How to say the rosary
Catholics learn how to say the rosary as part of their religious trainingTo Roman Catholics, the word "rosary" means two things. First, it is a circular string of beads connected to a cross that is used for saying a series of prayers, usually as a devotional to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Second, it is the traditional sequence of prayers (differentiated by capitalizing the R) that most Catholics recite, either aloud or silently, when they say they are praying the Rosary.
Receiving a first rosary and learning how to say the Rosary is a right of passage for young Catholics that is often part of receiving First Communion, the first time they are allowed to received the sacred host during Mass. The rosary is a powerful symbol of their religious faith and many Catholics carry one in their pocket or purse and some wear them as a necklace around their necks.
The traditional string of rosary beads made from simple wood or expensive gems begins with a small cross or crucifix connected to a string of five beads – three small ones and two larges at each end. This string is connected, sometimes at a medal, to a circular strand of beads that are separated into groups of ten by five larger beads. These five sets of ten beads are called "decades" and help to keep track of the meditations or "mysteries" that each represent.
These mysteries are events in the life of Mary and Jesus beginning with the Annunciation of Jesus' birth and ending with Mary ascending into heaven. There are four sets of mysteries named Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Joyous.
Traditionally, those who say the rosary regularly meditate on a different set of mysteries each day of the week. The five large beads separating the "decades" symbolize the five events in each mystery, such as the birth of Jesus, His baptism, the crucifixion and His resurrection from the dead.
The traditional sequence for how to say the Rosary is as follows. Begin by holding the cross and reciting the Apostles Creed, a traditional prayer summarizing the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. Move to the first large bead and recite the Lord's Prayer or Our Father. On each of the three small beads, recite a Hail Mary, a prayer to the Virgin Mary. On the second large bead, recite the Glory Be To The Father, a short prayer to the Holy Trinity.
Moving your fingers to the circular string and the first large bead, you say or remember the first mystery in the set of mysteries that you are meditating on that day. Recite the Our Father, then move to the first set or decade of ten smaller beads and recite a Hail Mary on each. When you reach the next large bead, recite a Glory Be To The Father. Staying on this bead, remember the second mystery in the set, recite an Our Father and begin the sequence again. When you complete the five decades and reach the beginning of the rosary again, say the Hail, Holy Queen prayer.
Many Catholics end by making the sign of the cross with the rosary before putting it away.
Once they learn how to say the Rosary, many Catholics use it for daily or frequent contemplation and as a calming meditation. Said alone or in a group, the Rosary is a powerful symbol of faith for Catholics.