THE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY ROSARY: GLORIOUS MYSTERIES
THOUGHTS TO PONDER EASTERN ORTHODOX SALUTATIONS TO MARY
It is truly right to bless thee, O Theotokos, thou the ever blessed, and most pure, and the Mother of our God. Thou the more honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, thou the true Theotokos, we magnify thee.
All of Creation rejoices in thee, O full of grace: the angels in heaven and the race of men, O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, the glory of virgins, of whom God was incarnate and became a child, our God before the ages. He made thy body into a throne, and thy womb more spacious than the heavens. All of creation rejoices in thee, O full of grace: Glory be to thee.
The Resurrection God the Father raises Jesus from the dead.
But on the first day of the week at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled back from the tomb. But on entering, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, while they were wondering what to make of this, that, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling raiment. And when the women were struck with fear and bowed their faces to the ground, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he spoke to you while he was yet in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words. And having returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven, and to all the rest. Now, it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, and the other women who were with them, who were telling these things to the apostles. But this tale seemed to them to be nonsense, and they did not believe the women. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid there; and he went away wondering to himself at what had come to pass. And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which is sixty stadia from Jerusalem. And they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. And it cam to pass, while they were conversing and arguing together, that Jesus himself also drew near and went along with them; but their eyes were held that they should not recognize him. And he said to them, “What words are these that you are exchanging as you walk and are sad?” But one of them, named Cleophas, answered and said to him, “Art thou the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in work and word before God and all the people; and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be sentenced to death, and crucified him. But we were hoping that it was he who should redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, today is the third day since these things came to pass. And moreover, certain women of our company, who were at the tomb before it was light, astounded us, and not finding his body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he is alive. So some of our company went to the tomb, and found it even as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:1-24)
When evening fell on the Sabbath, Mary Magdalen and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices that, going, they might anoint the dead body of Jesus. —Very early on the following day, when the sun has already risen, they come to the sepulchre (Mark 16:1-2). And upon entering they are dismayed, for they do not find the body of Our Lord. —A youth, clothed in white, says to them: Fear not. I know that you seek Jesus of Nazareth: non est hic, surrexit enim sicut dixit, —He is not here, for He has risen, as He said (Matt 28:5). He has risen! —Jesus has risen. He is not in the sepulchre. —Life has overcome death. He appeared to His most Holy Mother. —He appeared to Mary of Magdala, who is carried away with love. —And to Peter and the rest of the Apostles. —And to you and me, who are His disciples and more in love than Magdalen: the things we say to Him! May we never die through sin; may our spiritual resurrection be eternal. —And before this decade is over, you have kissed the wounds on His feet..., and I, more daring —because I am more a child—, have placed my lips upon His open side. Holy Rosary, Resurrection of Our Lord
The Lord's triumph, on the day of the Resurrection, is final. Where are the soldiers the rulers posted there? Where are the seals that were fixed to the stone of the tomb? Where are those who condemned the Master? Where are those who crucified Jesus? He is victorious, and faced with his victory those poor wretches have all taken flight. Be filled with hope: Jesus Christ is always victorious. The Forge, 660
St. Paul gave a motto to the Christians at Ephesus: Instaurare omnia in Christo: to fill everything with the spirit of Jesus, placing Christ at the center of everything. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” Through his incarnation, through his work at Nazareth and his preaching and miracles in the land of Judea and Galilee, through his death on the cross, and through his resurrection, Christ is the center of the universe, the firstborn and Lord of all creation. Our task as Christians is to proclaim this kingship of Christ, announcing it through what we say and do. Our Lord wants men and women of his own in all walks of life. Some he calls away from society, asking them to give up involvement in the world, so that they remind the rest of us by their example that God exists. To others he entrusts the priestly ministry. But he wants the vast majority to stay right where they are, in all earthly occupations in which they work: the factory, the laboratory, the farm, the trades, the streets of the big cities and the trails of the mountains. In this connection I like to think of Christ's conversation with the disciples going to Emmaus. As he is walking along, he meets two men who have nearly lost all hope. They are beginning to feel that life has no meaning for them. Christ understands their sorrow; he sees into their heart and communicates to them some of the life he carries within himself. When they draw near the village, he makes as if he is going on, but the two disciples stop him and practically force him to stay with them. They recognize him later when he breaks the bread. The Lord, they exclaimed, has been with us! “And they said to each other: Was not our heart burning within us while he was speaking on the road and explaining to us the Scripture?” Every Christian should make Christ present among men. He ought to act in such a way that those who know him sense “the fragrance of Christ.” Men should be able to recognize the Master in his disciples. Christ is Passing By, 105
The Ascension Jesus returns to his Father in heaven.
