Rosary is a very powerful prayer tool
which contains a total of 59 strung beads, a
crucifix and, possibly, a center
piece. It is used by Catholics of all ages throughout the world to
contemplate the Lord and his Blessed Mother, to help them prayerfully seek spiritual
and temporal favors from God for themselves
and for others, and to
praise and thank God. The
Rosary can bring about a deeply moving
experience for those who have learned how
to pray it well. Many of the great saints
prayed the Rosary very often and the Rosary has been associated with
(Lat. rosarium, a rose-garden, whence, a wreath, or garland)" - "A string of beads consisting of five sets (decades) each of ten
small and one larger bead (a crucifix with two large and three small
beads is ordinarily added); the prayers said on these beads. Each decade
is associated with a mystery of the faith and these mysteries
number fifteen, so that a full rosary consists of this number of decades
and corresponding prayers, but these are rarely met with... The beads
are simply a device for keeping count." (Catholic Dictionary)
that in addition to referring the string of beads, the term
"Rosary" may be applied to the prayers of the Rosary.
traditional Rosary begins
with a crucifix, then a large bead, three
small beads, and another large bead proceeding, perhaps, a center
piece (see image at right).
In a circular shape, there are five sets
of small beads, each proceeded by a large
bead. Note that each of the 5 sets of beads is a "decade" of the
Rosary. Each decade of the Rosary
corresponds to a particular Mystery. (Click here
for more information on mysteries)
each bead (and after certain beads) a prayer is said while
the individual focuses on the mystery
particular to decade. A full traditional Rosary
actually has a total of 15 mysteries, divided
into three sets of five: 5 Joyful Mysteries, 5 Sorrowful Mysteries, and
Mysteries. However, each of these sets of five mysteries are customarily
referred to as a "Rosary" (even though they are, in actuality,
only 1/3 of a full, traditional Rosary). Depending on the day of
the week, one set of mysteries is selected
for meditation when one prays a 5 decade Rosary. For more information on
mysteries of the Rosary, click here.
[Note: For Pope John Paul II's new mysteries, click here.]
Rosaries come in many colors and styles, from
simple to elaborate (the style has no bearing on function). In addition
to beads, Rosary rings and other "Rosary counters" are
available for praying the Rosary. All Rosary beads and other appropriate
counters should be blessed before use (click here
for more information).
the beads are used to help you keep track of where you
are while praying the Rosary. While you pray, your fingers touch the
beads, your mouth speaks the prayers (if not praying silently), and your
intellect reflects on
important events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother.
sense, the prayers may "keep your
mouth busy" with prayerful thoughts
while your mind focuses on these
mysteries and virtues. It is amazing
the incredible effect a Rosary can have on an
individual who meditates on the events related to our salvation. Additionally, by
praying the Rosary, we are fulfilling the Blessed Virgin's prophesy in the Gospel of Luke
(1:48): "For he
has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed", as well as
petitioning for Mary's intercession, and honoring God.
outstanding spiritual and temporal favors have been associated with the
Rosary. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen has said, "The power of the
rosary is beyond description." Popes, saints, and others have also
lavished the highest of praise on the Rosary. One well-known poem sums
up the sentiments of many Catholics when it remarks: "Sweet,
blessed beads! I would not part with one of you for richest gem that
gleams in kingly diadem". Perhaps that is one reason many Catholics are buried
with their cherished rosaries, their 'life-long friends'.
criticism sometimes leveled against Catholics
for praying the Rosary concerns the issue
of repetitive prayer, which was seemingly condemned
in Holy Scripture. For example, the
following Scripture passages appear to condemn
repetitive or lengthy prayers:
"Thrust not yourself into the deliberations of princes, and repeat not the words of your prayer."
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words."
"They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe
condemnation." (Lk. 20:47)
it is important to note the context of the above:
St. Matthew's Gospel, it is not the
repeating of prayers which is condemned,
but the thinking that one will not be
heard unless one repeats prayers. Passages in the Old Testament indicate the thinking of pagans who felt they were
more likely to be heard if they repeated
prayers frequently [e.g. 1 Kings 18:26-29.]
St. Luke's Gospel, lengthy prayers are also not condemned. It is the recitation of lengthy prayers as
a pretext that is condemned.
is clear that a literal interpretation of
Sirach, when taken out of context, is also
not a mandate against repeating prayer as the following passages
"Pray without ceasing."
Clearly, it would be impossible to pray
without ceasing and not repeat the
words of one's prayer.
"The four living creatures, each of them with six wings,
were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do
not stop exclaiming: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to
Certainly, forms of heavenly worship would
not be condemned on Earth provided they
were not done as a pretext or in another
more importantly, note that Jesus himself
repeated his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
"[Jesus] advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying,
if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you
"Withdrawing a second time,
[Jesus] prayed again, 'My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be
done!'" (Mt 26:42)
left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again."
repeating an earnest prayer is not
condemned in Scripture, but was, in fact,
the very practice of Jesus Christ, our
Lord, Himself during one of his most
there are cases when even the strongest opponent of repetitive
prayer may engage in actions that demonstrate our point concerning
repetitive prayer. For example, when a receptive crowd cheers, whistles,
and shouts as a dignitary passes, their actions betoken their praise.
The more the crowd cheers, whistles, and shouts, the more the dignitary
is being honored. Certainly, one wouldn't utter a single cheer, whistle,
or shout and stop on the grounds that they "shouldn't be
repetitive". In fact, they would do quite the opposite, realizing
that the more they repeat themselves, they more they honor the dignitary.
The same goes with our prayers, our acts of love to heaven. By its nature, love
elicits repetition! The more one loves, the more one tells the beloved
that they are loved. Such sentiments aren't measured or hampered by fear
of repetition. They simply come from the heart! The same goes for the
Rosary. Our prayers are comparable to greetings to our Blessed Mother
and to the Holy Trinity. Who would dream of saying they loved someone
once and never say so again in order to avoid repetition? Furthermore, repetition
of the Rosary helps raise our mind to God and assist the mind in contemplation
of the heavenly mysteries.
centuries, numerous popes, saints, and others have strongly encouraged
all to pray the Rosary. And, the Blessed Virgin herself has urged us to
pray the Rosary. The events which occurred in the early 1900's
at Fatima were witnessed by thousands of believers
and critics alike. In the apparitions, our Blessed Mother
asked that the Rosary be said daily. She said that reparation made via the
Rosary holds back the hand of God from striking the world with
His just punishments. She concluded her apparitions by a 'miracle
of the sun' that was witnessed by tens of thousands of people, and even
by many critics.
its history, the
Rosary has been considered a powerful
weapon against the forces of evil. It has also been associated with
countless miracles of all types. The
Rosary has been attributed to one of the greatest
military upsets in all of
history as Christians carried rosaries
into battle along with their swords and achieved
results. The saints have called the Rosary a "ladder to heaven".
At least one saint specifically attributes the salvation of his soul to
the Rosary. Many promise great spiritual benefits to those who pray the
Rosary. Popes have lavished it with indulgences. Those who pray it can
tell you of the invaluable benefits it brings them.
praying the Rosary, you honor God, you obey your heavenly Mother, you
conform to the wishes of many popes and saints, and you may strengthen
your faith, resist sin, grow spiritually, fight evil, gain indulgences,
and even benefit society at large.
to pray the Rosary daily and non-Catholics are
also invited and requested to pray it (click here for information on the
Daily Rosary). You will be glad you did!