The Rosary helps us to pray to Jesus through Mary. When we pray the Rosary, we think about the special events, or mysteries, in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

The Rosary is made up of a string of beads and a crucifix. We hold the crucifix in our hands as we pray the Sign of the Cross. Then we pray the Apostles’ Creed.

Between the crucifix and the medal of Mary, there is a single bead, followed by a set of three beads and another single bead. We pray the Lord’s Prayer as we hold the first single bead and a Hail Mary at each bead in the set of three that follows. Then we pray the Glory Be to the Father. On the next single bead we think about the first mystery and pray the Lord’s Prayer.

There are five sets of ten beads; each set is called a decade. We pray a Hail Mary on each bead of a decade as we reflect on a particular mystery in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The Glory Be to the Father is prayed at the end of each set. Between sets is a single bead on which we think about one of the mysteries and pray the Lord’s Prayer.

We end by holding the crucifix in our hands as we pray the Sign of the Cross.

Mysteries of the Rosary

The Church has used three sets of mysteries for many centuries. In 2002 Pope John Paul II proposed a fourth set of mysteries—the Mysteries of Light, or Luminous Mysteries. According to his suggestion, the four sets of mysteries might be prayed on the following days: the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday, and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.

The Joyful Mysteries
• The Annunciation: Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
• The Visitation: Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered.
• The Nativity: Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem.
• The Presentation: Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
• The Finding of Jesus in the Temple: Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers.

The Mysteries of Light
• The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan: God proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son.
• The Wedding Feast at Cana: At Mary’s request, Jesus performs his first miracle.
• The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God: Jesus calls all to conversion and service to the Kingdom.
• The Transfiguration of Jesus: Jesus is revealed in glory to Peter, James, and John.
• The Institution of the Eucharist: Jesus offers his Body and Blood at the Last Supper.

The Sorrowful Mysteries
• The Agony in the Garden: Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he dies.
• The Scourging at the Pillar: Jesus is lashed with whips.
• The Crowning With Thorns: Jesus is mocked and crowned with thorns.
• The Carrying of the Cross: Jesus carries the cross that will be used to crucify him.
• The Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies.

The Glorious Mysteries
• The Resurrection: God the Father raises Jesus from the dead.
• The Ascension: Jesus returns to his Father in heaven.
• The Coming of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit comes to bring new life to the disciples.
• The Assumption of Mary: At the end of her life on earth, Mary is taken body and soul into heaven.
• The Coronation of Mary: Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

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