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MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY

Contemplating with Mary the light shining on the face of Jesus


Pope John Paul II – Our Guide to the Mysteries – With Parish Prayers – 2010
Edited by Fr. Gilles A. Surprenant, Pastor – St. Luke Parish – Archdiocese of Montreal – 101001

How to meditate the Mysteries of the Rosary while fingering the Rosary beads and praying the prayers of the Rosary
Pope John Paul II's instructions
Pope John Paul II's full Letter on the Rosary
Instructions from the Vatican website
A Simple Guide from Medjugorje 

MYSTERIES + JOYFUL + LUMINOUS + SORROWFUL + GLORIOUS  + MYSTERIES

POPE JOHN PAUL II's GUIDE
FOR PRAYING THE ROSARY
AND
CONTEMPLATING
THE GOSPEL MYSTERIES OF JESUS 

The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning

Hot links to topics in Pope John Paul II's instructions on How to Pray the Rosary

Objections to the Rosary Prayer for peace and the family "Behold your Mother!"
Remembering Christ with Mary Learning Christ and
conforming to Christ with Mary
The Rosary -
a compendium of the Gospel
Mystery of Christ, mystery of man -
Mary's way
The Rosary - a way of assimilating
the mystery
Announcing the mystery
at each decade
Listening to the Word of God Silence The "Our Father"
The 10 "Hail Mary's" The "Gloria" The concluding short prayer
The Rosary beads The opening and closing Distribution over time
- the weekdays
Peace The Family - parents ... and children

The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning

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To The Bishops, Clergy And Faithful On The Most Holy Rosary – The JOYFUL MYSTERIES

How many graces I received from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I placed my Petrine ministry:  Totus Tuus!  I felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, an exhortation to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ  “when the Mother is honoured, the Son ... is duly known, loved and glorified”.8  In the present historical and theological context the Rosary can risk being wrongly devalued, and no longer taught to the younger generation. I desire that the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities.  So I proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary.

The Joyful Mysteries – (Monday, Saturday)

    20. The first five decades, the “joyful mysteries”, are marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation. To meditate upon the “joyful” mysteries, then, is to enter into the ultimate causes and the deepest meaning of Christian joy. It is to focus on the realism of the mystery of the Incarnation and on the obscure foreshadowing of the mystery of the saving Passion. Mary leads us to discover the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is, first and foremost, euangelion, “good news”, which has as its heart and its whole content the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the one Saviour of the world.

First Joyful Mystery – the Annunciation – “Jesus announced to you by Gabriel”
   OR
“Jesus, entrusted to you at your confident obedience to God”

The very first mystery, the Annunciation, is clearly marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation.  Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin of Nazareth is linked to an invitation to messianic joy: “Rejoice, Mary”. The whole of salvation history, in some sense the entire history of the world, has led up to this greeting. If it is the Father's plan to unite all things in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10), then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favour with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of his Son. The whole of humanity, in turn, is embraced by the fiat with which she readily agrees to the will of God.

Let us pray Father, grant each of us and all your children a heart humble like that of Mary; to truthfully see our human condition and complete dependence on You, and yet remain open to your Word, trusting in your care, ready to obey your will, and eager to please You in all things.  Amen.

Second Joyful Mystery – the Visitation – “Jesus, joy of John in Elizabeth’s womb”
OR
“Jesus, joy of God erupting in our visitations to those in need”

    Exultation is the keynote of the encounter with Elizabeth, where the sound of Mary's voice and the presence of Christ in her womb cause John to “leap for joy” (cf. Lk 1:44).

Let us pray Father, fill us with your divine love, that like Mary we too may be so filled with love of our neighbor that we joyfully join her in serving them without concern for ourselves.   Amen.

Third Joyful Mystery – the Birth of Jesus – “Jesus, born to you and Joseph in Bethlehem”
OR “Jesus, Gift of God’s love for the life of the world”

Gladness fills the scene in Bethlehem, when the birth of the divine Child, the Saviour of the world, is announced by the song of the angels and proclaimed to the shepherds as “news of great joy” (Lk 2:10).

Let us pray Father, lead us in the obedience of your plan and will for us; mold our hearts in poverty of spirit, ready to endure every privation and bear in solidarity the sufferings of others.  Amen.

Fourth Joyful Mystery – the Presentation of Jesus – “Jesus, joy of Simeon and Anna”
OR “Jesus, inspiring us to make our life an offering to God”

    The final two mysteries, while preserving this climate of joy, already point to the drama yet to come. The Presentation in the Temple not only expresses the joy of the Child's consecration and the ecstasy of the aged Simeon; it also records the prophecy that Christ will be a “sign of contradiction” for Israel and that a sword will pierce his mother's heart (cf Lk 2:34-35).

Let us pray Father, as Mary and Joseph obeyed your will in all the requirements of their religious duties; so help us – like them – to know and fulfill all that our faith requires of us.  Amen.   

Fifth Joyful Mystery – the Finding of Jesus – “Jesus, found by you and Joseph in the Temple”
OR “Jesus, who wants us to find Him in every moment of life”

Joy mixed with drama marks the fifth mystery, the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. Here he appears in his divine wisdom as he listens and raises questions, already one who “teaches”. The revelation of his mystery as the Son wholly dedicated to his Father's affairs proclaims the radical nature of the Gospel, in which the closest human relationships are challenged by the absolute demands of the Kingdom. Mary and Joseph, fearful and anxious, “did not understand” his words (Lk 2:50).

Let us pray Father, in the boyish zeal of Jesus You reveal the One who became our Good Shepherd; who tirelessly gives us the joy of being found.  Grant us the same zeal to seek out souls that wander from You and get lost; that we might give Jesus greater joy in helping Him find them.  Amen.
                                                                       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning   
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END PRAYERS

Rosary Prayer

Let us pray.  O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee; that meditating upon these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise; through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.                                                                              

The Memorare of St. Bernard

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly to Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother!  To Thee do I come, before Thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.  Amen.  Mary, Queen of Holy Angels, pray for us! 

Prayer For Vocations

    Heavenly Father, bless your Church with an abundance of holy and zealous priests, deacons, brothers and sisters.  Give those You have called to the married state and those You have chosen to live as single persons in the world, the special graces that their lives require.  Form us all in the likeness of your Son so that in Him, with Him and through Him we may love You more deeply and serve You more faithfully, always and everywhere.  With Mary we ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer For Our Country

Heavenly Father, we commit this our beloved land to the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We ask You to renew our country in the power of the Holy Spirit that all Canadians will bow their knee and confess with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We pray that our political leaders receive wisdom and knowledge from on high to govern this land according to your sovereign Will; so we may prosper in justice and in peace, in love and in truth; until Christ our Lord is indeed the King of Canada from coast to coast, from sea to sea.  We pledge a covenant of prayer and witness so that the powers of evil be defeated and the enemy of God, Satan, be subdued.  Let Jesus Christ be Sovereign in every City Hall, every Parliament and every Court in our land until the day of his glorious coming.  Amen.

                                                                       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

 To The Bishops, Clergy And Faithful On The Most Holy Rosary – The LUMINOUS MYSTERIES

    How many graces I received from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I placed my Petrine ministry:  Totus Tuus!  I felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, an exhortation to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ  “when the Mother is honoured, the Son ... is duly known, loved and glorified”.8  In the present historical and theological context the Rosary can risk being wrongly devalued, and no longer taught to the younger generation. I desire that the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities.  So I proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary.

The Mysteries of Light – (Thursday) 

    21. Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”.  Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12).  This truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom… as we see… in five significant moments – “luminous” mysteries – during this phase of Christ's life: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.  Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.

First Luminous Mystery – the Baptism of Jesus – “Jesus, baptized by John in the Jordan”
OR “Jesus, baptized to draw us into eternal life”

The 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 (cf. 2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out.

Let us pray Father, by the light radiating from Jesus’ Baptism, give us the mind and heart of Christ to be – like Him – attentive and obedient to your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Second Luminous Mystery – The Wedding Feast at Cana – “Jesus, Manifesting Who He is at the Wedding Feast in Cana”
OR
“Jesus, our Bridegroom wedding us to God”

The first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. 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.  The role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the “mysteries of light”.

Let us pray Father, by the light radiating from Mary, the first to believe in Jesus as our Savior, focus our mind, heart, and will on Jesus, and help us do whatever He tells us.   Amen. 

