The Rosary needs no introdution. Even amongst non-believers, a Rosary is one of the most iconic symbols of the Catholic faith around the globe. A standard-sized Rosary contains five decades of 10 beads each, intersperced with five larger or unique beads, for each of the mysteries that are being meditated upon.
Highlights From “What I, a Non-Catholic, Discovered While Praying the Rosary”*:
When you pray the Rosary, you are connecting with Christ. You are using a visual aid (the Rosary) to inspire reflection on the life and nature of Christ.
On Mondays and Saturdays, Catholics reflect on the life of Mary, and the events leading up to Christ’s birth and His early childhood (the Joyful Mysteries).
On Thursdays, they remember some of Christ’s miracles and His early ministry, leading up to the Last Supper, (the Luminous Mysteries).
On Tuesdays and Fridays, it’s a reflection on the events of Good Friday, beginning with the Garden when Jesus is betrayed, leading up to His crucifixion (the Sorrowful Mysteries).
And finally, on Wednesdays and Sundays, it’s a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the events of the early Church, and a life of obedience to God, rewarded at the end of Mary’s life (the Glorious Mysteries).
You can also find one-decade rosaries available, called chaplets, like a miniature Rosary for your pocket. These have ten beads, plus the mystery, and when you finish praying all of the prayers through the beat set once, you can go back and do the other decades’ worth of prayers.
Obtaining your first (blessed) rosary usually isn’t difficult. Many Catholic churches will have a free area where donations are placed as a form of outreach — prayer cards, pamphlets, and yes, even rosaries. If you find yourself without the benefit of a Rosary on you, and you’d like to try anyway, ask yourself — “Have I got 10 fingers?” If you do, you can pray the Rosary.
Holding the Rosary in your hands, you’ll begin praying starting at the ‘tail’ — the end with the Crucifix and the four beads.
Step 1: Make the Sign of the Cross, by touching your hand to your head, then your heart, then your left shoulder, and finally your right shoulder. As you do this, say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.”
Step 2: Say 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 power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will 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. Amen.
Step 3: Say the “Our Father”:
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 tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us, and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen
Step 4: For each of the three beads on the tail end, say a “Hail Mary”:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed are thou among 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
Step 5: Finish the tail off with a “Glory Be”:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
You’ve now come to the first large bead on the main circle of the Rosary. There are five similar beads in all, each representating a different mystery.
Step 6: For each mystery, you will say an “Our Father”, followed by 10 “Hail Marys” and the “Glory Be”.
Step 7: Pray the “Fatima Prayer”:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”
Each prayer will guide you further along the circumference of the Rosary’s circle. During your prayers, be sure to reflect upon the mystery you are ruminating over. Repeat Steps #6 and #7 for all five decades, or, if you’re ambitious, try the full 20 decades all at once. When you’re finished with the final decade, you should return to your starting point.
There are a few final prayers to finish the Rosary.
Step 8: Pray the “Salve Regina” prayer:
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.
Step 9: Pray the “Let Us Pray” prayer:
O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise: through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Step 10: Pray the “Memorae” prayer:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence; I fly to you, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful, O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Step 11: Conclude with the “Sign of the Cross”. (See Step #1 for a refresher if needed.)
*This has been slightly edited from the original.