by Ken Rolheiser
Understanding the Mystery of the Rosary

Our family rosary accompanied my ancestors from Russia to the Saskatchewan prairies, and its strong daily tradition impacted my mind from my earliest memories. Even if the hour was late when visitors left, we would kneel for the rosary before going to bed.

In the Middle Ages St Dominic began the practice of reciting 150 Our Fathers and Hail Marys so that lay people could have a religious prayer life corresponding to the daily religious Divine Office of 150 psalms.

The rosary does provide a daily prayer link to scripture in the mysteries of the rosary that recount the events in the life of Jesus and Mary. The Rosary is embraced by persons of all ages and faiths, including many Saints, some of whom have departed this earth.

I have shared many of Mary’s miracles in previous columns but wish to recall one as a reminder. I write this on October 13, the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, 1917, witnessed by thousands of journalists, lawyers and scientists, as well as many faithful. After that, everyone believed.

People wept and prayed with uncovered heads. God changed the movement of the sun to win our love. God also showed us at Fatima that children can change the world. And he showed us that we can trust Mary.

Now what is this simple prayer taught to children and how can we enjoy its blessings? It is a matter of meditating on Divine mysteries as we recite the prayers and count the beads. Reflecting on the stories of the incarnation and redemption will deepen our knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.

“How do we pray the rosary? Each rosary has a crucifix at the end of a short extension below the loop. Begin by holding the crucifix and making the sign of the cross.” The very first prayer of the rosary is the Apostle’s Creed. Then pray one Our Father, followed by three Hail Marys for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, and end with a Glory Be (the Doxology). 

Then at the start of each decade of ten beads announce the mystery and pray the Our Father. Then pray a Hail Mary on each decade of ten small beads, ending with a Glory Be.

“During these decades it is customary to mediate on a “mystery” from the life of Christ. Tradition assigns different mysteries of the Rosary to each day of the week, but individual piety is not bound to it.” (Vova Sheychuk, “The Rosary: A complete guide to its origin and how to pray it”).

The Mysteries of the Rosary for Mondays and Saturdays
The Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Jesus, The Presentation of Jesus, The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Tuesdays and Fridays
The Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony of Jesus in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, The Crucifixion.

Wednesdays and Sundays
The Glorious Mysteries: The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of Mary into Heaven; The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

St. John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary: The Baptism in the River Jordan, The Wedding Feast at Cana, The Preaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God, The Transfiguration, The Institution of the Holy Eucharist.

“The Rosary is my favorite prayer.” (St John Paul II). It helps us focus our attention on Divine Mysteries.

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