Praying the Rosary

250px-The_Perugia_Altarpiece,_Side_Panel_Depicting_St._DominicOctober is traditionally the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary, one of the best known Catholic devotional prayers.

The exact origins of the Rosary are unknown. Many believe that the Rosary was first established by St Dominic following a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1214. It was certainly promoted by Dominican Friars during the 15th century.

Long before that time, however, the Muslim practice of using Tesbih (a string of 99 beads used to recount the names of Allah) had been noticed by Christians. Some argue that Christianity adapted the Muslim practice in order to encourage people to learn simple prayers by rote and reflect on biblical passages (the ‘Mysteries’).

Today’s Rosary comprises of 20 Mysteries (thanks to Blessed Pope John Paul II who added an extra five ‘Luminous‘ ones towards the end of his pontificate).

It’s significant to note that for a prayer which is associated with Mary, the focus is mostly on events in the life of Christ.

RosaryThe usual practice is to pray one set of Mysteries at a time. For each Mystery one Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and one Glory Be are said, in that order. Rosary beads are used to help keep count of the prayers.

Before beginning the set of ‘Mysteries‘, it is usual to make the sign of the cross, say one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be and then the Apostles Creed.

At the end of the set of Mysteries, the Salve Regina is said followed by the concluding prayer:

O God, whose only-begotten Son, by his life, death, and 
resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, 
grant, we beseech you, that meditating on these mysteries 
in the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may 
both imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise. 
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Some people say that they find the repetitious nature of the Rosary off-putting. The saying over and over of basic Christian prayers such as the Our Father and the Hail Mary forms a mantra to focus one’s mind while reflecting upon the events of each Mystery.

Traditionally, people have an ‘intention’ for each decade or sometimes just for one set of Mysteries. An intention can be anything from praying for the Holy Souls to specific requests for people to get better, be blessed, rest in peace, the good of the parish, and so on.

Joyful Mysteries

The Annunciation

The Visitation

The Nativity

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

Luminous Mysteries

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan

The Wedding Feast at Cana

Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God

The Transfiguration

The Institution of the Eucharist

Sorrowful Mysteries

The Agony in the Garden

The Scourging at the Pillar

The Crowning with Thorns

The Carrying of the Cross

The Crucifixion

Glorious Mysteries

The Resurrection

The Ascension

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

The Assumption of Mary

The Crowning of Mary & the glory of all the Saints

Crossing the Threshold


Loving Father,
We pray for those baptised who no longer or rarely attend Church, that they will understand, and experience in their hearts, that Christ is the source of unconditional love and reconciliation.

We pray for everyone who worships in our parish community, that we may find the right words and means to invite our absent brothers and sisters to return to the practice of their faith.


Salve Regina

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,

vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.

ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,

ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes

in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos

misericordes oculos ad nos converte;

et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,

nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.


Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
hail our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to you do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this vale 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 thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣ Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
℟ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


salve-regina_-_salvedominican1237pxThe Salve Regina, or Hail Holy Queen as it’s known in English, is one of four hymns to Our Lady traditionally sung after Compline. Each hymn reflects a particular season of the Church. The Salve Regina is usually sung from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the first Sunday of Advent.

The Hail Holy Queen translation is also traditionally used towards the end of the Rosary, having completed five decades. 


Adoration (sometimes called Exposition) refers to spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, usually visible in a monstrance on the High Altar.

Our parishes have times of Adoration each week before Masses. We also have more prolonged periods of Adoration on special occasions, for example the Feast of Corpus Christi and the Feast of Epiphany.

What to do during Adoration

adorationThe most important thing is to be there and to be still. Make space in your mind and in your heart so that Jesus, who is present in the Blessed Sacrament, can speak to you.

People often commit themselves to spending half an hour or an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Below are some suggestions of what you can do in that time – but remember to give yourself plenty of moments of silent meditation as well.


Ten Things to do during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

1. Read a bible passage (or one of the Psalms) slowly, over and over again. If a word or a phrase strikes you in any way, pause and pray about it. Then move on.

2. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours, for example Morning or Evening Prayer. Look at the Blessed Sacrament as you pray the ‘Glory Be‘ at the end of each psalm.

3. Talk to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament as you would talk to a close friend. Tell him about your day. Ask his advice about what is worrying you. Speak to him about your family and friends. Use your own words and remember to leave space to listen to his replies.

