Mary adoring her son and the Son of God by Correggio
The Catholic Church has just begun the new liturgical year on November 27, the First Sunday of Advent. Each succeeding Sunday before Christmas and the days following represents 1000 years of waiting for the Messiah that God promised Adam and Eve after they sinned and lost Paradise. These four Sundays before Christmas and the days in between comprise Advent, a season of joyful expectation and spiritual preparation for the coming of the Redeemer. The first two joyful mysteries of the rosary coincide with Advent and the last three with the rest of the Christmas season. May the rosary be an important part of our preparation for the coming of our Redeemer.
The 20 mysteries of the rosary and their corresponding meditations cover the highlights of the life of Christ and His mother, Mary. Four times through this coming liturgical year, we shall post a blog on a set of five mysteries that coincide with the Gospels of the liturgical year. Please permit me to share insights I obtained while meditating on the holy rosary. You might like to incorporate some of these meditations among yours or add to them.
Conceptually, the rosary is a litany of repetitive prayers, which act like background music, while the focus is to meditate upon five of 20 different mysteries of the life of Christ and His mother, grouped according to the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious events portrayed or alluded to in the Bible. See www.americaneedsfatima.org. The rosary is said with the aid of beads and a connected crucifix, marking the beginning with the Apostles Creed. This is followed by an Our Father for the intentions of the Holy Father, three Hail Mary prayers for the increase of Faith, Hope and Charity plus a Glory Be. Then each decade or mystery includes one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and a Glory Be (Praise).
For those who say the rosary every day: The Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday & Saturday; the Luminous Mysteries are said on Thursday; the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday; and the Glorious on Wednesday and Sunday. The Sunday rosary may also use the mysteries that correspond to the season of the liturgical year.......Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Furthermore, the Sorrowful Mysteries may be said during the entire Holy Week and the Glorious Mysteries are usually said for the entire Easter Week. Of course one may meditate on any set of mysteries. There's no rigid rule.
“The family that prays together, stays together.” Prayer has healed millions, ended wars, overthrown dictators, stopped the advance of militant Islam into Europe in 1571 and again in 1683, both chapters in a one thousand year old war that includes today's War on Terror. This certainly gives credence to two quotes by Alfred Lord Tennyson: “A world at prayer is a world at peace” and “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”. These were the themes promoted by Father Patrick Peyton in his Family Rosary Crusade and other programs. God used his magnetic personality to attract most of the top movie stars of the day to act on his Family Theater program on radio and television. His cause for canonization is advancing.
THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY
The Catholic Church begins the new liturgical year four Sundays before Christmas, which is the First Sunday of Advent. Each succeeding Sunday before Christmas and the days following represents 1000 years of waiting for the Messiah that God promised Adam and Eve after they sinned and lost Paradise. These four Sundays before Christmas and the days in between comprise Advent, a season of joyful expectation and spiritual preparation for the coming of the Redeemer. The first two joyful mysteries of the rosary coincide with Advent and the last three with the rest of the Christmas season through the First Sunday after Epiphany. May the rosary be an important part of our preparation for the coming of our Redeemer.
Below are meditations for each decade or mystery. One may use the entire meditation or read and reflect only upon the Bible passages as he or she can imagine being there as an observer. In bold is a recommended shorter version when time is limited as for the recitation of the rosary before Mass. Anything in italics is a quote taken directly from the Bible. The facts of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary are biblical.
The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
The Jews had waited for 4000 years and the Angel Gabriel greets a startled young virgin about 15 years old with the words which we so often repeat at the beginning of the Hail Mary prayer: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).......that she will bear a son who will be called the Son of God. Mary is bewildered: “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34)
After the angel further elaborated, Mary gave her consent to become the Mother of God or fiat that changed world history: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) At that very instant “the word became flesh” (John 1:14) as the Son of God was conceived in her womb and Mary became a living tabernacle and the new Ark of the Covenant. May we also be unconditionally willing to seek the will of God and give Him our fiat for the special mission that He has for each one of us. Other options are to read and reflect on Psalm 72:2, 4-8, 17-19; Isaiah 7:14; Zechariah 9:9; Luke 1:26-38 during the recitation of this decade.
The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth to help her through her last three months of pregnancy and birth. May we too be always available to help when we have the opportunity to meet a need. In greeting Mary “Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, 'Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb'. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43) This passage further shows that the Hail Mary prayer is biblical.
Elizabeth continued: “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:44) What a testament for life! Mary followed with her most beautiful canticle or prayer, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55): “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.......” May our lives also give glory to God. Other options include reading and reflecting on Psalm 138:1-2; Mark 12:31; Luke 1:39-56; Romans 12:9-11, 15:7; Ephesians 5:18-19; Philippians 2:3-4.
The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity
There was no room in the inn. May we always make room for Christ in our hearts. Therefore, the Christ child was born in a stable and laid in a manger with only the heat of the animals to keep Him warm. There began His great mission to teach us how to live and save us from our sins, thus opening the gates of Heaven for us. All we have to do is follow Christ and be faithful to His teachings.
God sent angels to announce the good news first to poor shepherds in the fields. They departed singing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will” (Luke 2:8-20). We can clearly see that Christ identifies with the poor and God sent Him for the poor and the Jews.
God sent a large and bright Star to guide the Magi to Bethlehem, demonstrating that He also sent Christ for the gentiles and the affluent. When King Herod felt threatened by the newborn king of the Jews, he planned to kill the Christ child. In a dream an angel ordered Joseph to take the Holy Family to Egypt for safe refuge. Joseph demonstrated that he was a man of humble obedience and manly to walk the 262 miles over a couple of weeks, leading the donkey ridden by Mary and the Christ child (Matthew 2:1-15). Other options are reading and reflecting on Psalm 2:7-9; Matthew 1:18-2:23; Luke 2:1-20; John 1:1, 14; Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Timothy 3:16.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation
to the law of Moses, they took Him up to Jerusalem to present and
consecrate the first born to God (Luke 2:22-23). May we likewise consecrate our families to
God. Simeon noted that the child would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel", thus the feast, “Candlemas Day” on February 2. He then blessed them and said to Mary that a sword will pierce her heart (Luke 2:32-35). Imagine
how startled she was. This was
really the second annunciation.......that Mary would suffer intense sorrows,
especially at the foot of the cross.
During each sorrow she maintained
her trust in God. The Seven Sorrows
of Mary include: 1) Simeon’s Prophecy; 2) The Flight into Egypt; 3) the Three Days Loss of the Christ Child in the Temple; 4) Meeting Jesus with His Cross on
the Way to Calvary; 5) the Crucifixion; 6) Taking Jesus Down from the Cross;
and 7) The Burial of Jesus. Other
options are to read and reflect on Psalm 96:7-9, 122:1-4; Luke 2:21-40;
Romans 12:1; Hebrews 9:28, 10:5, 7, 10, 14.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Imagine the consternation and anxiety that Mary and Joseph had upon discovering that their 12 year old son was missing. Thoughts of failing God in their mission must have entered their minds. But what prevailed was trust that God would help them find their son. Indeed He is always in control and did provide. This shows that the Holy Family encountered problems the same as our families do today.
When his parents saw him, they were astonished,
and his mother said to Him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your
father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking
for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:48-49). This shows that our children don't belong to us, but to God, who has a special mission for each one.
Other options include reading and reflecting on Psalm 78:1-2, 6-7; Proverbs 10:1; Luke 2:41-52; John 6:63; Corinthians 1:19-20, 23-24. For meditations on the Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries, go to Blogs #73, 78, and 84.
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