The Order of Prayers
The Rosary begins with the Apostles Creed, followed by one Our Father, three Hail Marys (traditionally offered for an increase in faith, hope, and charity for those praying the Rosary), a Glory Be, and, if desired, the Fatima Prayers. Next come five mysteries, each consisting of one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, a Glory Be, and, if desired, the Fatima Prayers. Conclude with the Hail Holy Queen. Please say a few extra prayers after the Hail Holy Queen for the Pope.
The Twenty Mysteries
Here is a brief listing and description of all twenty Mysteries.
The Joyful Mysteries (Monday, Wednesday)
- The Annunciation: The Archangel Gabriel “announces” to Mary that she shall conceive the Son of God.
- The Visitation: Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist.
- The Nativity: Jesus is born.
- The Presentation: Mary and Joseph “present” Jesus in the Temple where they meet Simeon.
- The Finding in the Temple: After losing Him, Mary and Joseph find young Jesus teaching the Rabbis in the Temple.
The Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)
- The Baptism in the Jordan: The voice of the Father declares Jesus the beloved Son.
- The Wedding at Cana: Christ changes water into wine, his first public miracle.
- The Proclamation of the Kingdom: Jesus calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him.
- The Transfiguration: The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ.
- The Institution of the Eucharist: Jesus offers the first Mass at the Last Supper with his apostles, establishing the sacramental foundation for all Christian living.
The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday, Friday)
- The Agony in the Garden: Jesus sweats water and blood while praying the night before his passion.
- The Scourging at the Pillar: Pilate has Jesus whipped.
- The Crowning with Thorns: Roman soldiers crown Jesus’ head with thorns.
- The Carrying of the Cross: Jesus meets His mother and falls three times on the way up Calvary.
- The Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies before His mother and His apostle John.
The Glorious Mysteries (Wednesday, Sunday)
- The Resurrection: Jesus rises from the dead.
- The Ascension: Jesus leaves the Apostles and bodily “ascends” to heaven.
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit: The Apostles receive the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire in the upper room with Mary.
- The Assumption: Mary is taken bodily–assumed–into heaven by God at the end of her life here on earth.
- The Coronation: Mary is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Praying the Rosary
Try to place yourself “into” the scene of the particular mystery as you pray, imagining the sights, smells, sounds, and emotions that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and other participants experienced during the actual events.
It is also okay to meditate on the meaning of the words of the prayers as you pray them, or even to meditate on the person for whom you are offering the Rosary.
Practically everyone who prays the Rosary “offers” the Rosary to God and Our Lady for an intention. Some people offer particular intentions before each decade. You can ask God to grant you a favor, heal a sick person, or convert a sinner. Some people offer the same intention every day–sometimes for years on end–especially when asking the Father for the conversion of a particular person. Intentions are as varied as the people who pray.
Ask for big and small gifts. Be bold! In this sense, the Rosary is an exchange of gifts between friends.
It is widely known that Our Lady answers seemingly impossible intentions to those who are first beginning to pray the Rosary. This is her way of drawing you closer to Her and to Jesus. If you are praying your first Rosary, or returning to the Rosary after years of not talking to Our Lady, ask for something big, spectacular, “impossible.” She’ll often surprise you.
The Family Rosary
The Family Rosary is usually prayed out loud after dinner or before going to bed. Family members can take turns “leading” the decades with one person praying the beginning of the prayers, and all others praying the endings. Some families announce intentions before they begin the Rosary; others take turns announcing special intentions before they begin the Rosary; others take turns announcing special intentions before the beginning of each decade. Many families add favorite prayers at the end of the Rosary, or ask favorite saints and angels to pray for them.
Any time you pray any set of prayers nine consecutive times, it is a novena (novena is Latin for nine). There are many traditional Catholic novenas, and several involve the Rosary. The most common is to say nine straight Saturdays or for nine consecutive hours in one day.