Third Luminous Mystery – The Proclamation of the Kingdom – “Jesus, Who Proclaims the Kingdom of God and calls to conversion”
OR “Jesus, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and calling to conversion”

Jesus our Light proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): inaugurates 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 (cf. Jn 20:22-23).

Let us pray Father, by the light radiating from Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom and call to conversion, let a spirit of repentance make us generous ministers of your Mercy.  Amen.

Fourth Luminous Mystery – the Transfiguration of Jesus – “Jesus, transfigured to encourage us”
OR “Jesus, transfigured to give us strength”

The greatest mystery of light is the Transfiguration, believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands astonished Apostles to “listen to him” (cf. 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.

Let us pray Father, by the light radiating from the Transfiguration of Jesus with Moses and Elijah, encourage us to gladly accompany Jesus into the time of our own passion.  Amen.   

Fifth Luminous Mystery – The Institution of the Holy Eucharist – “Jesus, Instituting the Eucharist to Give Us His Paschal Mystery” OR “Jesus, giving us Himself in a transfusion of divine life”

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.

Let us pray Father, by the light radiating from the Holy Eucharist and Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, transform us into the One we eat and drink, glad to spend ourselves for love of others.  Amen.

                                                                       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page
END PRAYERS

Rosary Prayer

Let us pray.  O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee; that meditating upon these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise; through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.                                                                              

The Memorare of St. Bernard

    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly to Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother!  To Thee do I come, before Thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.  Amen.  Mary, Queen of Holy Angels, pray for us!

Prayer For Vocations

    Heavenly Father, bless your Church with an abundance of holy and zealous priests, deacons, brothers and sisters.  Give those You have called to the married state and those You have chosen to live as single persons in the world, the special graces that their lives require.  Form us all in the likeness of your Son so that in Him, with Him and through Him we may love You more deeply and serve You more faithfully, always and everywhere.  With Mary we ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer For Our Country

Heavenly Father, we commit this our beloved land to the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We ask You to renew our country in the power of the Holy Spirit that all Canadians will bow their knee and confess with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We pray that our political leaders receive wisdom and knowledge from on high to govern this land according to your sovereign Will; so we may prosper in justice and in peace, in love and in truth; until Christ our Lord is indeed the King of Canada from coast to coast, from sea to sea.  We pledge a covenant of prayer and witness so that the powers of evil be defeated and the enemy of God, Satan, be subdued.  Let Jesus Christ be Sovereign in every City Hall, every Parliament and every Court in our land until the day of his glorious coming.  Amen.

                                                                       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

To The Bishops, Clergy And Faithful On The Most Holy Rosary – The SORROWFUL MYSTERIES

    How many graces I received from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I placed my Petrine ministry:  Totus Tuus!  I felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, an exhortation to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ  “when the Mother is honoured, the Son ... is duly known, loved and glorified”.8  In the present historical and theological context the Rosary can risk being wrongly devalued, and no longer taught to the younger generation. I desire that the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities.  So I proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary.

The Sorrowful Mysteries – (Tuesday, Friday)

    22. The Gospels give great prominence to the sorrowful mysteries of Christ. From the beginning Christian piety, especially during the Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross, has focused on the individual moments of the Passion, realizing that here is found the culmination of the revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation. The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. The meaning, origin and fulfilment of man is to be found in Christ, the God who humbles himself out of love “even unto death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God's love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.

First Sorrowful Mystery – The Agony in the Garden – “Jesus, Agonizing Over Our Sins in the Garden”
OR “Jesus, agonizing over our rejection of Him”

The sequence of meditations begins with Gethsemane, where Christ experiences a moment of great anguish before the will of the Father, against which the weakness of the flesh would be tempted to rebel. There Jesus encounters all the temptations and confronts all the sins of humanity, in order to say to the Father: “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42 and parallels). This “Yes” of Christ reverses the “No” of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

Let us pray Father, let your Son’s agony ever move us to deeper regret for our sins and sorrow for those of others.  May it move us to determined resistance to every temptation.  Amen.

Second Sorrowful Mystery – The Scourging at the Pillar – “Jesus, our Humble Saviour, Scourged at the Pillar in Our Place”
OR “Jesus, scourged to break our fear of loving our enemies”

And the cost of Jesus’ faithfulness to the Father's will is made clear in the following mysteries; by his scourging, his crowning with thorns, his carrying the Cross and his death on the Cross, the Lord is cast into the most abject suffering: Ecce homo!  This abject suffering reveals not only the love of God but also the meaning of man himself.  Ecce homo!

Let us pray Father, may Jesus’ torment at the pillar purify our hearts of every evil or unchaste desire, and free will to follow our Savior with undivided hearts and care for others.  Amen.

Third Sorrowful Mystery – The Crowning with Thorns – “Jesus, Helpless and Crowned With the Thorns of Our Rebellion”
OR “Jesus, accepting humiliation to cure our self will”

(The soldiers roughly stripped Jesus of his clothes, exposing his nakedness for all to see.  He endured this indignity like a poor man without rights, like a criminal, like one caught in the jaws of the law – guilty and deserving of the severest punishment ever known to human civilization.)

Let us pray Father, Jesus’ crown of suffering reveals his kingship as a service of love.   Galvanize our will to imitate and follow Him with courage in the total service of your love.  Amen.

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery – The Carrying of the Cross – “Jesus, Freely Accepting to Carry Our Sins As His Cross”
OR
“Jesus, showing how far love can carry its burden”

(Jesus, abandoned by his apostles and disciples, no longer surrounded by his team, having willingly surrendered himself into the hands of jealous, proud religious leaders and merciless civil and military authorities, with considerable effort struggles to carry his cross and see it through.  The heart and hands that forgave sins, healed illness, and restored sight and breath, must now assist in his own execution.)

Let us pray Father, show us the daily cross Jesus calls us to carry in following Him.  Grant us to learn that patience is simply the willingness to endure out of love whatever comes.  Amen.   

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery – The Crucifixion – “Jesus, Divine Love Unveiled, Crucified and Dying on the Cross”
OR “Jesus, lifted up to draw all things to Himself and to God”

(It was only after a very long agony – hanging from pierced wrists and feet for hours – pushing up with agonizing effort to briefly alleviate excruciating spasms of asphyxiation, that Jesus finally breathes his last.  Still, He found time and energy to show mercy to the merciful thief next to him, and to pray out loud that his Father forgive all his tormentors – even offering an excuse on their behalf.) 

Let us pray Father, Jesus your Beloved Son was faithful in carrying out your will to the very end.  By your Holy Spirit, strengthen us to persevere in the imitation of Christ.  Amen.

                                                                       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning   
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END PRAYERS

Rosary Prayer

Let us pray.  O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee; that meditating upon these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise; through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.                                                                              

The Memorare of St. Bernard

    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly to Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother!  To Thee do I come, before Thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.  Amen.  Mary, Queen of Holy Angels, pray for us!

Prayer For Vocations

    Heavenly Father, bless your Church with an abundance of holy and zealous priests, deacons, brothers and sisters.  Give those You have called to the married state and those You have chosen to live as single persons in the world, the special graces that their lives require.  Form us all in the likeness of your Son so that in Him, with Him and through Him we may love You more deeply and serve You more faithfully, always and everywhere.  With Mary we ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer For Our Country

Heavenly Father, we commit this our beloved land to the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We ask You to renew our country in the power of the Holy Spirit that all Canadians will bow their knee and confess with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We pray that our political leaders receive wisdom and knowledge from on high to govern this land according to your sovereign Will; so we may prosper in justice and in peace, in love and in truth; until Christ our Lord is indeed the King of Canada from coast to coast, from sea to sea.  We pledge a covenant of prayer and witness so that the powers of evil be defeated and the enemy of God, Satan, be subdued.  Let Jesus Christ be Sovereign in every City Hall, every Parliament and every Court in our land until the day of his glorious coming.  Amen.

                                                                       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

To The Bishops, Clergy And Faithful On The Most Holy Rosary – The GLORIOUS MYSTERIES

    How many graces I received from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I placed my Petrine ministry:  Totus Tuus!  I felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, an exhortation to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ  “when the Mother is honoured, the Son ... is duly known, loved and glorified”.8  In the present historical and theological context the Rosary can risk being wrongly devalued, and no longer taught to the younger generation. I desire that the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities.  So I proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary.

The Glorious Mysteries – (Wednesday, Sunday)

    23. “The contemplation of Christ's face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!”29 The Rosary has always expressed this knowledge born of faith and invited the believer to pass beyond the darkness of the Passion in order to gaze upon Christ's glory in the Resurrection and Ascension.  The glorious mysteries thus lead the faithful to greater hope for the eschatological goal towards which they journey as members of the pilgrim People of God in history. This can only impel them to bear courageous witness to that “good news” which gives meaning to their entire existence.

