The Rosary

The Rosary is an ancient devotion used by Catholics. It has been around for about 800 years. I have added links in the sidebar (See “Rosary”) that go into its history and development in more detail than what I shall do here.

The Rosary isn’t about the Blessed Virgin Mary, it’s about Jesus. In Catholic teaching, Mary points the way to Jesus. We received Him through her; the first prophecy of Him during His life was after Simeon took Him from Mary’s arms during His presentation in the Temple; His first public miracle was after her prodding (wedding feast at Cana); and she became our Mother after He gave her to his disciple John on Calvary. Mary is the path to Jesus.

It is Scriptural. I said it’s about Jesus. The Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is that Word of God made flesh (Incarnate), therefore the Bible is Jesus.

It is also Twelve-Step friendly. The 11th Step of AA reads:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (as we understand Him), praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.” (from Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th edition, New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001. Also known as “The Big Book”)

You want to know God’s will for you? The Bible is a good place to start looking. You want a great model for following the will of God? His own Mother is perfect. By saying the rosary you will be meditating on her and the Scriptural passages each section to the Rosary refers to. You can nicely combine Mary’s submission to God’s will with direction from Sacred Scripture.

There are four groups of “Mysteries” of the Rosary. A Mystery is something Divine we cannot fully understand.

The first are the “Joyful Mysteries”. These relate to Jesus’ birth. The five Joyful Mysteries are the Annunciation, in which the Archangel Gabriel announced the coming of the Messiah to Mary, pursuant to her acceptance of her role. (The will of God thing.) The second Joyful Mystery is the Visitation, in which Mary ran off and visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with the precursor to the Messiah, John the Baptist. The third is the Birth of Jesus, Himself (the Incarnation). The fourth is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, in which the prophet Simeon publicly acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, and foretold His role in Jewish history. And the last Joyful Mystery is the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Apparently when Jesus was twelve, Mary and her husband Joseph lost track of Him when they were celebrating Jewish Holy Days in Jerusalem. He was missing for two days before they noticed. (“I thought He was with you!” “No, I thought He was with you!” Oy, vey!!!) Anyway, they went looking for Him and found Him in the Temple, speaking with the scribes and other teachers of the Law.

Next up are the Luminous Mysteries, which concern the life of Jesus. The first Luminous Mystery is the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. The next is the Wedding Feast at Cana. The third Luminous Mystery is the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. The fourth is the Transfiguration, in which Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus on Mount Tabor, and they clue Him in to what awaits Him in His upcoming Crucifixion. The last is the Establishment of the Eucharist (the Last Supper).

The next group of Mysteries are the Sorrowful, which concern the Passion of Jesus. First up is the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the second is the Scourging at the Pillar. The third Sorrowful Mystery is the Crowning with Thorns. The fourth is the Carrying of the Cross. The last Sorrowful Mystery is the Crucifixion.

The last group of mysteries are the Glorious, which involve His post Crucifixion life and also involve Mary herself. We start with the Resurrection, followed by the Ascension into Heaven, after which is the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). The next two involve Mary, and although are not explicitly referred to in Scripture, are strongly implied if you comprehend Biblical theology about Original Sin and the importance of Mary and her acceptance of God’s will. “Strongly implied” like the Trinity is strongly implied even though there is no specific reference to God being a Trinity of Divine Persons, although still just one God. The fourth Glorious Mystery is the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Rather than dying and suffering the corruptibility of death, at her death she was bodily assumed into Heaven. (She was free of Original Sin, being immaculately conceived, and bodily decay is a consequence of Original Sin. Read Genesis 3. I’ve written about the Immaculate Conception before, in this post .) The last is Mary’s Coronation as Queen of Heaven. This is significant as Mary is the daughter of God the Father, the mother of God the Son, and is the spouse of God the Holy Spirit. She was handpicked from all eternity to be the woman fulfilling those roles. Of all of our Fallen Race, she is the best.

Common practice holds that the Joyful Mysteries are recited on Monday and Saturday, the Luminous on Thursday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and the Glorious on Wednesday and Sunday. This isn’t mandatory, but following this custom united your prayers with all those who are also praying the Rosary that day.

You can read about how to pray the Rosary here . If you have speakers on, the site plays a nice song to Mary. Turn off your iTunes and listen. 🙂

Why am I bringing up all this about the Rosary? Sober Catholic is a blog about Catholic spirituality and how it can be the primary tool to achieve and maintain your sobriety. The Rosary is probably, after the Mass, the most common Catholic spiritual practice and devotion. It can be a means by which you can focus your sober Catholic spirituality.

Plus, I am going to plant myself in front of my iMac and write 20 posts this weekend about the Rosary. One post for each Mystery. Makes up for my relative lack of posting this past week or so as I was mulling over how to do this.

PS: I just noticed that this is my 150th post. What is interesting is that the traditional Rosary had 150 “Hail Mary’s” said amongst the Mysteries (the non-traditional Mysteries are the Luminous ones. (They were added by Pope John Paul the Great in 2002. They are optional, but I recommend including them.) Nice coincidence.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"


  1. For anyone reading this post as a backlink in a later post on the Mysteries of the Rosary and are wondering why these meditations took longer than the originally promised weekend, go to the archives for October and November 2007 and read the posts with the word “Admin” in the title. I basically had to relocate and getting settled in and reestablishing Internet service took much longer than expected.

  2. As a continuation of my first comment to this post, I am finally completing these Rosary Meditations in late October 2008, over a year after they were started. No major excuses except that I never felt the time was right earlier in 2008 to complete them, plus due to major life changes (settling into a new job, new marriage, new house and sorting it all out) blogging suffered a bit and this project was neglected. Anyway, once the Fifth Glorious Mystery is posted, this project will be over, although I will write the occasional Rosary meditation in the future when I feel like it.

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