Praying the Rosary

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by Barbara van Look, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Praying the Rosary is one of the doctrines of Roman Catholicism. Many believers use their Rosary not only as a demonstration of their faith, but also as a form of meditation--especially in monasteries, convents and abbeys. In Catholic teachings, the Rosary (meaning ''garland of roses'') is a devotion of prayer to Jesus Christ. In fact, one of the earliest mentions in writing (c. 1075) of a form of the Rosary comes from the will of Lady Godiva (she of the long hair and horse ride), who used a circle of precious gemstone beads to count her prayers.

There are multiple ''Mysteries'' of the Rosary: four sets of five, for 20 in total. Different Mysteries are used on different days of the week (see chart at bottom). You’ll find the ''Joyful Mysteries'' detailed here, to help clarify Rosary construction to those unfamiliar with what the meaning of the components are, and why they are used.

A Basic Guide to Praying the Rosary

To pray the Roman Catholic Rosary, one begins at the bottom with the cross or crucifix, while saying the first prayers--the ''Sign of the Cross'' followed by the ''Apostles Creed'':
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He will 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 the believer moves their fingers to the large bead immediately above the cross. Frequently called an ''Our Father'' bead, the name signifies the prayer recited while holding it. The Our Father prayer is also called the Lord’s Prayer:
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 three smaller beads indicate three ''Hail Mary'' or ''Ave Maria'' prayers. Among some traditions, the deeply devout begin the trio of prayers by saying:
I offer these three Hail Marys for the increase in the virtues of faith, hope and charity.

While holding each of the smaller beads, the believer recites the ''Hail Mary'' or ''Ave Maria'' prayer:
Design Idea A443 Rosary

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.

At the next larger bead, just below the center medallion, the ''Glory Be'' prayer is recited:
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.

Now the believer has reached the center medallion or ''medal'' which joins the string of beads. This is where the devotional intentions are stated, and which ''Mystery'' will be prayed. The Joyful Mysteries is the example given here, and ''The Annunciation'' is stated as the first Mystery. Then the ''Hail Holy Queen'' prayer is commonly recited:
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 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! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

After the medal or center medallion of the Rosary begins five sets of 10 beads which mark a cycle of prayers. The medal is held within the palm of the hand while the fingers or fingertips hold the individual beads. These sets of 10 beads are called ''decades,'' just as a set of 10 years is called a ''decade.'' When the believer holds one of the 10 small beads, the ''Our Father'' prayer is recited:
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.

Followed by the ''Hail Mary'' or ''Ave Maria'' prayer:
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.

Design Idea BB2C Rosary The ''Hail Mary'' is repeated alone at each small bead of the decade. At the end of the decade is a small space, then a different bead. At the end of the decade, in that small space, the ''Glory Be'' and ''Fatima'' prayers are commonly recited:
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.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

Sometimes the bead between decades is larger, sometimes it is of a different material, sometimes it has a different texture--there are many ways to set the end of decade bead apart. This individual bead is where the second Mystery is stated (our example would be ''The Visitation.'' (This is the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.) This is followed by a recitation of the ''Our Father'' prayer:
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.

Again begins another set of ten ''Hail Mary'' prayers (one per bead), followed by the ''Glory Be'' and ''Fatima'' prayers:
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.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

This ends the second decade of prayers of the Rosary. Continue these steps of announcing the Mystery, saying the ''Our Father'' followed by 10 ''Hail Mary'' prayers, the ''Glory Be'' and finally, the ''Fatima'' prayers.

At the conclusion of the fifth and final decade, when the believer has returned to the center medallion after going around the circle of beads, the ''Fatima'' prayer is followed by a recitation of the ''Hail Holy Queen'' prayer. The devout customarily conclude with the ''Let Us Pray'' from the Breviary:
Let us pray, O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and Resurrection, has purchased for us the reward of eternal salvation. Grant we beseech Thee that while 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. Amen.

This is followed by the ''Saint Michael'' prayer:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and the snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray and do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

And the Rosary is concluded with a recitation of the ''Sign of the Cross'' prayer:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Explaining the ''Mysteries'' of the Rosary

The ''Mysteries'' are sets of five events in the Roman Catholic bible, depicting events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. There were originally three sets of five, for a total of 15; however, Pope John Paul II added a fourth set of five in 2002, bringing the total to 20 Mysteries.