First Glorious Mystery – The Resurrection – “Jesus, Victorious, Risen From the Dead”
OR "Jesus, who by his resurrection destroyed the stranglehold of death and sin"

Contemplating the Risen One, Christians rediscover the reasons for their own faith (cf. 1Cor 15:14) and relive the joy not only of those to whom Christ appeared – the Apostles, Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – but also the joy of Mary, who must have had an equally intense experience of the new life of her glorified Son.

Let us pray Father, may Jesus’ radiant Resurrection victory over sin, suffering and death instil in us the faith to obey You as He did and surrender our lives with trust to Jesus’ Lordship.  Amen.

Second Glorious Mystery – The Ascension – “Jesus, Ascending Into Heaven”
OR “Jesus, ascending into Heaven yet remaining with us until the end”

In the Ascension, Christ was raised in glory to the right hand of the Father.  (All of humanity must now wait until the end of time to see Him again, when He comes on the clouds at the sound of the trumpet to judge the nations and hand over the kingdom to his Father.  Only with faith may we now know Him and be touched by Him in the Sacraments – through which He draws us into participation in his saving mysteries – incorporating us into the divine life and love of the Blessed Trinity.)    

Let us pray Father, in Jesus’ Ascent into Heaven we see his confidence that your will in us shall be fulfilled.  Let this hope inflame our hearts to obey Jesus’ command to love.  Amen.

Third Glorious Mystery – The Descent of the Holy Spirit – “Jesus, Sending Down the Holy Spirit at Pentecost”
OR “Jesus, giving us the Holy Spirit as at Pentecost”

At the centre of this unfolding sequence of the glory of the Son and the Mother, the Rosary sets before us the third glorious mystery, Pentecost, which reveals the face of the Church as a family gathered together with Mary, enlivened by the powerful outpouring of the Spirit and ready for the mission of evangelization. The contemplation of this scene, like that of the other glorious mysteries, ought to lead the faithful to an ever greater appreciation of their new life in Christ, lived in the heart of the Church, a life of which the scene of Pentecost itself is the great “icon”.

Let us pray Father, let your Holy Spirit – the purifying fire of divine love – transform us into living images of Jesus, your Love incarnate, loving You and others today and every day. Amen.

Fourth Glorious Mystery – The Assumption of the BVM – “Jesus, Who Assumed You Into Heaven”
OR
“Jesus, giving us hope of resurrection by your assumption”

Mary herself would be raised to that same glory in the Assumption, enjoying beforehand, by a unique privilege, the destiny reserved for all the just at the resurrection of the dead.  (In Jesus’ resurrection, we see his glory as Lord of all, King of Kings, and the Alpha and Omega.  In Mary’s assumption, we are encouraged to hope with confidence in the Father’s will to fulfill Jesus’ promise to grant us a place in his heavenly dwelling and at the wedding feast of the Lamb, the Beloved Bridegroom of the Church.) 

Let us pray Lord Jesus, You have placed your Church and us in your Mother Mary’s care.  As we honor You in her, keep us in the intimate embrace of your love until our death.  Amen.   

Fifth Glorious Mystery – The Coronation of the BVM – “Jesus, Crowning You Queen of Heaven and Earth”
OR “Jesus, sharing with you his Kingship to help us on Earth”

Crowned in glory – as she appears in the last glorious mystery – Mary shines forth as Queen of the Angels and Saints, anticipation and supreme realization of the eschatological state of the Church.   (How can we, poor sinners that we are, fail to honor she whom our Lord so gladly honors for her share in his saving mission – even to the bitter end of his passion and death?  She who surrendered all things to her Son and King will receive all things in equal measure into eternity, as Jesus promised to all.)

Let us pray Holy Spirit, it pleases the Father and the Son to share with Mary their work of grace.  Grant us trust in her intercession and deeper communion with Father and Son in You.  Amen.

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END PRAYERS

Rosary Prayer

Let us pray.  O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee; that meditating upon these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise; through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.                                                                              

The Memorare of St. Bernard

    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly to Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother!  To Thee do I come, before Thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.  Amen.                                                              Mary, Queen of Holy Angels, pray for us!

Prayer For Vocations

    Heavenly Father, bless your Church with an abundance of holy and zealous priests, deacons, brothers and sisters.  Give those You have called to the married state and those You have chosen to live as single persons in the world, the special graces that their lives require.  Form us all in the likeness of your Son so that in Him, with Him and through Him we may love You more deeply and serve You more faithfully, always and everywhere.  With Mary we ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayer For Our Country

Heavenly Father, we commit this our beloved land to the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We ask You to renew our country in the power of the Holy Spirit that all Canadians will bow their knee and confess with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We pray that our political leaders receive wisdom and knowledge from on high to govern this land according to your sovereign Will; so we may prosper in justice and in peace, in love and in truth; until Christ our Lord is indeed the King of Canada from coast to coast, from sea to sea.  We pledge a covenant of prayer and witness so that the powers of evil be defeated and the enemy of God, Satan, be subdued.  Let Jesus Christ be Sovereign in every City Hall, every Parliament and every Court in our land until the day of his glorious coming.  Amen.

 
THE END OF THE ROSARY MYSTERIES AND ROSARY PRAYERS

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POPE JOHN PAUL II ON HOW TO PRAY THE ROSARY

From the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae of the Supreme Pontiff JOHN PAUL II

To The Bishops, Clergy and Faithful on the Most Holy Rosary

 INTRODUCTION

    1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.1

    The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.2 It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

The Popes and the Rosary – see Pope John Paul’s full letter.

October 2002 – October 2003: The Year of the Rosary – see Pope John Paul’s full letter.

Objections to the Rosary        The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    4. The timeliness of this proposal is evident from a number of considerations. First, the urgent need to counter a certain crisis of the Rosary, which in the present historical and theological context can risk being wrongly devalued, and therefore no longer taught to the younger generation. There are some who think that the centrality of the Liturgy, rightly stressed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, necessarily entails giving lesser importance to the Rosary. Yet, as Pope Paul VI made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the Liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the Liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives.

    Perhaps too, there are some who fear that the Rosary is somehow unecumenical because of its distinctly Marian character. Yet the Rosary clearly belongs to the kind of veneration of the Mother of God described by the Council: a devotion directed to the Christological centre of the Christian faith, in such a way that “when the Mother is honoured, the Son ... is duly known, loved and glorified”.8  If properly revitalized, the Rosary is an aid and certainly not a hindrance to ecumenism!

A path of contemplation

    5. But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery which I have proposed in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte as a genuine “training in holiness”: “What is needed is a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer”.9 Inasmuch as contemporary culture, even amid so many indications to the contrary, has witnessed the flowering of a new call for spirituality, due also to the influence of other religions, it is more urgent than ever that our Christian communities should become “genuine schools of prayer”.10

    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.

Prayer for peace and for the family       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    6. A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace. The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. At the start of a millennium which began with the terrifying attacks of 11 September 2001, a millennium which witnesses every day innumerous parts of the world fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence, to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). Consequently, one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace, especially in the land of Jesus, still so sorely afflicted and so close to the heart of every Christian.

    A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age.

“Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19:27)       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    7. Many signs indicate that still today the Blessed Virgin desires to exercise through this same prayer that maternal concern to which the dying Redeemer entrusted, in the person of the beloved disciple, all the sons and daughters of the Church: “Woman, behold your son!” (Jn19:26). Well-known are the occasions in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries on which the Mother of Christ made her presence felt and her voice heard, in order to exhort the People of God to this form of contemplative prayer. I would mention in particular, on account of their great influence on the lives of Christians and the authoritative recognition they have received from the Church, the apparitions of Lourdes and of Fatima;11 these shrines continue to be visited by great numbers of pilgrims seeking comfort and hope.

Following the witnesses – see Pope John Paul’s full letter.

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CHAPTER I – CONTEMPLATING CHRIST WITH MARY

A face radiant as the sun

    9. “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun” (Mt 17:2). The Gospel scene of Christ's transfiguration, in which the three Apostles Peter, James and John appear entranced by the beauty of the Redeemer, can be seen as an icon of Christian contemplation. To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendour definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ's face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul's words can then be applied to us: “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2Cor 3:18).

