Joyful Mystery. The Annunciation.
This is the brightest point which links heaven
and earth, the greatest event of the centuries. The
Son of God, the Word of the Father—by whom all
was made that was made in the order of creation—took on human nature to become the Redeemer and
Savior of the whole human race.
Mary Immaculate, the most beautiful and fragrant
flower of creation, at the voice of the angel,
accepts the honor of divine maternity, which with
her "Behold the handmaid of the Lord," was
fulfilled in her at that moment. And we all, as brothers
and sisters redeemed in Christ, become her
children. She is the Mother of God and our mother.
As we prayerfully contemplate the annunciation
event, we resolve to daily acquire the habit of
thanksgiving, and sincerely strive to acquire that
humility, purity and great charity of which the
Blessed Virgin gives us such an amiable example.
Joyful Mystery. The Visitation.
What tenderness and gentleness there was in
that three-month visit of Mary to her beloved cousin.
Both are custodians of an imminent maternity, but for the Virgin Mother it is to be the most sacred
maternity possible to imagine on earth.
What sweetness of harmony in those two
intertwining hymns. From one, "Blessed are you among women" (Lk 1:42), and from the other,
looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed" (Lk 1:48).
This vision at
'Ain-Karim, a few miles west of
Jerusalem, illuminates with a heavenly light, at the
same time very human, the relations of good
families brought up in the ancient school of the Rosary recited each evening in the home among the
members of the family.
This is done in all parts of the world where people
are called by the lofty inspiration of the priesthood,
or where one is called by missionary charity or the
apostolate or even by lawful motives of different
natures, such as work, military service, study,
teaching and the like.
beautiful coming together this is in which,
during the recitation of the ten Hail Mary's of this
mystery, so many souls are united by the bond of
blood, by domestic bonds, by all those things which
sanctify and strengthen the sentiments of love
among those closest to one another—parents and
children, brothers, sisters, relatives, neighbors, citizens—united in an act which supports and
illuminates universal charity, the practice of which is the
joy and honor of life.
Joyful Mystery. The Birth of Jesus.
At the proper
time, according to the laws of the
assumed human nature, the Word of God made
man emerges from the holy tabernacle which is the
immaculate womb of Mary.
He appears for the first time to the world in a
manger used for feeding hay to animals. Silence,
poverty, simplicity and innocence fill the scene.
The voices of angels are heard in the heavens
announcing the peace which the newborn Infant
brings into the world. The first to adore him are
Mary his mother and Joseph his foster father. Then
come the humble shepherds, called down from the
hills by angelic voices. Later a caravan of illustrious
men will come, led from distant lands by a star, and
they will offer precious gifts full of significance.
Through it all, everything in that night of Bethlehem
assumes a language of universality.
In this third mystery, which compels every knee
to bend before the cradle, some like to see the
smiling eyes of the Divine Infant in the act of
beholding all the people of the earth passing before
him one after another as in a procession.
He identifies them: Jews, Greeks, Chinese,
Africans, all people from every region of the universe,
from every age of history, past, present and future.
Others prefer, instead, during the recitation of
the ten Hail Mary's of this mystery of the birth of
Jesus, to recommend to him the countless numbers
of children of the human race who have been born
into the world in the past 24 hours of the day and
All of these children, baptized or not, belong to
Jesus of Bethlehem and to the continuation of his
reign of light and peace.
Joyful Mystery. The Presentation.
While still in his mother's arms, the life of Jesus
unfolds to the meeting of the two Testaments. He is
light and revelation to the nations, the splendor of
the chosen people. St. Joseph must be present and
also participate in the rite of offering prescribed by
This episode is perpetuated in the Church. As we
recite the Hail Mary's of this decade, it is beautiful
to observe the joyful hopes of the perennial
reflowering of the promise of priests, religious,
deacons and dedicated lay people who cooperate in
great numbers in the kingdom of God.
Here also are the young students of the
seminaries, of religious houses, of Catholic schools as well
as other youth of a future lay apostolate whose
growth in numbers—in spite of difficulties and
setbacks, and harassed even by persecutions in
many nations—never ceases to be a comforting
sight which evokes words of admiration and joy.
Joyful Mystery. The Finding in the Temple.
Jesus is now twelve years old. Mary and Joseph
accompany him to Jerusalem for the ritual prayer of
that age. Suddenly he disappears from the sight of his loving and vigilant parents. There is great
anxiety in the three-day search.
He is found in the Temple reasoning with the
doctors about the law. How significant are the
words of St. Luke who describes him so clearly.
They found him sitting in the midst of the doctors "listening to them and asking them
That meeting place of the doctors constituted
everything in those times: knowledge, wisdom and
practical directives in the light of the Old Testament.
