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Rosary Suggestions from John Paul II

Rosary Suggestions from John Paul II

Pope John Paul II's Suggestions for the Rosary


In his letter On the Most Holy Rosary (Rosarium Virginis Mariae), Pope John Paul II offered suggestions for praying the Rosary more fruitfully. He introduced a new set of mysteries, the mysteries of light or luminous mysteries, which focus on important events from the public life of Jesus. Formerly, the rosary bypassed Jesus' public ministry by going directly from his childhood to his passion. While any set of mysteries can be recited at any time, the Pope recommends the following pattern:

Joyful Mysteries: Mondays and Saturdays
Sorrowful Mysteries: Tuesdays and Fridays
Luminous Mysteries: Thursday
Glorious Mysteries: Wednesday and Sundays

This indication is not intended to limit a rightful freedom in personal and community prayer, where account needs to be taken of spiritual and pastoral needs and of the occurrence of particular liturgical celebrations which might call for suitable adaptations. What is really important is that the Rosary should always be seen and experienced as a path of contemplation. In the Rosary, in a way similar to what takes place in the Liturgy, the Christian week, centered on Sunday, the day of resurrection, becomes a journey through the mysteries of the life of Christ, and he is revealed in the lives of his disciples as the Lord of time and of history (On the Most Holy Rosary, n.38).


Use an Icon to Set the Scene of Each Mystery. John Paul II suggested using icons as a means of deepening one's meditation on the Mysteries.

Announcing each mystery, and perhaps even using a suitable icon to portray it, is as it were to open up a scenario on which to focus our attention. The words direct the imagination and the mind toward a particular episode or moment in the life of Christ. In the church's traditional spirituality, the veneration of icons and the many devotions appealing to the senses, as well as the method of prayer proposed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, make use of visual and imaginative elements (the compositio loci), judged to be of great help in concentrating the mind on the particular mystery. This is a methodology, moreover, which corresponds to the inner logic of the Incarnation: in Jesus, God wanted to take on human features. It is through his bodily reality that we are led into contact with the mystery of his divinity (On the Most Holy Rosary, n. 29).

Excerpt taken from: Frisk, M. Jean. The Rosary of Jesus & Mary. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2003, pgs. 67-69.

In recognition of Year of the Rosary, October 2002 - October 2003

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