Mary, model of contemplation

    10. The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. It was in her womb that Christ was formed, receiving from her a human resemblance which points to an even greater spiritual closeness. No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the months that followed she began to sense his presence and to picture his features. When at last she gave birth to him in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she “wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger” (Lk2:7).

    Thereafter Mary's gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of a mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).

Mary's memories       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    11. Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51). The memories of Jesus, impressed upon her heart, were always with her, leading her to reflect on the various moments of her life at her Son's side. In a way those memories were to be the “rosary” which she recited uninterruptedly throughout her earthly life.

    Even now, amid the joyful songs of the heavenly Jerusalem, the reasons for her thanksgiving and praise remain unchanged. They inspire her maternal concern for the pilgrim Church, in which she continues to relate her personal account of the Gospel. Mary constantly sets before the faithful the “mysteries” of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power. In the recitation of the Rosary, the Christian community enters into contact with the memories and the contemplative gaze of Mary.

The Rosary, a contemplative prayer

    12. The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7). By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed”.14  It is worth pausing to consider this profound insight of Paul VI, in order to bring out certain aspects of the Rosary which show that it is really a form of Christocentric contemplation.

Remembering Christ with Mary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    13. Mary's contemplation is above all a remembering. We need to understand this word in the biblical sense of remembrance (zakar) as a making present of the works brought about by God in the history of salvation. The Bible is an account of saving events culminating in Christ himself. These events not only belong to “yesterday”; they are also part of the “today” of salvation. This making present comes about above all in the Liturgy: what God accomplished centuries ago did not only affect the direct witnesses of those events; it continues to affect people in every age with its gift of grace. To some extent this is also true of every other devout approach to those events: to “remember” them in a spirit of faith and love is to be open to the grace which Christ won for us by the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection.

    Consequently, while it must be reaffirmed with the Second Vatican Council that the Liturgy, as the exercise of the priestly office of Christ and an act of public worship, is “the summit to which the activity of the Church is directed and the font from which all its power flows”,15 it is also necessary to recall that the spiritual life “is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. Christians, while they are called to prayer in common, must also go to their own rooms to pray to their Father in secret (cf. Mt 6:6); indeed, according to the teaching of the Apostle, they must pray without ceasing (cf.1Thes 5:17)”.16 The Rosary, in its own particular way, is part of this varied panorama of “ceaseless” prayer. If the Liturgy, as the activity of Christ and the Church, is a saving action par excellence, the Rosary too, as a “meditation” with Mary on Christ, is a salutary contemplation. By immersing us in the mysteries of the Redeemer's life, it ensures that what he has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly assimilated and shapes our existence.

Learning Christ from Mary

    14. Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him”. In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ (cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother.

    The first of the “signs” worked by Jesus – the changing of water into wine at the marriage in Cana – clearly presents Mary in the guise of a teacher, as she urges the servants to do what Jesus commands (cf. Jn 2:5). We can imagine that she would have done likewise for the disciples after Jesus' Ascension, when she joined them in awaiting the Holy Spirit and supported them in their first mission.  Contemplating the scenes of the Rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning from her to “read” Christ, to discover his secrets and to understand his message.     This school of Mary is all the more effective if we consider that she teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as she offers us the incomparable example of her own “pilgrimage of faith”.17 As we contemplate each mystery of her Son's life, she invites us to do as she did at the Annunciation: to ask humbly the questions which open us to the light, in order to end with the obedience of faith: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

Being conformed to Christ with Mary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    15. Christian spirituality is distinguished by the disciple's commitment to become conformed ever more fully to his Master (cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:10,12). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Baptism grafts the believer like a branch onto the vine which is Christ (cf. Jn 15:5) and makes him a member of Christ's mystical Body (cf.1Cor 12:12; Rom 12:5). This initial unity, however, calls for a growing assimilation which will increasingly shape the conduct of the disciple in accordance with the “mind” of Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). In the words of the Apostle, we are called “to put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27).

    In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary's company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ's life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection”.18

    In this process of being conformed to Christ in the Rosary, we entrust ourselves in a special way to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin. She who is both the Mother of Christ and a member of the Church, indeed her “pre-eminent and altogether singular member”,19 is at the same time the “Mother of the Church”. As such, she continually brings to birth children for the mystical Body of her Son. She does so through her intercession, imploring upon them the inexhaustible outpouring of the Spirit. Mary is the perfect icon of the motherhood of the Church.

    The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). This role of Mary, totally grounded in that of Christ and radically subordinated to it, “in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power”.20 This is the luminous principle expressed by the Second Vatican Council which I have so powerfully experienced in my own life and have made the basis of my episcopal motto: Totus Tuus.21 The motto is of course inspired by the teaching of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who explained in the following words Mary's role in the process of our configuration to Christ: “Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ”.22 Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

Praying to Christ with Mary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    16. Jesus invited us to turn to God with insistence and the confidence that we will be heard: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). The basis for this power of prayer is the goodness of the Father, but also the mediation of Christ himself (cf. 1Jn 2:1) and the working of the Holy Spirit who “intercedes for us” according to the will of God (cf. Rom 8:26-27). For “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26), and at times we are not heard “because we ask wrongly” (cf. Jas 4:2-3).

    In support of the prayer which Christ and the Spirit cause to rise in our hearts, Mary intervenes with her maternal intercession. “The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary”.23 If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, his purest and most transparent reflection, shows us the Way. “Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries”.24 At the wedding of Cana the Gospel clearly shows the power of Mary's intercession as she makes known to Jesus the needs of others: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).

    The Rosary is both meditation and supplication. Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. She is “all-powerful by grace”, to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady.25 This is a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people. The supreme poet Dante expresses it marvellously in the lines sung by Saint Bernard: “Lady, thou art so great and so powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings”.26 When in the Rosary we plead with Mary, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35), she intercedes for us before the Father who filled her with grace and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us.

Proclaiming Christ with Mary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    17. The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience. Its form is that of a prayerful and contemplative presentation, capable of forming Christians according to the heart of Christ. When the recitation of the Rosary combines all the elements needed for an effective meditation, especially in its communal celebration in parishes and shrines, it can present a significant catechetical opportunity which pastors should use to advantage. In this way too Our Lady of the Rosary continues her work of proclaiming Christ. The history of the Rosary shows how this prayer was used in particular by the Dominicans at a difficult time for the Church due to the spread of heresy. Today we are facing new challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us? The Rosary retains all its power and continues to be a valuable pastoral resource for every good evangelizer.

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CHAPTER II – MYSTERIES OF CHRIST – MYSTERIES OF HIS MOTHER

The Rosary, “a compendium of the Gospel”

    18. The only way to approach the contemplation of Christ's face is by listening in the Spirit to the Father's voice, since “no one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt 11:27). In the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus responded to Peter's confession of faith by indicating the source of that clear intuition of his identity: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What is needed, then, is a revelation from above. In order to receive that revelation, attentive listening is indispensable: “Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery”.27

    The Rosary is one of the traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ's face. Pope Paul VI described it in these words: “As a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany- like succession of Hail Mary’s, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel's announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: 'Blessed is the fruit of your womb' (Lk 1:42). We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Mary’s constitutes the warp on which is woven the contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of mysteries proposes to us now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin”.28

A proposed addition to the traditional pattern       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    19. Of the many mysteries of Christ's life, only a few are indicated by the Rosary in the form that has become generally established with the seal of the Church's approval. The selection was determined by the origin of the prayer, which was based on the number 150, the number of the Psalms in the Psalter.

    I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).

    Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a “compendium of the Gospel”, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer's traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary's place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory.

The Joyful Mysteries – The Mysteries of Light – The Sorrowful Mysteries – The Glorious Mysteries – see Pope John Paul’s full letter.

From “mysteries” to the “Mystery”: Mary's way       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    24. The cycles of meditation proposed by the Holy Rosary are by no means exhaustive, but they do bring to mind what is essential and they awaken in the soul a thirst for a knowledge of Christ continually nourished by the pure source of the Gospel. Every individual event in the life of Christ, as narrated by the Evangelists, is resplendent with the Mystery that surpasses all understanding (cf. Eph 3:19): the Mystery of the Word made flesh, in whom “all the fullness of God dwells bodily” (Col 2:9).  For this reason the Catechism of the Catholic Church places great emphasis on the mysteries of Christ, pointing out that “everything in the life of Jesus is a sign of his Mystery”.30 The “duc in altum” of the Church of the third millennium will be determined by the ability of Christians to enter into the “perfect knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-3). The Letter to the Ephesians makes this heartfelt prayer for all the baptized: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power... to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:17-19).

