Praying the rosary.

I’m sure we can safely file this under “ignorant questions of converts” but I want to ask anyway because I want to do it properly and I can’t figure this out on my own. When you come to the first (or any for that matter) decade of the rosary it says to meditate on a mystery while praying. Perhaps I have a faulty definition of either terms, specifically meditation, but both to me are mental activities and I can’t do both at the same time. Literally, I can only manage one mental task at a time. So what am I missing? Thanks for all your help ladies and gentlemen, I hope to better devote myself to this form of prayer in the near future.

Actually, more people have an issue with this than you think. Even the saints had a hard time. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it. I haven’t completely adapted to that myself. just think about the mystery while you pray. It’s hard to explain, but you learn the prayer so well that you have to do very little thinking in regards to saying it.

It could help to think about the mystery and pretend that your talking to Mary within the mystery.

It takes a while to master it, but it by no means an issue only with converts :thumbsup:

What you’re aiming for is having a picture of the event (the topic of that particular Mystery) in your mind while saying the words of the prayers.

The best help I have found for this is a DVD called “The Holy Rosary” which shows stained glass windows and other artworks of each mystery while the prayers are recited. You can get it from

Ideally, the event of the Mystery should play out in your mind like a little movie. I’ve been praying the Rosary since February, and my brain is still furnishing still pictures.

There are also good books that will help – I have a scriptural rosary on my Kindle Fire that also has pictures. None of the apps I’ve tried have any visuals to go with the prayers.

The rosary, as pointed out, is a private devotion. So, there’s a lot of freedom in it.

If you find you just can’t do the meditations while doing the decades, then you might consider doing them separately, then. It’s not “wrong”. Do it whatever way you feel comfortable. I don’t think Our Lady would mind if you did it that way.


Dear EmeraldOne,

There is no such thing as “ignorant questions of converts”. There are only questions from people trying to understand, trying to improve. :wink:

As blanc10 pointed out, a lot of people have problems doing this. What worked for me-----my Rosary book has images for each mystery. I visualize the image while praying the Hail Marys.

In the beginning, I would have to look at the image in the Rosary book. Eventually, I could bring up the image mentally. Be patient, it takes a while. I still struggle with distraction, the visualization helps me get back on track.

I hope this helps.

I have the same problem. Some people can manage to sincerely pray and meditate at the same time and that must be wonderful. Others, such as myself need to concentrate with everything we have (maybe it is a defense against distraction?) I no longer feel guilty that I cannot pray fully and meditate, or meditate and pray on something different at the same time. The guilt went after talking to my priest who explained that praying the rosary and meditating on the words was okay and not to look at what other people seemed to be doing as it wasn’t a competition and we didn’t get marked on our performance.

You know, I still haven’t quite figured this one out :o However, by now I have come to understand that we may actually be subject to two trains of thought: one that we control, and one that runs on its own.

I have noticed very clearly that while praying the Rosary often times a second train of thought seems to be running, for instance some other idea, a reminder of something I haven’t done, or even a background song of some sort.

I have also noticed that after a while, sometimes the prayer enters that other stage. On one occasion I was falling asleep while praying the Rosary and upon waking up I clearly had the “thought” of the ongoing prayer in my mind such that I did not have to, strictly speaking, make an effort in controlling my prayer. I have noticed that as I try to focus less and less and let my prayer become more “automatic”, the effort lessens significantly. Perhaps it is at this point that we can consciously focus on the mystery we are meditating on.

Also, when you pray some prayers quite often (ex. the Rosary) sometimes the conscious effort to pray results in a headache. I believe it is because we are “disciplining” our wildly running mind, which resists the inclination of the soul to focus on God. This is, I believe, due to the oppression that the modern mind is subject to in terms of exposure to noise, music, and words. Sacred silence is a luxury in this age, and when we pray, we notice, as the mind sometimes is shocked by its sudden appearance. Thus, to pray better, we need to make an effort to reduce our exposure to unnecessary noises and sounds in our lives :slight_smile:

Now these are just personal observations. Like I said, I am still trying to figure this one out. I also think visual aids help, ex. if I have an icon of the Annunciation before me, clearly that thought will be in my mind while I pray.

Remember, though: to pray is to conquer the heart of the Beloved!

Prayer for our own sake or for the sake of prayer is like approaching our loved one, taking out a piece of paper, and reading in a static voice: “I love you” - because we think we have to say that, or because we enjoy the way it sounds when we say it :o I tell you, the other person won’t be very amused :o

Prayer is focused on Christ, and must come straight from the depth of the heart, always - but especially at those times (and they will come, trust me) when your entire self is against the very thought of praying, and you’d do anything rather than picking up the Rosary, perhaps because you think you are very busy and have no time for that, perhaps because you did something and feel ashamed and prefer to avoid conversation, perhaps because something happened and you blame the other and are upset (all things that are quite common between spouses!)

I am not pretending to teach anyone how to pray (please, put down those stones :D), I am mentioning this because it’s something that I experienced when I began to pray more often, namely the risk for those prayers to become a routine, or even worse, something that feeds our pride at the expense of our charity and humility.

Ah, by the way, there’s a great book for you: “The Secret of the Rosary”, by St. Louis de Montfort (1716).

Hello EmeralOne,
It appears to me that you are saying how can we meditate on the prayers of the rosary and at the same time meditate on the mysteries. This is a very good question and I think you are right in saying that we can’t do both at the same time. We are taught that we should try to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary while we are saying the Hail Mary’s. So if you are not actually thinking about the words of the Hail Mary’s while reciting them because you are meditating on a particular decade of the rosary, that is fine and is how we are taught to pray the rosary.
Sometimes when I’m very distracted and I can’t seem to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, I will concentrate on the words of the Hail Mary while reciting them, simply praying to Mary. I also try to concentrate on the words of the Our Father when I recite that prayer. At other times, I’m able to meditate on the mysteries and am not so distracted. I often use the scriptural rosary prayer book to help me meditate. I may read one of the scriptural passages and meditate on that passage for the entire 10 Hail Mary’s. Sometimes I meditate on just a picture or image of the mystery as another poster pointed out they do.

God bless!

Not ignorant question at all! We have all struggled with this.

At the present time, I’ve found a Rosary App by the Daughters of St. Paul to be of most help. It gives me different options to select images that range from icons, mosaics, pictures, etc… While praying the rosary I can touch the picture and it will expand while the app reads the rosary as I pray along with them. In this manner I involve the most amount of senses (visual, voice and touch), it is a great help to do it this way.

Another great manner of praying the rosary is while doing adoration of the blessed Sacrament.

God Bless,

Pray from the heart and meditation will come in time.

If you’re saying the rosary and you have love in your heart, then you are doing it correctly. There is not a precise formula of what should be going on in your mind. Consider the mysteries of the particular day and go with it. It will become easier as the words become intuitive to you, but just the same, the rosary is one of the easiest ways for us to realize just how vulnerable our minds are to wandering. Our untamed minds are one of the results of Original Sin.

My workplace happens to be across the street from the parish that I started attending. I like to stop there and meditate in front of the statue of my Mother and say the rosary to her. After looking around to make sure the coast is clear, I’ll also give her a peck on the cheek (:shrug:). I personally find a depiction of her to be very helpful for focusing my mind & heart, and it is something worth considering. Many generations of pastors & artists have understood the value of better expressing ourselves through creative artwork, which is a labor of love. This is why Catholic Churches are heavily decorated.

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