The practice of praying the rosary has its historical roots with St. Dominic. St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. Monks in the monasteries recited the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) daily. This included all 150 Psalms. The lay people were unable to read so they substituted Ave Maria’s (Hail Mary’s) for the psalms. The first half of the rosary is found in the Bible. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” This statement was made by Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1: 26). The second part of the prayer is a prayer is a request that Mary pray for us at the time of death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.
By meditating on the life of Jesus, the rosary brings Jesus into our daily life. There are four sets of mysteries which we meditate on: The Joyful , The Glorious, The Sorrowful, and the Luminous
Each set has five mysteries.
The Joyful Mysteries: 1. Annunciation 2. Visitation 3. Birth of Jesus 4. Presentation in the Temple 5. Finding the Child Jesus
The Luminous Mysteries: 1. Christ’s Baptism I the Jordan 2. Wedding at Cana 3. Proclamation of the Kingdom 4. Transfiguration 5. Institution of the Eucharist
Sorrowful Mysteries: 1. Agony in the Garden 2. Scourging at the Pillar 3. Crowning with Thorns 4. Carrying of the Cross 5. Crucifixion
Glorious Mysteries: 1. Resurrection 2. Ascension into Heaven 3. Descent of the Holy Spirit 4. Assumption 5. Crowning of Our Blessed Lady
By meditating and pondering on the life of Christ we receive grace and guidance from the Holy Spirit. A popular saying is “to Jesus, through Mary”. Mary is our spiritual mother. She always guides us to her Son. After the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary is the most popular prayer of the church.
Bl. John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries during his papacy.
Do Catholics actually worship Mary when they pray the rosary? Veneration and worship are two different things. To venerate is to honor. Jesus honored his mother. (Isn’t one of the commandments honor thy father and thy mother?) We are called to imitate Jesus. Why then would we pretend Mary doesn’t exist?
Worship is given to God alone (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). All Mary’s power comes from God, not from herself. But we can easily relate to Mary. She was given great responsibility. She was troubled, but her answer was “Let it be done according to thy word.”
May we always imitate Mary when given an assignment by God!