A method of meditating on the Rosary

This article outlines one particular method of saying the Rosary. It is not necessarily the best one; however it may be a valuable aid to some people. The Rosary consists of two parts.  The first part; is the actual prayers; The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Gloria, etc. The second part is meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary. At the Catholic secondary school that I attended; once a month, all the teachers and students would recite the Rosary in the church before Mass. I do not recall even one class lesson being given to us on how to say the Rosary. My family also recited the Rosary during the Christmas season. When I married, I learned from my husband that you had to meditate on the mysteries while saying the prayers of the Rosary. This came as a great surprise to me. Actually it was more like a shock. I kept asking myself why didn’t the Catholic schools that I attended tell me about this. To be fair they did teach me the catechism.
The business of meditation while saying the prayers of the Rosary; conjured up visions of something like juggling balls in one hand and playing the piano with the other hand.  It was hard for me to imagine how you could do both of them at the same time. I also looked upon the business of meditation as something for mystics who lived in caves in the desert. Meditation didn’t seem to be anything remotely connected with me.
After the initial shock wore off, I started to learn how to meditate on the mysteries, while saying the vocal prayers.  The first stage of this process was the use of books which contained ten scriptural verses for each decade of the Rosary. My eyes slowly scanned each scriptural verse, while I said the vocal prayers (Hail Marys) etc. This method felt somewhat artificial and mechanical, but at least I was combining both the meditation and the prayers at the same time. When the scriptural verses were partly memorised, I did not use the books anymore.  The “walking stick” was thrown away.  The verses went through my mind, while saying the prayers vocally. Pictures from books, depicting the decades were also utilised. The next stage was that as well as scriptural verses going through my mind; the pictures that I had seen in the books were also visualised. I closed my eyes and literally could see these scenes as though they were in the room. These scenes filled up the whole area that I was viewing. All of this was in colour.
The vocal prayers receded into the background, like background music that is played softly, while you are eating dinner and talking in the restaurant. The meditation came to the forefront. As well as visualising scenes from the actual decades (such as the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary), for variety I added at the beginning of each decade, a visual image of either the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or the Divine Mercy and at the end of each decade an image of Mary as she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Miraculous Medal vision, which depicts Mary distributing graces, as rays coming from her hands. Studying the pictures on holy cards was useful in helping me to visualise these images.
By the time that this stage was reached it was a great deal easier for me to say Rosaries even when I was very tired. A good way to keep up your motivation to say the Rosary is to make a 54 day rosary novena for a special intention.  It is amazing how this will keep you going when your motivation to say the Rosary is running on low.
The method described above also can be employed when saying other chaplets: such as The Little Chaplet of the Holy Infant Jesus and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. In the Infant Jesus Chaplet, you can visualise a picture of the Infant Jesus of Prague. In the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy you can mediate on the Divine Mercy picture and also visualise Saint Faustina having a vision of the angel who is about to carry out God’s just punishment on a particular part of the world, and the angel becoming helpless in carrying this out as Saint Faustina prayed the words of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.  There are many other appropriate scenes which you can visualise while saying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
Some benefits of meditating on the Rosary.
Meditation on the Rosary puts before our minds, the true purpose of our lives and also keeps us focused on where we hope to spend our eternity (heaven). It counteracts the blatant messages in the media, which seek to corrupt our behaviour and get us interested in things like, money making, pleasure seeking and many immoral practices. The thoughts in our minds will greatly influence the choices that we make in how we live our lives.  Saying the Rosary will tilt the balance heavily to the side of making good moral choices. It is well known that people sometimes act out criminal activities, even murders and robberies that they have seen in movies.  It is because these things occupy their minds, because they had been viewing them and thinking about them. On the other end of the scale, if your mind is filled with images from Rosary meditations: such as Mary going to visit her elderly relative Elizabeth to help her, you will be more inclined to practice the virtue of charity. If you like the method that has been offered of saying the Rosary try it. When you are familiar with the method modify it to your own special needs. It is like learning any other skill. First you learn the basics and then you adapt it as your ability develops. Meditation on the Rosary prevents it from being a mechanical repetition of vocal prayers. If you learnt the art of meditation on the Rosary, and then attempted to just say the prayers again, without meditation, you would find it a very dry and tedious exercise.
Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary helps lift our minds out of the bog of everyday things that we see and experience, to things eternal that we cannot see.  We are reminded that the here and now is not all that there is. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary stops our mind from focusing too much on the unimportant.
Rosary beads
Rosary beads help you to keep track of where you are up to in the Rosary and give a soothing feeling as you move the beads through your fingers. It is best to have one pair of Rosary beads for use at home and one pair to keep in your handbag or pocket.  Seeing your Rosary beads will remind you to say the Rosary.  If you do not have a pair of Rosary beads with you, remember that you have ten fingers to pray the Rosary with. There are occasions when a one-decade set of Rosary beads comes in handy. One decade Rosaries are sometimes made into rings and bracelets.  (On my First Holy Communion day, I was given a bracelet made with pearls that had the beads for five decades. It has a small silver coloured crucifix.  I don’t think that they are available anymore.) Remember to get a priest to bless your Rosary beads.