    The Rosary is at the service of this ideal; it offers the “secret” which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it Mary's way. It is the way of the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, a woman of faith, of silence, of attentive listening. It is also the way of a Marian devotion inspired by knowledge of the inseparable bond between Christ and his Blessed Mother: the mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him. By making our own the words of the Angel Gabriel and Saint Elizabeth contained in the Hail Mary, we find ourselves constantly drawn to seek out afresh in Mary, in her arms and in her heart, the “blessed fruit of her womb” (cf Lk 1:42).

Mystery of Christ, mystery of man       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    25. In my testimony of 1978 mentioned above, where I described the Rosary as my favourite prayer, I used an idea to which I would like to return. I said then that “the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life”.31

    In the light of what has been said so far on the mysteries of Christ, it is not difficult to go deeper into this anthropological significance of the Rosary, which is far deeper than may appear at first sight.  Anyone who contemplates Christ through the various stages of his life cannot fail to perceive in him the truth about man. This is the great affirmation of the Second Vatican Council which I have so often discussed in my own teaching since the Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis: “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man is seen in its true light”.32 The Rosary helps to open up the way to this light. Following in the path of Christ, in whom man's path is “recapitulated”,33 revealed and redeemed, believers come face to face with the image of the true man.

    Contemplating Christ's birth, they learn of the sanctity of life; seeing the household of Nazareth, they learn the original truth of the family according to God's plan; listening to the Master in the mysteries of his public ministry, they find the light which leads them to enter the Kingdom of God; and following him on the way to Calvary, they learn the meaning of salvific suffering. Finally, contemplating Christ and his Blessed Mother in glory, they see the goal towards which each of us is called, if we allow ourselves to be healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. It could be said that each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man.

    At the same time, it becomes natural to bring to this encounter with the sacred humanity of the Redeemer all the problems, anxieties, labours and endeavours which go to make up our lives. “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Ps 55:23). To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. Twenty-five years later, thinking back over the difficulties which have also been part of my exercise of the Petrine ministry, I feel the need to say once more, as a warm invitation to everyone to experience it personally: the Rosary does indeed “mark the rhythm of human life”, bringing it into harmony with the “rhythm” of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing.   

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CHAPTER III – “FOR ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST”

The Rosary, a way of assimilating the mystery

    26. Meditation on the mysteries of Christ is proposed in the Rosary by means of a method designed to assist in their assimilation. It is a method based on repetition. This applies above all to the Hail Mary, repeated ten times in each mystery. If this repetition is considered superficially, there could be a temptation to see the Rosary as a dry and boring exercise. It is quite another thing, however, when the Rosary is thought of as an outpouring of that love which tirelessly returns to the person loved with expressions similar in their content but ever fresh in terms of the feeling pervading them.

    In Christ, God has truly assumed a “heart of flesh”. Not only does God have a divine heart, rich in mercy and in forgiveness, but also a human heart, capable of all the stirrings of affection. If we needed evidence for this from the Gospel, we could easily find it in the touching dialogue between Christ and Peter after the Resurrection: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Three times this question is put to Peter, and three times he gives the reply: “Lord, you know that I love you” (cf. Jn 21:15-17).  Over and above the specific meaning of this passage, so important for Peter's mission, none can fail to recognize the beauty of this triple repetition, in which the insistent request and the corresponding reply are expressed in terms familiar from the universal experience of human love. To understand the Rosary, one has to enter into the psychological dynamic proper to love.

    One thing is clear: although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to be conformed ever more completely to Christ, the true programme of the Christian life.  Saint Paul expressed this project with words of fire: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). And again: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The Rosary helps us to be conformed ever more closely to Christ until we attain true holiness.

 A valid method...

    27. We should not be surprised that our relationship with Christ makes use of a method. God communicates himself to us respecting our human nature and its vital rhythms. Hence, while Christian spirituality is familiar with the most sublime forms of mystical silence in which images, words and gestures are all, so to speak, superseded by an intense and ineffable union with God, it normally engages the whole person in all his complex psychological, physical and relational reality.

    This becomes apparent in the Liturgy. Sacraments and sacramentals are structured as a series of rites which bring into play all the dimensions of the person. The same applies to non-liturgical prayer.  This is confirmed by the fact that, in the East, the most characteristic prayer of Christological meditation, centred on the words “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”34 is traditionally linked to the rhythm of breathing; while this practice favours perseverance in the prayer, it also in some way embodies the desire for Christ to become the breath, the soul and the “all” of one's life.

... which can nevertheless be improved       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    28. I mentioned in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte that the West is now experiencing a renewed demand for meditation, which at times leads to a keen interest in aspects of other religions.35 Some Christians, limited in their knowledge of the Christian contemplative tradition, are attracted by those forms of prayer. While the latter contain many elements which are positive and at times compatible with Christian experience, they are often based on ultimately unacceptable premises. Much in vogue among these approaches are methods aimed at attaining a high level of spiritual concentration by using techniques of a psychophysical, repetitive and symbolic nature. The Rosary is situated within this broad gamut of religious phenomena, but it is distinguished by characteristics of its own which correspond to specifically Christian requirements.

    In effect, the Rosary is simply a method of contemplation. As a method, it serves as a means to an end and cannot become an end in itself. All the same, as the fruit of centuries of experience, this method should not be undervalued. In its favour one could cite the experience of countless Saints.  This is not to say, however, that the method cannot be improved. Such is the intent of the addition of the new series of mysteria lucis to the overall cycle of mysteries and of the few suggestions which I am proposing in this Letter regarding its manner of recitation. These suggestions, while respecting the well-established structure of this prayer, are intended to help the faithful to understand it in the richness of its symbolism and in harmony with the demands of daily life. Otherwise there is a risk that the Rosary would not only fail to produce the intended spiritual effects, but even that the beads, with which it is usually said, could come to be regarded as some kind of amulet or magic object, thereby radically distorting their meaning and function.

Announcing each mystery       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    29. Announcing each mystery, and perhaps even using a suitable icon to portray it, is as it were to open up a scenario on which to focus our attention. The words direct the imagination and the mind towards a particular episode or moment in the life of Christ. In the Church's traditional spirituality, the veneration of icons and the many devotions appealing to the senses, as well as the method of prayer proposed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, make use of visual and imaginative elements (the compositio loci), judged to be of great help in concentrating the mind on the particular mystery. This is a methodology, moreover, which corresponds to the inner logic of the Incarnation: in Jesus, God wanted to take on human features. It is through his bodily reality that we are led into contact with the mystery of his divinity.

    This need for concreteness finds further expression in the announcement of the various mysteries of the Rosary. Obviously these mysteries neither replace the Gospel nor exhaust its content. The Rosary, therefore, is no substitute for lectio divina; on the contrary, it presupposes and promotes it.  Yet, even though the mysteries contemplated in the Rosary, even with the addition of the mysteria lucis, do no more than outline the fundamental elements of the life of Christ, they easily draw the mind to a more expansive reflection on the rest of the Gospel, especially when the Rosary is prayed in a setting of prolonged recollection.

Listening to the Word of God

    30. In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken “for me”.

    If received in this way, the word of God can become part of the Rosary's methodology of repetition without giving rise to the ennui derived from the simple recollection of something already well known.  It is not a matter of recalling information but of allowing God to speak. In certain solemn communal celebrations, this word can be appropriately illustrated by a brief commentary.

Silence

    31. Listening and meditation are nourished by silence. After the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word, it is fitting to pause and focus one's attention for a suitable period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. A discovery of the importance of silence is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation. One drawback of a society dominated by technology and the mass media is the fact that silence becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Just as moments of silence are recommended in the Liturgy, so too in the recitation of the Rosary it is fitting to pause briefly after listening to the word of God, while the mind focuses on the content of a particular mystery.

The “Our Father”       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    32. After listening to the word and focusing on the mystery, it is natural for the mind to be lifted up towards the Father. In each of his mysteries, Jesus always leads us to the Father, for as he rests in the Father's bosom (cf. Jn 1:18) he is continually turned towards him. He wants us to share in his intimacy with the Father, so that we can say with him: “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). By virtue of his relationship to the Father he makes us brothers and sisters of himself and of one another, communicating to us the Spirit which is both his and the Father's. Acting as a kind of foundation for the Christological and Marian meditation which unfolds in the repetition of the Hail Mary, the Our Father makes meditation upon the mystery, even when carried out in solitude, an ecclesial experience.

