If you already pray the rosary than you probably already know everything I'm going to write here. This is a basic introduction for those who have heard the name "rosary" but really don't know anything else about it.
The rosary is a chaplet, in which we say a series of prayers while meditating on the life of Christ. It’s often divided into four parts, which are each made up of five decades of prayers. Thus many people pray five decades at a time while meditating on the Joyful Mysteries, or the Luminous Mysteries, or the Sorrowful Mysteries, or the Glorious Mysteries.
When we meditate on the Joyful Mysteries we pray a decade (an Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s and a Glory Be, usually followed by the Fatima Prayer “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of thine mercy.”) while meditating on the Annunciation (when Gabriel appeared to Mary and she said Yes!), a decade while meditating on the Visitation (when Mary visited Elizabeth), a decade while meditating on the Nativity, a decade while meditating on The Presentation at the Temple, and a decade while meditating on the Finding of the Child Jesus at the Temple.
While meditating on the Luminous Mysteries we think of the Baptism of Jesus, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration, and the Installation of the Eucharist.
The Sorrowful Mysteries are made up of the Prayer in the Garden at Gethsemane, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion.
During the Glorious Mysteries we meditate upon the Resurrection, the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, and the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven.
We begin the rosary with the sign of the Cross and the Apostle’s Creed, an Our Father, Three Hail Mary’s and a Glory Be (the decades I spoke up above follow these). After the last decade we pray a Hail Holy Queen and make the sign of the cross (other prayers are frequently added here as well. Our family prays the prayer to Saint Michael, to our Guardian Angels and a few others as well.).
This of course, just scratches the surface of the devotion, but in the interest of somewhat readable parts, I’ll end this section here. My next post will take a look at the most “controversial” part of the rosary and why it shouldn’t be controversial at all!