rosary_beads_number_3

This article outlines one particular method of saying the Rosary. It is not necessarily the best one; however it may be a valuable aid to some people. The Rosary consists of two parts.  The first part; is the actual prayers; The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Gloria, etc. The second part is meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary. At the Catholic secondary school that I attended; once a month, all the teachers and students would recite the Rosary in the church before Mass. I do not recall even one class lesson being given to us on how to say the Rosary. My family also recited the Rosary during the Christmas season. When I married, I learned from my husband that you had to meditate on the mysteries while saying the prayers of the Rosary. This came as a great surprise to me. Actually it was more like a shock. I kept asking myself why didn’t the Catholic schools that I attended tell me about this. To be fair they did teach me the catechism.

The business of meditation while saying the prayers of the Rosary; conjured up visions of something like juggling balls in one hand and playing the piano with the other hand.  It was hard for me to imagine how you could do both of them at the same time. I also looked upon the business of meditation as something for mystics who lived in caves in the desert. Meditation didn’t seem to be anything remotely connected with me.

After the initial shock wore off, I started to learn how to meditate on the mysteries, while saying the vocal prayers.  The first stage of this process was the use of books which contained ten scriptural verses for each decade of the Rosary. My eyes slowly scanned each scriptural verse, while I said the vocal prayers (Hail Marys) etc. This method felt somewhat artificial and mechanical, but at least I was combining both the meditation and the prayers at the same time. When the scriptural verses were partly memorised, I did not use the books anymore.  The “walking stick” was thrown away.  The verses went through my mind, while saying the prayers vocally. Pictures from books, depicting the decades were also utilised. The next stage was that as well as scriptural verses going through my mind; the pictures that I had seen in the books were also visualised. I closed my eyes and literally could see these scenes as though they were in the room. These scenes filled up the whole area that I was viewing. All of this was in colour.

The vocal prayers receded into the background, like background music that is played softly, while you are eating dinner and talking in the restaurant. The meditation came to the forefront. As well as visualising scenes from the actual decades (such as the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary), for variety I added at the beginning of each decade, a visual image of either the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or the Divine Mercy and at the end of each decade an image of Mary as she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Miraculous Medal vision, which depicts Mary distributing graces, as rays coming from her hands. Studying the pictures on holy cards was useful in helping me to visualise these images.

By the time that this stage was reached it was a great deal easier for me to say Rosaries even when I was very tired. A good way to keep up your motivation to say the Rosary is to make a 54 day rosary novena for a special intention.  It is amazing how this will keep you going when your motivation to say the Rosary is running on low.

