The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part of the Hail Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life and Passion. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and––added by Saint John Paul II in 2002––the Luminous.

So, why do we meditate on the mysteries?

When Catholics recite the prayers that form a decade of the rosary, we meditate on the mystery associated with that decade. If we merely recite the prayers, whether vocally or silently, we are missing the essence of the rosary.

When we pray the rosary, we may have specific intentions in mind as we work our way through the mysteries. Or perhaps we envision the scenes from Scripture that correspond with each mystery.

Meditating on the spiritual fruit of each mystery — a specific virtue that we can aspire to live out in our own lives like Jesus and Mary — can make our prayer experience deeper and our devotion more spiritually fruitful. Meditating on the fruits of each mystery of the rosary is a way to preach the rosary with our lives, pursue and attain virtue, and become more of the person that God is calling each of us to be.

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays, and, during the season of Lent, on Sundays:

We make the sign of the cross while holding the crucifix and recite the Apostle’s Creed. This Creed is dated from the earliest period of the church. It is not only a statement of our beliefs, but it is a very powerful prayer. The Creed outlines salvation history and calls us to acknowledge the Lord for who He is and what He has done for us.

Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried,
he descended into hell,
on the third day he rose again from the dead,
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty,
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

Amen.

On the first large bead we recite the Lord’s Prayer. The Our Father is called the Lord’s Prayer because it was given to us by Jesus. The Lord’s Prayer contains the traditional Jewish formula of prayer which begins with praise and thanksgiving and moves toward petition.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, 
Thy will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Amen.

We pray a Hail Mary on the next three beads. The Hail Mary is a combination of two scriptures. First, we hear the words of affirmation from the angel Gabriel. Second, we hear the word of Elizabeth who also affirms Mary as the mother of Jesus.

 

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

As we pass on to the fifth bead, we say The Glory Be to the Father. This prayer is given in praise of the Trinity. It also acknowledges the sovereign Lordship of our God over all time-the past, the present, and the future.

The Glory Be

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning
is now, and ever shall be
world without end.

Amen.

Next, we pause and call to mind the mystery that we are to pray.

First Sorrowful Mystery-The Agony in the Garden

He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” (Matthew 26:39)

Jesus knew that His time had come, and He went out to the garden to pray. His disciples were overcome with exhaustion. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus surrendered himself into the hands of His Father. Even in that desperate situation He knew His Father’s love and was able to trust.

Trusting Love

Lord Jesus, you put your trust in the will of the Father. help us to turn our lives over to the Father. Strengthen our prayer that we may stand firm in time of trial and trust in your most Sacred Heart.

We pray for the grace of inner peace.

On the fifth bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

After finishing each decade, some (myself included) say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the second mystery that we are to pray.

Second Sorrowful Mystery-Scourging at the Pillar

Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed. (1Peter 2:24)

Jesus received the maximum amount of lashes for our sake. He suffered the excruciating pain without complaint. The saints of old have consistently taught us the value of thanking Jesus for what He endured for us. They encourage us to be faithful in the midst of pain.

Healing Love

Lord Jesus, help us to discover the power of Your healing love. You accepted the scourging out of love for us and yet we sometimes complain about minor discomforts. Give us wisdom to know how to deal with our pain.

We pray for peace in our families.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the third mystery that we are to pray.

Third Sorrowful Mystery-The Crowning of Thorns

They put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown out of thorny branches, and put it on his head. Then they began to salute him, “Long live the King of the Jews!” (Mark 15:17-18)

Jesus was crowned with thorns. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable of poverty and crowned with the thorns of pain. Jesus can identify with the injustices we endure.

Humble Love

Lord Jesus, You know our physical afflictions. You can identify with our emotional pain and the persecutions we endure. Help us to be faithful in loving You and our neighbor even in the midst of hardships and suffering. Strengthen us in our hour of need.

We pray for peace among our friends.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the fourth mystery that we are to pray.

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery-The Carrying of the Cross

He went out, carrying his cross, and came to ‘The place of the Skull,” as it is called. (John 19:17)

In the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus carried His own cross. Tradition has it that He came upon His mother while carrying the cross. Mary comforted her Son and wept for Him as Jesus wept for our sins.

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

Lord Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, we learn that Simon of Cyrene, helped You carry Your cross.  Lord, you never give us more than we can handle. Help us to shoulder our responsibilities with joy!

We pray for peace in our work.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the fifth mystery that we are to pray.

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery-The Death of Jesus

Jesus drank the wine and said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

Jesus spoke words of forgiveness and trust during His darkest hour: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” “Into Your hands I commend my Spirit.” Jesus’ death on the cross broke the bonds of sin and death.

Breaking the Chains

Lord, we know the feeling of being hurt and vulnerable. Sometimes we nourish hostility in our hearts. Sometimes we cherish grudges and yet You show us a new way. Through Your death on the cross, You broke the chain of these resentments and have set us free. Jesus, help us imitate your radical forgiveness and trust.

We pray for world peace.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

At the end of the fifth decade, we pray the Hail Holy Queen. Mary helps us as pilgrims moving toward our final destiny in Christ. She is our advocate who helps us to endure the hardships and to discover peace.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

The Concluding Prayers:
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son, by his life, Death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Conclude the Rosary with the Sign of the Cross (In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen).

The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary
The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary
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