As the late South American Bishop Alexander of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia explained it, “Prayer, like a farmer, plows the field of our heart and makes it capable of receiving heavenly blessings and bringing forth fruits of virtues and perfection. Prayer attracts into our hearts the grace of the Holy Spirit, thus strengthening our faith, hope and love.”
This parallels, poetically, what the “Baltimore Catechism” taught many of our parents and grandparents: “The fruits of prayer are: It strengthens our faith, nourishes our hope, increases our love for God, keeps us humble, merits grace and atones for sin” (n. 3, Lesson 28, Q. 117).
However, the prayer that is the rosary is believed to offer its own specific fruits for those who seek its harvest.
The 18th century saint, Louis de Montfort, knew as much about the rosary as anyone. His classic “The Secret of the Rosary” reminds us that “meditation on the mysteries of the life and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the source of the most wonderful fruits for those who use it.” He added that, “The more the garden of the soul is watered by this prayer (he was referring specifically to the Hail Mary or Ave), the more enlightened one’s intellect becomes, the more zealous his heart, and the stronger his armor against his spiritual enemies.”
St. Louis added that the rosary helps us:
- Grow in knowledge of Christ;
- Be cleansed of sins;
- Defeat enemies;
- Practice virtue;
- Love Jesus;
- Grow in grace;
- Repay our debts to God and others.
Pope Leo XIII, echoing St. Louis in 1894, noted that “the rosary, if rightly considered, will be found to have in itself special virtues, whether for producing and continuing a state of recollection, or for touching the conscience for its healing, or for lifting up the soul.”
The specific fruits of the rosary can be grouped according to the different mysteries of the rosary: the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.
The joyful mysteries actually focus us most closely on poverty — both physical and spiritual: caring for the poor, being humble and not growing attached to the things of this world.
The luminous mysteries focus on drawing closer to the three persons of the Trinity through trust, repentance and adoration.
The sorrowful mysteries direct us toward growing strong in faith through patience and obedient suffering.
And the glorious mysteries focus on the virtues — especially faith, hope and love (the theological virtues) and following the example of Mary.
Actual lists of the fruits of the rosary can be found at various sources, but all lists are very similar and probably developed late in the history of this prayer devotion. They can now be found on many websites and Catholic blogs. Below are the most common listings:
- The Annunciation: Humility
- The Visitation: Love of neighbor
- The Nativity of the Lord: Poverty of Spirit and love of the poor
- The Presentation: Obedience to God, holiness and purity
- Finding the Child Jesus in the Temple: Piety and obedience (no doubt, especially to parents)
- The Baptism of Jesus: Openness to the guidance of the Spirit
- The Miracle at Cana: Faith in Jesus through Mary, and enduring fidelity
- Proclamation of the Kingdom: Repentance and trust in God
- The Transfiguration: A desire for holiness and spiritual courage
- The Institution of the Eucharist: Love of the Eucharist, active participation at the Mass
- The Agony in the Garden: Sorrow for sin, trust in God’s will
- The Scourging at the Pillar: Purity, mortification
- The Crowning with Thorns: Moral courage
- Carrying of the Cross: Patience
- Crucifixion: Self-denial, forgiveness, salvation
- The Resurrection: Faith
- The Ascension: Hope
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom and the love of God, the gifts of the Holy Spirit
- The Assumption of Mary: A happy death and devotion to Mary
- The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin: final perseverance and eternal happiness
Sources: “Baltimore Catechism”; catholicmom.com; spiritualwomanblogspot.com; how-to-pray-the-roary-everyday.com; “The Secret of the Rosary”; www.stvladimiraami.org; Vatican website at vatican.va; rosary-center.org