Mysteries of the Rosary

(Recited on Mondays and Saturdays.)

1. Annunciation. Imagine the scene; an angel appears to Mary as she prays in her house at Nazareth to announce that God is ready to fulfil His promise of the Redeemer and that she, an obscure and humble girl, and a consecrated virgin, is chosen to be the mother of the King of Kings. At her words, "Be it done to me according to thy word", the Holy Spirit overshadows her and Christ is conceived in her womb. This was the most joyful scene in the history of the world up until that time. It is full of meaning. What do you find in it?

2. The Visitation. Informed by the angel that her cousin, Elizabeth, in her old age, is also with child, Mary journeys to visit and care for her. And informed by the same angel that the Promised One has been conceived in Mary, Elizabeth hails her, ''Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." The two women are full of joy, never suspecting that the moment the long-awaited Redeemer is born, men will try to kill Him.

3. The Nativity. The King of Kings is born in the most unexpected of places - a stable; and so He teaches us humility. Angels sing; the wise men come and find Him under the Star, as it was foretold; shepherds rejoice upon this first Christmas Day. And Herod plots His murder.

4. The Presentation. The Infant is offered to His Father in the Temple. And in the Temple is the old man, Simeon, promised by the Holy Spirit that he shall see the Christ before he dies. Taking the infant in his arms, he says, "Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised " But to the young mother he says, "And a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare” (Lk 2:35).

5. The Finding in the Temple. Jesus is twelve years old, Mary and Joseph, having taken Him to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Pasch, and being on the way back to Nazareth, miss Him, and search for Him for three days. They find Him at last in His Father's house, teaching the elders. And He says to Mary and Joseph, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"

(Recited on Thursdays)

Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.

1. Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light. Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became "sin" for our sake (2 Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out.

2. The Wedding Feast at Cana. Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (Jn 2:1-12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers.

3. Proclamation of the Kingdom. Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (see Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (see Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47-48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (see Jn 20:22-23).

4. Transfiguration. The mystery of light par excellence is the Transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished apostles to "listen to him" (see Lk 9:35 and parallels) and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

5. The Institution of the Eucharist. A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies "to the end" his love for humanity (Jn 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice.

(Recited on Tuesdays and Fridays.)

1. The Agony in the Garden. The hour of my redemption is at hand. All night Jesus prays in the Garden of Olives, knowing the terrible ordeal of physical pain, indignity, and death that awaits Him - knowing also the sins not yet committed - the ingratitude of men not yet born - knowing each of us for whom He is about the suffer and die. But the apostles whom He has asked to watch and pray with Him have fallen asleep. This is not an agony of fear, but of grief. Then the soldiers come, and Judas, with a kiss, betrays into their hands his loving Master.

2. The Scourging at the Pilar. The arms of Jesus are bound to a pillar. Naked and alone He stands as the weighted lash cuts into His flesh again and again until not an inch of unbroken white skin remains anywhere on His sacred body.

3. The Crowning with Thorns. And then the soldiers turn the occasion into a hideous blasphemy and ridicule the Victim who says He is a King. They press a crown of thorns into His head and seat Him upon a stool as upon a throne and thrust a reed into His hand, and mock Him. And He endures it all. Then He is dragged onto the balcony and shown to the mob; and Mary sees Him, her Child, and hears the crowd roar "Crucify Him!"

4. The Carrying of the Cross. Jesus falls three times under His heavy burden, but each time rises in His heroic struggle to reach the top of the hill. And why? To die a criminal's death on the cross He carries so ignominiously, sacrificing His life for me. And on the way, He meets His mother and she looks mutely into His blood-filled eyes, knowing it was for this that He was born - her God and her son. This is the cross that Mary bears, unseen by any save Him, on the road to Calvary.

5. The Crucifixion. For three hours, Jesus bleeds to death on the cross, between two thieves. Yet he asks mercy for His murderers, "Father, forgive them, for they know now what they do." No, they did not know for they would not believe. But I - I know what I have done. I see Him taken dead from the cross and laid in His mother's arms, history's most sorrowful picture, and in my guilt I cannot bear to look, yet look I must, seeing the price of man's insults to the eternal God. And I see the sorrowing mother close with a finger each of His eyes. Who could measure the depth of her grief?

(Recited on Wednesdays and Sundays)

1. The Resurrection. After three days, the stone of the Redeemer's tomb is found rolled away and Christ: is risen. He walks again among His Apostles, who have locked themselves in a room for fear of the wrath of the assassins of their Lord; He reassures and strengthens them. And to Thomas, who did not believe, He shows His wounds, and says, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed." He promises to send the Holy Spirit to sustain His Apostles in their tremendous mission.

2. The Ascension. The scene takes place in the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem. Jesus tells His Apostles, "Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations: baptise them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." And here He makes His great promise. " And Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt.28:20).

3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary. With Jesus no longer visible among them, the Apostles are again in terror of their lives. Again they lock themselves in a room and pray, and Jesus answers them according to His promise, and sends the Holy Spirit into their hearts. And behold the amazing change: these humble and timid men, who by themselves could do nothing, go forth and not only perform great acts of courage, but change civilization. Thus, the whole secret of success, about which libraries have been written, is contained in this mystery of Our Lady's Rosary. For neither can I do anything. But if I renounce myself and offer my life to God, He will enter in to me, and through me nothing shall be impossible.

4. The Assumption. Inspired by God with the knowledge that His mother is about to die, the apostles return to Jerusalem from the ends of the earth. Thomas is too late, and is his grief implores that he may look upon the Madonna's face in the tomb. But when the tomb is opened, the body is gone, and where it lay, lilies are blooming. The ark of the new covenant, created by God for his great enterprise, has been assumed into heaven, there to share in the glory of her Son.

5. The Coronation.
And she is Queen of Heaven now, and there remembers me. Hail! Full of grace; singular vessel of devotion; who tenderly through her Rosary leads me to her Son.