The rosary is not just a lot of prayers that are recited. It is a meditation device, which allows us to reflect upon the lives of Mary and Jesus. Each of the mysteries of the rosary is a scene from one or both of their lives, and we are intended to focus on that mystery, rather than on the prayers that are being recited. The Hail Marys serve as a type of mantra that we say while we are reflecting on the mystery itself.

There are four sets of five mysteries. These four sets are the Joyful Mysteries (scenes from the Infancy Narrative), the Luminous Mysteries (scenes from the ministry of Jesus), the Sorrowful Mysteries (scenes from the Passion of the Lord), and the Glorious Mysteries (beginning with the Resurrection and leading to the Crowning of Mary).

When you pray the rosary, do focus on the words of the introductory prayers (the Apostles Creed, an Our Father, three Hail Marys, the Glory Be, and the Fatima Prayer). Then comes the first mystery—the Annunciation, the Baptism of Jesus, the Agony in the Garden, or the Resurrection of Jesus. Let’s just use the Joyful Mystery today. Before you begin to pray this decade (10 Hail Marys), call to mind the Annunciation. Picture, as best as you can, the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would become the Mother of God’s Son. Reflect on the words, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” What does that mean? What does it say about Mary? What does it mean that we are those who are not full of grace? As you pray the Hail Marys, think about the dialogue that goes on between Mary and Gabriel. Especially recall her words, “Let it be done to me according to your words.”

Each time you pray the Joyful Mysteries, you might want to focus on one particular phrase or another. Or you may ask different questions of the Mystery. “Does God ask me to be part of His plan of salvation for the world?” Do I, like Mary, have questions or doubts about my ability to fulfill God’s expectation of me?” “Do I need to seek the Holy Spirit, so that God can accomplish through me what I can never accomplish on my own?” By praying the mysteries over and over, we go deeper into the mystery of Christ Himself and God’s plan for the world.

October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Pray the rosary. If possible, make it part of each and every day of your life. Offer it up for loved ones or for yourself, or for the many situations and problems that our world and nation face.