Traditional Prayers

The following are the words of common traditional Catholic prayers — and brief explanations of traditional combinations of prayers — used with various forms of prayer beads.

Act of Contrition

O My God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell;
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

Angelic Salutation

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."
These are the words the Archangel Gabriel used to greet Mary (Luke 1:28).

Apostles’ Creed,

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ
his only son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day, he rose again.
He ascended into Heaven,
And is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church,
The communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.

St. Augustine’s
Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, Holy Spirit,
That I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit,
That I may always be holy.

Chaplets, 9-Bead

Three times the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.

Chaplets, 10-Bead

The Creed and/or the Our Father, followed by 10 times the Hail Mary, and concluding with the Glory Be.

Chaplets, 33-Bead

The Jesus Prayer for all the beads. Or, 11 times these 3 prayers: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.


Newer version:

I confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Older version:

I confess to Almighty God,
to blessed Mary ever Virgin,
to blessed Michael the Archangel,
to blessed John the Baptist,
to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
and to all the saints,
that I have sinned exceedingly
in thought, word, and deed,
through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Therefore, I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin,
blessed Michael the Archangel,
blessed John the Baptist,
the holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
and all the saints,
to pray to the Lord our God for me.

May Almighty God have mercy on me,
forgive me my sins,
and bring me to everlasting life.

Fatima Prayer,
O My Jesus

O my Jesus,
forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of hell,
and lead all souls to heaven,
especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

Glory Be,

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Hail Mary,
Ave Maria

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Hail Holy Queen,
Salve Regina

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
(Verse) Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
(Response) That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Holy Rosary

The Holy Rosary is complex enough to require its own page, particularly because there are Mysteries or Meditations which are wordless accompaniments to the prayers.

Briefly, though: On the crucifix, pray the Creed. On each of the singly-placed beads, pray the Our Father. On the sets of 3 or 10 beads, pray the Hail Mary on each.

Irish Penal Chaplet,
Little rosary

The Creed and/or the Our Father, followed by 10 times the Hail Mary.

The Jesus Prayer

This may be as simple as praying the name of Jesus. Or we may pray, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." These few words are an affirmation of the whole Gospel, an acknowledgement of our dependence on God, and a request for His grace, His love, His healing balm.

Kyrie Eleison

"Lord, have mercy.”

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven:
By the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Our Father,
The Lord’s Prayer,
Pater Noster

Our Father
who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Paternoster Psalter

150 times the Our Father.

Peace Chaplet,
Peace Rosary

The Creed, followed by seven times the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.

Peace Prayer,
Attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer of the Heart

Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy”), or "God, have mercy on me, a sinner," the prayer of the tax collector in Luke 18:13, or "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

This is repeated as often as possible — hundreds or thousands of times a day. Through the Holy Spirit, the prayer may move from the lips to the heart, so that our every action, every breath, every heartbeat might be infused with prayer — may become prayer — until prayer is no longer something we do, but who we are.

Prayer Rope

50, 100, or more times the Name of Jesus, the Jesus Prayer, the Kyrie eleison, or the Prayer of the Tax Collector / the Publican's Prayer.


The Book of Psalms, the Psalms of David

Psalter of Mary

150 times the Hail Mary prayer

Sign of the Cross

"In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

While saying those words, we make this cross-shaped movement with the fingertips of the right hand:

"In the name of the Father..." [touch the forehead],
"and of the Son..." [touch the heart],
"and of the Holy Spirit." [touch first the left shoulder and then the right shoulder],
"Amen." [touch the palms together at heart level].

Tax Collector’s Prayer,
Publican’s Prayer

"God, have mercy on me, the sinner." (Prayer of the tax collector in Luke 18:13)