From time to time in your rosary-praying life, you may experience the need or desire for bead-by-bead Scriptural accompaniment, to focus your meditations. Or if you’ve used a single book to provide such accompaniment for awhile, you may be ready for a new way of looking at the mysteries. Having used several such booklets over the years, I’m happy to share my experience with some of my favorites.
Scriptural Rosary, published by Christianica.
This anonymously authored prayer booklet deserves to be called a classic. It is a beautiful object, a small hardcover volume, with a blue and white paper wrapper, wood-cut illustrations. There is an introduction with some of the history of the rosary and then pages devoted to each set of mysteries. For the most part, the verses cling closely to the relevant passages in the Gospels, which makes it an ideal book for beginners. I have a preference for older versions of the book, before the addition of the luminous mysteries. I find that the three older sets of mysteries “pray better” in this presentation; I love especially the 1st, 4th, and 5th sorrowful mysteries and the 4th and 5th glorious. Among the luminous mysteries, I remember liking the verses selected for the third, which included some shorter parables of the kingdom.
Rosary of Praise, Larry and Connie London
If you are ready to add verses from elsewhere in the Scriptures into your Gospel meditations, you might consider this small volume. Gospel verses alternate with verses from psalms, prophets, wisdom literature, and New Testament epistles, all in the Douay-Rheims translation. Each day of the week is given its own selection of verses, so there are two options for each of the original three sets of mysteries. However, since, for example, the gospel story of the Nativity is “broken up” over the meditations provided for Monday and Saturday, only the meditation for Monday contains the central moment of the birth of Jesus. I found myself mixing and matching across the days to include those “central moments” for each mystery. Apart from the awkwardness of that, I loved the verses, the musicality of the translation, and the authors’ governing vision of Mary as our prayer partner in praising God.
A Scriptural Rosary, Marianne Lorraine Trouve
This book is put out by the Daughters of St. Paul. In large part, the verses selected follow the Gospel accounts. However, a quote from a Church document or from the writings of Pope John Paul the Second introduces each mystery. You get verses from the Gospels that other Scriptural rosary books tend to pass over (for example, the prophetess Anna is included in the meditation on the Presentation). The verses chosen from other parts of the Bible subtly emphasize the nuptial dimension of the Christian mystery. The booklet is illustrated with stained-glass style pictures. Sometimes the chronological order of the events gets scrambled in the arrangement of the verses (in the 1st luminous or in the 2nd and 3rd sorrowful mysteries).
Pearls of Peace: A Rosary Journey Through the Holy Land, Christine Haapala
This is a larger size book than the others, paperback, somewhat smaller than a magazine and about as thick. It includes photos of Jerusalem and Holy Land pilgrimage sites to go with each mystery. Apart from the introductory “Our Father” meditation for each mystery, which usually includes a verse from the relevant Gospel story, the verses for each Hail Mary are taken from the epistles. Sometimes it takes a little thinking to see the connection between the verses and the mystery being prayed. (With some of them, I still don’t see the connection!) You can hear some very beautiful harmonies across Scripture this way. Drawbacks are the use of the the NAB translation and some verses suffering from being removed from their context or not being quoted in full.
The Psalter of Jesus and Mary, Christine Haapala
The original concept of this book was to match each Hail Mary in the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries with a verse from one of the 150 Psalms. The first Hail Mary in the first joyful mystery is assigned a verse from Psalm 1 and so on. Some of these verse choices are stunningly appropriate, others seemed forced or have a very obscure link to the mystery. The book was expanded to include verses from Proverbs for the luminous mysteries. The luminous mysteries may be my favorite set in the book! Fine antique engravings by von Carolsfeld fittingly illustrate the book and further emphasize Old Testament types fulfilled in Jesus.