The origins of the rosary are sketchy at best. The use of prayer beads and the repeated recitation of prayers to aid in meditation stem from the earliest days of the Church and has roots in pre-Christian times. Evidence exists from the Middle Ages that strings of beads were used to count Our Fathers and Hail Marys. These strings of beads became known as “Paternosters,” the Latin for “Our Father.” Tradition holds that St. Dominic devised the rosary as we know it. Moved by a vision of our Blessed Mother, he preached the use of the rosary in his missionary work. However, the earliest accounts of his life do not mention it, the Dominican constitutions do not link him with it and contemporary portraits do not include it as a symbol to identify the saint.
Why do we pray it?
Praying the Rosary is a place to meet Mary. It’s one of the best ways to develop the living attitude of dependence on her to guide our prayers to her loving Son. There is something about the peaceful rhythm of the prayers that helps us develop a devout attitude of being with Mary. The goal is not so much to reflect on the words of the Hail Mary prayer itself, rather, the Hail Marys are meant to be a “background music” that helps us to enter into contemplation of the mysteries. This background music is like the gentle hand of a mother on our shoulders, standing behind us, getting us to look at Jesus, contemplate his face, and love him through his mother’s eyes, mind and heart. Praying the rosary allows Mary to shape and form us according to the image of her Son.
The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary
Did you know that there are spiritual fruits associated with the mysteries of the rosary?
The fruits that you may attain when you pray the Joyful Mysteries:
The Annunciation- Humility: Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we don’t know to pray as we ought,” are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.
The Visitation- Love of Neighbor: In what ways can we be of service to our own neighbors today, whether we find that neighbor in our own home, in our community, at work, or on the internet.
The Nativity of the Lord- Poverty of Spirit: This mystery invites us to detach ourselves from our many possessions. What do we truly need and what is excess?
The Presentation- Obedience: Obedience to God offers us the opportunity to subject our own will to that of heavenly Father. Not my will, but God’s will be done.
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple- Piety: Piety is dedication to the Church’s sacramental life and devotions. We, too, should be dedicated to our Church and sacraments.
The fruits that you may attain when you pray the Glorious Mysteries:
The Resurrection- Faith: As Jesus told his apostles, “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe.” This mystery offers us help in maintaining that faith.
The Ascension- Hope, Desire for Heaven: We hope for a world that is better than this one. We desire to live forever with Jesus in heaven. May that hope help shape our lives here on Earth.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit- Wisdom, Love of God: The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and they were ready to go out and give their vey lives in service to God. May the Holy Spirit also grant us that wisdom and love of God.
The Assumption of Mary- Devotion to Mary: We believe that Mary was brought up to heaven, body and soul. We are devoted to her because of her relationship to her Son and because God saw fit to raise her up.
The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary- Eternal Happiness: We believe that Mary is the Queen of Heaven, enjoying forever her rightful place next to her Son. May we one day share in her happiness.
The fruits that you may attain when you pray the Sorrowful Mysteries:
The Agony in the Garden- Conformity to the Will of God
Jesus begged His Father to spare him, but submitted Himself fully to His will. We, too, are called to do this.
The Scourging at the Pillar- Mortification: Mortification isn’t popular these days, but making small sacrifices and offering them up can be of great help to one’s spiritual life.
The Crowning with Thorns- Moral Courage: Do we have the courage to stand up for our convictions even when we are being laughed at? Whose opinion matters more- God’s or those who surrounds us?
The Carrying of the Cross- Patience: Patience is something we all seem to have difficulty with. We can look to Him for help when we are tempted to lose our patience.
The Crucifixion- Salvation: Jesus gave up everything for us on the cross. He took on the sins of the world, past, present, and future, and died for our salvation. We need to be so thankful for that gift.
The fruits that you may attain when you pray the Luminous Mysteries:
The Baptism of Jesus- Openness to the Holy Spirit: We receive the Holy Spirit in a special way in Baptism and again at Confirmation. We need only to ask the Holy Spirit for help and help will be provided.
The Miracle at Cana- To Jesus through Mary: Mary helps us in a similar way- always pointing us to her Son and interceding on our behalf. We need only to turn to her and ask for help.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God- Repentance: Jesus preached and performed miracles to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He asks us to express sorrow form our sin, turn away for sin, and trust in God.
The Transfiguration- Desire for holiness: We too are called to holiness, and ultimately live in glory in heaven. But we need to want it and need it more than what the world and the devil attempts to offer us.
The Institution of the Eucharist- Active Participation at Mass: Jesus gave us the greatest gift in the Eucharist. He gave us His very self. This mystery invites us to appreciate that gift fully and to participate at Mass often.
Source: “The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary” by Patrice Fagnant-MacAtrhur