Saturday, October 31, 2009

More about the Mysteries--Part 2

In looking at the mysteries in chronological order, the second set would be the Luminous Mysteries, introduced by Pope John Paul II in 2002. These mysteries fill in the time between the traditional Joyous and Sorrowful mysteries and highlight the public life of Jesus. For an in depth explanation of the Luminous Mysteries, you can read section 21 of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter   I will try to limit this post to pointing out the scripture passages that relate to each mystery.

The first luminous mystery is the Baptism of Jesus. We see this in Matthew's Gospel, chapter 3, verses 10-17, where Jesus approaches John to be baptized in the River Jordan.

Our second Luminous Mystery is the miracle at the Wedding Feast in Cana. Here Jesus performs his first public miracle at the urging of his mother Mary (Jn 2:1-11). This passage is useful in showing how Mary intercedes with her son for those in need (us), as she did for the wedding couple. This, after all, is what the rosary is all about-- praying with Mary to Jesus. And what is prayer? It is many things, but it can be a petition to God for some favor for ourselves or others. Asking Mary's help, just as the wine steward did, causes her to go to her son with the request. The only stipulation? In Mary's words, "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5)

The third luminous mystery is the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the call to conversion. This is the call of Jesus and the Gospels in general, but can be specifically seen in the following passages: Mark 1:14-15 ("The kingdom of God is at hand"), Mark 2:3-13 ("Child, your sins are forgiven."), and Luke 7:47-50 ("Your faith has saved you; go in peace.").

The fourth luminous mystery, The Transfiguration, is, in the words of John Paul II, "The mystery of light par excellence" (RVM 21). It is found in all three synoptic Gospels: Luke 9:28-35, Mark 9:2-8 and Matthew 17:1-8.

The fifth luminous mystery is the Institution of the Eucharist, commonly known as the Last Supper. This account is again found in all three synoptic Gospels and is central to our faith. We see this account in Mt 26:20-30, Mk 14:18-26, Lk 22:14-20.

So we now have plenty to meditate on for the Luminous Mysteries. Both EWTN and OurLadyWeb have good meditations with small pictures for each of the mysteries.

Next: Two more sets to go!

More about the Mysteries-- Part 1

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 or Bible Gateway .com 

(not responsible for content on linked to sites)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mysteries of the Rosary

Now that you know the prayers of the rosary, you will need to know the mysteries.

There are 20 mysteries, which are events in the life of Jesus and/or Mary, taken from scripture; or events concerning Mary taken from the Tradition of the Catholic Church, of which there are two. The mysteries are divided into 4 sets of 5 and a set of five mysteries is usually what is meant when speaking of 'praying a rosary'.  Traditionally, there have been 3 sets of mysteries, with the fourth set added by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

The rosary has been called a summary of the Gospel, since it traces the Gospel story from beginning to end, and you will notice the chronological order of the mysteries. The addition of the Luminous Mysteries, the public life of Jesus from his baptism to the last supper, rounded out this Gospel summary.

The purpose of the mysteries is to have something to meditate on during prayer, and this meditation is an intergal part of the rosary. Without this meditation, the rosary becomes, in the words of Pope Paul VI, "...a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7)."

The mysteries are Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious.


1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity
4. The Presentation of Jesus
5. The Finding of Jesus preaching in the Temple


1. Jesus' baptism in the Jordan
2. The wedding feast at Cana
3. The proclamation of the Kingdom
4. The Transfiguration
5. Institution of the Eucharist


1. The Agony in the garden
2. The Scourging
3. The Crowning with thorns
4. Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion


1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption of Mary
5. The Crowning of Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth

Next: Putting it all together-- the prayers and the mysteries combine to make the rosary.

Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus (2 February 1974), 47: AAS (1974), 156.
Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (16 October 2002)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Prayers of the Rosary

The prayers included in the rosary are: Apostle's Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Fatima Prayer, Hail Holy Queen and the closing prayer.

The Apostle's 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 Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come 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 life everlasting.

The Our Father
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hollowed 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.

The Hail Mary
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.

The 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.

The Fatima prayer
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.

The Hail Holy Queen
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.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The closing prayer
O God, whose only begotten son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that by meditating on these mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

The prayers translated into many different languages may be found here

Next: the Mysteries of the Rosary.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Lady of Fatima and the Rosary

Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal to 3 children in 1917. She requested they (and we) pray the rosary daily. Our Lady appeared on the 13th of the month, each month, from May to October.

On October 13,1917 during a torrential rain storm, Our Lady appeared, the sun broke through the storm, and while the children were in the midst of their vision of the Blessed Mother, those in attendance were witness to a miracle. The sun appeared to fall from the sky, and many thought the end was very near. They witnessed the sun spin on its axis, change colors and 'dance' in the sky. After this miracle, the people and the grounds, which had been soaking wet moments before, were completely dry. Even the secular press recorded the miracle on the front page of the paper the next day!

What does this mean for us? I think it means that God still performs miracles. Since Our Lady predicted the sun miracle, I think it means the vision really was the Mother of Jesus.

And, I think it means we should heed her call to pray the rosary daily. Is it easy? Yes and no. The rosary itself is not a difficult prayer, but to pray it effectively, meditating on the mysteries, takes time. In our hectic lives, we probably can't pray a full 20 decades daily as many Popes and saints have done, and as many religious still do, but we can start with 10, or 5 or even one. Even starting with one decade daily is a powerful way to improve our prayer life. It becomes easier to add another decade weekly (or monthly, as your schedule allows) until a full 10 decades are such an important part of your day that you don't want to miss it.

Personally, I struggle with this. I go through phases of daily rosaries, followed by phases of weekly rosaries or less. But in this month of the rosary, I will recommit to a daily rosary. Who will join me?

Here is a link to the official site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal:

Next: How to pray the rosary.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October is the month of the Rosary

October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. This month I will focus on what the Rosary is and why Catholics pray it.

Why the Rosary for October? On Oct 7,1571, a huge naval battle was fought off the Bay of Lepanto. Christian ships were outnumbered, and loss of the battle, as well as an invasion of Europe was imminent. Pope Pius V urged all Catholics to pray the rosary to ask God's help in winning the battle, and entrusted the fleet to the Virgin Mary. The battle was won by the Christian fleet, and Pope Pius V declared Oct 7 the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, later changed to the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's in a name?

Two sides of the Catholic coin. Funny name for a blog, eh? What does it mean? Well, it could mean lots of things. Scripture & Tradition. Old & New Testaments. Latin & English. Martha & Mary. Rendering to Caesar & rendering to God. The widow's mite & the rich man's gift. I'm sure there are lots more, but this will do for now.

I'll address these topics and more, with a different topic each week.