Hello Rosary Lovers! In this article we will ask: what is praying the Rosary?
This must be a question many people ask all over the world. Everyone has heard of the Rosary and Rosary beads. But very few know what it’s about.
This article is one way to answer this question.
Praying the Rosary is a Very Popular Catholic Devotion
The first thing to say is that the Rosary is a Catholic devotion. It is a prayer that is said by many Catholics all over the globe, and it is very popular.
When you visit Italy or Spain, it’s not hard to find a shop just about anywhere that sells rosaries. They’re everywhere in traditionally Catholic countries.
Many Catholics hang a set of rosary beads from their car mirror. Others wear a rosary all the time around their neck. Still others keep a rosary always in their pocket.
Devotion to the Rosary is one of the most popular devotions in the Catholic Church.
It would be impossible to give an estimate of how many people are devoted in some way to the rosary in the world, but the real number must surely be very, very large.
It’s not just a practice that is done by Catholics. Devotion to the Rosary has even spread to Orthodox Christians and some Protestants, especially Anglicans.
Even Muslims and Buddhists have something similar in their respective religions.
The practice of using beads to pray with is very ancient, and might predate Christianity. Some of the early Desert monks used to use little stones to pray with, so they knew how many prayers they had prayed.
Praying the Rosary is Simple
So the Rosary is a practice that has developed over time a great deal, but in essence it is very simple.
A set of Rosary beads is simply a circle of 50 beads, with a ‘break’ inbetween each set of 10 beads. Often there is a bead to mark each break, making the total 54/55 beads.
On the ‘break’ beads, an our Father is recited. One each string of 10 beads, a Hail Mary is prayed. Then a Glory be is added at the end of the 10 Hail Marys.
Add to this the mysteries which are essential to the Rosary. One mystery might be the resurrection. Another mystery might be the crowning with thorns.
There are 15 (or 20) mysteries in total, all designed to teach the Gospel of Christ. See this post for a full list of the mysteries.
A mystery is announced, then one Our Father is recited on the ‘break’ bead, followed by 10 Hail Marys on the string of 10 beads. Then a Glory be to finish.
5 mysteries recited in order is one complete Rosary and takes you back to the beginning of the Rosary beads.
So, to conclude:
- 15 mysteries
- One Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and one Glory Be for each mystery.
- Announce the mystery before praying the Our Father.
- 5 mysteries = one Rosary
Pretty simple, right?
And the simplicity of the Rosary is part of its tremendous popularity.
Praying the Rosary is Profound
Yet the Rosary – surprisingly – is also a very profound prayer. With all this simplicity, don’t be fooled. Praying this way will often take people into the depths of the Gospel and the depths of God.
A great many people meet God through this practice. Many come to love Mary far more than they ever did before.
Christ becomes more precious to those who recite the Rosary often.
It’s a mystery how something so simple can at the same time be so deep and mysterious.
People literally almost fall in love with the Rosary.
St Pope John Paul II sums this up nicely:
‘The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth.’
Praying the Rosary is not Mandatory for Catholics
Despite it’s huge popularity, the Catholic Church nowhere commands Catholics to pray it. Various Popes have commended the Rosary to Catholics, but never have they made it mandatory.
This may be because the Church doesn’t believe that one specific devotion is for everyone. Some Catholics just don’t take to the Rosary very well. They’re not wired this way.
Mercifully, the Church provides many different forms of devotions for Catholics. None of them are mandatory.
The only ‘devotion’ that is mandatory is to take part in attending Holy Mass. Every Catholic must do this at least once a week on Sunday.
The Mass, however, is beyond a mere devotion. A prayer practice is a devotion, but the Mass is far more than this.
The Mass is the offering of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, to Almighty God himself. Being present at this great Sacrifice is extremely important, because it is literally the supreme worship of God in the universe.
The Mass is also the very sum and substance of the faith of every Catholic. As St John Paul II says: ‘The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.’
Devotions are what we do outside of Mass, but Mass itself is way beyond a mere devotion. It is THE devotion and worship that Catholics offer to God for the universe and for all of creation.
Moreover, the feast upon the very body and blood of the incarnate God himself is to taste the flesh and blood of the Creator of the universe. You can’t get closer to God than this.
The Rosary, viewed on its own, is infinitely inferior to the Mass.
Praying the Rosary Usually Requires a Set of Rosary Beads
We’ve already mentioned this really, but it’s worth pointing out that you can pray the Rosary without a set of rosary beads. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to use rosary beads.
You might not have a Rosary, for instance.
However, it is highly recommended to keep the Rosary prayers and Rosary beads together. They are designed to be kept together.
If you want to look for a rosary, please see this helpful post.
Please leave a comment below or ask a question and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.