Each set of Mysteries is prayed over the course of a week (see the chart below), with one set commonly prayed or recited each day. Some exceptionally devout adherents will pray all four sets of the Rosary each day. Here are the Mysteries, as determined by the Roman Catholic Church:

The Joyful Mysteries
  1. The Annunciation
  2. The Visitation
  3. The Nativity
  4. Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
  5. Finding Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple

The Luminous Mysteries (added in 2002)
  1. The Baptism of Jesus
  2. Wedding at Cana
  3. Proclaiming the Kingdom
  4. Transfiguration
  5. Institution of the Eucharist

The Sorrowful Mysteries
  1. The Agony in the Garden
  2. The Scrouging at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. Carrying the Cross
  5. The Crucifixion

The Glorious Mysteries
  1. The Resurrection
  2. The Ascension
  3. Descent of the Holy Spirit
  4. The Assumption
  5. The Coronation

Notes on Praying the Rosary

Different Mysteries are commonly prayed on different days of the week, or different times of the year. (The Sorrowful Mysteries are common around Lent and Easter, for example.)

Day Rosary Mystery
Sunday Glorious
Monday Joyful
Tuesday Sorrowful
Wednesday Glorious
Thursday Luminous
Friday Sorrowful
Saturday Joyful
Simple table of Rosary Mysteries and days they are prayed on

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Customer Comments

We Appreciate Your Comments! We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article ''Praying the Rosary'' as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

''Loved this information on the Rosary. Very informative. I did not know you had supplies to make rosaries. Thanks so much!''
- Anonymous

''I absolutely LOVED this article. I am not Catholic and so I have never had any idea what the Rosary was about. I even went to Rome on vacation in 2012. I looked everywhere trying to find out what the Rosary meant. No luck. I can't believe I just happened to read it today on the front page of your newsletter. Thank You, as someone that likes to learn all about different religions I loved it.''
- Stacy

''What a lovely article! Thank you for printing this, very kind of you and respectful. I really appreciate it. It's nice to be able to share our traditions!''
- Claire

''I am one of your 'regular' customers. I am married to a retired Chaplain (LTC) USA Ret; I have a MA from Vanderbilt/Peabody (in Art Ed.). Though we are protestant, I love religious pieces, of any persuasion. I come from an ecumenical background including Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and good old plain Bible based church.

I want you to know how very pleased I was to see you send this special explaining etc... the use of the Rosary. It is beautiful and awesome. I do everything from pocket rosaries to large ones. We feel much of what is wrong with our wonderful country is that God and anything 'religious' are no longer tolerated in many places... it is relegated to a position of not being politically correct! So very sad!

Just wanted to thank you for making a statement with this piece... Bless you!

P.S. If any are offended by it, just trash their comments!''
- Linda

''This is one of the best articles I've read about the Rosary, how it is prayed and the prayers involved. Very well done! Someone knows their stuff!

Thank you.''
- Christine

''Just wanted to give a big thumbs up and thanks for the article on the Rosary. This is wonderful :) I'm a Catholic Rosary Maker and was tickled as a pig to see this from you guys! The only thing is that the Hail Holy Queen is said only once, after the Rosary not also on the centerpiece before the first mystery :) May you be blessed for spreading this devotion so greatly need now with the world in turmoil! Blessings!''
- Mary

''Fire Mountain Gems,

I want to thank you for your article and description of the meaning and use of the Rosary. I saw that your featured use, history and correct information of the Rosary was the best I've seen in a very long time. Creating some beautiful Rosaries would be a perfect addition to our local Church's craft group

The only thing I would suggest is that a list of the best bead sizes and the type of chain best use for their creation would be a great help. I'm sure that this type of information would help considerable.

Again, thank you for showing in such perfectly clear and beautiful explanation for Praying the Rosary.''
- Susan

''I was so surprised to see the article - 'Pray the Rosary' by Barbara van Look. It was wonderful. I printed it because it was so soothing to my heart to read this article. What a good time to share this with our country in such a mess. Thank you for not separating business and religion (any kind). I will be looking for the supplies to make my own rosary. Bless you all.

Great resource! I have been looking for the list of prayers.

Thank you!''
- Karen

''Thank you so much for this article on how to pray the Rosary. It was most informative and timely.''
- Janet

''This is a great article! I cannot imagine it would be offensive to atheists. It could be helpful to all God believing peoples no matter which Prophet they follow.

Several major religious beliefs use prayer beads. Perhaps future articles or a series of articles?

