Praying the Gospel: The Rosary

By: Deacon Jim Krupka

This article begins a series focused on the Gospel basis of the Rosary. The Rosary is a beautiful Scripture-based prayer. But to someone without knowledge of the Rosary, the scripture basis is not apparent. Non-Catholics observing recitation of the Rosary see repeated memorized prayers said quickly. They listen to the prayers and hear most words praising Mary with little direct attention to Jesus or God the Father. They may listen to a few words mentioning a “mystery” but get no apparent focus on what the mystery means. I understand their lack of connection to this form of prayer. What they are missing is the Gospel connection.
Scripture is core to Catholic life. The words of the Gospel are Good News that drive us to live as we do. The world is different because Jesus came and gave us a new covenant of love. This covenant takes more than one. Jesus gave us the good news, but we need to hear it and live it. The Rosary with the Gospel in mind is a powerful way to keep the good news before us. To guide us in praying the Rosary, the Church gives us twenty mysteries that focus on the key events of Jesus’ life. The mysteries begin with the angel bringing the news of Jesus coming culminating in his proclamation of the Kingdom and the Eucharist. When meditation on the mysteries is a major part of our Rosary prayer, Jesus is the focus. We gain an ever-deeper friendship with Jesus through meditation on the Gospel. This is something that excites all Christians, not just Catholics.

As we pray the Rosary, we begin with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great truths of the Gospel. The Lord’s Prayer directly from the Gospels introduces each mystery. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary from Luke’s Gospel. The Glory Be is from the Trinitarian blessing at the end of Matthew’s Gospel. We are praying the Gospel! Beyond the prayers are the mysteries. The twenty mysteries are highlights from the Gospels. The familiarity and routine of the prayers give us the mental space to contemplate the mysteries. Through prayers and meditation our life in Christ will grow richer. That’s why we have the Rosary.