How to Pray: The Rosary

The rosary, at its core, is a meditative prayer based in Scripture. When we pray, we ask Mary to pray for us as we seek to grow closer to her son Jesus by contemplating His life, death, and resurrection. 

There are four sets of mysteries, each containing five pivotal moments from the life of Jesus. When praying the Rosary, we enter into one set of mysteries at a time, walking with Mary and Jesus as we meditate on the depths of God’s love for us (keep on reading for a short description of each mystery after the outline of the prayer below).

So, how do you pray the rosary? 

Begin with the Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Holding the crucifix, pray the Apostles’ Creed:

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; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will 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.

On the first bead, say an Our Father:

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.

On each of the next three beads, say a Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the beginning of each decade, announce the mystery: (**see below for the full list)

Then say an Our Father on the large bead.

On the 10 small beads of each decade, say 10 Hail Marys while meditating on the mystery.

After each decade, say a Glory be:

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.

Then, say a prayer that Mary taught when she appeared to the children at Fatima: 

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

Repeat this pattern for the remaining decades.

Our Father -> 10 Hail Marys -> Glory Be -> O my Jesus

After the 5 decades, conclude with the Hail Holy Queen:

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your 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.

Then close by praying:

Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son, by his life, Death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

End with the Sign of the Cross. 

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The joyful mysteries invite us to enter into the wonder of Jesus coming to earth as a baby. We see through Mary’s eyes the incredible story unfold – the angel appear (The Anunciation), her cousin Elizabeth’s reaction (The Visitation), the birth of her son (The Nativity), and the incredible events that point to who this child is and what he will do (The Presentation and Finding in the Temple). We are invited to do as Mary did and “ponder all these things in [our] hearts.” The Church traditionally prays these mysteries on Mondays and Saturdays.

The sorrowful mysteries help us relive the death of Jesus. We not only remember it, we enter into it – we sit beside Jesus in the garden before he is arrested (The Agony in the Garden). We see The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross… and then we stand at the foot of that cross beside Mary through her son’s Crucifixion and Death. Through meditating on these events we attempt to truly encounter the suffering Jesus endured for us. We feel this pain and loss even more deeply as we imagine seeing it happen through the eyes of his mother. The Church traditionally prays these mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Through the luminous mysteries, we meditate on occasions of Jesus’ life on earth: his Baptism, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist. St. John Paull II wrote, “In the luminous mysteries, apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background….Yet the role she assumed at Cana accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary’s lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you.” The Church traditionally prays these mysteries on Thursdays.

In the glorious mysteries, we meditate on the awe-inspiring, hard-to-wrap-your-brain-around miracles that took place after Jesus’ death. We experience the joy of the risen Christ, imagining ourselves as Mary or the first disciples (The Resurrection). We see Jesus ascend to heaven and send the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The last two mysteries are the only two that are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, but rather come from hundreds of years of tradition based on passages from Revelation and Song of Songs. In these last two mysteries, we celebrate in knowing that where Mary – who Jesus has given us to be our mother as well – goes, so too do we hope to go one day (The Assumption and Coronation of Mary). The Church traditionally prays these mysteries on Wednesdays and Sundays.

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Join us in praying the rosary on Hallow – we look forward to praying with you!