The Rosary

In a September 2013 interview, Pope Francis discussed his daily prayers, stating, “I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then, later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the Rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying. In the evening then, between seven and eight o’clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day.”

A month earlier, at the Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis urged Catholics to pray the rosary, “Mary joins us, she fights at our side. She supports Christians in the fight against the forces of evil. Especially through prayer, through the rosary. Hear me out, the rosary... Do you pray the Rosary each day? I don't know, are you sure? There we go!”

As a child, I remember seeing my grandmother pray the rosary. I remember thinking that the practice was odd, even frightening to watch. Often we are afraid of things that we do not understand, and, I have since learned that the tradition of praying the rosary is quite beautiful. I hope the following chapter provides both instruction and reference for practicing Catholics, and a deeper understanding for those of different religions. The following chapter explains in detail the traditions of praying the rosary, a tradition that Pope Francis holds dear.

The following sections provide a brief overview of how to pray the rosary. This section also appears in The Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul II, by Wyatt North.

First, begin by holding the cross and repeating the “The Sign of the Cross.”

The Sign of the Cross

In The Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Then, “The Apostle’s Creed” is said on the Cross.

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 arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, 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.

Next, on the single bead just above the cross, pray the “Our Father.” Remember, Rosary prayers are considered Meditative prayers as opposed to personal prayers. In personal prayer the prayer speaks to God. In meditative prayer we allow God to speak to us through his word and his Spirit.

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.

The next cluster on the rosary has 3 beads. With this group of beads, the prayer should recite the “Hail Mary.” The prayer should recite 3 Hail Marys while allowing God to speak through his words on the three divine virtues of faith, hope, and love.

Hail Mary

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.

Repeat this three times.

After the three beads, there is a chain. Hold the bare chain and recite the “Glory be to the Father” prayer.

Glory be to the Father

Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The next bead is a single bead. Hold this bead in your hand and say the divine mystery of contemplation. For example, if it were a Monday or a Saturday, you would say the first Joyful Mystery, “The Annunciation.”

The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Lk 1:26-38)

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Then you may prayer the “Our Father” prayer for the second time.

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.

This brings you to a set of ten beads on the rosary. You should then pray 10 Hail Marys while contemplating the first mystery. The example of The Annunciation is provided above.

Hail Mary

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.

Repeat this ten times.

After the 10th Hail Mary you will have completed the first of 5 decades. The next section of the rosary, is a single bead. Repeat the “Glory be to the Father.”

Glory be to the Father

Glory Be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Next, on the same bead, pray the “O My Jesus.”

O My Jesus

O My Jesus, have mercy on us. 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.

Then, on the same bead, announce the next or second mystery. For example: if it is Monday and your praying the Joyful Mysteries, the second Joyful Mystery is The Visitation.

The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-50)

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him….”

Next, repeat the “Our Father.”

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.

You will now come to the second group of 10 beads. You should pray 10 Hail Marys while contemplating the appropriate mystery.

Hail Mary

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.

Repeat this ten times.

You may now move on to each mystery, by repeating the cycle as illustrated above. Below are the remaining three joyful mysteries. Generally, The Joyful mysteries are meditated on Monday and Saturdays. The Five Sorrowful Mysteries are mediated on Tuesday & Friday, The Five Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday & Sunday, and The Five Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.

The Third Joyful Mystery: THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD (LK 2:1-14)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The Fourth Joyful Mystery: Presentation of Our Lord (Lk 2:22-35)

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple (Lk 2:41-52)

Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

Additional prayers for the rosary are as follows:


O God, by the life, death and resurrection of Your only begotten Son, You purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech You that while meditation on these mysteries of the Holy rosary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Most Holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - I adore thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To You we come; before You we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in Your mercy, hear and answer us. Amen.

Chapter Excerpt from

The Life and Prayers of Pope John Paul II

As pope, John Paul looked to the words of Jesus to Peter, his predecessor, for guidance: “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32). Toward that end, John Paul’s first and ongoing efforts were to strengthen the members of the Church.

One of his first aims was to strengthen the family. Towards that end, at the beginning of his papacy, he organized his Wednesday general audiences into a series of 129 lectures organized around a single theme. This took place between September 1979 and November 1984. These homilies were later compiled and published as The Theology of the Body, which was, in part, an extended attempt to purge any residue of Gnostic distain for the human body. In these talks, he presented very carefully his view of family relations, elaborating what he had said earlier in his book, Love and Responsibility. Marriage was a vocation, just as the priesthood was a vocation, and fidelity was the core of both.

He included his explanation for why natural sexual relations, unimpeded by unnatural birth control interventions, was God’s plan to uphold the human dignity of husband and wife. While he conceded that family planning was part of a responsible relationship, he argued that this could only take place through Church-approved, natural means of fertility regulation. Artificial means of birth control were, he argued, dehumanizing.

Another early focus was the priesthood. In 1979, on Holy Thursday (April 8), the day when priests renew their vows, he addressed a letter to every Catholic priest. The salutation read: “My Dear Brother Priests.” His message was designed to reinvigorate their commitment to their vocations and to restore lost morale. Whereas Pope Paul had allowed more than 32,000 priests to be released from their vows, John Paul was going to make the process harder. He wanted his priests to recall why they had become priests and to recover that sense of purpose. He reminded them of the importance of their priestly celibacy, which is a gift of the Spirit, a renunciation for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Through this renunciation, the priest becomes a man serving others and is thereby able to build up the Church.

As is well-known, the new pope very soon went traveling. He traveled more extensively than any pope before, going personally to speak with the faithful and encourage them. With targeted visits to Africa and Asia, he demonstrated the importance of youthful churches for the future. And while in Africa, he deflected criticism about his many trips by suggesting that popes should take their cues not just from St. Peter but also from the peripatetic St. Paul. He didn’t only speak to Catholics, however. One of his earliest trips brought him before the United Nations (October 1979), where in an hour-long address to the General Assembly, he lectured the nations of the world on human rights and human freedom.

Karol Wojtila had always believed the Church’s core task was to proclaim God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. This was his vision as he assumed leadership of the Church, and he articulated it in his first three encyclicals as pope. He saw this as a joyous message and one that elevated the dignity of all human beings.

He knew very well that it was his task as pope to complete the implementation of Vatican II. Accordingly, he consistently looked to the Second Vatican Council for direction, particularly the conciliar statements on ecumenism, religious freedom, and the laity. He especially focused onGaudium et Spes with its emphasis on the role of the church in the modern world, the dignity of the human person, and the community of mankind. The Church didn’t need to be confined to church buildings; it had a role to play out and about in the modern world.

While Vatican II had begun the process of “declericalization,” or adjusting the unbalanced emphasis on the clergy, it was John Paul who gave impetus to the effort. He wanted reemphasis on the Church as a community in which all the baptized are equally important. As such, there was room for a multiplicity of voices—women, young people, and various Catholic movements—to be heard within the overarching unity of the Trinity. The Trinity itself was the model for unity in diversity, and it was the foundation for John Paul’s renewal efforts for the Church.

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