One of the most difficult things for a Catholic publisher to do (in terms of pleasing everyone) is to explain how to pray the Rosary!
You would think this would be easy, however, there are so many variations in the ways people pray the Rosary that it can make your head spin!
I was reminded of this last night when we took the kids to church to pray the Rosary. Two weeks earlier, I taught my class how to pray the Rosary as I was taught, which, if compared to cable TV packages, would be the “basic” package: Sign of the Cross, Apostles’ Creed (not all the time, however), Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be, and then 5 decades beginning with announcing the Mystery, an Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be. Amen.
Our experience in church last night was very different and, to go back to the cable TV comparison, would be the “premium” package: all of the above plus the Fatima prayer at the end of each decade, the Hail, Holy Queen at the end as well as The Rosary Prayer (“O God, whose only begotten Son…”) and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel (all nicely provided on a much-needed and much-appreciated prayer card).
Some people don’t stop there, however, and use what we might call the “Platinum package!” which includes everything in the Premium package as well as some or all of the following:
- Beginning with the “Come Holy Spirit” prayer
- Beginning with “O God, come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.”
- Beginning with the Divine Praises
- ending with the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- ending with the Memorare
- An additional Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father
- inserting the Miraculous Medal Prayer
- A Prayer for the Unborn after each Fatima Prayer
Suffice it to say, there is no “official” way to pray the Rosary: it is a devotion, not a Rite of the Church. Even Pope John Paul II was criticized by some for not including mention of the Fatima prayer in his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary. In the end, the most important thing about the Rosary is the meditation on the Mysteries, for that is precisely how we pray “to Jesus, through Mary.” My own feeling is that, the Rosary is already a “wordy” prayer so I prefer not to add more words than “required” for each bead (I find it challenging enough to teach kids to learn how to pray the Rosary with the “basic package”). That’s only a personal preference and not a value judgment on the variations practiced by many Catholics, all of which are true expressions of devotion to Mary and faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ll end by providing a link to the USCCB Website on how to pray the Rosary: if you would like to argue that there is an official or “right” way to pray the Rosary, I suggest you take it up with our bishops! 🙂 In the meantime, feel free to share your approach to the Rosary.
When I pray the rosary I do it the way I learned in my youth, which is like you described as the “basic” way. However, I remember ending with the Salve Regina or Hail Holy Queen. I tend to pause after announcing the mystery (to myself) to briefly think of what it means. When it comes to the “add-ons” I don’t like them, and for the reason you stated, the rosary is wordy enough.
Members of our diocesan curia recently began saying a weekly Rosary for an increase in discipleship among the faithful we serve. We use your “premium” package, with prayers for the monthly intentions of the Holy Father, and ending with the Collect from the new Mass for the New Evangelization. It’s a little idiosyncratic, but fits well with our stated intention.
When praying the rosary at Queen of Martyr’s chapel during children’s hour (Saturdays 3-4), the leader ended each decade by singing the refrain “Ave Ave Ave Maria, Ave Ave Maria” My girls loved it and we did that when we said the rosary for a while. I’m thinking of bringing it back. I like that you can add your own acts of love and devotion to personalize it for your own family.
Having been a catholic high school religion teacher for 40 years (now retired)I take teaching the rosary to be an important issue. I have tried many approaches. Above all is the original experience of Mary which she is able to transmit to anyone who invokes her. She, as the mother, lets us “get inside her head” as it were.
Thanks William! I love that notion of “getting inside her head.”