Saturday, May 18, 2013


Continuing with the use of prayer beads, today we'll look at praying with the more familiar  Roman Catholic rosary. The rosary we generally think of from the Roman tradition is a Dominican rosary, made up of five decades of ten beads each. There are a total of 59 beads on this type of rosary: 53 Ave ("Hail")  beads, and 6 Pater ("Father") beads, and specific prayers are said on each. 

The Ave and Pater beads are generally different from each other, often with the Pater beads being larger or different in color and/ or texture.

There are a LOT of internet sites that have instructions on how to pray this rosary and I cannot do full justice to this beautiful practice here.  Please look around for much more detailed information on praying the mysteries while you recite the prayers. Here are  a few links:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

Catholic City (this one offers a free CD of the rosary prayers):

Our Lady of Guadalupe:

I'm taking the information I am presenting here from the Catholic City and the USCCB sites. Similarly to what was discussed in the Praying With an Anglican Rosary article, hold the rosary so that you can manipulate the beads with a thumb and finger. Sit comfortably, and if you know all of the prayers, close your eyes as you pray.  It can really be quite an experience to pray the rosary aloud with a group.

Here are some examples of Roman Catholic rosaries I have made:

And here is a diagram you can use for reference while looking at the prayer method (taken from the USCCB site linked to above) :

While praying this rosary, meditate on the Holy Mysteries. One recommended approach is:

Monday - Joyful, Tuesday - Sorrowful, Wednesday - Glorious, Thursday - Luminous, Friday - Sorrowful, Saturday - Joyful, and Sunday - Glorious 

Beginning the Prayers: 

Make the sign if the cross. 

The Cross:  The Apostle's 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 Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall 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 the life everlasting. Amen. 

The First Pater ("Father") Bead: The Lord's Prayer or 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. 

The Next Three Ave ("Hail") Beads: Hail Mary:  

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst 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 Second Pater Bead: 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. 

Moving onto the main circle of the rosary beads, repeat the Hail Mary prayer on each of the Ave or smaller beads, and the Glory Be on each of the larger Pater beads. 

Concluding Prayer: Hail Holy Queen: 

When you work your way all the way around the loop, conclude the rosary conclude with: 

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. 

Differences Between Anglican and the Dominican Rosary: 

The most obvious difference between these two rosaries is how they look. Dominican rosaries have almost twice as many beads as Anglican rosaries.

The groups of 10 beads on a Dominican rosary are called "decades" and the group of 7 beads on an Anglican rosary are called "weeks."

Generally speaking, Catholic rosaries are made using crucifixes and Anglican rosaries use plain crosses or crucifixes.

Dominican rosaries are prayed using the prayers listed here. Anglican rosaries do not have prescribed prayers.

Dominican rosaries are hundreds of years old, where Anglican rosaries are a modern adaptation.

Either may also include religious medals, small vials of holy water, pilgrim badges and other items that have meaning to the user.

Either may be strung to form a loop of beads and a "drop" of 2-5 beads with a crucifix or cross, or they may be strung as a straight strand of beads with a cross or crucifix at one end, and a religious medal or other token at the other end.

Both can lead to deep, highly meaningful prayer experiences. 

You don't have to be Catholic to pray the Dominican rosary, and you don't have to be Anglican to use an Anglican rosary. 

Have you been experimenting with counted prayers? What has it been like for you? Feel free to share your experiences, ask questions or make any comments you may have here. 

Next week, we'll move on to talk about using knitting and crochet as a prayer method.