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Rosary Meditations: The Glorious Mysteries

Pope Benedict XVI suggests renewing one practice for the Year of Faith: The Rosary.

 

He said, with “Blessed John Paul II, who ten years ago gave us the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in the community, learning at the school of Mary, which leads us to Christ, the living centre of our faith.” Here are scriptures and points of meditation that can help.

 

The First Glorious Mystery

The ResurrectionJesus rises from the dead three days after his crucifixion.

 

Scripture

Matthew 28:1-8 – After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

 

Points for Meditation

  • Christ’s resurrection is a real event that was historically verified (Catechism, 639).
  • The faith of the first Christians in the Resurrection was based on the witness of concrete men living among them. Paul speaks clearly of more than 500 to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion (Catechism, 642).
  • Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem. The hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ credulity will not hold up (Catechism, 644).
  • “Mary must have had an intense experience of the new life of her glorified Son” (Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 23).
  • Risen, Jesus can be touched. He eats. Yet his risen body is not limited by space and time – Christ’s resurrection was not a return to earthly life (Catechism, No. 646).
  • Do I think of the Resurrection like a fairy tale? If it isn’t literally true, Christianity is wicked – the cross without redemption.
  • The women who visited the tomb were so filled with joy, they ran to tell the others. My encounter with Christ should be that real.
  • Christ’s appearance on the road to Emmaus is like Mass. He tells the disciples about the Scriptures, breaks bread, then disappears. The message: We must now seek him in the Eucharist.
  • Christ, risen, still bears his wounds. You can’t have Christ without the crucifix.
  • Sunday is the feast of the Resurrection, the Lord’s day. How do I make it holy?

The Second Glorious Mystery

The Ascension Forty days after rising from the dead, Christ ascends into heaven.

 

Scripture

Acts 1:8-11 – Jesus said to them: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

 

Points for Meditation

  • “Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory … where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand” (Catechism, 659).
  • Before the Ascension, Christ was to be found on earth, always in one place. Now we can find him anywhere.
  • “Only the one who ‘came from the Father’ can return to the Father: Christ Jesus” (Catechism, 661).
  • By telling the apostles to convert the nations and then departing, Christ’s message was obvious: We are to do his work now.
  • We can imagine that Mary would have told the apostles to “do whatever he tells you” after Jesus’ ascension, when she joined them in awaiting the Holy Spirit (Rosarium, 14).
  • “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.” We can have great confidence that, with Christ, we are on the winning team.
  • All authority has been given to Christ. That means over every aspect of my life.
  •  “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” Christianity isn’t stargazing – it’s serving, praying, and acting in this world.
  • We have faith, even though Christ is covered in clouds. We have hope, because we know all authority is his. We have love, because he has entrusted us with so much.
  • Christ will return in the same way. Am I ready?

The Third Glorious Mystery

The Descent of the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit descends on Mary and the Apostles

 

Scripture

Acts 2:1-6, 38-41 – When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Points for Meditation

  • On that Pentecost, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed (Catechism, 732).
  • The Bible itself says that only a small portion of Christ’s teaching is contained in it. The rest is given to the Church through the Holy Spirit.
  • “By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the ‘last days,’ the time of the Church” (Catechism, 732).
  • “Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven and adopted as children, given confidence to call God ‘Father’ and to share in Christ’s grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory” (Catechism, 736).
  • Christ is a teacher, model, savior. The Holy Spirit is our animating principle, our partner.
  • “The fruit of the Spirit: … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Catechism, 736).
  • The Holy Spirit turned the cowardly apostles into fearless martyrs. He will transform me, too.
  • All heard the apostles in their own language. The Holy Spirit can help me overcome interpersonal difficulties I have.
  • The Holy Spirit was poured out on me at confirmation. Have I squandered this great gift? Or learned to use it?
  • We know the Holy Spirit: in the Scriptures he inspired, in the Tradition, in the Church’s magisterium, in the sacramental liturgy, in prayer, in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up, in apostolic and missionary life, in the witness of saints (Catechism, 688).

 

The Fourth Glorious Mystery

The Assumption At the end of her life, Mary is taken body and soul into heaven.

 

Scripture

Revelation 12:1, 13-14 – A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. … When the dragon [the rebellious angel, the devil] saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of.

 

Points for Meditation

  • “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven” (Catechism, 974).
  • In heaven, Mary “already shares in the glory of her Son’s resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his body” (Catechism, 974).
  • In the Church’s prayers to Mary we “magnify” the Lord for the “great things” he did for his lowly servant and through her for all human beings (Catechism, 2675).
  • The Mother of Jesus, “in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come” (Catechism, 972).
  • “What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ” (Catechism, 487).
  • Mary was, “from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin” (Catechism, 487).
  • “To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role” (Catechism, 490).
  • Mary “shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim people of God” (Catechism, 972).
  • We are told that God has prepared a “mansion” for us in heaven – our “dream house” – in a place of joy with no sufferings or tears.
  • Without the reality of heaven, our call to the cross would be an abomination. I should make heaven my hope.

The Fifth Glorious Mysteries

The Coronation – Mary is crowned queen of Heaven and earth.

 

Scripture

Revelation 12:1-3, 4-5 – A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

 

Points for Meditation

  • “Since the fifth century, Christians have given Mary the title of queen in acknowledgment of her sublime dignity as the mother of God” (Pope John Paul II, General Audience, June 1997).
  • Christians call Mary our queen also because of “her importance in the life of the Church and in the lives of individuals” (General Audience, 1997).
  • The Second Vatican Council teaches that Mary “has been exalted by the Lord as queen of all, in order that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords” (Lumen Gentium, 59).
  • “Crowned in glory – as she appears in the last glorious mystery – Mary shines forth as queen of the angels and saints” (Rosarium, 23).
  • Mary is “the anticipation and the supreme realization of the heavenly state of the Church” (Rosarium, 23).
  • “As the queen who reigns in the glory of God’s Kingdom, Mary remains close to us at every step of our earthly pilgrimage, supporting us in our trials and sharing with us the life and love of Jesus her Son” (Pope John Paul II, June 1997).
  • “We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ” (Pope Paul VI, Credo of the People of God).
  • “The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person ‘in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’” (Catechism, 492).
  • By calling her our queen, the Church teaches us that we can put enormous faith in Mary’s ability to intercede for us.
  • If Mary is my queen, she is queen of all aspects of my life; not just my religious life, but my social life, work life, home life – and private life as well.

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Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes is vice president of college relations at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer and then spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. He writes weekly for Catholic Vote, the National Catholic Register and Aleteia. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Catholic Digest. He lives in Atchison, Kansas, with his wife, April, and nine children.