Nothing, and I mean NOTHING fills up the old inbox with the hatey-hate quite like a mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And I’m feeling a bit cantankerous, crotchety and like shaking my fist at the world, so watch me now bait the pagans and schismatic cultists.
Indulge me here for a moment. Do you realize there there are millions upon millions of people all over the planet who call themselves Christians who honestly believe that when they face Our Lord at their Judgment, that they will somehow *win points* by explaining to Our Blessed Lord how much they hate His Blessed Mother, and how they did everything they could to befoul and besmirch her name and reputation, and how even the slightest mention of her – Our Lord’s Mother – sent them into a spittle-spraying rage?
Just stop and sit in stillness with that, and then ponder the level of prideful stupidity that is required to honestly hold that God Incarnate hates and is somehow jealous and resentful of His Own Mother. That just pegs the needle, y’all.
Anywho, bunches of protestants, Catholics who have grown up in the Novus Ordo and thus were never taught the Rosary, or openly discouraged from praying it by the Commie-sodomite infiltrator priests and nuns, and even a couple of Jews who are taking “a second look” at Christianity, have asked me to explain what the Rosary is and how to go about praying it. Sure. No prob.
First, the history. The Rosary was given by the Blessed Virgin herself to St. Dominic in ARSH 1214. St. Dominic was having a terrible time combating heretics that were deeply embedded in the Church. (D’oh! Sound familiar??) Long story short, she appeared to St. Dominic and told him what the Holy Trinity wanted done. Her words were, “I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter.”
The Angelic Salutation are the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary from Luke 1:28: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
The rest of the prayer then quotes the words of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, upon Mary’s arrival at her home to be with her through her miraculous post-menopausal pregnancy in Luke 1:42: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
The rest of the prayer asks Our Blessed Lord’s mother to pray for us to her Son now, and especially at the hour of our death. I eagerly await all of the “Christians” in their rage at this to send me emails telling me how “dead people are DEAD and can’t pray.” Uh-huh. Riiiiight. Because John 3:16 says, as we all know, For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, would die, Die, DIE FOREVER!!!! Yeah. That makes PERFECT sense. Yoooooubetcha.
So, the Hail Mary prayer, in its entirety is:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Now back to what she told St. Dominic: the Holy Trinity wanted the Angelic Psalter. The Psalter is, of course, all 150 Psalms. So, each Angelic Salutation stands for one of the Psalms. There are 150 Psalms in the Psalter, so we pray 150 Angelic Salutation prayers (Hail Mary…).
Now here is where it gets REALLY cool. Each block of 10 Angelic Salutation prayers (Hail Marys) is matched up with a key event in the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord from the perspective of His Mother – so what you are doing is essentially praying the Gospel itself, in order. These events are called “Mysteries”. These 15 Mysteries are then divided into three groups: Joyful (Life), Sorrowful (Passion and Death), and Glorious (Resurrection). So no, one is NOT mindlessly babbling prayers. During each decade of Hail Marys, not only are you thinking about the Angelic Salutation itself AND of the need for God’s Mercy upon you, a miserable sinner, both now and especially at the hour of your death, but you are also thinking about the event in the Gospel that each decade represents AND how that mystery applies to you and your life. Each mystery has attached to it a “fruit”, which comes through grace when one prays it well.
Again, as an aside, I await with bated breath the emails telling me how praying the same prayer ten times constitutes mindless babbling, but also how structured prayer that requires ACTUAL THOUGHT AND FOCUS is evil, too. No, really. I love it when people argue directly contradicting ideas in the same breath – the same way I love watching videos of cats running into sliding glass doors.