The ten “Hail Mary's”

    33. This is the most substantial element in the Rosary and also the one which makes it a Marian prayer par excellence. Yet when the Hail Mary is properly understood, we come to see clearly that its Marian character is not opposed to its Christological character, but that it actually emphasizes and increases it. The first part of the Hail Mary, drawn from the words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel and by Saint Elizabeth, is a contemplation in adoration of the mystery accomplished in the Virgin of Nazareth. These words express, so to speak, the wonder of heaven and earth; they could be said to give us a glimpse of God's own wonderment as he contemplates his “masterpiece” – the Incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary. If we recall how, in the Book of Genesis, God “saw all that he had made” (Gen 1:31), we can find here an echo of that “pathos with which God, at the dawn of creation, looked upon the work of his hands”.36  The repetition of the Hail Mary in the Rosary gives us a share in God's own wonder and pleasure: in jubilant amazement we acknowledge the greatest miracle of history. Mary's prophecy here finds its fulfilment: “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).

    The centre of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge as it were which joins its two parts, is the name of Jesus. Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this centre of gravity can be overlooked, and with it the connection to the mystery of Christ being contemplated. Yet it is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to his mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary.  Pope Paul VI drew attention, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, to the custom in certain regions of highlighting the name of Christ by the addition of a clause referring to the mystery being contemplated.37 This is a praiseworthy custom, especially during public recitation. It gives forceful expression to our faith in Christ, directed to the different moments of the Redeemer's life. It is at once a profession of faith and an aid in concentrating our meditation, since it facilitates the process of assimilation to the mystery of Christ inherent in the repetition of the Hail Mary. When we repeat the name of Jesus – the only name given to us by which we may hope for salvation (cf. Acts 4:12) – in close association with the name of his Blessed Mother, almost as if it were done at her suggestion, we set out on a path of assimilation meant to help us enter more deeply into the life of Christ.

    From Mary's uniquely privileged relationship with Christ, which makes her the Mother of God, Theotókos, derives the forcefulness of the appeal we make to her in the second half of the prayer, as we entrust to her maternal intercession our lives and the hour of our death.

The “Gloria”        The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    34. Trinitarian doxology is the goal of all Christian contemplation. For Christ is the way that leads us to the Father in the Spirit. If we travel this way to the end, we repeatedly encounter the mystery of the three divine Persons, to whom all praise, worship and thanksgiving are due. It is important that the Gloria, the high-point of contemplation, be given due prominence in the Rosary. In public recitation it could be sung, as a way of giving proper emphasis to the essentially Trinitarian structure of all Christian prayer.

    To the extent that meditation on the mystery is attentive and profound, and to the extent that it is enlivened – from one Hail Mary to another – by love for Christ and for Mary, the glorification of the Trinity at the end of each decade, far from being a perfunctory conclusion, takes on its proper contemplative tone, raising the mind as it were to the heights of heaven and enabling us in some way to relive the experience of Tabor, a foretaste of the contemplation yet to come: “It is good for us to be here!” (Lk 9:33).

The concluding short prayer

    35. In current practice, the Trinitarian doxology is followed by a brief concluding prayer which varies according to local custom. Without in any way diminishing the value of such invocations, it is worthwhile to note that the contemplation of the mysteries could better express their full spiritual fruitfulness if an effort were made to conclude each mystery with a prayer for the fruits specific to that particular mystery. In this way the Rosary would better express its connection with the Christian life. One fine liturgical prayer suggests as much, inviting us to pray that, by meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, we may come to “imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise”.38

    Such a final prayer could take on a legitimate variety of forms, as indeed it already does. In this way the Rosary can be better adapted to different spiritual traditions and different Christian communities.  It is to be hoped, then, that appropriate formulas will be widely circulated, after due pastoral discernment and possibly after experimental use in centres and shrines particularly devoted to the Rosary, so that the People of God may benefit from an abundance of authentic spiritual riches and find nourishment for their personal contemplation.

The Rosary beads       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    36. The traditional aid used for the recitation of the Rosary is the set of beads. At the most superficial level, the beads often become a simple counting mechanism to mark the succession of Hail Marys.  Yet they can also take on a symbolism which can give added depth to contemplation.  Here the first thing to note is the way the beads converge upon the Crucifix, which both opens and closes the unfolding sequence of prayer. The life and prayer of believers is centred upon Christ.  Everything begins from him, everything leads towards him, everything, through him, in the Holy Spirit, attains to the Father.

    As a counting mechanism, marking the progress of the prayer, the beads evoke the unending path of contemplation and of Christian perfection. Blessed Bartolo Longo saw them also as a “chain” which links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A “filial” chain which puts us in tune with Mary, the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, made himself a “servant” out of love for us (Phil 2:7).

    A fine way to expand the symbolism of the beads is to let them remind us of our many relationships, of the bond of communion and fraternity which unites us all in Christ.

The opening and closing

    37.At present, in different parts of the Church, there are many ways to introduce the Rosary. In some places, it is customary to begin with the opening words of Psalm 70: “O God, come to my aid; O Lord, make haste to help me”, as if to nourish in those who are praying a humble awareness of their own insufficiency. In other places, the Rosary begins with the recitation of the Creed, as if to make the profession of faith the basis of the contemplative journey about to be undertaken. These and similar customs, to the extent that they prepare the mind for contemplation, are all equally legitimate.  The Rosary is then ended with a prayer for the intentions of the Pope, as if to expand the vision of the one praying to embrace all the needs of the Church. It is precisely in order to encourage this ecclesial dimension of the Rosary that the Church has seen fit to grant indulgences to those who recite it with the required dispositions.

    If prayed in this way, the Rosary truly becomes a spiritual itinerary in which Mary acts as Mother, Teacher and Guide, sustaining the faithful by her powerful intercession. Is it any wonder, then, that the soul feels the need, after saying this prayer and experiencing so profoundly the motherhood of Mary, to burst forth in praise of the Blessed Virgin, either in that splendid prayer the Salve Regina or in the Litany of Loreto? This is the crowning moment of an inner journey which has brought the faithful into living contact with the mystery of Christ and his Blessed Mother.

Distribution over time        The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    38. The Rosary can be recited in full every day, and there are those who most laudably do so. In this way it fills with prayer the days of many a contemplative, or keeps company with the sick and the elderly who have abundant time at their disposal. Yet it is clear – and this applies all the more if the new series of mysteria lucis is included – that many people will not be able to recite more than a part of the Rosary, according to a certain weekly pattern. This weekly distribution has the effect of giving the different days of the week a certain spiritual “colour”, by analogy with the way in which the Liturgy colours the different seasons of the liturgical year.

    According to current practice, Monday and Thursday are dedicated to the “joyful mysteries”, Tuesday and Friday to the “sorrowful mysteries”, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to  the “glorious mysteries”. Where might the “mysteries of light” be inserted? If we consider that the “glorious mysteries” are said on both Saturday and Sunday, and that Saturday has always had a special Marian flavour, the second weekly meditation on the “joyful mysteries”, mysteries in which Mary's presence is especially pronounced, could be moved to Saturday. Thursday would then be free for meditating on the “mysteries of light”.

    This indication is not intended to limit a rightful freedom in personal and community prayer, where account needs to be taken of spiritual and pastoral needs and of the occurrence of particular liturgical celebrations which might call for suitable adaptations. What is really important is that the Rosary should always be seen and experienced as a path of contemplation. In the Rosary, in a way similar to what takes place in the Liturgy, the Christian week, centred on Sunday, the day of Resurrection, becomes a journey through the mysteries of the life of Christ, and he is revealed in the lives of his disciples as the Lord of time and of history.

      The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

CONCLUSION

“Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain linking us to God”

    39. What has been said so far makes abundantly clear the richness of this traditional prayer, which has the simplicity of a popular devotion but also the theological depth of a prayer suited to those who feel the need for deeper contemplation.

    The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to its choral recitation and to its constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.

    Today I willingly entrust to the power of this prayer – as I mentioned at the beginning – the cause of peace in the world and the cause of the family.

Peace       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    40. The grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new Millennium lead us to think that only an intervention from on high, capable of guiding the hearts of those living in situations of conflict and those governing the destinies of nations, can give reason to hope for a brighter future.

    The Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of Christ, the Prince of Peace, the one who is “our peace” (Eph 2:14). Anyone who assimilates the mystery of Christ – and this is clearly the goal of the Rosary – learns the secret of peace and makes it his life's project. Moreover, by virtue of its meditative character, with the tranquil succession of Hail Mary’s, the Rosary has a peaceful effect on those who pray it, disposing them to receive and experience in their innermost depths, and to spread around them, that true peace which is the special gift of the Risen Lord (cf. Jn 14:27; 20.21).

