The month of October is dedicated to the holy Rosary, one of the best known of all Catholic devotions. October includes the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7).
What is the Rosary?
The Rosary is made up of 20 ‘mysteries’ drawn from the New Testament and is centred on the great events of the Incarnation and Redemption. Each ‘decade’ (ten Hail Marys are prayed on ten beads for each mystery) refers to an event in the life of Jesus and Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary give us “thumbnails” of the life of Christ and his Mother.
The Joyful Mysteries are taken mostly from Saint Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament. They involve the joyful events of Jesus’ childhood.
The Luminous Mysteries bring a deeper understanding to the public life of Jesus. They fill in the blanks between the childhood of Jesus and His suffering and death on the cross.
The Sorrowful Mysteries remind us of how much Jesus loves us. They recall how He suffered and died just for us.
The Glorious Mysteries tell us what happened after Jesus died-His Resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the love Jesus had for his Mother.
Do Catholics still pray the Rosary?
Pope Benedict XVI said in an address at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome where he prayed the rosary with the faithful:
Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can “water” society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each “Hail Mary”.
How to pray the Rosary
If you’ve never prayed the rosary, like everything new it takes a bit of time to get the hang of, but you’ll be glad of sticking with it. The rosary is a tried-and-tested way of drawing close to Jesus through his Blessed Mother. Here’s a tip: you don’t have to pray the rosary at the speed of an express train! Take your time. Linger over the words and let them centre your prayers and thoughts on Jesus and the wonderful things he has done for us. The gentle repetition in the rosary is meant to lead us into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery.
Here’s a simple guide to praying the rosary. It includes all the prayers you need and lists the 20 mysteries:
Some Rosary meditations
Here are some beautiful meditations on each of the mysteries of the rosary, including Scripture verses, meditations of the Saints and works of art: