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From its traditionally held inception as a gift from the Blessed Mother to St. Dominic to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in the victory at Lepanto, to the addition of the Luminous mysteries by Pope John Paul II in 2002, the rosary has long been one of the most treasured prayers of the Catholic faith. 

Why pray the Rosary?

Each of the 20 mysteries of the rosary — Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious — takes us through the life of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the Coronation of Mary. The Word of God in the Gospels is translated to the beads of the rosary. Pope John Paul II reflects, in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, on the mysteries beginning with Mary’s experience, a truth which emphasizes the rosary’s contemplative nature. He further quotes Pope Paul VI, stressing that the contemplation of the rosary and its mysteries mustn’t be lost, or it runs the risk of becoming a passive repetition rather than an intentional meditation on the mysteries.

The rosary is also one of the most powerful tools of intercessory prayer that Catholics can wield. Our Lady has urgently asked Catholics at many times to pray the rosary for particular intentions; just as the communion of saints has often responded to her request, so can Catholics today, offer a daily rosary for the intentions of the Holy Father, for the salvation of the world or for any intentions one holds in their heart.

In his pastoral letter The Power of the Word of God, Archbishop Vigneron too recommends a continued reverence for this prayer, noting especially the connection between the rosary and the Word of God. He writes that “It is especially fruitful to pray the Scriptural Rosary, which makes more explicit the biblical foundations of the mysteries.”

What is a Scriptural Rosary?

A Scriptural Rosary provides the opportunity to not only meditate on each mystery during a decade’s prayers, but to also recite a verse of sacred Scripture between each Hail Mary or a longer passage between each decade. The Knights of Columbus provide a guide to praying a Scriptural Rosary, with suggested verses for the Glorious, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Joyful mysteries. 

The ample opportunity for reflection and meditation in a Scriptural Rosary is not unlike the intentional listening and meditating one experiences during the practice of lectio divina. A Scriptural Rosary almost blends pieces of a lectio divina study into a rosary to craft one contemplative prayer experience: one reads a verse before a Hail Mary (lectio), meditates on its connection to the decade’s mystery (meditatio), prays the appropriate Hail Marys with the mystery and Scripture verse in mind (oratio) and journeys through the rest of the rosary with renewed connection to the Scripture (contemplatio).

“Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire,” the Catechism teaches. “This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ…This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.”

Use the Scriptural Rosary to both engage in meditative prayer and seek deeper knowledge of our Lord. To deepen one’s knowledge through sacred Scripture is to become familiar with the voice of God and, in turn, be more equipped to hear him in one’s life.