and means a garland of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary.
It is a simple, beautiful, prayer-focused, meditation of Jesus.
Today, Roman Catholics use a rosary made up of 59 beads. The 6 large beads are used for praying the Our Father prayer, and the 53 smaller beads are used for praying the Hail Mary prayer. Other prayers of the rosary include the Apostles’ Creed, the Glory Be, and the Hail, Holy Queen.
There are 5 decades, or groups of 10 small beads, that make up the main portion of the rosary.
Here’s a great print-friendly PDF How to Pray the Rosary Guide to use to follow along in this section.
The Structure of the Rosary
- The Introductory Prayers
- The Decades
- The Conclusion Prayers
The Introductory 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, think of any needs or struggles in your life and bring them to Mary. She cares for you like a loving mother, and wants to take your needs to Jesus.
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.
Here’s a great print-friendly PDF Prayers of the Rosary Guide.
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 Rosary
Here’s a great print-friendly PDF Mysteries of the Rosary Guide.
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.
Trying to memorize what mysteries are prayed on what day? Here’s a quick tip to do that.
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.
Meditation is the Key
When Catholics recite the twelve prayers that form a decade of the rosary, they meditate on the mystery or scene associated with that decade. If they merely recite the prayers, whether vocally or silently, they’re missing the essence of the rosary. Critics, not knowing about the meditation part, imagine the rosary must be boring, uselessly repetitious, and meaningless.
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.
“In the Rosary, we not only say prayers, we think them.” - Venerable Fulton Sheen
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.
Bonus: How to Really Pray the Rosary, Video by Ascension Presents
Free Printable Rosary Guides:
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
And don't forget about our free Rosary Guide Download. Keep Praying!