See also: Rosary Meditations
* If you do not know the prayers of the Rosary, you will find them below the Rosary Diagram.
THE PRAYERS OF THE ROSARY
The Sign of the Cross
The Apostles' Creed
The Our Father
The Hail Mary
The Glory Be
O My Jesus
Concluding Rosary Prayer
Hail Holy Queen
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
The diagram above at the right shows a five-decade Rosary such as those most commonly used by Catholics. The purpose of the beads is to keep track of the prayers, especially the sets of 10 Hail Marys. As seen in the chart, the single beads are the Our Fathers, while the group of three beads and the five groups of ten beads are the Hail Marys. As we pass each bead through our fingers, we pray the appropriate prayer, and then move to the next one. By doing this, we simply work our way around the Rosary, beginning at the Crucifix and ending at the centerpiece.
It is best to use a Rosary that has been blessed by a priest, but this is not absolutely necessary, although there are extra indulgences attached to praying on a blessed Rosary. In times of persecution, for example, Catholics have been known to use stones or pebbles, or even their fingers or toes to count the Hail Marys.
The Rosary should be prayed in a reverent position of the body. For example, we are encouraged to kneel before an image of our Blessed Mother or the Crucifix, or in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament while praying the Rosary, but this is not mandatory. Kneeling is a sign of reverence and it also helps the mind stay alert and free from distraction during prayer. Some people, however, are not physically able to kneel, at least for the entire Rosary, and it is certainly acceptable to sit in a reverent, alert position. The Rosary may also be prayed while walking, whether in procession or on a simple walk alone or with others. The sick may pray it while lying in bed, and many Catholics pray extra decades until they fall asleep in bed at night.
A very important point is that the heart of the Rosary is not the repetition of these prayers, but our meditation upon the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary during each decade. As we pray each set of Hail Marys, we should meditate upon the event in the lives of Jesus and Mary assigned to that decade, and on the grace or virtue manifested in that mystery, praying humbly for the grace to imitate Their example in our lives.
The mysteries are divided into three groups:
The Joyful Mysteries: (Mondays, Thursdays)*
1st Mystery: The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38)
2nd Mystery: The Visitation (Luke 1:39-56)
3rd Mystery: The Birth of Our Lord (Luke 2:1-21)
4th Mystery: The Presentation (Luke 2:22-38)
5th Mystery: The Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)
The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays in Lent)*
1st Mystery: The Agony in the Garden (Matt. 26:36-56)
2nd Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar (Matt. 27:26)
3rd Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns (Matt. 27:27-31)
4th Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross (Matt. 27:32)
5th Mystery: The Crucifixion (Matt. 27:33-56)
The Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays)*
1st Mystery: The Resurrection (John 20:1-29)
2nd Mystery: The Ascension (Luke 24:36-53)
3rd Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-41)
4th Mystery: The Assumption of Our Lady
5th Mystery: The Coronation of Our Lady
* These days are suggested for praying these sets of mysteries, but they can be prayed any day. Those who are able are encouraged to pray all 15 decades every day.
According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the Rosary recited with the meditation of the mysteries brings about the following marvellous results: