Saturday, 24 May 2008

May the Month of Our Lady and of the Rosary

Photos © Vernon Quaintance, with originals on his web site.


Catholics, for at least the past 700 years, have used the string of beads called a rosary, literally a "string of roses," for counting prayers and for prayerful meditation. A special devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, rosary recitations are a cornerstone of spiritual practice for Catholics around the world.

The rosary is made of a circlet of fifty-four beads: five groups of ten (called "decades") separated by a space containing a single bead which is sometimes larger than the others. Attached to this circlet is a string containing five more beads and ending with a crucifix, or cross, representing the death of Jesus Christ. Each bead calls for a particular prayer recitation.
These prayers are not only a meditative devotion, but an affirmation of the faith.

Fifteen different Mysteries of Faith are rotated according to the day of the week or the time of the year, or one is chosen to suit a particular occasion such as a funeral, baptism, or wedding. These fifteen mysteries fall into three larger categories, (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorios) with five in each.

The Joyful Mysteries are

-The Announcement to Mary that she will be the virgin mother of the Son of God;
-The Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, who immediately recognizes that Mary is carrying "blessed fruit,";
-The birth of Jesus;
-The Presentation of infant Jesus in the temple;
-Finding the young Jesus teaching in the temple.

The Sorrowful Mysteries


-The Agony in the Garden;
-The Scourging at the Pillar;
-The Crowning with Thorns;
-Jesus carrying the Cross;
-Jesus' Crucifixion and Death.

The Glorious Mysteries are:


-The Resurrection of Jesus;
-The Ascencion of Jesus into Heaven;
-The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles;
-The Assumption of Mary into Heaven;
-The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

How to Pray it?

To pray the rosary, Catholics begin with the Sign of the Cross. "In the name of the Father" they touch their forehead; "and the Son" moving hand to solar plexus; "and the Holy Spirit" moving hand first to the left shoulder and then the right.

Holding the Crucifix, or cross, at the end of the single string of beads, they recite the Apostles' Creed, as follows:
The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again 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 the life everlasting. Amen


The first bead, the one next to the crucifix, is for the Our Father as found in the Bible and is commonly prayed in all Christian faiths.

The Pater Noster

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 space, then three beads close together, each for a recitation of the Hail Mary, which is as follows:

The Ave Maria

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of the womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

There is another space, then a single bead for the Gloria prayer:
The Gloria

Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Next comes a connector. This is the link between the circlet and the attached string, and is frequently decorated with carving or made of a bead in the shape of a spiritual icon.

At this point, the prayor acknowledges which series of mysteries will be the focus, and names the first of those mysteries. Moving his fingers to the first bead of the first decade, he begins the Hail Mary prayers, said once for each of the ten beads in the group. When he comes to the bead held in the larger space, he recites the Glory prayer, the Our Father, names the next mystery, and again says ten Hail Marys.

This is repeated until the circle is complete. The following prayer is said at the close of the circle:

The Salve Regina

HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, 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 valley 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 may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

A sign of the cross closes the rosary meditation.

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