    The Rosary is also a prayer for peace because of the fruits of charity which it produces. When prayed well in a truly meditative way, the Rosary leads to an encounter with Christ in his mysteries and so cannot fail to draw attention to the face of Christ in others, especially in the most afflicted.  How could one possibly contemplate the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem, in the joyful mysteries, without experiencing the desire to welcome, defend and promote life, and to shoulder the burdens of suffering children all over the world? How could one possibly follow in the footsteps of Christ the Revealer, in the mysteries of light, without resolving to bear witness to his “Beatitudes” in daily life?  And how could one contemplate Christ carrying the Cross and Christ Crucified, without feeling the need to act as a “Simon of Cyrene” for our brothers and sisters weighed down by grief or crushed by despair? Finally, how could one possibly gaze upon the glory of the Risen Christ or of Mary Queen of Heaven, without yearning to make this world more beautiful, more just, more closely conformed to God's plan?

    In a word, by focusing our eyes on Christ, the Rosary also makes us peacemakers in the world. By its nature as an insistent choral petition in harmony with Christ's invitation to “pray ceaselessly” (Lk 18:1), the Rosary allows us to hope that, even today, the difficult “battle” for peace can be won. Far from offering an escape from the problems of the world, the Rosary obliges us to see them with responsible and generous eyes, and obtains for us the strength to face them with the certainty of God's help and the firm intention of bearing witness in every situation to “love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14).

The family: parents...       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    41. As a prayer for peace, the Rosary is also, and always has been, a prayer of and for the family.  At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the Rosary.

    In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I encouraged the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours by the lay faithful in the ordinary life of parish communities and Christian groups;39 I now wish to do the same for the Rosary. These two paths of Christian contemplation are not mutually exclusive; they complement one another. I would therefore ask those who devote themselves to the pastoral care of families to recommend heartily the recitation of the Rosary.

    The family that prays together stays together. The Holy Rosary, by age-old tradition, has shown itself particularly effective as a prayer which brings the family together. Individual family members, in turning their eyes towards Jesus, also regain the ability to look one another in the eye, to communicate, to show solidarity, to forgive one another and to see their covenant of love renewed in the Spirit of God.

    Many of the problems facing contemporary families, especially in economically developed societies, result from their increasing difficulty in communicating. Families seldom manage to come together, and the rare occasions when they do are often taken up with watching television. To return to the recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images, images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the centre, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on.

... and children

    42. It is also beautiful and fruitful to entrust to this prayer the growth and development of children.  Does the Rosary not follow the life of Christ, from his conception to his death, and then to his Resurrection and his glory? Parents are finding it ever more difficult to follow the lives of their children as they grow to maturity. In a society of advanced technology, of mass communications and globalization, everything has become hurried, and the cultural distance between generations is growing ever greater. The most diverse messages and the most unpredictable experiences rapidly make their way into the lives of children and adolescents, and parents can become quite anxious about the dangers their children face. At times parents suffer acute disappointment at the failure of their children to resist the seductions of the drug culture, the lure of an unbridled hedonism, the temptation to violence, and the manifold expressions of meaninglessness and despair.

    To pray the Rosary for children, and even more, with children, training them from their earliest years to experience this daily “pause for prayer” with the family, is admittedly not the solution to every problem, but it is a spiritual aid which should not be underestimated. It could be objected that the Rosary seems hardly suited to the taste of children and young people of today. But perhaps the objection is directed to an impoverished method of praying it. Furthermore, without prejudice to the Rosary's basic structure, there is nothing to stop children and young people from praying it – either within the family or in groups – with appropriate symbolic and practical aids to understanding and appreciation. Why not try it? With God's help, a pastoral approach to youth which is positive, impassioned and creative – as shown by the World Youth Days! – is capable of achieving quite remarkable results. If the Rosary is well presented, I am sure that young people will once more surprise adults by the way they make this prayer their own and recite it with the enthusiasm typical of their age group.

The Rosary, a treasure to be rediscovered       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    43. Dear brothers and sisters! A prayer so easy and yet so rich truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian community. Let us do so, especially this year, as a means of confirming the direction outlined in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, from which the pastoral plans of so many particular Churches have drawn inspiration as they look to the immediate future.

    I turn particularly to you, my dear Brother Bishops, priests and deacons, and to you, pastoral agents in your different ministries: through your own personal experience of the beauty of the Rosary, may you come to promote it with conviction.

    I also place my trust in you, theologians: by your sage and rigorous reflection, rooted in the word of God and sensitive to the lived experience of the Christian people, may you help them to discover the Biblical foundations, the spiritual riches and the pastoral value of this traditional prayer.

    I count on you, consecrated men and women, called in a particular way to contemplate the face of Christ at the school of Mary.

    I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian families, to you, the sick and elderly, and to you, young people: confidently take up the Rosary once again. Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives.

    May this appeal of mine not go unheard! At the start of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate, I entrust this Apostolic Letter to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary, prostrating myself in spirit before her image in the splendid Shrine built for her by Blessed Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary. I willingly make my own the touching words with which he concluded his well-known Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary: “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompei, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven”.

From the Vatican, on the 16th day of October in the year 2002, the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate.

JOHN PAUL II

Endnotes – see Pope John Paul’s full letter.

END OF POPE JOHN PAUL II's INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PRAY THE ROSARY

 

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      The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

 

Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

APOSTOLIC LETTER
ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE

OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II

TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY AND FAITHFUL
ON THE MOST HOLY ROSARY

INTRODUCTION

    1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.1
    The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.2 It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

 The Popes and the Rosary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

     2. Numerous predecessors of mine attributed great importance to this prayer. Worthy of special note in this regard is Pope Leo XIII who on 1 September 1883 promulgated the Encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio,3 a document of great worth, the first of his many statements about this prayer, in which he proposed the Rosary as an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society.  Among the more recent Popes who, from the time of the Second Vatican Council, have distinguished themselves in promoting the Rosary I would mention Blessed John XXIII4 and above all Pope Paul VI, who in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus emphasized, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the Rosary's evangelical character and its Christocentric inspiration. I myself have often encouraged the frequent recitation of the Rosary. From my youthful years this prayer has held an important place in my spiritual life. I was powerfully reminded of this during my recent visit to Poland, and in particular at the Shrine of Kalwaria. The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort. Twenty-four years ago, on 29 October 1978, scarcely two weeks after my election to the See of Peter, I frankly admitted: “The Rosary is my favourite prayer. A marvellous prayer! 

        Marvellous in its simplicity and its depth. [...]. It can be said that the Rosary is, in some sense, a prayer-commentary on the final chapter of the Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium, a chapter which discusses the wondrous presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church. Against the background of the words Ave Maria the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete series of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through – we might say – the heart of his Mother. At the same time our heart can embrace in the decades of the Rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church, and all mankind. Our personal concerns and those of our neighbour, especially those who are closest to us, who are dearest to us. Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life”.5

       With these words, dear brothers and sisters, I set the first year of my Pontificate within the daily rhythm of the Rosary. Today, as I begin the twenty-fifth year of my service as the Successor of Peter, I wish to do the same. How many graces have I received in these years from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in the words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I have placed my Petrine ministry:  Totus Tuus!

 October 2002 – October 2003: The Year of the Rosary

     3. Therefore, in continuity with my reflection in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which, after the experience of the Jubilee, I invited the people of God to “start afresh from Christ”,6 have felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, as a kind of Marian complement to that Letter and an exhortation to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.  As a way of highlighting this invitation, prompted by the forthcoming 120th anniversary of the aforementioned Encyclical of Leo XIII, I desire that during the course of this year the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities. I therefore proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary.

    I leave this pastoral proposal to the initiative of each ecclesial community. It is not my intention to encumber but rather to complete and consolidate pastoral programmes of the Particular Churches. I am confident that the proposal will find a ready and generous reception. The Rosary, reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the very heart of Christian life; it offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization. I am pleased to reaffirm this also in the joyful remembrance of another anniversary: the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on October 11, 1962, the “great grace” disposed by the Spirit of God for the Church in our time.7

 Objections to the Rosary

     4. The timeliness of this proposal is evident from a number of considerations. First, the urgent need to counter a certain crisis of the Rosary, which in the present historical and theological context can risk being wrongly devalued, and therefore no longer taught to the younger generation. There are some who think that the centrality of the Liturgy, rightly stressed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, necessarily entails giving lesser importance to the Rosary. Yet, as Pope Paul VI made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the Liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the Liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives.