Now he led them out towards Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass as he blessed them, that he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. (Luke 24:50-53)
The feast of our Lord’s ascension also reminds us of another fact. The same Christ, who encourages us to carry out our task in the world, awaits us in heaven as well. In other words, our life on earth, which we love, is not definitive. “We do not have a permanent dwelling place here, but we seek that which is to come,” (Heb 13:14) a changeless home, where we may live forever. Still, we must be careful not to interpret the Word of God within limits that are too narrow. Our Lord does not expect us to be unhappy in our life on earth and await a reward only in the next life. God wants us to be happy on earth too, but with a desire for the other, total happiness that only he can give. In this life, the contemplation of supernatural reality, the action of grace in our souls, our love for our neighbour as a result of our love for God — all these are already a foretaste of heaven, a beginning that is destined to grow from day to day. We Christians cannot resign ourselves to leading a double life. Our life must be a strong and simple unity into which all our actions converge. Christ awaits us. We are “citizens of heaven,” (Phil. 3:20) and at the same time fully fledged citizens of this earth, in the midst of difficulties, injustices and lack of understanding, but also in the midst of the joy and serenity that come from knowing that we are children of God. Let us persevere in the service of our God, and we will see the growth in numbers and in sanctity of this christian army of peace, of this co-redeeming people. Let us be contemplative souls, carrying on an unceasing dialogue with our Lord at all hours — from the first thought of the day to the last, turning our heart constantly toward our Lord Jesus Christ, going to him through our Mother, Holy Mary, and through him to the Father and the Holy Spirit. If, in spite of everything, Jesus’ ascension into heaven leaves a certain taste of sadness in our souls, let us go to his Mother, as the Apostles did. “They returned to Jerusalem... and they prayed with one mind... together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.” (Acts 1:12-14) Christ is Passing By, 126
Now the Master is teaching His disciples: He has enlightened their minds that they may know the Scriptures, and He takes them as witnesses of His life and His miracles, of His passion and death, and of the glory of His resurrection (Luke 24:45, 48). Then, He leads them out along the road to Bethany, He lifts up His hands and blesses them. —And, as He does so, He slowly departs from them and ascends to heaven (Luke 24:51) until a cloud receives Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9). Jesus has gone to the Father. —Two Angels in white garments approach us and say: Men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? (Acts 1:11) Peter and the others go back to Jerusalem —cum gaudio magno— with great joy (Luke 24:52). —It is fitting that the Sacred Humanity of Christ should receive the homage, the praise and adoration of all the hierarchies of the Angels and of all the legions of the blessed in Heaven. But, you and I feel like orphans: we are sad, and we go to Mary for consolation. Holy Rosary, The Ascension
The Coming of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit comes to bring new life to the disciples.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea... So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:1-4).
Jesus has kept his promise The solemn coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was not an isolated event. There is hardly a page in the Acts of the Apostles where we fail to read about him and the action by which he guides, directs and enlivens the life and work of the early Christian community. It is he who inspires the preaching of Saint Peter, who strengthens the faith of the disciples, who confirms with his presence the calling of the gentiles, who sends Saul and Barnabas to the distant lands where they will open new paths for the teaching of Jesus. In a word, his presence and doctrine are everywhere.
