Catholics use the rosary as a prayer guide. While the practice is commonplace among those in the religion, the system might seem odd to those who haven't studied Catholicism. The shape and colour of rosary beads vary greatly, but the meaning of the beads remains the same.
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To understand the meaning of rosary beads, you must first understand the layout of the rosary. It begins at the cross and goes up to a spot at which it splits off into a circle. Once the person praying makes his way around the circle, he will end at the medallion that holds the ring of beads together.
The cross of the rosary is symbolic of Christ's death, but the reason it is on the rosary is debatable. The Catholic Church says it is in reverence to Mary's anguish caused by her son's death. The cross is at which you say the Sign of the Cross, followed by the Fatima prayer. The Apostle's Creed comes next.
Throughout the rosary, there are beads that are larger than others. One is located right above the cross, one is directly below the medallion and the others are placed individually between the groups of Ave decade beads. On the first Pater bead, you say only the Our Father prayer. When you get to the Pater beads after the first one, you must recite the Glory Be prayer, followed by the Fatima prayer, then you announce one of the Mysteries. Lastly, you recite the Our Father prayer.
The smaller rosary beads are called Ave beads. There are three directly above the first Pater bead. There are 50 in the ring of the rosary. These are grouped into decades. On this bead, you say the Hail Mary prayer. These beads serve as a reminder of the tears of Mary and her willingness to do God's will.
At the end of the fifth decade of the rosary, you will come to the medallion that holds the rosary together. At that point, you say the Hail Holy Queen prayer and finish with the sign of the cross. The purpose of this is to remind Catholics of Mary's devotion to God throughout her life. It is also a symbol that reminds women of the model mother and wife.
There are four sets of Mysteries for the rosary: Glorious, Luminous, Joyful and Sorrowful. Each of these sets tells a story of Jesus' life. They are meant to give each rosary specific direction and focus. While Catholics are free to reflect upon any set they choose, Pope John Paul II recommended a specific schedule: The Joyful Mysteries are on Monday and Saturday, the Glorious Mysteries are on Sunday and Wednesday, the Sorrowful Mysteries are on Tuesday and Friday, and the Luminous Mysteries are on Thursday.
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