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

Coming Home

queue-of-peopleDid you know that whilst it’s estimated that there are about 1 million Catholics attending Mass regularly in England & Wales, there are at least another 3 million who for one reason or another don’t come to church.

Probably all of us have brothers or sisters, sons or daughters, nephews or nieces, or grandchildren (and perhaps even great grandchildren) who no longer practise their faith. To many of us it can be a real source of sadness. We might even wonder what we’ve done wrong!

The reality is we’ve probably done nothing wrong. People live their own lives and make their own choices and in today’s society there is an awful lot competing for our attention which can squeeze church-going out of mind.

imagesA better question – but another one for which it’s hard to find an answer – is what can we do about it? Should we say something to our lapsed friends and family or should we say nothing? Should we pester them or ignore the fact that they no longer come to church?

One thing we can do is talk to one another in the parish about it: to share our own experience. Perhaps some of us have had success in encouraging loved ones back.

Perhaps some of us ourselves lapsed once and yet found our way back. The interesting question there is what brought us home?

Unknown-1To mark the last phase of our Year of Faith, we plan to have a prayer campaign for those who no longer come to church, running from Home Mission Sunday (15 September) until the start of Advent.

We will prayer together each week during our Sunday Mass intercessions for those who are not with us.

We will be invited to take a copy of the prayer home with us, on small business-size cards. It’s up to each us what we do with them.

Some may choose to say the prayer daily, making it part of their usual prayer routine. Others might just decide to stick it on the fridge or leave it lying about the house.

Perhaps it will start a conversation which in turn might be the beginning of something more. At the very least, family and friends who see it will know we’re praying for them.

What’s most important in this time is that we each value the prayer we make: that we believe God will hear us and will answer.

Our Home Mission Prayer, ‘Crossing the Threshold‘ can also be found on the Prayer page of the website.




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.


‘I have a dream’

406This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s inspirational ‘I have a dream’ speech.

Given on 28 August 1963 at a rally of over 250,000 people in Washington, Martin Luther King called for a world where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers, ‘when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

His dream for a society united and based on justice for all was drawn from the last book of the Bible, Revelation. His commitment to non-violence in promoting this dream, and in securing an inclusive future, was ridiculed by some who saw only violent methods as having any chance of success. There were even some who saw racial justice only in terms of one group ‘overthrowing’ another.

Today, and in our own country, we still have racial tensions. We face the challenges posed by living in a multi-cultural society with the added complications of differences of language, ethnicity, and country of origin being ever present.

In the world there is conflict and injustice based around prejudice, racism, and the struggle for one religious or ethnic or racial group to secure superiority over another.

There seems little we can do about the global situation. Nor even, in our little section of the Fens, about problems faced by inner cities and areas of high racial mistrust.

However, this Sunday 8 September is Racial Justice Sunday and we are invited to think again about Martin Luther King’s speech. We can ask ourselves how we contribute to making our own towns and villages places where ‘freedom rings’ and where everyone irrespective of colour or creed can feel secure and included.

We can pray for a just and peaceful environment which begins with, and springs from, our own attitudes and actions.


Prayer for Justice

Merciful Lord,
we consider your wonderful world
and its beautiful people created in your image,
and we ask for forgiveness for behaviours and attitudes
that devalue or demean those who are different.
Forgive us for our tacit acceptance of a society
where privilege, partiality and advantage
are often the passports to success and wealth.
Have mercy on us for ignoring the reality of racism and bigotry,
which deny or curtail the rights and opportunities
of those of different ethnicities and cultures.
Give us the courage, determination and honesty
to fight for a society governed by justice, equity and compassion,
and underpinned by the belief that each person has an inherent worth,
and has been afforded the dignity and respect they deserve.
Enable us to value diversity, as you do, and encourage it in all forms.
This we ask in your precious name. Amen.

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.