Thanks so much.''
- Lynn

''A very interesting article on the Rosary. My sister is a nun, has made Rosaries, and prayed them for years. Your essay demonstrates the modern version of the Rosary with an extra set of mysteries and added, non-canonical prayers.

The traditional version is simpler, from St. Dominic.''
- Charlotte

''Please, please, please - keep religion out of your newsletters. There are plenty of online sources for people who want to know about the meaning of a rosary. It should be enough to publish the links in the article, but the print of prayers is a bit too much for a bead supply business.''
- Kathrin

''Some of your information on praying the Rosary is incorrect. The Our Father is always prayed on the large bead (or separate bead if they are all the same size) followed by the 10 Hail Mary's, then the Glory be and the Fatima prayer before the next Our Father. The Hail Holy Queen is prayed after the last Glory be and Fatima prayer, on the center, before the Let us Pray Blessings.''
- Lottie

''Pretty accurate, but the Rosary is not a doctrine, it's a devotional practice or set of prayers.''
- Terlep

''Hello,

Am a faithful customer and want to comment on the Rosary piece you did. Overall, it is a good article. As a Roman Catholic, I feel it necessary to correct some of the assumptions you made.

Every large bead on the Rosary is an ''Our Father'' prayer. The most notable error is your explanation of the large bead after the 3 Hail Mary's on the introductory piece. This is not a Glory Be prayer; it is the beginning of the first decade and an Our Father is to be recited. The Glory Be is said right before each Our Father for every decade, but doesn't have a specific bead. The intentions are usually requested at the time of the first decade. Also, the Hail Holy Queen is said after all 5 decades on the centerpiece, not beforehand.

As I mentioned, overall a good piece but don't like to see misinformation being published about something most Roman Catholics hold very dear.

Thank you.''
- Renee

''Hi,

I love FMG and have bought thousands of dollars of merchandise from you.

Just a note re: praying the rosary being a ''doctrine'' of the church. There is no Catholic doctrine that requires praying the rosary. That statement on your newsletter is embarrassing! It's a good thing to do your homework before writing about religious doctrine.

Thanks!''
- Deborah

''I will be unsubscribing from your site since you saw fit to abuse my trust by sending unasked for and unwanted religious material.

I did not appreciate the advertisement for rosaries. Peddle your religious hatred elsewhere please.''
- Gail

''This is a good article but it starts out with ''Praying the Rosary is one of the doctrines of Roman Catholicism.'' This is false. Praying the rosary is one of the prayer traditions of the church but it is certainly not doctrine. A catholic does not have to pray the rosary, but he must accept doctrine or the teachings of the church. I suggest the author edit the lead so as not to mislead the reader. This was probably unintentional but it is important not to put out false information.''
- Juli

''Just a quick comment: I've been a Catholic my whole life, and we typically don't say the Hail, Holy Queen until we have completed all 5 decades of the rosary, followed by the Breviary, followed by the Prayer of St Michael the Archangel, then the Sign of the Cross, which is technically not a prayer. Also, after we pray the first prayers, before we begin the decades, we offer intentions up for anyone who needs prayers. Even if you're praying in solitude, it's a good idea to offer up prayer intentions.

I hope I'm not being too nitpicky. The rosary is a very beautiful tradition that goes back centuries, and it is a great way to show your love and devotion to the Lord.''
- Val

''Hi Fire Mountain Gems,

Praying the rosary is NOT a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. It is a prayer form anyone can choose to add to their storehouse of prayers and an excellent tool for meditating on the life of Christ. When blessed, the person dedicates their beads for prayer alone. A baptized person can bless their rosary beads themselves. The best book I have on the rosary (5 for Sorrow, 10 for Joy by J Neville Ward) was written by a non-Catholic minister who taught his non-Catholic congregation how to pray it. The rosary (often called the little Gospel) is for all Christians. I also use the Misbaha, an Islamic set of prayer beads, which means to announce the glories of God. I bought mine at the Tomb of Jonah in Mosul, Iraq several years ago--before Isis bombed it out of existence. A Jordanian sheik taught me how to pray the Misbaha in Arabic. I've found most people using prayer beads these days as a means of praying for peace in our world.

Please do not call the rosary a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. It is decidedly NOT.

Thank you.''
- Gloria

''Thank you for the article on the Rosary. I would like to point out some inconsistencies in the article.

