One of the most powerful and popular devotions in the Catholic Faith is the Holy Rosary. What is the rosary? It is a form of prayer which combines both vocal prayer (prayers that we say, whether aloud or mentally) and mental prayer (meditation upon the mysteries of our Faith).
The rosary dates back to the Middle Ages when the monks would pray the entire Psalter (150 Psalms) each day, and the lay people who wanted to imitate them, but were illiterate, would pray 150 Our Fathers each day. Eventually, it evolved to be 150 Hail Marys, broken into “decades” of 10, with each decade led by one Our Father. At some point very early in its history, the Dominican Order began the promotion of the rosary, including the use of meditations upon 15 of the central mysteries of the life of Our Blessed Lord and that of Our Lady. Even though the rosary has evolved over the centuries (originally, the 5th Glorious Mystery was the Last Judgment, but it was changed to the Coronation of Mary; and Pope John Paul II added the five Luminous Mysteries honoring five mysteries from the public life of Our Blessed Lord), it has proven to be one of the longest lasting and powerful of all devotions in the Church.
Members of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy are strongly recommended to pray the holy rosary every day, and they make a personal commitment to try to pray either a rosary or 15 minutes of Lectio Divina on a daily basis.
It is important that when we pray the rosary, we meditate on the mysteries. This is the primary part of this beautiful form of prayer, and should take precedence even over the vocal prayers. In meditating, we turn the mysteries over in our minds; we turn our hearts with love to our Savior for what He has done for us, by doing this, we join ourselves with Jesus and Mary in the mysteries, placing ourselves there – adoring Him in His Incarnation, at the Visitation, in His Nativity, Scourged at the pillar, Crowned with thorns, etc. We seek to join Him in the mysteries of His life, death and resurrection, so that we will be more ready to join Him in the eternal life of heaven.
The vocal prayers used in the rosary are also very special. The Our Father is the very prayer that Jesus taught His disciples when they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” The Hail Mary is the prayer spoken by the Archangel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth (the Bible tells us that Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit”), and the Holy Spirit inspired St. Luke to record these words in his Gospel (we add the invocation asking Mary to “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”). The Glory Be is an ancient prayer praising the Holy Trinity. What better prayers could we use to praise our loving God?
The Mysteries of the Rosary:
The Joyful Mysteries: (Prayed on Mondays, Saturdays, and the Sundays of Advent and Christmas)
The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple at the age of Twelve.
The Luminous Mysteries: (Prayed on Thursdays)
The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the Self-Manifestatin at the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the Call to Conversion, the Transfiguration, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.
The Sorrowful Mysteries: (Prayed on Tuesdays, Fridays, and the Sundays of Lent)
The Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion.
The Glorious Mysteries: (Prayed on Wednesdays and the Sundays of Ordinary Time)
The Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
**For instructions on how to pray the rosary, please see the link on the right column of this website.