Mysteries of the rosary
The Mysteries of the rosary follow the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension. They are meant as meditations on the life of Christ. The meditations are known as the Joyful (sometimes Joyous) Mysteries; the Sorrowful Mysteries; and the Glorious Mysteries. Each of these Mysteries has within it five different stages of Christ's life to be contemplated. Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 2002), recommended an additional set called the Luminous Mysteries (or the "Mysteries of Light"). Traditional Catholics who prefer the original fifteen mysteries point to the belief that the Rosary is Mary's Psalter, containing 150 Hail Marys in its body for the 150 Psalms. Moreover, traditional Catholics sometimes do not pray the Luminous Mysteries of John Paul II because they assert that the Holy Rosary with its fifteen mysteries was instituted directly by the Mother of God. Traditional Catholics hold that if Mary instituted 150 Hail Mary's with fifteen distinct mysteries, then not even a Pope can "add" to what she commanded - just as a Pope could not also "add" extra Psalms to the Bible. This belief is also based on the vision of Our Lady of Fatima, which speak of 150 Hail Mary's and "one third of the Rosary" being only five decades. The Luminous Mysteries bring the total to 200 Hail Mary's, which would contradict Mary's words. Moreover, advocates of the traditional fifteen decade Rosary note that it parallels Saint Paul's threefold progression of his argument in Philippians 2: 5-11, namely the Incarnation, the Passion, and the Exaltation of Christ corresponding to the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.
Various other "mysteries" exist; in the German-speaking countries a fifth set of mysteries had become more common before the 1920s, the so-called "Comforting Mysteries", which have an eschatological dimension, meditating Christ as Universal King.
- A sign of the cross on the Crucifix and then the Apostles' Creed;
- An Our Father on the first large bead;
- A Hail Mary on each of the three small beads with the following intentions (the theological virtues):
- For the increase of faith
- For the increase of hope
- For the increase of charity
- A Glory Be to the Father;
- Announce the mystery
- An "Our Father" on the large bead
- A "Hail Mary" on each of the adjacent ten small beads;
- A "Glory Be to the Father";
- (The Fatima Prayer is commonly added here, as a pious addition: "O My Jesus, Forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven. Especially those most in need of thy mercy.")
- Again an Our Father on the next large bead, followed by ten Hail Marys on the small beads,
- the Glory Be to the Father, (and Fatima Prayer, cf. below) for each of the following decades;
- In conclusion, Hail Holy Queen and a sign of the cross.