Confused about the rosary

I keep hearing that youre supposed to pray the rosary devoutly, attentively and meditate on the mysteries. But what do those mean? What is the pratical difference between praying the rosary devoutly or not? How is devotion supposed to “look like”?

Also, what are you supposed to pay attention to, the prayers or the mysteries? I’ve heard you’re supposed to use the prayers as " background" and meditate on the mysteries. What do people mean by that? To think about them, or to try to take a lesson of of it? Or both?

Sorry, I wasn’t raised Catholic and have converted for less than a year. Thank you!


I tend to think about what each mystery means, what God is saying through them. Nothing in the life of Jesus happened by accident. Why did things happen the way they did? What can be gained by thinking about them?


Catechism of the Catholic Church

2562 Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays. But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.

2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.

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The Rosary is a private devotion. There are no rules.

In prayer we seek to make our prayer life more devout as our journey into faith continues.
What is the definition of devout? To me that is a person such as yourself who has concerns for his or her prayer life and how to enrich it.
What does devout look like.
It can look like a monk praying as he goes about his chores, It can mean a monk spending 6 hours praying on a marble floor mid winter in bare feet and hardly any winter weight clothing.
It can look like a mother in childbirth who is praying for a safe delivery in between a few choice words to her husband for getting her into the predicament of giving birth, one she has no control over her body, and telling nurses to stop doing x y or z because it is annoying or painful :slight_smile:

When I pray the rosary, I usually think of one thing and continue to come back to that one thing, and only that. So I pray and visualise or think of that one thing.
I pray walking, in bed, around the house, cleaning those distasteful areas, driving, in public with others,

I don’t try to get really anything out of it or put anything into it. I just pray and think of my favourite mystery.

There are three types of prayer, vocal, which is the Rosary, meditative, which can also be the Rosary but can also be reading the Bible verse or chapter, then sitting quietly and thinking about it, and then there is contemplative prayer.

What is your personal prayer style, initially if you want to meditate on each mystery, it is hard going, learn to pray the Rosary first, then introduce the various mysteries as more then passing thoughts.

As to what is devout, you can have three people, a very holy monk living in a cave in the times of the early fathers of the church, a martyr who would choose death over worshipping pagan idols, and a mother of 8 or has very little time to do much other then passing quickly through personal prayers while her families needs are met.

There are some who pray " Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner’ as their prayer and prayer alone and are very devout.

Welcome home to the Catholic Faith. !


You would learn a lot about the Rosary from St. Louis de Montfort. He is one of the most prolific writers on the subject. The Secret of the Rosary is an amazing book that I 110% recommend for you!

Basically when it comes to the rosary, behind the mass, it is one of the highest and most cherished forms of prayer and meditation in the Church. Its also the second “longest” behind the mass when it comes to time spent in practice. Its very easy to become distracted and even bored while praying the rosary. To pray it devoutly how it LOOKS should simply be you being comfortable whether sitting or kneeling (preferably kneeling) or even walking and ensuring you take your time with every decade. Not too slow and not too fast but in a good maintainable rhythm

Every mystery has a theme or central message one should focus on. Many websites dedicated to praying the rosary list them all and give you ideas. For example when praying the 5th sorrowful mystery (The Crucifixion) the fruit one would meditate is Final preservation. Think about our Lords great suffering, and the gravity of our faults. Trust in God’s mercy that you may one day be able to leave this world prepared and yearning to be with God and his mother in Heaven. You can also be literal - imagining yourself there on Calvary and seeing Our Lord dying, saying his last words, witnessing the despair of Mary and the importance of his sacrifice.

Remember The Rosary is a journey through scripture using the words said by Gabriel and Elizabeth to Mary. You are essentially walking in the footsteps of Mary when praying the Rosary.

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Think of the mystery. Forget. Pray from the heart. Repeat.
There may be some residual thought from the mystery so meditate upon that while the main focus should be from the heart. I have never been certain about what it means to, “Pray from the heart.” I do both from the seat of emotions such as joyfulness and hope. Faith is more of an intellectual exercise from our central core. I tend to meander discursively between these two universes of thought while praying the Rosary. What ever we do when we pray should bring about hope and joy in God.

Thank you, I’ve been reading it and its a GREAT book!!

That prayer is one of my favorites, it is very humbling.

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Yes, prayers are background,and focus on mysteries.For example sorrowful mysteries,just keep saying Hail Mairy and focus on each Mystery.Through mysteries you Will see How Jesus suffered for us.He was humiliated by sinners…But he still remain faithfull to His Father.(Let your will be done.)
Pope JPII said that rosary without mystery is Like body without soul.
Pray rosary often.God Bless you.

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