The profound reality which we see in the texts of holy Scripture is not a remembrance from the past, from some golden age of the Church which has since been buried in history. Despite the weaknesses and the sins of every one of us, it is the reality of today’s Church and the Church of all time. I will ask the Father, our Lord told his disciples, and he will give you another Counselor to dwell with you forever. (Jn 14:16) Jesus has kept his promise. He has risen from the dead, and in union with the eternal Father, he sends us the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and to give us life. Christ is Passing By, 127-128
To live according to the Holy Spirit To live according to the Holy Spirit means to live by faith and hope and charity – to allow God to take possession of our lives and to change our hearts, to make us resemble him more and more. A mature and profound Christian life cannot be improvised, because it is the result of the growth of God’s grace in us. In the Acts of the Apostles we find the early Christian community described in a single sentence, brief but full of meaning: and they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in prayers.
…There are no second class Christians, obliged to practice only a simplified version of the Gospel. We have all received the same baptism, and although there is a great variety of spiritual gifts and human situations, there is only one Spirit who distributes God’s gifts, only one faith, only one hope, only one love.
And so we can apply to ourselves the question asked by the Apostle: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16) And we can understand it as an invitation to deal with God in a more personal and direct manner. For some, unfortunately, the Paraclete is the Great Stranger, the Great Unknown. He is merely a name that is mentioned, but not Someone, not one of the three persons in the one God, with whom we can talk and with whose life we can live.
We have to deal with him simply and trustingly, as we are taught by the Church in its liturgy. Then we will come to know our Lord better, and at the same time, we will realize more fully the great favor that has been granted us when we became Christians. We will see all the greatness and truth of the divinization to which I referred before, which is a sharing in God’s own life. Christ is Passing By, 134
The Assumption of Mary At the end of her life on earth, Mary is taken body and soul into heaven.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come: (Canticle of Canticles 2:13)
Assumpta est Maria in coelum: gaudent angeli! —God has taken Mary —body and soul— to Heaven: and the Angels rejoice! So sings the Church. —And so, with that same outburst of joy, do we begin our contemplation in this decade of the Holy Rosary: The Mother of God has fallen asleep. —Around her bed are the twelve Apostles. —Matthias in the place of Judas. And we, through a grace respected by all, are also at her side. But Jesus wants to have His Mother, body and soul, in Heaven. —And the heavenly Court, arrayed in all its splendour, hails Our Lady. —You and I —children after all— take the train of Mary's magnificent blue cloak, and so we can watch the marvellous scene. The most Blessed Trinity receives and showers honours on the Daughter, Mother, and Spouse of God... —And so great is Our Lady's majesty that the Angels exclaim: Who is she? Holy Rosary, 14
We, her children, rejoice ‘Mary has been taken up to heaven by God in body and soul, and the angels rejoice.’ Joy overtakes both angels and men. Why is it that we feel today this intimate delight, with our heart brimming over, with our soul full of peace? Because we are celebrating the glorification of our mother, and it is only natural that we her children rejoice in a special way upon seeing how the most Blessed Trinity honours her. It was on Calvary that Christ, her most blessed Son and our brother, gave her to us as our mother, when he said to St John: ‘Behold your mother.’ And we received her, along with the beloved disciple, in that moment of supreme grief. The blessed Virgin embraced us in her suffering, as the ancient prophecy was fulfilled: ‘And a sword shall pierce your own soul.’ We are all her children, she is the Mother of all mankind. And now, the whole human race commemorates her ineffable assumption. Mary is welcomed to heaven: the Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. Greater than she no one but God. Christ is passing by, 171