In every age, this is the duty of human
intelligence: to gather together the voices of the centuries,
to transmit the good doctrine humbly and to make
way for the vision of scientific investigation about
Christ is found everywhere in the midst of people,
and that is his proper place: "You call me Teacher...
and you are right, for that is what I am" (Jn 13:13).
This fifth decade of
Hail Mary's of the joyful
mysteries is a special prayer for the benefit of all
those who are called to the service of truth and
charity: in research, in teaching and in the use of the
new audiovisual techniques of communication.
All of them are urged to imitate Jesus: scientists,
professors, teachers, journalists—yes, particularly journalists, who have the characteristic duty of
honoring truth always without the counterfeit of
Sorrowful Mystery. The Agony in the Garden.
The mind, moved with emotion,
turns to the
image of the Savior in the hour of supreme
abandonment: "...and his sweat became like great drops
of blood falling down on the ground" (Lk 22:44).
This expresses the intimate suffering of the mind,
the extreme bitterness of solitude, the failing of the
broken body. The agony is caused by the imminence
of that which Jesus sees most clearly: the
impending passion. The scene at Gethsemane
encourages the exertion of the will to accept suffering: "Not my will but yours be
done" (Lk 22:42).
These are heartrending words which teach one
how to suffer, and they give the last touch to the
acquisition of the most distinct merits. But they are
also of real and interior comfort for all souls who
suffer the most acute and mysterious pains.
In this light, what tender confidence does the
invocation of Mary acquire, who underwent this burning sorrow in union with her
The intention of prayer is raised in devout
reference to the Pope, seen in his universal responsibility, the object of pressing
concerns which he keeps
in his heart, but which he entrusts however to the
ceaseless assistance promised by Christ to his Vicar.
The intention of this decade invokes furthermore
strength and consolation for those who suffer with
Christ, for those who are troubled and afflicted.
Sorrowful Mystery. The Scourging at the Pillar.
This mystery arouses memory of the ruthless
torture of the beating of the immaculate and
innocent limbs of Jesus.
The human being is composed
of body and soul.
The body suffers the most humiliating temptations.
There is, then, in this mystery a call to that salutary
penance which can encompass and protect the true
welfare of human beings in their totality as corporal
and spiritual beings.
A great lesson for everyone is drawn from this.
We are not called to a bloody martyrdom, but to the
constant and daily discipline of suffering. Along this
path one arrives at an ever more perfect likeness to
Jesus Christ and to a participation in his merits.
The sorrowful Mother sees him thus scourged.
How many mothers would like to have the joy of
seeing their children pass through the disciplines of
education and instruction to a wholesome life.
Sometimes, instead, they must weep at seeing the
collapse of their hopes and toil.
The intention here, then, will be to ask the Lord
for the gifts of purity of habits in the family and in
society, but especially in the souls of youth who are
the most exposed to the seductions of the senses. At
the same time we pray for strength of character, for
fidelity to good resolutions made and to lessons
Sorrowful Mystery. The Crowning with Thorns.
This mystery can best be contemplated
who carry the burden of grave responsibility of
caring spiritually for others; those also who are
elected or appointed to uphold the common good.
It is therefore the mystery for popes, bishops and
priests; the mystery for presidents, governors,
legislators and judges.
The crown which authority places on their heads
carries a halo of dignity and distinction. It is also a
crown that weighs heavily and pierces with thorns
and annoyances. Wherever there is authority, the
cross cannot be wanting. Sometimes it comes in the
form of misunderstanding, contempt, indifference
Another application brings to mind the grave
responsibilities of those who have received the
most talents and who are bound to make them bear
fruit in the constant exercise of their faculties and
intelligence. The service of the intellect, of being a
light and a guide to others, which is the duty
required of those who are more gifted, must be borne with patience. Such people must reject
temptations of pride, egotism and that dissension which
The prayer in this decade, then, is for the leaders
of humankind—both religious and civil—who bear
the responsibilities of the pen, of thoughts and of
Sorrowful Mystery. The Carrying of the Cross.
Human life is a long, continuous and burdensome
pilgrimage along the rock-strewn path
indicated for everyone.
In this mystery, Christ represents the human
race. Woe to us, if there were not a cross for each one
of us. Without it, we would be tempted by egotism,
hedonism, insensibility, and we could be overcome.
The fruit which comes from the contemplation of
Jesus on Calvary is that of embracing and kissing the
cross, carrying it with generosity and joy, according
to the words of The Imitation of Christ: "In the cross
there is protection from one's enemies and the
effusion of a heavenly sweetness" (Book II, ch. XII, 2).
There is likewise in this mystery an extension of
the prayer to the Sorrowful Mother who followed
Jesus with a spirit of participation in his merits and
in his sorrows.