The method described above also can be employed when saying other chaplets: such as The Little Chaplet of the Holy Infant Jesus and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. In the Infant Jesus Chaplet, you can visualise a picture of the Infant Jesus of Prague. In the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy you can mediate on the Divine Mercy picture and also visualise Saint Faustina having a vision of the angel who is about to carry out God’s just punishment on a particular part of the world, and the angel becoming helpless in carrying this out as Saint Faustina prayed the words of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.  There are many other appropriate scenes which you can visualise while saying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.

Some benefits of meditating on the Rosary.

Meditation on the Rosary puts before our minds, the true purpose of our lives and also keeps us focused on where we hope to spend our eternity (heaven). It counteracts the blatant messages in the media, which seek to corrupt our behaviour and get us interested in things like, money making, pleasure seeking and many immoral practices. The thoughts in our minds will greatly influence the choices that we make in how we live our lives.  Saying the Rosary will tilt the balance heavily to the side of making good moral choices. It is well known that people sometimes act out criminal activities, even murders and robberies that they have seen in movies.  It is because these things occupy their minds, because they had been viewing them and thinking about them. On the other end of the scale, if your mind is filled with images from Rosary meditations: such as Mary going to visit her elderly relative Elizabeth to help her, you will be more inclined to practice the virtue of charity. If you like the method that has been offered of saying the Rosary try it. When you are familiar with the method modify it to your own special needs. It is like learning any other skill. First you learn the basics and then you adapt it as your ability develops. Meditation on the Rosary prevents it from being a mechanical repetition of vocal prayers. If you learnt the art of meditation on the Rosary, and then attempted to just say the prayers again, without meditation, you would find it a very dry and tedious exercise.

Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary helps lift our minds out of the bog of everyday things that we see and experience, to things eternal that we cannot see.  We are reminded that the here and now is not all that there is. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary stops our mind from focusing too much on the unimportant.

Rosary beads

Rosary beads help you to keep track of where you are up to in the Rosary and give a soothing feeling as you move the beads through your fingers. It is best to have one pair of Rosary beads for use at home and one pair to keep in your handbag or pocket.  Seeing your Rosary beads will remind you to say the Rosary.  If you do not have a pair of Rosary beads with you, remember that you have ten fingers to pray the Rosary with. There are occasions when a one-decade set of Rosary beads comes in handy. One decade Rosaries are sometimes made into rings and bracelets.  (On my First Holy Communion day, I was given a bracelet made with pearls that had the beads for five decades. It has a small silver coloured crucifix.  I don’t think that they are available anymore.) Remember to get a priest to bless your Rosary beads.

Audio tapes, Video Tapes and CD’s

Audio tapes, video tapes and CD’s on the Rosary might be useful aids in some cases to assist with meditation on the Mysteries.

This article is an extract from my book: Help from Heaven (Answers to prayer), which can be read free on-line here.

If you would like to join a Living Rosary, click here for more information

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3 Responses to “A method of meditating on the Rosary”

  1. Sandy Says:

    This is so good and I thank you for posting it. As you and I both know the “mind wandering thing” hits me here also. I have ordered though the Praying of the Rosary from EWTN which is on television at 6:30 a.m. and that has helped a whole lot as it takes place in Jerusalem. It seems if I have the real thing in front of me, the meditation is so much better and as you say, “comes to the forefront.”

    Again good post and thanks as it does help me to know I am not the only one whose mind will set adrift. (By the way no wandering in Mass). I made myself keep focused and I felt so much better:>)

  2. brendakaren Says:

    Hi Sandy,
    You have just given me a few more ideas for the article on meditating on the Rosary. I will suggest to people that audio and/or video tapes on the Rosary might be useful aids in some cases to assist with meditation on the Mysteries.

  3. Sandy Says:

    Glad to be of help. My concentration is about zero to zip. The Holy Land Rosary DVD helped me more than I can say. I have to have visuals in most everything I do such as this, to keep me focused.

    Take care, Sandy


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