The rosary is among the most sacred Roman Catholic prayers. The term rosary can refer to both the set of prayers and the set of beads that are associated with the devotion. Often prayed at funerals and confessionals, the rosary is performed as a meditation. Usually accompanied by the Mysteries of the Rosary, to pray the rosary is to recount the life of Jesus Christ and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Accompanying each bead in the rosary is a prayer, with Mysteries and meditations interspersed between. The Mysteries are spoken by a priest and they follow the principal events of Roman Catholic salvation. After the Mysteries are spoken, they are supposed to be meditated on while you silently or verbally pray the rosary. The Mysteries include the five Joyful Mysteries, five Luminous Mysteries, five Sorrowful Mysteries, and five Glorious Mysteries.
The rosary is most often a circular set of beads, with an extension of five beads and a crucifix extending from the complete circle. To pray the rosary, first begin at the crucifix. The crucifix represents the Sign of the Cross and the Apostle’s Creed. For every prayer and meditation of the rosary, you move your hands up the beads of the rosary, both to keep track of the prayer and to follow in the tradition of the prayer.
After the crucifix, the first bead represents the Our Father. With the second bead, the follower is to pray three Hail Marys. This prayer takes up many of the beads of the rosary because to pray the rosary is to owe a certain devotion to the subject of that prayer, the Virgin Mary. Following the first three Hail Marys, with the third bead is spoken the Glory be to the Father. The fifth bead represents the first Mystery, which is often spoken by a priest. Following the first Mystery is another recital of the Our Father.
Now into the circle of beads, you begin the rosary in earnest by praying ten Hail Marys, during which time you are meditating on the first Mystery that was just spoken. This is referred to as a decade. The section of beads is then concluded with another prayer of the Glory be to the Father. The second Mystery is then announced, followed again by the Our Father, another decade of Hail Marys, and the Glory be to the Father. This is continued for all five Mysteries of one group. According to Pope John Paul II, you are to pray the rosary, with different Mysteries, on each day of the week.