I've been trying to understand the Rosary but it just confuses me.

The most popular way is to recite one Pater Noster, ten Ave Marias, one Gloria Patri and perhaps one O my Jesus while at the same time contemplating a mystery from the Gospels.

The idea seems to be that people want to combine vocal prayer with contemplation.

I am not sure really how to understand the term "contemplation" in the Rosary. Some use the term to refer to the Ignatian Method of Gospel contemplation in which you imagine being present in the scene with all your senses. I am aware that this method is pre-Ignatian in origin.

In Rosarium Virginis Mariae St. John Paul II used the term but never defined it. This means that he might have other things in mind than Gospel contemplation.

I myself like lectio divina. This is easier because I don't have to do any difficult Gospel contemplation. This is also easier since you don't have to move between five mysteries in a very short time.

To me, the Jesus prayer is easier. The Jesus prayer is shorter than the Ave Maria so it is easier for me to use as a repetitive prayer.

The Rosary seems to be a prayer for people who are good at Gospel contemplation. People like me just get frustrated. But it is encouraged by the Popes.

The Life of Christ Rosary or the Carthusian Rosary seems way easier but I am talking about the popular version.

My question: Is the Rosary primarily a Gospel contemplation on the Five Mysteries, done in a short time with vocal prayers added to it?

Why do the Popes care so much for this way of praying? Why is this way of praying so important and even more important than mental prayer?

1 Answer 1


I suggest you take a look at St Louis de Montfort's explanation of the rosary as a commonly accepted Catholic explanation of the benefits of the rosary.

It is much more common that the rosary is a gospel contemplation with silent prayers added. You don't need Mary to get closer to Jesus, but if you approach our mother in humility, she will take you there much faster and on much surer footing. This is a summary of Montfort.

To answer your implied question, I don't know anyone who is good at saying the rosary. It's a constant battle. I feel like I'm fighting the flesh (distraction) the world (impatience to do something else) and Satan (Satan) the whole time. Frustrating is just starter feelings. It gets worse after that. But it also gets better and walking behind Mary while she follow Jesus up the hill watching the angry crowd yell and spit at Jesus...

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  • It really is a constant struggle to make sense of the ten Hail Marys. It really is for many of us. That is my big difficulty. We can recite the Hail Marys and we can meditate and contemplate but when we try to combine them we struggle. But the Church says that it is important to combine them. Why does the Church says that combining them is very important? Commented May 1 at 12:40

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