The Holy Rosary
The Rosary is a classic Catholic prayer which
has been faithfully prayed for hundreds of
years. In the Rosary, the heart ponders Jesus
from the heart of His Mother Mary. The Church
has long encouraged the faithful to pray
the Rosary regularly. Pope John Paul II commented
that: "The Rosary is my favorite prayer.
A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity
and its depth… Against the background of
the words Ave Maria the principal events
of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the
eyes of the soul. They take shape in the
complete series of the… mysteries, and they
put us in living communion with Jesus through
- we might say - the heart of his Mother.
At the same time our heart can embrace in
the decades of the Rosary all the events
that make up the lives of individuals, families,
nations, the Church, and all mankind… Thus
the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the
rhythm of human life". (Pope John Paul
II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)
The Rosary is an effective means of learning
to pray. The quiet, lingering rhythm of the
decades occupies the senses while the mind
enters into meditation of the mysteries.
The mysteries of the Rosary are a summary
of the key events of the Gospel, pondered
from the perspective of Mary, the Mother
of God. In the joyful mysteries, we rejoice
with Mary in the life of Jesus from the announcement
of His birth through His childhood. With
her cousin Elizabeth, we exclaim: "Most
blessed are you among women, and blessed
is the fruit of your womb." (Luke 1.42).
In the luminous mysteries, we reflect with
Mary on the public ministry of Jesus. With
the servants at the Cana wedding, we heed
her advice: "Do whatever He tells you."
(John 2.5) In the sorrowful mysteries, we
reflect on the passion and death of Jesus.
Standing at the foot of the cross with Mary,
we hear Jesus exclaim: "'Woman, behold,
your son.' Then He said to the disciple,
'Behold, your mother.'" (John 19.26-27)
In the glorious mysteries, we reflect on
the resurrection and beyond, and we pray
with her for the coming of the Holy Spirit
in our own lives, just as the first disciples
did: "All these devoted themselves with
one accord to prayer, together with some
women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and
his brothers." (Acts 1.14)
The heart of Mary is a storehouse of the
events of the life of Jesus. "His mother
kept all these things in her heart."
(Luke 2.51) She pondered His life and mission
as it unfolded and we follow her example
as we pray the mysteries of the Rosary today.
In pondering the mysteries of His life and
mission with a spirit of faith and love,
the grace of each mystery flows forth in
our prayer. This meditation aids us in being
formed into a faithful disciple of Jesus.
In the mirror of these mysteries, we reflect
on the mystery of our own existence in light
of His, and we join our existence to His
as we pray. In fact, the Rosary, when prayed
regularly, weaves a chain of salvation into
the fabric of our daily lives.
As Mary is Mother of God and Mother of the
Church, she cares for us in a special way
as we pray the Rosary with her. As Mother
of Mercy, Mary intercedes for us before her
Son. Her special virtues of humility, holiness,
hidden wisdom, and perfection take hold in
our hearts and aid us in becoming docile
to the action of the Holy Spirit. She shelters
us as her children from all that could assail
The Rosary provides a structured method of
prayer, which can be varied somewhat according
to circumstances. For example, a brief, relevant
scriptural passage could be added just after
the announcement of the mystery. The Word
of God provides an added dimension and power
to the meditation at hand. Adding a pause
of silence after hearing the Word of God
allows the Word a moment to soak in and meditation
to take root before the vocal prayer gets
underway. As each prayer is recited vocally,
the words themselves call to mind the One
on whom we meditate. We raise the eyes and
heart to Our Father as we begin each decade.
The name of Jesus is at the center of the
Hail Mary. The Gloria invokes the Trinity
at the close of each decade. The name of
Mary weaves the decade together in a maternal
Praying the Rosary is an effective means
of drawing down grace for peace in our families
and in our troubled world. The Rosary is
an ideal family prayer, which can draw hearts
together from the youngest to the eldest.
The family that prays the Rosary together
draws Jesus amongst them with the heart of
Mary. The Rosary is also a powerful means
of uniting us in a common spirit of prayer.
"I look to all of you, brothers and
sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian
families, to you, the sick and elderly, and
to you, young people: confidently take up
the Rosary once again. Rediscover the Rosary
in the light of Scripture, in harmony with
the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily
lives." (Pope John Paul II, Rosarium
The humble prayer of the Virgin:
Graces the lips of those who pray,
Shelters their hearts from error and
Adhering them to her Son's way.
The rhythm of the words and beads
Engages the senses at hand;
The mysteries, like mustard seeds,
Sow faith as they grow and expand.
In her maternal heart are held,
The hearts and minds of those who pray;
Humility and hope soon meld,
To distill peace from disarray.
From her heart, we behold the Son
On the cross -- our redemption's won.
Blessed Mother, teach us to pray
The Rosary here at your side:
May its rhythm weave through our day;
In grace and peace may we abide. Amen.
Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph
How to pray the Rosary
(c) Paul Buis, 2005