During this Marian month of October, we delve into the four groups of life events that we call the Mysteries of the Rosary: the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.
~ The Joyful Mysteries ~
The Joyful Mysteries, traditionally prayed on Monday and Saturday, take us through the very early years of Jesus’ earthly life, from conception to age twelve. Saint Luke is our guide for this series of momentous events for our meditation; Our Lady is our model for each.
~ First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation ~ Lk 1:26 – 38
Mary, humble virgin of Nazareth, is “betrothed to a man named Joseph.” A heavenly messenger visits her, but there are no trumpet blasts or celestial choirs; just an angel’s earth-shattering pronouncement and a maiden’s world-changing fiat. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary would conceive and bear a son — Son of David, Son of God. How holy she is; how perfect a vessel to hold such a precious burden! Her response — “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done unto me according to your word” — sets into motion the fulfillment of our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. For her children today, Mary models trusting surrender to His will.
~ Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation ~ Lk 1:39 – 56
Gabriel’s announcement of the pregnancy of her kinswoman sends Mary “in haste” to the hill country of Judea. In expectant parents Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary witnesses living proof of Gabriel’s words: “nothing will be impossible for God.” Elizabeth rejoices in recognition of the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. Indeed, we can imagine the joy and wonder felt by all three adults, matched by that of the unborn John leaping in his mother’s womb! The early months of Mary’s own pregnancy pass in wholehearted, self-giving service to her family. For her children today, Mary models true, selfless charity toward others.
~ Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity ~ Lk 2:1 – 20
The Holy Family increases from two to three in the most wondrous event known to man. Joseph’s role of devoted husband leads into his ultimate responsibility — foster father to the Son of God, a helpless infant, totally dependent. Heavenly visitations, angelic choirs, glorious star-filled skies — these elements of the Christmas story which spring readily to our minds belie its grinding poverty. The joyful wonder of Jesus’ miraculous birth is underscored with the poverty into which He arrives — His cradle a crudely-hewn feeding trough for cattle, His swaddle of humble rough cloth. For her children today, Mary models gratitude for simple blessings.
~ Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation ~ Lk 2:21 – 38
In accordance with Mosaic Law, Mary and Joseph journey to the Temple at Jerusalem with the Infant Jesus. Simeon and Anna, faith-filled and elderly, wait there patiently in expectation of the Messiah. Imagine their astonishment when, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Simeon recognizes the infant who fulfills this promise! His spontaneous canticle of praise and thanks to God precedes a chilling prediction to the child’s Mother: “And you yourself a sword will pierce.” Joseph also hears these ominous words, storing them away in his heart as a lasting sorrow. Having made the ritual offering of the poor, he presents the Infant Jesus to be consecrated to the Father. For her children today, Mary models obedience to God’s law, no matter the difficulty, no matter the sorrow.
~ Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding in the Temple ~ Lk 2:41 – 50
Parental fear and anxiety come to the forefront in this episode which closes out Saint Luke’s infancy narrative. Three tension-filled days of searching culminate in the overwhelming relief of discovery. Once again, the Jerusalem Temple is the setting for a momentous event in the lives of the Holy Family. Jesus is found! He is engaged in discussion with leaders and teachers, Jewish elders, who marvel at this young boy’s knowledge. Joseph defers to Mary, whose words reveal the strain they had experienced. Jesus’ response reveals awareness of His ultimate mission: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Mary and Joseph are kept from understanding Jesus’ meaning, but in time, His mission must supersede human ties. For her children today, Mary models patience and prayerful pondering.
~ Conclusion ~
“His mother kept all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:51-52). In the lives of the Holy Family, the events of the Joyful Mysteries came to their conclusion, making Our Lady’s heart a treasure house of sacred memories. And yet, how commodious is that Immaculate Heart! Traveling with Our Lady through the groups of Mysteries during this month, we are privileged to gain fresh glimpses into its ever-expanding, limitless depths.
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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website offers A Rosary for Life: The Joyful Mysteries, a series of very brief meditations related to the cause of human life, one to be prayed before each Hail Mary. The appropriate USCCB Rosary for Life website will be provided as we explore each group of Mysteries during succeeding weeks in October.
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