Why Do Catholics… Part 1 – Pray the Rosary

Welcome to a new series of articles on how to explain our Catholic beliefs to our children!  I have found that the more I learn about my Catholic faith, the more I truly love the beauty and simplicity of it all.  And in my desire to share this faith with my children, I think that explaining our beliefs and practices to them, they will find it amazing too!


This week, in preparation for my oldest daughter’s First Communion, I am hand-making a birthstone rosary for her.  It is definitely a labor of love, trying to twist the metal pins into loopsemerald rosary linking them all together – especially difficult with my sometimes lacking fine motor skills!  I know that she will be delighted in the gift and with each bead that I add, I pray that having this special rosary will be one more step in bringing her closer in her relationship with Christ through the beauty of the rosary.

Then I realized that, although we have said the rosary together as a family, especially when they are lall held captive on a long car ride, but have I ever really taught them the rosary and why we pray it.  So here is my kid-friendly explanation for why and how we pray the rosary.

Jesus loves his own mother so much, just like you love your own mother.  And when someone treats your mother with kindness and love, you feel so happy!  In the same way, when we spend time talking to Jesus’ mother, we make him so pleased! The rosary is a beautiful prayer that helps us think of Jesus’ life while we talk to Mary, his mom.  We start first with the Apostle’s Creed.  This prayer is similar to the one we pray in church after Father finishes his homily and it describes all that we believe in our faith.  Next, we pray the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus himself taught us to pray!  This is followed by three Hail Mary’s, one for Faith, on for Hope, and one for Love.  The Hail Mary prayer, asking Mary to pray for us, is from the Bible and includes the words that the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary when he told her she was going to have Baby Jesus – “Hail Mary, Full of grace.  The Lord is with you.”  It also includes the words that Mary’s cousin Elizabeth said to her when Mary came to visit, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”   Next we say the Glory Be, which gives glory to the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This can be followed by the Fatima prayer which Mary gave to the children of Fatima.

After this introduction, we begin with the different mysteries of Jesus life.  The mysteries are separated into four different groups and cover different parts of Jesus’ life.nativity

The Joyful Mysteries include:

  • The Annunciation – When Gabriel told Mary the news that she was going to have Baby Jesus
  • The Visitation – When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth
  • The Nativity – The beautiful night that Jesus was born
  • The Presentation – When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple
  • The Finding in the Temple – When Mary and Joseph find their lost son teaching in the temple


These are all very happy times in Jesus life, especially for his loving parents.  You can help your children relate to these mysteries by asking them what their happy memories of their lives are and by sharing some of your own!


The Luminous Mysteries include:

  • The Baptism of Jesus – When Jesus is baptized by John in the river Jordanwedding at cana
  • The Wedding at Cana – Jesus first miracle of turning water into wine
  • The Proclamation of the Kingdom – When Jesus asks us to put God first in our lives
  • The Transfiguration – When Jesus became dazzling white in front of his disciples on a mountaintop
  • The Giving of the Eucharist – When Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples


These mysteries always remind me of some of the sacraments – baptism, marriage, holy orders, reconciliation, Eucharist.  Remember when your family has celebrated these sacraments!


The Sorrowful Mysteries include:agony in the garden

  • The Agony in the Garden – When Jesus prays in the garden before he is arrested
  • The Scourging at the Pillar – When Jesus was hurt and made fun of
  • The Crowning with Thorns – When the soldiers put a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head
  • The Carrying of the Cross –  When Jesus carried his cross through the streets
  • The Crucifixion – When Jesus died on the cross


This is a great time to talk about why Jesus suffered as he did for us.  And to tell our children, even if they were the only ones who needed to be saved, Jesus still would have done it just out of love for them!


The Glorious Mysteries include:resurrection

  • The Resurrection – When Jesus rose from the dead!
  • The Ascension – When Jesus went up into Heaven
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit – When the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles
  • The Assumption – When God took Mary into Heaven
  • The Crowning of Mary – When God made Mary the Queen of Heaven


What a happy time!  Talk about the victory of Christ and how he wins over sin and sadness!


For each mystery we pray one Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s (called a decade) and one Glory Be.   Each decade has its own fruits of the mystery.  For example, the fruits of the Joyful mysteries are, in order, humility, love of neighbor, poverty, obedience, joy in finding Jesus.


The rosary ends with the Hail Holy Queen, which is a beautiful prayer asking Mary for her prayers.


Ways to make the rosary more interesting for kids:

  • Break it up – Pray only a decade each nightkids rosary3
  • Use pictures – Find pictures that show each of the mysteries as you pray.  You can often find these in your Bible or in a Praying the Rosary pamphlet
  • Get fun or meaningful rosaries for them to pray the rosary with
  • Act out the mysteries – Children love to play act.  My Sunday School kids always love putting on a little show!
  • Make a balloon rosary with your playgroup friends
  • Make an arts and crafts rosarykids rosary2


Next week, Why Do Catholics…  Part 2 – Celebrate Communion

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