Liz Kelly, a jazz singer and writer, was raised a Catholic and only returned to rosary prayer as an adult when she became interested in deepening her relationship with God. This easy-to-read guide looks at the history, meaning, and practice of this devotional discipline. "The rosary," according to Kelly, "is a practical and gratifying means of meditation suitable for everyone."

Although many still respond to this ancient practice with disbelief, cynicism, disdain, or even fear, it is very widely used. More than two billion Hail Marys are said every day. Kelly presents stories and comments of those who regularly use the rosary to practice intercession, to overcome character defects, to draw closer to Mary, or as a sheer act of love. Moving the beads through their fingers, believers traditionally say the following prayers — the Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Doxology.

The rosary is optional for Catholics, yet many saints have seen it as "a history lesson, a study in theology, and a simple meditative prayer all in one." The rosary emphasizes the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and celebrates three sets of Mysteries: the joyful mysteries (the annunciation, the visitation, the birth of Jesus, the presentation of Jesus, and the finding of the child Jesus in the temple), the sorrowful mysteries (the agony in the garden, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion and death of Jesus), and the glorious mysteries (the resurrection, the ascension, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the assumption of Mary, and the coronation of Mary).

"Prayer," according to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "is a surge of the heart." The rosary is a devotional tool that cultivates a deeper love of God.

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