Most of this blog’s readers won’t be surprised to hear that the rosary is designed to be a contemplative prayer. Non Catholics, young Catholics, and Catholics who only pray only rarely often consider it a chore of redundant prayers that one must endure. To them, the redundant and boring prayer is broken only by some other redundant prayers, and a brief announcement of some mysteries.

If this sounds like you, with respect, you’re doing it wrong.

There’s a reason the prayers are redundant, and that reason is not to make it very boring so that it’s a sacrifice. The prayers set a rhythm that is intended to help the soul enter more deeply into prayer, while focusing on the events that played out during specific portions of Our Lord’s life.

Simply considering the mysteries respectfully while praying is called “meditative prayer.” But, when one enters into the mysteries and lets them play like a movie in one’s head – all while giving Our Lord the reverence and worship that He is due, then the rosary becomes contemplative prayer.

When one enters into this sort of contemplative prayer in a real way, one progresses quickly in what St. Theresa of Avila called “The Unitive Way.”

I’m unaware of any valid mystic of the Church who did not practice daily contemplative prayer.

In any event, there are people far more qualified than I to teach these things. There are (literally) books, wonderful, wonderful, books written only on contemplative prayer. If you’re interested in learning more, I strongly recommend that you read one of those worthy authors – but avoid everything after the 1950s. Authors started injecting leaven into the mental prayer “dough” very quickly, after that.

I gave that brief background simply to explain a little project I’m working on, and I could use your help. While attempting to teach a (very) young 15 year old boy some of these concepts while praying the rosary, it occurred to me that this sort of prayer is much more challenging for our constantly visually stimulated and entertained youth.

I considered introducing a scriptural rosary to our nightly routine, but I have always felt that a scriptural rosary interferes with my ability to enter contemplation. Don’t get me wrong, scriptural rosaries are fantastic – for training. They’re great for people who aren’t very familiar with the verses. But, in my humble opinion, once one knows the verses, he should stop interrupting the rosary to read them, and simply contemplate them. So, I ruled that out.

Then, I remembered the way things used to be in our beautiful churches and cathedrals. True, the artwork was often commissioned to honor God, but also to teach, and to help the faithful contemplate the life of Our Lord.

So, I decided to re-create that effect. Lord knows the kid isn’t going to get it looking at the bare Freemasonic walls at a Cranmer meal.

What I plan to do is screencast a slide show on the t.v. during the rosary of a few select images per mystery. I’m sure I’ll add to them over time. So far, I owe all of the Sorrowful Mystery images to Mel Gibson. Here’s what I currently have:

Agony in the garden:

Scourging at the pillar:

Crowning with thorns:

Carrying the cross:

Crucifixion (I need to get more – including one with the thieves):

It’s a start. Over the years, I’ve noticed that some of you are aware of some gorgeous artwork that I had never seen. So, I’m soliciting your help on this project, if you don’t mind.

What are your favorite images depicting relevant scenes from the Joyful and Glorious mysteries?

To some extent, the other mysteries are at a disadvantage in this project, as the sorrowful images are actual photos of humans and a bit overwhelming in detail. I also have to keep in mind the audience. Icons are not going to suffice. We need images that grab the attention of our attention-addled youth, while telling the story.

Will you help? If so, please feel free to post a link to the image below, or reply to me (if you know where to find me …) or email me at

Thanks in advance – and remember – if you’re not quietly offering up your discomfort, praying, and worshiping our Lord while fasting, you’re not really fasting – you’re just dieting.

18 thoughts on “A Contemplative Scriptural Rosary?

  1. You won’t see this but I am having such difficulty praying the Rosary properly .. meditating as I pray. I guess I’m one of those you referenced to who “are doing it wrong”. I apologize to our Lady after every time I pray 🙂 and ask for her help. I’m just rambling ..


    1. Ronerashmerta:

      I’m writing as someone with experimental knowledge of the Fifth Mansion, whereby I know without knowing, and can’t explain in human language what I don’t know, other than grasp at it in vague metaphor.

      There’s two possibilities here:

      – You struggle with Meditation, as some Saints did. For example, St Therese of Lisieux found the rosary excruciating. If this is your cross, offer it up for souls, and persist, understanding that the right way for others mightn’t be the right way for you.