The intention (of the mystery) opens our eyes to
the immense vision of the afflicted: the orphans, the
aged, the sick, the prisoners, the weak, the exiles,
and we ask for strength and consolation which
hope alone gives: "Hail, O Cross, our only hope."
Sorrowful Mystery. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.
Life and death represent two precious and
orienting points of the sacrifice of Christ. We picture
the Infant of Bethlehem smiling on all human
beings as they begin their journey on earth. We
picture Jesus on the cross as he draws his last breath.
He has the power to sanctify all our sorrows, to
cancel all our sins.
And Mary is near the cross, as she was near the
Babe of Bethlehem.
We pray to her, this pious Mother, that she
herself may pray for us, "now and at the hour of our death."
Here is also included the great mystery of
obstinate sinners, of unbelievers, of those who did not
receive and will not receive the light of the Gospel,
who are unable to take heed of the Blood shed also
for them by the Son of God.
And the prayer expands into a sigh of saddened
reparation, into a horizon of missionary fullness,
because the Most Precious Blood, shed for all people,
gives to all salvation and conversion: "Blood of
Christ, pledge of eternal life."
Glorious Mystery. The Resurrection.
It is the mystery of death dominated and overcome.
From death we are led to the splendors of
victory and glory.
It marks the greatest triumph of the Holy
Catholic Church over the adversities and persecutions of
past history and those of the future. "Christ
triumphs, reigns, rules." It is helpful to remember
that the first apparition of the risen Christ was to the
pious women who were close to his life and his
sufferings even at Calvary.
In these splendors the gaze of the faith
contemplates, united to the risen Jesus, the most dear souls,
those with whom we have enjoyed the closeness
and with whom we have shared the pains. Thus in
the light of the resurrection of Jesus there comes
alive the remembrance of our dead. They are
recalled and blessed in the sacrifice of the risen Lord.
It is not for naught that the Oriental Liturgy
concludes the funeral rite with an Alleluia for all the
dead. For them we invoke the light of the eternal
tabernacle, while the mind thinks also of the
resurrection which awaits our mortal remains: "and I
expect the resurrection of the dead."
Wait and hope in the very sweet promise, the
sure pledge which is given to us by the resurrection
Glorious Mystery. The Ascension.
In this picture we contemplate the
consummation of the promises of Jesus. It is his answer to our
longing for heaven. The final return to the Father,
from whom he came into the world, is a certainty
for all of us, to whom he promised a place on high: "I go to prepare a place for
you" (Jn 14:2).
This mystery contains the spiritual movement
which leads to sanctification, the desire for constant
ascensions which prepare the soul for the "mature
measure of the fullness of Christ" (cf. Eph 4:13).
And united in this effort for perfection are priests,
men and women religious, men and women missionaries,
lay men and women, all who wish to be "the aroma of Christ" (cf. 2 Cor 2:15), and who live
already in the hope of heavenly life.
The teaching of this decade is an exhortation not
to allow ourselves to be held back by that which
weighs us down but to abandon ourselves to the
Lord who bears us on high.
Glorious Mystery. The Descent of the Holy Spirit.
The apostles gathered together around Mary in
the Cenacle to receive the last gift of Christ: his
Spirit, the Comforter and Advocate.
With the descent and diffusion of the Holy Spirit,
the heirs of Christ, still filled with fear and anxiety,
receive the seal of catholicity, which spreads
beyond all boundaries.
The Holy Spirit continues to pour forth effusions
on his Church every day; the centuries and the
nations belong to him. His triumphs are not always
evident from without, but they are in fact rich in
surprise and wonder.
Glorious Mystery. The Assumption.
The sweet image of Mary shines and radiates in
supreme exaltation. How beautiful is the sleep of
Mary, as seen by the Christians of the East. She lies
in the peaceful sleep of death with Jesus at her side,
and he holds the soul of the Virgin close to his breast
like a child, to indicate the miracle of immediate
resurrection and glorification.
It is a reason for comfort and confidence in the
days of sorrow for those privileged souls—and we
can all be privileged souls—whom God prepares in
silence for the highest triumphs.
The mystery of the assumption keeps us familiar
with the thought of our death, in the light of
peaceful abandonment in the Lord, whom we like to hope
will be close to us at the time of our agony to gather
our immortal soul into his hands.
Glorious Mystery. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Behold the synthesis of the whole Rosary, which
closes the great vision, opened by the herald angel.
A single flux of life runs through the individual
mysteries and reminds us of the eternal plan of God
for our salvation: the beginning hidden, the
conclusion in the splendor of heaven.
The meditation applies to ourselves, to our
vocation to become associated one day with the angels
and the saints, the mysteries and comforting reality
which sanctifying grace anticipates in this life.
Oh, what joy! What glory! We are
the saints and also members of the household of
God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and
prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone" (Eph 2:19-20).