All can, some should, none mustHow to Pray the Rosary

Originally a substitute for the 150 psalms for the illiterate, the rosary is a fine ‘fallback’ to make up for a missed part of the Divine Office when you’re tired or ill. It is an okay prayer aid of the Latin Church that works for some people. This is essentially the form used by the Irish Legion of Mary with the Fátima Prayer added and translations from the Book of Common Prayer and Anglo-Catholic practice. For the Rosary for the Dead click here.

IN the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. R. Amen.

OME, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of thy love.

V. Send forth thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

GOD, who by the light of the Holy Ghost didst instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

V. O Lord, open thou my lips.
R. And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

V. O God, make speed to save me.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth : And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
R.I believe in the Holy Ghost: The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints: The Forgiveness of sins: The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.

UR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.
R. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. Amen.

AIL, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee : blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Say the Hail Mary three times.

Glory be.

Announce the appropriate first mystery, Our Father, Hail Mary 10 times (once per bead) while meditating on that mystery, Glory be.

The Fátima prayer: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.

Announce the next mystery and so on.

The mysteries are:

JOYFUL: Annunciation, Visitation of Our Lady to St Elisabeth, Nativity of Christ, Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, Finding of the Boy Jesus in the Temple.

SORROWFUL: Agony in the Garden, Scourging at the Pillar, Crowning with Thorns, Jesus Carries the Cross, Crucifixion.

GLORIOUS: Resurrection, Ascension, Descent of the Holy Spirit, Assumption and Crowning of Our Lady in Glory in Heaven.

Traditionally you pray the Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Thursdays, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

In 2002 the Pope added another set of mysteries that may be prayed on Thursdays, changing Saturday’s set to another round of the Joyful ones.

LUMINOUS: Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, the Wedding at Cana, Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist.

At the end:

Salve, regina.
AIL, holy Queen.
R. Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope, all hail. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R.That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

GOD, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, hath purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that meditating upon 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. R. Amen.

V. May the divine assistance remain always with us.
R. And may the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

The Rosary for the Dead: Substitute Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord: R. And let light perpetual shine upon them for the Glory be (just like in the Office of the Dead) and the De profundis, Psalm 130, for ‘Hail, holy Queen’.

About the rosary in general: The rosary is a practical substitute for the Divine Office/Hours, a sort of layman’s breviary well suited for those who cannot read as was true of many in the Middle Ages. Originally it was 150 Our Fathers mimicking the 150 psalms, giving it its former name, a paternoster (Our Father). These became 150 Hail Marys, eventually divided into 10s (decades) each separated by an Our Father, which were assigned mysteries to meditate on; mostly Bible lessons for the illiterate. This became a chaplet with, traditionally, one-third of the mysteries; five decades. St Dominic is said to have introduced it to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Eastern Orthodox have an equivalent system of Jesus Prayers and prostrations one may use at home that corresponds to the Hours prayed in church.

The Revd S.C. Hughson, Order of the Holy Cross (Anglican), wrote in 1918:

‘Almost any encyclopædia will inform the reader that the use of beads in prayer is far older than Christianity itself and belongs to almost every race which has any highly developed system of prayer.

‘It will be a surprise to many, no doubt, to know that our common English word bead is derived from the Saxon word bid, to pray, the derivation arising from the fact that our ancestors made common use of perforated pebbles, or beads, upon which to count their prayers. It will be news even to most Catholics to learn that instead of their Rosaries being spoken of as beads because of a resemblance to the common ornament of the name, the ornament takes its name from the Rosary.’

The version broadcast on Vatican Radio follows the Legion of Mary practice of saying the prayers to the Holy Ghost and the opening versicles taken from the Divine Office and omits the Apostles’ Creed and opening Our Father, three Hail Marys and Glory be; the latter prayers are how most people begin.

A Sarum Rosary. The mediæval version of the Hail Mary ended at the holy Name; St Pius V wrote the rest later.
Guild of the Living Rosary of Our Lady and St Dominic
Why the Eastern rites shouldn't use the rosary

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