Praying The Holy Rosary
One misconception some people have about the Rosary is that it is beads. It isn’t (at least primarily)! The Rosary is actually a form of contemplative prayer. No beads are necessary. It is in a class of prayers known as Marian devotions.
Why exactly do people pray it? The short answer is “it works.” All prayer is powerful and the Rosary is like prayer on steroids. It gives many benefits, including 15 specific promises revealed by Our Lady to St. Dominic. Praying the Rosary regularly will also help you increase your holiness. It is so valuable that Holy Mother Church grants a plenary indulgence when prayed with others. Many parishes pray the Rosary before or after daily Mass.
At the heart of the Rosary are 4 sets of events (5 each) from the Gospel known as holy mysteries. These events are mentally reflected upon while repeating the Hail Mary. This short and beautiful prayer is said 10 times while reflecting on 1 mystery. This is known as a “decade.” One decade = one mystery!
It may seem confusing at first to do 2 things at once, to say 10 Hail Mary’s AND to reflect on the mystery. After a while, it becomes surprisingly easy. Think of when you learned to drive. At first, all of your attention was on the mechanical actions while focusing on the road. In time, you find that you can split your attention (within reason) with other things (mentally planning your day, prayer, speaking with passengers, listening to music and so on). Learning the Rosary is like that.
Why not just do the meditation and skip the Hail Marys? The Hail Marys and other prayers give your prayer time more “punch.” St. Augustine said that singing is praying twice. This is similar. Additionally, saying 10 Hail Marys gives you just the right amount of time for reflect.