4. Try using a mantra to concentrate your mind. Say over and over again some short phrase such as ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner‘ or ‘I will praise you Lord, you have rescued me‘ or ‘I love you Jesus, my love above all things‘.

5. Choose a hymn and read through it slowly, thinking about what it is saying to you. For example, ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind‘ or ‘Come Down O Love Divine‘ or ‘Here I Am Lord‘ or ‘Be Still my Soul‘.

6. Be silent and know that you are in the presence of Jesus the Lord. Try and listen to him.

7. Pray the rosary, making an effort to think about each mystery as you say the ‘Our Father‘ and ‘Hail Mary‘ prayers. Look at the Blessed Sacrament as you pray the ‘Glory Be‘.

8. Read about the life of a saint and ask for his or her prayers. Pray with the saint and imagine you are both together in the presence of God. You actually are both in the presence of God!

9. Read a spiritual book, especially something on prayer or about the life of Jesus. Make sure you take ‘time out’ and direct your thoughts and prayers to Jesus who is present in the Blessed Sacrament.

10.  If you fall asleep, don’t worry. Psalm 127 reminds us that the Lord showers his blessings upon his beloved while they slumber! Remind yourself that the Lord loves you so much and that it is He who has brought you to this moment, inviting you to waste time in his presence.

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.




The ‘Glory Be‘ is what is called a doxology: in other words, a hymn of praise to God. Other doxologies include the Gloria sung during Mass and the Per Ipsum (‘Through Him and with Him and in Him’) sung by the priest at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer.

UnknownIt is an ancient prayer which reminds us that everything we do and all that we are about is for the glory of God. It reminds us that we worship one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The ‘Glory Be‘ is an excellent way to round off a period of quiet prayer or contemplation. It can be said after having spent some time reflecting on a bible passage or at the end of a period of praying for other people. It is a good way to end parish meetings.

‘Glory’ translates the Greek word, doxa (hence doxology) which in turn is used to translate the Hebrew word kabod.

The Hebrew word kabod originally meant heaviness or weightiness. It came to refer to something hidden away but whose presence could be felt by the weight or bulk (a bit like a bag full of gold bars – the presence and value of the bars could be sensed by the weight and bulk of the bag).

Gradually it was used to refer to God’s presence: something of ultimate value. Finally it came to suggest honour, importance and majesty.

In praying the ‘Glory Be‘ we are honouring the majesty of God but also recognising his presence in our lives and in our world.


Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art 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.



The ‘Hail Mary‘ is made up of two parts. The first four lines are taken from the Bible:

annunciation-1434‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee’ is a translation of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation, found in Luke 1: 28. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates this as: ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb‘ also comes from Luke’s gospel. In Luke 1: 42, Elizabeth greets her cousin Mary with these words as her unborn child, John the Baptist, leaps in her womb.

The first line of the second part of the prayer makes reference to an idea which was accepted at the Council of Ephesus in 431AD.  This Council rejected arguments from followers of a theologian called Nestorius that Mary could be called ‘Mother of Christ’ but not ‘Mother of God’. The Council felt that this implied Jesus Christ was not truly God.

Instead, it adopted as a title for Mary the Greek term, Theotokos, meaning ‘Birth-giver of God’.

imagesA curious term, when we reflect that God is eternal and outside of time and space. Nevertheless, an important title which asserts that from the first moment of his conception Jesus was truly human (in that he possessed body & soul) and truly divine (in that he was God).

This idea that a mere human could somehow ‘mother‘ the divine is mind-blowing. In order to save the human race from its own sinfulness, God is born of a woman; he is brought kicking and screaming into a world he created.

The last section of the ‘Hail Mary‘ reminds the one who prays it of their own mortality. It asks for Mary’s intercession at the moment of death.

UnknownThe prayer of the saints – in other words, those we believe to be in heaven – is part of the fabric of Catholic Christianity. As a family which extends through time and space, across heaven and earth, we pray all the time for one another as a sign of our love and communion. It seems natural to ask those in heaven to do the same.

All of us, God’s created children, have been invited to pester the Lord with prayer for the things we need. (Read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18: 1-8).

Why not ask the ‘Birth-giver of God’ then, the one whom the Bible says is ‘blessed among woman‘, to pray for us when we are about to die?