Praying with the rosary beads are a major part of the Catholic faith traditions, but most people outside of the faith have no idea what the purpose is. Interestingly, the beads are the most recognizable symbols of Catholicism, even though most people do not actually know what the purpose of using them is. Many Catholic members may know why we use them, but they may not know the history behind how we began that particular tradition in the church.
In the 13th century, St. Dominic is said to have had the Blessed Virgin Mary appear to him and give him a rosary. She told him to make sure Christians pray the Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be prayers in place of praying the Psalms. This began the tradition, but it has become so deeply ingrained into the church that we cannot imagine our faith traditions without it all of these years later.
The purpose of the rosary beads is to count the number of prayers that you are going through. When you are given the task of praying a certain number of prayers by your priest, it can help you prevent losing track of how many you have already done. There are also mysteries to reflect on in the rosary and those are also counted on rosary beads when it is time to reflect upon them. For example, the five joyful mysteries that are typically reflected upon on Mondays and Saturdays are related to the birth of Christ. There are also five luminous mysteries in more recent history of the church from 2002 and five sorrowful mysteries that are related to the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The five glorious mysteries are related to the resurrection of Christ but also related to the promise of heaven that is given to all of us who follow Christ.
Although it is important to reflect on the mysteries of the faith that were listed, there are also crucial aspects to the faith in our day to day prayers that the rosary can help with. We have standard prayers that are more involved in our regular traditions from the Apostle’s Creed like Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Rosary beads are meant to help us go through what is called a “decade” and one decade generally consists of one Our Father prayer, ten Hail Mary prayers and one Glory Be prayer. That can be a lot to keep track of when you are focused on prayer rather than counting, so the rosary beads are designed to keep you on track for the duration of prayer and when you get back to the beginning of where you started, you will know that you have gone through all of the necessary prayers to constitute a full decade.
If you want to know how to pray the full rosary, here are the steps laid out.
When you are on the crucifix, you should say the Apostle’s Creed and then you will move to the next large bead for the Our Father.
The next three small beads are there for three Hail Mary, and then you will pray the Glory Be on the chain. On the next large bead you will pray the first mystery (whichever mystery you are praying, Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful or Glorious), and then you will say the Our Father again after the first mystery.
The next ten beads will be used to pray the ten Hail Mary while reflecting and meditating upon the mystery that you are praying.
The next chain will be for the Glory Be and then you will go through the full list of steps again four more times since there are five mysteries for each list of mysteries.
The rosary makes all of these steps so easy to go through that they will quickly become second nature and help you feel more grounded in your traditions of faith and worship!
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