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 | By Sister Ann Shields

Praying the Rosary

Since Oct. 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I want to devote my column this month to offering a way of praying the rosary that can be very fruitful.

The rosary prayer, inspired by Mary, has 20 decades. Usually when we say we pray the rosary, we pray five of those decades each day – not all 20. However, you can, if you wish. There are five decades devoted to the joyful mysteries: the annunciation, the visitation, the birth of our Lord, the presentation of the Lord in the temple, the finding of the child Jesus in the temple. The five sorrowful mysteries are the agony in the garden, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross and the crucifixion and death of the Lord. The glorious mysteries are: the resurrection of the Lord, the ascension of the Lord into heaven, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the assumption of Mary into heaven and the crowning of Mary as queen of heaven. Finally there are the luminous mysteries given to us by John Paul II in October 2002: the baptism of Jesus by John, the wedding feast at Cana, the proclamation of the Gospel, the transfiguration, the mystery of the Eucharist. These five are called luminous because they shed particular light on the divinity of Christ and the gifts he has bestowed on us.

In this article I want to devote some time to the joyful mysteries and, by developing them a little, give you a model for prayer of the rosary.

The joyful mysteries:

The annunciation (Luke 1:26-36): Read this before you pray the first decade. This is the mystery describing the angel’s appearance to Mary, asking her to become the mother of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of the Father. Startled, she asks the appropriate question, but having heard the answer, she consents without hesitation. Before you pray this decade, reflect on Mary’s willingness and obedience. I ask for God’s grace, as I pray this decade, that I would be more and more willing to do God’s will and I pray the same grace for those I love.

The visitation (Luke 1:39-56): Mary has just learned something that turns her life upside down and inside out. Everything is changed – her present and her future. She needed to trust God. Then, on top of all the startling personal news, she is asked to go and visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who would be in need of womanly support and encouragement. Mary not only went; she went “with haste.” I want to be like Mary, desiring to do the Father’s will even when something doesn’t make sense or seems less important than my own personal need. Pray this decade for that intention and for those you love.

The birth of the Lord (Luke 2:1-20): How hard that must have been for Mary – to give birth away from family and friends, away from the help of other women; to give birth in such conditions of poverty and having experienced many refusals. How do I deal with trials and unexpected circumstances? Mary trusted God first and then what Joseph could provide. Do I trust God when circumstances are unexpected or difficult? Ask God to increase your faith and trust in him and in those for whom you pray.

The fourth and fifth joyful mysteries are the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22-40) and the finding of the child Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). 

>> I believe if you pray the rosary, or at least a part of a rosary, each day, you will find the peace, the wisdom and the strength that God wants you to have as his disciples. If you are not accustomed to praying the rosary, then begin by saying one a week. Remember it is not the multiplicity of words, of prayers – God looks for the intention of the heart.