1. ''At the next larger bead, just below the center medallion, the ''Glory Be'' prayer is recited:''

This is not the case. The 6 beads that are separated from the others are used for the Our Father prayer. The Glory Be prayer is prayed in the space between the Hail Mary beads and the Our Father beads.

2. Now the believer has reached the center medallion or ''medal'' which joins the string of beads. This is where the devotional intentions are stated, and which ''Mystery'' will be prayed. The Joyful Mysteries is the example given here, and ''The Annunciation'' is stated as the first Mystery. Then the ''Hail Holy Queen'' prayer is commonly recited

The center is not used as a prayer space or holder. A center is not needed to make a Rosary. Some corded Rosaries do not have them and some made for hanging on walls do not have them.

The Hail Holy Queen prayer is prayed at the conclusion of the series of decades. Whether that is 5 decades with one set of mysteries or 15 decades with all the traditional mysteries and so on.

3. ''After the medal or center medallion of the Rosary begins five sets of 10 beads which mark a cycle of prayers. The medal is held within the palm of the hand while the fingers or fingertips hold the individual beads. These sets of 10 beads are called ''decades,'' just as a set of 10 years is called a ''decade.'' When the believer holds one of the 10 small beads, the ''Our Father'' prayer is recited''

One does not need to hold any particular part of a Rosary throughout. I like to palm the Crucifix. One should hold the bead they are on in order to help keep track of the prayer they are on. This is helpful when praying in a group or alone as the Rosary is a form of meditative prayer. Each decade is preceded on the Our Father bead. If Mysteries are being used, the mystery would be announced on the Our Father bead and then the Our Father would be prayed.

4. ''The ''Hail Mary'' is repeated alone at each small bead of the decade. At the end of the decade is a small space, then a different bead. At the end of the decade, in that small space, the ''Glory Be'' and ''Fatima'' prayers are commonly recited:''

This is correct in-between the decade and the Our Father bead the Glory Be prayer are prayed. Many also follow the Glory Be in the same space with the Fatima prayer. Or more clearly, the Glory Be would always be prayed.

I'll cite the US Conference of Catholic Bishops web site for the structure of praying the Rosary. The picture is not the best but the structure is listed. Link follows

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary.cfm

A couple smaller points I would like to make.

I took your use of doctrine to mean little 'd' as in teaching or practice rather than big 'D' as in Doctrine that all Catholics must adhere to and practice. Some reading this may take it in the big 'D' sense. Catholics have been urged to pray the Rosary but it is not a requirement of being Catholic. So praying the Rosary wouldn't make me a Catholic and not saying the Rosary wouldn't mean I wasn't Catholic. The Rosary for me and the other faithful I know is a devotion to Jesus.

I haven't ever heard the reference to Lady Godiva and the Rosary. There is a reference to her in the Catholic Encyclopedia, which goes into great depth on the history of the Rosary. Link follows:

http://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/rosary

As a Catholic, and one who prays the Rosary frequently and makes them occasionally, I really appreciate your consideration.

God Bless.''
- Mark

''Hello, I am one of your very happy customers of many years. I don't have a question, but rather a huge compliment. I couldn't submit this message by your website, so I sent it to this Email address.

I would like to sincerely thank you for an article in your Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Email edition of the Jewelry Maker's Newsletter, Praying the Rosary. Your instructions on how to pray the Rosary with all of the information on the 20 Mysteries, the days they are to be prayed, and everything else about the Rosary in this article, are excellent!

I have had a devout devotion to the Most Holy Rosary for many years, and I am a Rosary-maker, too. Since 2003, I have made over 4,000 of the chain and eye pin types of Five-Decade Rosaries, plus hundreds of One-Decade Rosaries and Prayer Chaplets. Most of the materials I use in my Rosary-making, especially the 8mm gemstone beads, I purchase from your wholesale outlet, and I must say that your employees are always so kind and helpful, and the customer service they provide is fabulous! And your All-Assortable low prices make buying in quantity even better and much fun, too!

Since a large part of my life right now is centered on Rosary-making and praying the Rosary, I just want to say how wonderful it was to read the instructions on how to pray the Rosary, and perhaps this article might even attract people to begin to pray the Rosary or resume praying it once again after many years. We need powerful prayers such as the Rosary in our very troubled and broken world of today.

Thank you for such a refreshing and beautiful article on the Rosary and how to pray it!

Keep the Faith and God bless!''
- Faith


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