Five Ways to Pray the Rosary Better

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Did you know October is the month of the rosary? Whether you grew up praying a family rosary every night or still struggle to remember the words to the Apostles Creed, there are always ways to grow. Here are a few practical ways for you and your parish to make the most of this powerful prayer.

Know Where the Rosary Came From
If you’re anything like me, context matters. I can understand something better if I know the story behind it, and the rosary has a pretty fascinating history. The 12th Century in Europe saw the rise of the Albigensian heresy. Among other errors, this heresy denied that God really became man in Jesus and he was only apparently – not truly – born of Mary. St. Dominic was one of the most effective preachers against this heresy throughout Europe. Tradition holds that Mary appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the rosary’s order and structure.

Meditate on the Mysteries
rosary The rosary is primarily composed of five sets of ten “Hail Marys.” Each decade of the rosary pertains to a different part of the life of Jesus and Mary, called a “mystery.” There are four categories for the mysteries of the rosary. The Joyful Mysteries begin with Gabriel’s invitation to Mary and follow the childhood of Christ. The Luminous Mysteries – instituted by St. John Paul II in 2008 – show us different parts of his ministry. The Sorrowful Mysteries walk through his suffering and death. The Glorious Mysteries begin with the Resurrection and the early life of the Church.

For those of us who have grown up with the rosary, it might be easy to think, “been there, done that.” However, like carefully reading the Bible, we can be drawn deeper into the relevance of Jesus and Mary in our own lives.

Pick Specific Intentions
When praying the rosary, consider who you’re praying it for. Many people list intentions before the rosary begins, but another idea is to dedicate certain mysteries to specific needs. You could pick intentions that relate to the decades themselves, like praying for those who suffer from mental illness during the Agony in the Garden. For those who want to be extra mindful of specific intentions, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers several options that pick a different need for every single Hail Mary, like this one about praying the Luminous Mysteries for the protection of human life.

There’s an App for That!
rosary For the tech-savvy among us, there are plenty of ways our smart devices can be tools for prayer. If your parish has an app through Liturgical Publications, the rosary prayers come built in. You can also finds apps entirely dedicated to the rosary. For Android, try The Holy Rosary or Touch Rosary. For Apple devices, check out Mary App, iRosary, or RosaryPlusRD. For an incredibly thorough review of free and paid rosary apps for both operating systems, Catholic Aptitude offers up this blog.

Be Encouraged
Many people find great fruit in praying a daily rosary. The meditative consistency can bring peace to a hectic day and intercessory prayer is incredibly powerful. Still, there are plenty of others for whom the rosary can feel repetitive. If you’re in that camp, don’t be discouraged! Even St. Therese of Lisieux had a tough time. Try one of the tips listed above with an open mind and see where it takes you.

If it’s been awhile since you or your parish has prayed the rosary, consider making this the month you give it another try!