Saturday, November 28, 2009,
According to Pope John Paul II, “The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation. Developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the “prayer of the heart” or “Jesus prayer” which took root in the soil of the Christian East.” (Apostolic Letter ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE).
When Holy Mass was not yet celebrated in the vernacular, people “passed the time” in church by reciting the Rosary, under the illusion that it was the best thing to do, since they could not follow Latin and the priest had his back to them, anyway. It was as good a way as any to “imitate” the recitation of David’s 150 Psalms by the clergy, in their minds.
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, whose devotion to the Madonna was the inspiration behind the Legion of Mary, tells us that in principle, the Holy Rosary is composed of the Lord’s Prayer, the Angelic Salutation, and a declaration of faith in God.
In 1214 the Church received the Rosary in its present form through Saint Dominic, who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a means of overcoming the Albigensian heretics and other sects, as an “Angelic Psalter”, and later “The Psalter of Jesus and Mary”. In actual fact, however, the word means “Garland [or Garden] of Roses”.
The traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary were made standard Pope St. Pius V in the 16th century. In 2002, Pope John Paul II instituted the Luminous Mysteries, which are extremely close to an idea Saint Gorg Preca had documented.
History records how, as Dominic made his way to church to preach, the bells began to ring of their own accord, and a terrible storm and mystical occurrences took place. The Saint prayed, and the weather returned to normal.
Pope John Paul II declared that “It is also beautiful and fruitful to entrust to this prayer the growth and development of children”, since the Rosary is practically a précis of the Life of Christ, it could be a shorthand way of teaching it to them. Little wonder then, that he said the “The Rosary [is] a treasure to be rediscovered”.
During the period of Advent, we are encouraged to pray the Joyful Mysteries – unless we prefer to follow the usual allocation by day, viz:
The Glorious Mysteries (Sunday and Wednesday)
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption of Our Lady
5. The Coronation of Our Lady
The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday and Friday)
1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. The Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
The Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)
1. The Baptism of the Lord
2. Christ’s Self-Revelation at the Wedding Feast at Cana
3. Christ’s Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His Call to Conversion
4. Christ’s Transfiguration
5. Christ’s Institution of the Eucharist
God sent the archangel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. He visited Mary, who was engaged to Joseph, of the House of David, and told her “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary could not imagine what he meant, and so the angel explained everything to her, and also mentioned her cousin Elizabeth who was also expecting a child. Mary answered “May it be to me as you have said.”
Mary decided to give Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah a helping hand and travelled to Judea. Her cousin, surprised, felt the baby (John the Baptist) quicken, and was moved to exclaim “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”
And then follows the Magnificat, one of the most beautiful prayers of all. “My soul glorifies the Lord; and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…” Mary stayed there for about three months.
Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David, in order to be enumerated in the Census as decree by Caesar Augustus. While they were there, it was time for Jesus to be born; she wrapped him in swaddling clothes placed him in a manger “because there was no room for them in the inn”.
An angel appeared to the shepherds to tell the Good News, and suddenly the sky was filled with more angels praising God. So the shepherds made their way to Bethlehem to see Jesus. Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”.
On the eighth day Jesus was circumcised and given His name. When the time of purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, since he was a Firstborn Son. The offering was “a pair of turtledoves or a brace of young pigeons”.
The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon, a righteous and devout man, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. As soon as he saw Jesus, who was about forty days old, he prayed “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel”.
Every year, Mary and Joseph travelled to Jerusalem for Pesach (Passover). When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. On the return home, Mary thought He was with Joseph, and he thought Jesus was with her.
He had stayed behind, so they returned for Him; and after three days, they found Him amongst those well-versed in the Laws of Moses, taking an active part in the discussions and amazing everyone with the depth of his familiarity with and knowledge of the texts.
Mary, however, chided Him. “Son, why have you done this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” But Jesus simply replied “Why were you searching for me? Don’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” The story concluded by saying that “He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”