The Rosary had the marvellous history of our Redeemer which displayed before our eyes in twenty scenes and at the same time it paved the way for conversion and for Salvation. St. Montfort fully convinced of the value of the Rosary, said “anyone who prays the Rosary every day will never be led astray, words I am willing to endorse with my own blood.” Rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the heart of Jesus, our redeemer who loves His Mother. St. Teresa of Child Jesus says “In praying the Rosary with devotion, we are reliving the life of Christ.” St. Montfort presents methods of Rosary for a fruitful recitation, and discover peace and joy in our life through the Joyful Mysteries.
The Joyful Mysteries are taken from the Gospel of St. Luke, which deals with the Incarnation and involve the Joyful events of Jesus’ childhood. How to meditate Christ’s mysteries in our life? CCC, no. 2708 says “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire. These mobilizations of faculties are necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart and strengthen our will to follow Christ, Christian prayers above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ as in the Rosary or the Lectio Divina.” Yes it is true; now let us examine each Joyful Mystery in detail with the biblical reference.
The Annunciation: The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a virgin whose name was Mary. He said to her, “Rejoice, most highly favoured Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28.) The angel Gabriel’s message of annunciation to Mary had close similarities to the preceding narrative of the same angel’s message of annunciation to Zecharia (Lk 11:25). These two resemble in detail other angelic annunciation of the OT. For example, annunciation to Abraham about the birth of Isaac (Gen 17) to Moses (Ex 3) to Gideon and Samson’s Parents (Judg 6:13). Here we can examine a common structure in all these annunciations, namely appearance, reaction, announcement, objection and giving of a sign etc. “It was a standard biblical way of preparing the reader for the career of a person who was destined to play a significant role in salvation history.” The greeting “Hail Full of Grace,” (Lk 1:28), in Greek literally means “Rejoice Highly favoured one.” When the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary, the angel commanded Mary to rejoice; now Mary is commanding us to rejoice in our life. How can we rejoice? In the midst of lot of problem in our families, can we rejoice? Recently many Christians were persecuted in the Arab countries can we rejoice? When we lose our dear and near ones, can we rejoice? What do we learn from this annunciation? We are called to imitate Mary’s attitude to God’s will which is a sure way to bring peace and joy in our life.
The Visitation: Elizabeth was overjoyed by Mary’s visit. Mary promptly left Nazareth and travelled to the hill country of Judea…. Elizabeth said to Mary “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! The moment you greeted me the baby in my womb danced for Joy” (Lk 1: 39- 56). Note here that St John the Baptist, Elizabeth’s child was the first one to experience joy of Mary and Jesus. Mary went to visit Elizabeth not to verify the angel’s words, not due to her curiosity for seeing the miraculous sign but it is because of her joy in receiving God’s favour and because of her love for service. Again this point is highlighted in LG, no. 57: “This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death. It is shown first of all when Mary arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth.” When Elizabeth heard the Mary’s greetings the babe in her womb jumped for joy, thus Christ sanctified His precursor. Elizabeth praised Mary saying “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. This expression is familiar to the OT, example (Judg 5:24, 13:18, Gen 14: 19 – 20, Deut 28: 1-4). If this background was in Luke’s mind the blessing upon Mary is quite appropriate for she has shown herself obedient to the Word of God. As we are reflecting the visitation of Mary, in our life how does this visitation affect us? Mary’s visitation was a “New relationship of spiritual sharing.” Often in our life we have no time for others and we become self centre. Through this visitation Mary is teaching us to be more courteous, to be more attentive and to be more sensitive to the needs of others.
Birth of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all men of good will,” (Lk 2:14). In a call of Abraham he was asked to go to the unknown place. Likewise before Mary gave birth to Jesus, God wanted to make her free from the security of a familiar country, comfortable home and the dear and near ones. God wanted to form her in the path of hardship and trails. In Lk 1:32iIt was promised that her Son would be the Son of the most high and now she had to give birth to this Son of God in a manger since there was no place for them in the inn. Just think of it what a contradiction? What a painful crisis? And what a humiliation? One thing we should know “When man is in crisis, God will enlighten him also through the faith experiences of other persons.” Here we could see the heavenly revelation of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and their response to it in faith would have been really an enlightening experience to Mary to deepen her faith. Mary’s reflection suggests that she went deeper into the Word of God that she received through the shepherds, She grew in faith. Though there was no room for the prince of peace in the inn of Bethlehem. Let us make room for Him in our hearts as we pray this mystery. Pope Pius XII in 1964 defined the Rosary as “a summary of the Gospel,” let us love the Rosary.
The Presentation: “The presentation implies the purification of the mother and the presentation of the child.” Though Jesus was consecrated in the womb of Mary still they fulfilled the legal requirements. After the offering as they were coming Prophet Simeon met this Holy family took the child from Mary and held him in arm and praised God proclaiming “Master now you are dismissing your servant in peace according to your word” (Lk 2:29). Even though it was a joyful occasion we can see the words of Simeon foreshowing sorrow that had to be shared between Jesus and Mary. After the visit to Jerusalem temple the Holy Family went to Nazareth and lived in peace and joy till Jesus began His public ministry. NT says the child grew and became strong filled with wisdom and the favour of God was upon him (Lk 2:40). Mary might have taught Jesus at home how to pray. Are we interested to teach our children to say the Rosary at home? Pope Paul VI (MC, no. 54) says “Rosary is to be held as one of the most excellent and fruitful community prayers which Christian families are invited to recite.” In this regard my personal reflection on Rosary is, To Jesus through Mary and to Mary through Rosary.
Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:41-52): Seek and you shall find (Mt 7:7). Every year during the feast of Passover the Holy Family used to go to Jerusalem. When Jesus was twelve years old He remained in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph hurried back to the Holy city in order to find him. After three days when they found him addressing the elders in the courtyard Mary and Joseph experienced relief, peace and Joy. At that time She felt it was the parental right and duty to ask questions so she asked “My child why have you done this to us? The answer of Jesus was terrific; didn’t you know that I’ve to be busy with my Father’s affair? He spoke with confidence beyond most twelve years old, an unnerving brilliance that must have distressed Mary. But Jesus did not ask apology or explain his behaviour. Joseph was reminded of his role as a foster father, Mary instead of being an ordinary ordinary mother became an extraordinary mother of a most amazing Son who would be a sword of contradiction. Mary in the midst of joys and sorrows, confidence and anxiety she treasured everything in her heart. In our family life and the religious life, we too sometimes fail to understand God’s ways in our life. For instance we may ask why does God allow this terrible misunderstanding on the part of the authority or why does God allow this incident to happen to me that cripples my mission or family. In these and similar situations we need to approach our loving Mother because she understands us. She will help us to accept God’s ways which are very different from our ways and will encourage us to allow God to do with us as He pleases, relying always on his unchangeable love for us.
Our spiritual pilgrimage is the way of devotion, the Bhakti Marga. This Bhakti Marga above all that had nourished and strengthened the believers of all faiths in India on their spiritual pilgrimage. Devotion to the Virgin Mary through The Rosary is a form of Bhakti Marga which means an expression of our devotion to the mystery of Christ, the Face of God. RVM, no. 1 says “The Rosary though Marian in character is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety of which it can be said to be a compendium… with the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.” MC, no. 47 says “Without contemplation the Rosary is a body without a soul.” I would like to conclude this article with the words of Pope Pius X, “The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the heart of the Mother of God and if you wish peace of reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” Keeping this in mind, let us try to give more importance to Rosary in our families, in our communities, and in our parishes because Rosary is the powerful tool of intercession and evangelization.
Fr Selvakumar SMM