A non Catholic friend of mine asked me what the rosary was when she heard me say I pray the rosary while I go for my daily walk. This is what I told her.
its reflective prayer, the rosary consists of 3 sets of mysteries with 5 mysteries in each. Each mystery contains one our father and 10 hail Mary’s. The first set are the joyful mysteries which are the annunciation where the Angel Gabriel tells Mary she is to be the mother of our savior, the visitation where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist, the nativity which is the birth of Jesus, the presentation where Christ is presented to the high priests of the temple and the finding of the child Jesus in the temple. The next 5 are the sorrowful mysteries, the first is the agony in the garden where Jesus and the apostles pray before Christ is taken away, the scourging at the pillar where Jesus is whipped, the crowning with thorns, Christ carries his cross and the Crucifixion. The last 5 are the Glorious mysteries which are the Resurrection, the Assention, the coming of the Holy Spirit where the apostles receive the tongs of fire, the assumption of our Lady into Heaven, and finally the coronation of our Lady as Queen of Heaven. There are 150 hail Marys in the 3 sets of mysteries, which is the book of psalms or the psalter. We Catholics believe that the rosary was given by Mary in an apparition to St. Dominic where she told him that God wanted us to pray the Psalter or the book of psalms which the rosary represent. The object is to reflect on each mystery while using the prayers as kind of a white noise to block out the world. The purpose is to allow God to speak to you thru the mysteries. The rosary is a kind of sandwich with the important stuff in the center. The bread is the Joyful and Glorious mysteries while the meat of it all is the sorrowful mysteries, or the passion of Christ. I have prayed the rosary every day rain or shine for about 6 years now. Its like exercise, when you first start is difficult, you hate doing it but after a while you can not start the day without it. Anyway, that is essentially the rosary.
Non Catholics don’t like Mary much. They don’t value her for her key role in salvation and as such don’t develop a deep love of her like we do. They think we worship her as a Goddess. I always have to explain that we ask her to intercede for us just as they ask their protestant friends to intercede to God for them.