How to pray the Rosary

(Image: Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash)

7 min • January 4, 2022

You already know how to pray the Rosary. And those of you who are younger can learn from the older ones. But there are more or less useful ways to pray it. I promised you before I would explain to you some of the useful ways, and I finally can steal a little time to do so.

First, know that the whole point of the Rosary is not to repeat many words. For Jesus Himself said that you need not many words to pray, for your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him. Yes, the words are good, and the repetition is good, but not because God needs to hear it.

The important thing is that your heart, mind, and imagination are lifted up into these great Mysteries that you’re meditating on. The repetition of the prayers gives us just the right amount of time to think about each mystery, while also benefiting us as actual requests that truly are answered with a “yes” from Heaven.

When you pray, your mind is going to wander. This is expected since we’re still affected by Original Sin, but you can turn this to your benefit by giving it something to wander into.

So at the beginning of each mystery, spend a few seconds trying to come up with three specific requests related to the mystery.

Don’t make your requests for worldly advantage. Don’t see the Nativity and pray that you get a lot of presents. Don’t pray the Finding in the Temple and pray that you get to see beautiful holy places. This will not make you happy.

I want to emphasize that you must try to aim for three. This is because, if our mind wanders away from one of them, it has two others to go to, before it gets lost back in other things that won’t help you at all.

For your three requests, choose some practical virtues that you think is relevant or necessary in your life. Look for ones that will help you, not someone else. The Rosary is the time to be selfish with prayers.

For example, in the Crowning with Thorns, you might notice that authority is the bigger picture of this mystery. Pontius Pilate misused his authority, giving in to the Pharisees instead of enforcing justice. The soldiers mocked Jesus’s authority with contempt and scorn, crowning him with thorns. And Jesus Himself said to Pontius Pilate that all authority on earth comes from Heaven.

Now, if you’re a parent or someone in authority, you’ll pray that you use your authority well and justly, doing only God’s will with it. You’ll pray that you bear patiently with contempt of authority, handling it with holy prudence like the Saints did. You’ll pray that you yourelf are obedient to the governing authorities, and that all in your charge follow your example in this.

This is just one example. If you pray and ask for help coming up with these for every mystery, God will grant it.

Then, as you pray your decade, let your mind drift off into the thoughts that come to your mind about this mystery. Notice every once in a while where your mind is, just so you can reign it in from thoughts outside the Rosary, but if you notice that it’s thinking on holy things, quietly let it continue.

To help you with this, it’s extremely helpful to have holy pictures all around you. This is always helpful, and I hope and pray that your walls are covered with holy pictures, and you can even draw them if God gave you that talent, returning it back to Him, which I’m sure he’ll bless you for.

As a more complete example, you might be praying the Glorious mysteries, and be on decade of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Now, assuming you’re looking at a good Catholic painting of this mystery, while coming up with the intentions you might notice the flames, and ask God to inflame your heart with a burning love of Him which you know you ought to have, and want, but don’t have as fully as you want to. You might remember that the disciples were all praying together, waiting for the Holy Spirit for 9 days, so you might ask that you persevere in prayer. Or, you might notice that they proclaimed the Gospel shortly after with all boldness, and ask that you be more devoted to the teachings of the Church, especially the Gospels.

Now, while you’re praying this mystery, your mind might drift off into thoughts about how the Holy Spirit sounded like a rushing wind. This might remind you of God breathing into Adam and Eve their life through their nostrils, and the flames might remind you of the angel with the flaming sword that guarded the Garden of Eden. This might lead to some good and helpful conclusions that will eventually help you to love God even more, be more grateful, and praise him better. If it leads to nowhere, that’s fine, let your mind keep wandering.

That’s the last thing to do when meditating on each mystery: try to draw a conclusion. These random thoughts by themselves are not useful, they need to be turned into some sort of gratitude or love or prayer.

So, let’s say you are imagining Jesus ascending to his Throne, to be seated at the right hand of the Father in the Ascension. You might remember that Jesus said “all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me” just before his Ascension. Now, if you have bad things happening in your life, you will be reminded that Jesus has the power to stop them immediately with his authority. This should comfort you. But, seeing that he has not yet stopped them, you’ll maybe remember that he told the parable about the Unjust Judge, reassuring us that he will stop them one day, and that he afterwards asked, “nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” And you will answer from the depths of your heart, “yes Lord, I will have faith that you will stop these bad things when you judge that it’s time; in the meantime, I will obey you and trust in you completely; prevent me from ever being separated from you by sin.” And this is a good and heartfelt prayer, deeply pleasing to Jesus. Know that he smiles on you from Heaven, although you can’t see it, and all of this will help you to grow deeper in love for Jesus.

These are just a few examples. Ask God, and he will help you to do this with each decade, every day.

Do not worry about which kind of rosary you pick, or how you hold it, those details aren’t important at all. And don’t worry too much about your posture right now either; if you follow my advice, then this will come later.

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