The first set of mysteries are the Joyful Mysteries. As listed in my last post, they are, the annunciation, visitation, nativity, presentation and finding. These are the most 'Marian' of all the mysteries, as Mary plays a larger role in these mysteries than in all the others. This fact makes the rosary objectionable to many non-Catholics, who see the rosary as a 'prayer to Mary', which it is not.
The rosary is a prayer of contemplation (or meditation) on the life of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of Mary and as recorded in scripture. It is a prayer prayed with Mary, not to her. Even the Hail Mary, which many object to, is scripture based and is a plea to Mary, the mother of Jesus, to pray for us to her son. If the scriptural basis of the Hail Mary surprises you, check out the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 28,35,42 and 48.
The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation, is found in Luke's Gospel, chapter 1, and is the announcement of the conception of Jesus as told to Mary by the angel Gabriel. (Lk 1:26-38)
The second joyful mystery, the Visitation, directly follows in Luke's Gospel, and shows us Mary's concern for her cousin Elizabeth. (Lk 1:39-56)
The third joyful mystery, the Nativity, is the well known story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem as recorded in Luke, chapter 2, verses 1-20.
The fourth joyful mystery, the Presentation, concerns the circumcision of Jesus and His dedication to the Lord, as was required of all firstborn sons according to Jewish law in those days. (Lk 2:21-38)
The fifth and final joyful mystery is the Finding of Jesus in the temple, which relates the incident of losing Jesus in the crowd at Jerusalem for 3 days and eventually finding him in the temple with the teachers. (Lk 2: 41-50)
Now that we have the references, we have something to meditate on. Your meditation doesn't have to last long, however much time you have is ok, as long as you do it.
By reading the associated scripture passages, thinking about them from memory, singing Christmas or church songs, reading poetry or other people's thoughts on each one of these mysteries, looking at a picture depicting the scene, or thinking of how a mystery relates to our personal life, we are praying the rosary as we should. By doing this,we are contemplating the Gospel story and growing closer to Jesus.
If you don't have a Bible handy, you can access the Catholic online version at the US Catholic Bishops site , or many different versions at either Bible.com or Bible Gateway .com
(not responsible for content on linked to sites)