The Holy Rosary
Archbishop Fulton Sheen 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."
The Rosary has been called the preparation for contemplation and the prayer of saints. While the hands and lips are occupied with the prayers (it can and should be prayed silently when necessary so as not to disturb others), the mind meditates on the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption represented by the decades. Meditation is the form of prayer by which the one who prays uses the mind and imagination to consider a truth and uses the will to love it and form resolutions to live it. In this way the heart, mind, and soul of the Christian is formed according to the Gospel examples of the Savior and His First Disciple, His Mother. In God's own time, when this purification of the heart, mind, and soul has advanced sufficiently the Lord may give the grace of contemplative prayer, that special divine insight into the truth which human effort cannot achieve on its own.
Why Pray the Rosary today?
Why pray the Rosary today? Certainly, to grow in holiness and in one's prayer life. The following are a few others reasons why the rosary should be prayed often, even daily:
"Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favoured by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary" (Pope Pius IX).
"Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world" (Our Lady of Fátima).
"There is no surer means of calling down God's blessings upon the family . . . than the daily recitation of the Rosary" (Pope Pius XII).
"We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that we put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils of our times" (Pope Pius XII).
"No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary" (Bishop Hugh Doyle).
"The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world" (Pope John XXIII).
"The Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel" (Pope Paul VI quoting Pope Pius XII).
"Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary . . . can be an excellent preparation for the celebration of those same mysteries in the liturgical actions [i.e. the Mass] and can also become a continuing echo thereof" (Pope Paul VI).
"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady at Fátima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God" (Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fátima).
How To Pray the Rosary
While the rosary and the indulgences attached to it by the Church essentially concerns the decades and the meditation upon the mysteries only, the following is a customary way of preparing for the rosary and concluding it.
Then recite the Apostle's 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; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence 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.
Then say 1 Our Father, 3 Hail Marys (for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity) and then 1 Glory Be:
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.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among 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.
GLORY BE to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The Rosary is essentially the decades and their associated mysteries, and only these must be prayed to "pray the rosary", either in satisfaction of Our Lady's requests, or, to gain the indulgences attached to praying the rosary.
The traditional Rosary is divided into three parts, each having five mysteries: Glorious, Joyful and Sorrowful.
In his apostolic letter The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, Pope John Paul II proposed a new set of mysteries, which he called the Luminous, and which concern the period of the public life of Our Lord.
(For those who wish to say all 20 decades at once during the course of a day, they may be said in the following order: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious.)
While meditating on the Mysteries, recite:
One Our Father (large beads),
10 Hail Marys (small beads) and
1 Glory Be (before the next large bead)
to make a complete decade of the rosary.
After each decade the Fátima Prayer may also be said (Pope Pius XII).
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.
THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES
( Mondays and Saturdays, may be said on Sundays during Advent and Christmas)
The Joyful Mysteries are marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation.
To meditate upon the joyful mysteries is to enter into the ultimate causes and the deepest meaning of Christian joy. It is to focus on the realism of the mystery of the Incarnation and on the obscure foreshadowing of the mystery of the saving Passion. Mary leads us to discover the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is, first and foremost, evangelization, "good news", which has as its heart and its whole content the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the one Savior of the world.
THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES
(Tuesdays and Fridays, may be said on Sundays during Lent )
In the Sorrowful Mysteries we stand beneath the Cross of Jesus, coming face to face with the truth of his insistence that the Christ must suffer and die. No matter that we long to cry out, if only we had been there; we still encounter the reality of our human position and the truth that is Our Lord's. We sense the sword piercing the heart of his Mother, and pray that it may open our whole being to the agony and the power that the infinite love of Jesus in his Passion chose and endured for us
THE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES
(Wednesdays and Sundays)
The Glorious Mysteries reveal the mediation of the great Virgin, still more abundant in fruitfulness. She rejoices in heart over the glory of her Son triumphant over death, and follows Him with a mother's love in His Ascension to His eternal kingdom; but, though worthy of Heaven, she abides a while on earth, so that the infant Church may be directed and comforted by her "who penetrated, beyond all belief, into the deep secrets of Divine wisdom" (St. Bernard).
THE LUMINOUS MYSTERIES
Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light". Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world" (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom.... Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.
After the completion of five mysteries (5 decades), or 15 or 20, the following is customarily said:
Hail Holy Queen (or Salve Regina may be sung)
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 us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
(Verse) Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
(Response) That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
(Verse) Let us pray,
(Response) 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 both 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.