Throughout the centuries, there have been many variations of the Rosary as Christians adapted it to fit particular situations. In Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Saint John Paul II proposed a renewed way of praying the Rosary, but he did not insist that everyone should use this new way. Instead, he desired to revitalize the Rosary for a new generation.
Keep in mind this wise saying of Saint Teresa: “Do that which best stirs you to love.” If you have a favorite practice that helps make your recitation of the Rosary more contemplative, do not think you must change it just because Saint John Paul II gave different suggestions or because the meditations we offer in this article or in our book are different from the ones you have used before.
Sometimes we need a slight change in our prayer practice in order to help us refocus and grow. But other times, when we are on a proven and fruitful path, we need to remain on that path. There are few hard-and-fast rules about praying the Rosary. Follow the general guidance for making vocal prayer more contemplative. The specific practices you use are of lesser importance. These specifics are meant to facilitate your Contemplative Rosary, not to bind you permanently to one set of meditations or a select group of paintings.
One good custom is to begin the Rosary with the Apostles’ Creed, then an Our Father and three Hail Marys for the intentions of the Pope as a way of orienting our hearts to the universal and ecclesial nature of the Rosary. Saint John Paul II writes that the opening words of Psalm 70: “O God, come to my [assistance]; O Lord, make haste to help me,” might be prayed at the beginning of the Rosary instead, indicating our need of God’s help in order to pray worthily. This verse is recited at the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer by those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It thus connects the Rosary more closely with the official prayers of the Church
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