Here are the mysteries and their fruits:
First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation (Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive the Savior by the Holy Spirit). Fruit: Humility
Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation (Mary goes to her cousin Elizabeth who is 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist). Fruit: Charity – Love of Neighbor
Third Joyful Mystery: The Birth of Jesus. Fruit: Poverty, Detachment from Earthly Things
Fourth Joyful Mystery: Presentation of Infant Jesus at the Temple. Fruit: Obedience
Fifth Joyful Mystery: Finding the Boy Jesus teaching at the Temple Fruit: Piety, Zeal for God
First Sorrowful Mystery: Christ’s Agony in the Garden. Fruit: Sorrow for Sin (both one’s own sin and the sins of the world), Conformity to the Will of God
Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit: Purity
Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit: Moral Courage
Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross Fruit: Patience
Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fruit: Perseverance, Self-Denial
First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection. Fruit: Faith
Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension. Fruit: Hope, Desire for Heaven
Third Glorious Mystery: Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary (Pentecost). Fruit: Wisom, Love of God
Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Fruit: Grace of a Holy Death
Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven. Fruit: Trust in Mary’s Intercession
Where’s the Assumption in the Bible? Oh, it isn’t explicitly there, but that’s okay because as John clearly, clearly states in the last verse of his gospel, they didn’t write everything down because if they had, the world itself could not have contained all of the texts. That’s why Our Lord gave us The Church, and sent the Holy Ghost to protect it and guide it, including the repository of non-written information and Holy Tradition at Pentecost. And I would just ask one more simple question. We have bits of everyone else’s bodies. They are called relics, and they are really, really important. Where are The Blessed Virgin’s relics? Oh, that’s right. There are none, and never have been any. Why? Because she was assumed body and soul into heaven. John and the rest of the Apostles and Church Fathers did not MISPLACE the body of Our Lord’s mother. If you think that they did, then I really can’t help you with that. Only God can fix problems of that enormity.
But, but, where is this Queen of Heaven stuff in the Bible? Revelation 12. Right there.
Now, the actual procedure. Below is a picture of a Rosary. Start at the Crucifix. Begin with,
“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.”
On the Crucifix recite the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
On the first bead up from the Crucifix, say one Our Father (Lord’s Prayer):
Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
There is a wider gap and then three beads – each of those is a Hail Mary. The first should be for Faith, the second for Hope, and the third for Love – Charity. Also internally specify any specific intention you have for this Rosary at this time.
There is a wider gap and then one more bead before the center medallion. On this bead say one Gloria Patri:
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
Now you’re on the center medallion thing. Here, we pray the Fatima Prayer, given by the Blessed Virgin to the children at Fatima, Portugal in ARSH 1917:
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.
Now you are one the circular part of the chain. Start with the First Joyful Mystery. Announce which mystery it is and its fruit:
“The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation. Fruit of the Mystery: Humility.”
Begin each mystery with
One Our Father
The recite the
Ten Hail Marys
There are ten beads for each Hail Mary. You will then reach a seperator bead with a bit more length of chain on each side of it. On this bead conclude the Mystery with
One Gloria Patri and
One Fatima Prayer
Continue on to the Second Joyful Mystery, etc.
When you have finished the Fifth Mystery and are back at the center medallion thing, conclude the Rosary with
One Salve Regina:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we made be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
And finish with this concluding prayer:
O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Each set of five decades takes roughly 22 minutes to pray. Praying all three sets of mysteries, the entire Angelic Psalter, requires a little over an hour. If you just do one set of mysteries per day (Joyful, Sorrowful or Glorious), the Church’s Tradition has been:
I have YouTubes of each of the Three sets of mysteries in LATIN linked up above on the Menu bar. You can find oodles of English YouTube Rosaries with a simple search on YouTube. You don’t NEED audio, but it is a great way to learn when getting started and I sometimes use audio when in a noisy environment or just to help focus. My mind tends to race sometimes.
If you don’t have an actual set of Rosary beads yet, no problem. You have, I would assume, ten fingers. You’re always equipped.
Bottom line: this works. It is endlessly deep as there are endless insights to be had into the Gospel, and every day presents each of us with a new dataset that needs to be parsed and reconciled to the Gospel. The Rosary accomplishes this, if prayed persistently and piously. I can’t tell you how many flashes of comprehension, ways of explaining something and good essay ideas have come to me while praying the Rosary. It’s even more productive “thinking time” than in the shower or when highway driving with the radio off. Those were my two big thinking session venues BEFORE I started praying the Rosary years ago.
The Rosary is second only in efficacy and merit to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself. It is God’s gift to us. When God gives you something, use it.