      – or, it’s possible you’re entering into the Illuminative Way.

      It’s important to rule this out, because if you’ve been called to Supernatural Contemplation (St John of the Cross / Teresa of Avila), persisting to attempt Natural Contemplation via Meditation (Ingatian Contemplation / Lectio Divina) means your spiritual director did not recognise the time of your visitation, and you won’t make the transition out of sense into spirit effectively. Some people even give up prayer in despair.

      Can you answer a couple of questions for me:

      Were you previously able to meditate upon the mysteries, or were able to use your imagination to visualise the mysteries, but now you can’t, and the rosary has become awkward and confusing?

      Or does the imagination still remain but it doesn’t engage during prayer?

      Or, if it does, does it only engage sporadically, and you can never predict if you can see images or not?

      Or, did you never have an imagination?

      Please take a look at this image. As described, try to imagine an apple. Where would you be on this scale?

      For context, my entire life I was a 5, until, one day, about eight months after conversion, I could suddenly no longer use my imagination to contemplate the mysteries of the Rosary. I became a 1, with the odd glimpse of 2 now and then. I tried explaining what I could now only see as a negative of an imaginative image, or an absence of where the image should be. For example: I can’t image a cat. I only intellectually understand I should be seeing a cat, but… nothing.

      This is actually a very good thing, spiritually. I’ll explain more if necessary.

      God bless you.


  2. Hi Michael, we miss you on Twitter. Good article, I quite agree regarding the Rosary. Thank you.

    A while back, I made some Rosary videos (that I have meant to edit, but … ) I incorporated religious art and short meditations that come from St. Louis de Montfort. If you want to see the captions, look 5:00 in.

    I did all three sets of mysteries, and a few chaplets as well. I find them helpful myself when I am tired and distracted, trying to get through the Rosary.

    I would suggest doing image searches on your search engine of choice. You can simply put “Annunciation” or Annunciation art, etc. and find some beautiful works of art.

    God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a great idea, Michael. I did something similar for my family with the Seven Sorrows, which my parish was good enough to share on their channel:

    (I only noticed the maddening typo after it was published)

    I think I’ll do something similar for all three mysteries of the Rosary this Lent.

    I’m glad I was able to find you again. Hope all is well with you.



    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here is a link to saying the rosary with Fr Peyton.
    I don’t know what movie they have used but you may be able to extract some images from here.
    They use the same film for the other mysteries.

    Para Bellum


  5. I’ve thought of putting something like this together for my kids. Such a great idea! I was going to look at traditional art, but the images from Mel Gibsons’s Passion are incredible.

    In the meantime, I do find this booklet helpful: I now have the images memorized so I can pray the Rosary without beads/counting by bringing to mind each image. Having images associated with each bead also ensures I can pray the Rosary anytime, anywhere if I am ever in a situation where the beads are banned or unavailable. I really like my booklet, but something with better, larger images would be better.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The Annunciation

    Also Fr. David Nix series on Lectio Divina VLX series was helpful with the Teresian mode of using imagination in contemplative prayer (YouTube Padres Peregrino). Very accessible for a 15 year old.

    Lastly, I often contemplate the mysteries in relation to each other like The Annunciation to The Agony in The Garden and how Mary’s fiat relates to Jesus’s acceptance of God’s will.


  7. The St. John of the Cross drawing of Christ from above would be worthy for inclusion.

    Hell by Fr. Hernando de la Cruz
    The Last Judgement by Fr. Hernando de la Cruz or The Last Judgement by Giotto

    My favourite are the wood engravings of the Holy Bible by Gustave Doré.

    This website has catalogued paintings for the mysteries. Excluding the Wojtyla addition, it could be useful.


  8. “Contemplation is nothing but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which, if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of Love.”
    St John of the Cross

    Love that. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful idea .. religious visuals would be so helpful, and if that 15 year old is your son he is very fortunate. I will look for a couple of my favorite paintings .. one is the Crowning of Mary by Ruben I believe (?). I’ll find it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometimes, when I pray the beads but awkward social settings constrain me from vocalizing the prayers, I “read” the words in my mind’s eye.

    Liked by 1 person

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