How to Pray the Rosary
Using beads to count prayers is an ancient tradition, and not unique to the Catholic faith. The rosary as we know it today has evolved over time from its original loop of fifty beads marked out three times (to account for 150 prayers representing all the psalms) to its present configuration of five decades with some additional prayers. The rosary is begun by reciting the Apostles' Creed while holding the cross that hangs from the loop. The Lord's Prayer is prayed on the first bead on the way up from the cross to the loop joiner. Then three Hail Mary's are prayed on the next three beads (often interpreted as prayers for an increase of faith, hope, and charity), followed by a Glory Be. Another Lord's Prayer opens the first decade, which continues with ten Hail Marys, and concludes with a Glory Be, prayed while holding the chain between the final Hail Mary of the decade and the next bead for the Lord's Prayer. The prayer and meditation of the five decades is directed to one of the mysteries of which there are four sets (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous). There are booklets that offer scriptural meditations for each of the beads as well, providing an opportunity to enrich this traditional prayer with excerpts from the word of God.