St. John Paul II loved to pray the Rosary. In fact, he said: “The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth!” He prayed the Rosary often, in many different places - in the Church, in the shrines of the Blessed Mother, while walking amongst nature, in the mountains.
On October 16, 2002, he released his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginia Mariae (“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary”), which introduced a new set of mysteries of the Rosary - the Luminous Mysteries. What many do not know, however, is that St. John Paul II in that apostolic letter gave some beautiful, practical suggestions on how we can pray the Rosary better. The 3 suggestions that we will share below are not meant as instructions, or mandatory things we should do while praying the Rosary. Rather, they are suggestions given by St. John Paul II which, if applied, will help us pray it better.
Announce the Mystery While Using Religious Icons
St. John Paul II recommended the use of religious icons that depict the mysteries of the Rosary. The purpose is to help us “focus our attention.” As human beings, our senses are easily distracted by many things. Announcing the mystery out loud, and using religious icons, help concentrate “the mind on the particular mystery.”
This is the reason why it is highly recommended that we set up a beautiful family altar at home, before which we can pray the Rosary as a family. Beautiful images of Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus will help focus our minds on prayer.
Proclaim a Related Bible Passage
The Rosary is very much a biblical prayer. The 20 mysteries of the Rosary is essentially a summary of the New Testament and the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When we pray a particular decade of the Rosary, we are invited to focus our minds on the particular mystery we are meditating upon - we are invited to reflect on a specific moment in the life of Jesus and Mary, as documented in the Bible.
That is why St. John Paul II suggests that after announcing the mystery, “the proclamation of a related Biblical passage” may follow. For example, if we are reflecting on the First Joyful Mystery - the Annunciation - we can read a short passage about the Annunciation in the Bible.
This helps focus our minds on the mystery.
Moments of Silence
St. John Paul II highly recommended as well the incorporation of moments of silence when we pray the Rosary. He wrote that a period of silence ideally should follow the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word of God.
He commented that a “drawback of a society dominated by technology and the mass media is the fact that silence becomes increasingly difficult to achieve.” To hear God speak to us, we need to also remove the “noise” of other voices and concerns. This prayerful silence incorporated in the Rosary will help us silence our minds and enable us to achieve a deeper connection with Jesus and Mary, who will speak to our hearts in this silence.
St. John Paul II, pray for us!