Hail Mary full of grace, Our 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.
The Rosary - the prayer requested of us
There are those who wonder what a Rosary is and why Catholics say them. For these people we give the humble definition:
The Rosary is a prayer.
For centuries (starting well before any Age of literacy) the life of Christ and His message was meditated on by All Christians through the use of this humble but powerful prayer...
When the Rosary is prayed, we specifically ask the one woman who is closest to Jesus, to pray for us to Him and we offer our own prayers to the Almighty One. For we believe that she is our Mother and our beloved intercessor with He who is God - the one human to carry Him within her body and to care for Him in his earthly needs; the one woman in all history who said "Yes" to the will of God as no other ever has (Luke 1:48); and she was given to all who love Christ by the Lord Himself in the hour of His death...
"Woman behold your son." Then He said to His disciple, "Behold your mother." - (John19:26-27)
For 'The Rosary', is the action of saying the prayers and meditations (interiorly or aloud) of this centuries old 'lay litany of prayers' while 'a rosary,', is a set of beads, knots, or ring used for keeping one's place through the prayer. To pray the Rosary one does not even need the beads (although it does make it easier to keep track of ones thoughts as you concentrate on the mysteries of the scriptures). Many over the centuries have used string or rope with knots or even their fingers.
Some History: The custom of using beads to count repeated prayers is an ancient one going back to a time before the birth of Christ. The first recorded accounts of its Christian use is in the 3rd century, when Eastern monks used the practice for repetitive prayer. In the 9th century the clergy, in desiring to give the laity a form of devotion modeled on monastic prayer (the 150 Psalms) encouraged the reciting of 150 Our Fathers on a daily basis. At about the same time there were others who, no doubt for similar reasons, began using beads to say the Ave (first part of Hail Mary) in either 'chaplets' of fifty, 'groups' of a hundred or 'psalters' of 150. By the 1200's it is said that the present day Rosary (with only the modification requested at Fatima, added later) was given to St. Dominic. In 2002, the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical on the rosary, added to the rosary devotion the five "Mysteries of Light" (or Luminous Mysteries).
Our Lady's word's: "One Day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, I will save the world."
The popular prayer is composed of the twenty Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries, which offers the opportunity for reflection on the events in the life of Christ and how His mother was called on to cooperate in His saving work.
20 decades (or all 20 of the mysteries), make up a complete Rosary. In general though, most people pray the Rosary as 1 set of mysteries each day. Tradition suggests the following schedule:
Joyful mysteries are said on Mondays
Sorrowful mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays
Luminous mysteries on Thursdays
Glorious mysteries on Wednesdays and Saturdays
Each of the mysteries is recommended on Sundays, depending on the Season.
The prayers that make up the recitation include:
The Apostle's Creed
The Our Father "Lord's Prayer"
The Hail Mary
The Glory Be
Hail Holy Queen
The Fatima Prayer (for the conversion & salvation of the world)