With motherly care The feast of the assumption of our Lady prompts us to acknowledge the basis for this joyful hope. Yes, we are still pilgrims, but our mother has gone on ahead, where she points to the reward of our efforts. She tells us that we can make it. And, if we are faithful, we will reach home. The blessed Virgin is not only our model, she is the help of Christians. And as we besiege her with our petitions — ‘Show that you are our Mother’ — she cannot help but watch over her children with motherly care. Christ is passing by, 177
Call upon her When the apostles fled, and the enraged mob made themselves hoarse shouting angrily at Jesus, the Holy Virgin Mary followed close behind her Son through the streets of Jerusalem. She did not draw back when the crowd cried out, nor did she leave Our Redeemer alone when each person, anonymous in that crowd, was in his cowardice emboldened to ill-treat Christ. Call upon her with all your strength: Virgo fidelis!, Virgin most faithful!, and ask her that those of us who call ourselves God's friends may truly be so at all times. Furrow, 51
The Coronation of Mary Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days. (Revelations 12:1-6)
There is no danger of exaggerating. We can never hope to fathom this inexpressible mystery; nor will we ever be able to give sufficient thanks to our Mother for bringing us into such intimacy with the Blessed Trinity. Friends of God, 276 Thou art all fair and in thee there is no stain. —Thou art a garden enclosed, my sister, Spouse, an enclosed garden, a sealed fountain. —Veni: coronaberis. —Come: thou shalt be crowned (Cant 4:7, 12 and 8). If you and I had had the power, we too would have made her Queen and Lady of all creation. ‘A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman with a crown of twelve stars upon her head.’ —Clothed with the sun. —The moon at her feet. Mary, Virgin without stain, has repaired the fall of Eve: and she crushed the head of the infernal serpent with her immaculate heel. Daughter of God, Mother of God, Spouse of God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost crown her as the rightful Empress of the Universe. And the Angels render homage unto her as her subjects... and the patriarchs and the prophets and the Apostles... and the martyrs and the confessors and the virgins and all the saints... and all sinners and you and I. Holy Rosary, 15
It is indeed just that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit should crown the Blessed Virgin as Queen and Lady of all created things. You have to make use of her power. With the daring of a child join in this celebration in Heaven. For myself, since I have no precious stones or virtues to offer, I crown the Mother of God and my Mother with my failings, once they have been purified. She is expecting something from you too. The Forge, 285
Our Lady. Who could be a better Teacher of the love of God than this Queen, this Lady, this Mother, who has the closest bond with the Trinity: Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit? And at the same time she is our Mother! Go and pray personally for her intercession. The Forge, 555
Fill yourself with confidence. The Mother we have is the Mother of God, the Most Blessed Virgin, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. The Forge, 273
Holy Mary, ‘Queen of Apostles,’ queen of all those who desire to make the love of your Son known, you understand our miseries so well. Ask Jesus' forgiveness for our shabby lives — for what could have been fire and has been ashes, for the lights that have gone out, for the salt that has turned insipid. Mother of God, you are omnipotent in your petition. Obtain for us, along with forgiveness, the strength to live truly a life of faith and love, so we can share our faith in Christ with others. Christ is passing by, 175
Mary, the holy Mother of our king, the queen of our heart, looks after us as only she knows how. Mother of mercy, throne of grace: we ask you to help us compose, verse by verse, the simple poem of charity in our own life and the lives of the people around us; it is ‘like a river of peace.’ For you are a sea of inexhaustible mercy: ‘All streams run to the sea, but the sea is never full.’ Christ is passing by, 187
The divine Motherhood of Mary is the source of all the perfections and privileges with which she is endowed. Because of it, she was conceived immaculate and is full of grace; because of it, she is ever virgin, she was taken up body and soul to heaven and has been crowned Queen of all creation, above the angels and saints. Greater than she, none but God. 'The Blessed Virgin from the fact that she is the Mother of God has a certain infinite dignity which comes from the infinite good, which is God.' There is no danger of exaggerating. We can never hope to fathom this inexpressible mystery; nor will we ever be able to give sufficient thanks to our Mother for bringing us into such intimacy with the Blessed Trinity. Friends of God, 276