    Perhaps too, there are some who fear that the Rosary is somehow unecumenical because of its distinctly Marian character. Yet the Rosary clearly belongs to the kind of veneration of the Mother of God described by the Council: a devotion directed to the Christological centre of the Christian faith, in such a way that “when the Mother is honoured, the Son ... is duly known, loved and glorified”.8  If properly revitalized, the Rosary is an aid and certainly not a hindrance to ecumenism!

 A path of contemplation       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

     5. But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery which I have proposed in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte as a genuine “training in holiness”: “What is needed is a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer”.9 Inasmuch as contemporary culture, even amid so many indications to the contrary, has witnessed the flowering of a new call for spirituality, due also to the influence of other religions, it is more urgent than ever that our Christian communities should become “genuine schools of prayer”.10

    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.

 Prayer for peace and for the family

     6. A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace. The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. At the start of a millennium which began with the terrifying attacks of 11 September 2001, a millennium which witnesses every day innumerous parts of the world fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence, to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). Consequently, one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace, especially in the land of Jesus, still so sorely afflicted and so close to the heart of every Christian.

    A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age.

“Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19:27)

     7. Many signs indicate that still today the Blessed Virgin desires to exercise through this same prayer that maternal concern to which the dying Redeemer entrusted, in the person of the beloved disciple, all the sons and daughters of the Church: “Woman, behold your son!” (Jn19:26). Well-known are the occasions in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries on which the Mother of Christ made her presence felt and her voice heard, in order to exhort the People of God to this form of contemplative prayer. I would mention in particular, on account of their great influence on the lives of Christians and the authoritative recognition they have received from the Church, the apparitions of Lourdes and of Fatima;11 these shrines continue to be visited by great numbers of pilgrims seeking comfort and hope.

 Following the witnesses

     8. It would be impossible to name all the many Saints who discovered in the Rosary a genuine path to growth in holiness. We need but mention Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, the author of an excellent work on the Rosary,12 and, closer to ourselves, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, whom I recently had the joy of canonizing. As a true apostle of the Rosary, Blessed Bartolo Longo had a special charism. His path to holiness rested on an inspiration heard in the depths of his heart: “Whoever spreads the Rosary is saved!”.13 As a result, he felt called to build a Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Pompei, against the background of the ruins of the ancient city, which scarcely heard the proclamation of Christ before being buried in 79 A.D. during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, only to emerge centuries later from its ashes as a witness to the lights and shadows of classical civilization. By his whole life's work and especially by the practice of the “Fifteen Saturdays”, Bartolo Longo promoted the Christocentric and contemplative heart of the Rosary, and received great encouragement and support from Leo XIII, the “Pope of the Rosary”.

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CHAPTER I

CONTEMPLATING CHRIST WITH MARY

 A face radiant as the sun

     9. “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun” (Mt 17:2). The Gospel scene of Christ's transfiguration, in which the three Apostles Peter, James and John appear entranced by the beauty of the Redeemer, can be seen as an icon of Christian contemplation. To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendour definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ's face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul's words can then be applied to us: “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2Cor 3:18).

 Mary, model of contemplation

     10. The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. It was in her womb that Christ was formed, receiving from her a human resemblance which points to an even greater spiritual closeness. No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the months that followed she began to sense his presence and to picture his features. When at last she gave birth to him in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she “wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger” (Lk2:7).

    Thereafter Mary's gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of a mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).

 Mary's memories

     11. Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51). The memories of Jesus, impressed upon her heart, were always with her, leading her to reflect on the various moments of her life at her Son's side. In a way those memories were to be the “rosary” which she recited uninterruptedly throughout her earthly life.

    Even now, amid the joyful songs of the heavenly Jerusalem, the reasons for her thanksgiving and praise remain unchanged. They inspire her maternal concern for the pilgrim Church, in which she continues to relate her personal account of the Gospel. Mary constantly sets before the faithful the “mysteries” of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power. In the recitation of the Rosary, the Christian community enters into contact with the memories and the contemplative gaze of Mary.

 The Rosary, a contemplative prayer

     12. The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7). By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed”.14  It is worth pausing to consider this profound insight of Paul VI, in order to bring out certain aspects of the Rosary which show that it is really a form of Christocentric contemplation.

 Remembering Christ with Mary

     13. Mary's contemplation is above all a remembering. We need to understand this word in the biblical sense of remembrance (zakar) as a making present of the works brought about by God in the history of salvation. The Bible is an account of saving events culminating in Christ himself. These events not only belong to “yesterday”; they are also part of the “today” of salvation. This making present comes about above all in the Liturgy: what God accomplished centuries ago did not only affect the direct witnesses of those events; it continues to affect people in every age with its gift of grace. To some extent this is also true of every other devout approach to those events: to “remember” them in a spirit of faith and love is to be open to the grace which Christ won for us by the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection.

    Consequently, while it must be reaffirmed with the Second Vatican Council that the Liturgy, as the exercise of the priestly office of Christ and an act of public worship, is “the summit to which the activity of the Church is directed and the font from which all its power flows”,15 it is also necessary to recall that the spiritual life “is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. Christians, while they are called to prayer in common, must also go to their own rooms to pray to their Father in secret (cf. Mt 6:6); indeed, according to the teaching of the Apostle, they must pray without ceasing (cf.1Thes 5:17)”.16 The Rosary, in its own particular way, is part of this varied panorama of “ceaseless” prayer. If the Liturgy, as the activity of Christ and the Church, is a saving action par excellence, the Rosary too, as a “meditation” with Mary on Christ, is a salutary contemplation. By immersing us in the mysteries of the Redeemer's life, it ensures that what he has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly assimilated and shapes our existence.

 Learning Christ from Mary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

     14. Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him”. In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ (cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother.

    The first of the “signs” worked by Jesus – the changing of water into wine at the marriage in Cana – clearly presents Mary in the guise of a teacher, as she urges the servants to do what Jesus commands (cf. Jn 2:5). We can imagine that she would have done likewise for the disciples after Jesus' Ascension, when she joined them in awaiting the Holy Spirit and supported them in their first mission.  Contemplating the scenes of the Rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning from her to “read” Christ, to discover his secrets and to understand his message.

     This school of Mary is all the more effective if we consider that she teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as she offers us the incomparable example of her own “pilgrimage of faith”.17 As we contemplate each mystery of her Son's life, she invites us to do as she did at the Annunciation: to ask humbly the questions which open us to the light, in order to end with the obedience of faith: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

 Being conformed to Christ with Mary

    15. Christian spirituality is distinguished by the disciple's commitment to become conformed ever more fully to his Master (cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:10,12). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Baptism grafts the believer like a branch onto the vine which is Christ (cf. Jn 15:5) and makes him a member of Christ's mystical Body (cf.1Cor 12:12; Rom 12:5). This initial unity, however, calls for a growing assimilation which will increasingly shape the conduct of the disciple in accordance with the “mind” of Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). In the words of the Apostle, we are called “to put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27).

    In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary's company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ's life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection”.18

    In this process of being conformed to Christ in the Rosary, we entrust ourselves in a special way to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin. She who is both the Mother of Christ and a member of the Church, indeed her “pre-eminent and altogether singular member”,19 is at the same time the “Mother of the Church”. As such, she continually brings to birth children for the mystical Body of her Son. She does so through her intercession, imploring upon them the inexhaustible outpouring of the Spirit. Mary is the perfect icon of the motherhood of the Church.

    The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). This role of Mary, totally grounded in that of Christ and radically subordinated to it, “in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power”.20 This is the luminous principle expressed by the Second Vatican Council which I have so powerfully experienced in my own life and have made the basis of my episcopal motto: Totus Tuus.21 The motto is of course inspired by the teaching of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who explained in the following words Mary's role in the process of our configuration to Christ: “Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ”.22 Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

 Praying to Christ with Mary       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

     16. Jesus invited us to turn to God with insistence and the confidence that we will be heard: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). The basis for this power of prayer is the goodness of the Father, but also the mediation of Christ himself (cf. 1Jn 2:1) and the working of the Holy Spirit who “intercedes for us” according to the will of God (cf. Rom 8:26-27). For “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26), and at times we are not heard “because we ask wrongly” (cf. Jas 4:2-3).

    In support of the prayer which Christ and the Spirit cause to rise in our hearts, Mary intervenes with her maternal intercession. “The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary”.23 If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, his purest and most transparent reflection, shows us the Way. “Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries”.24 At the wedding of Cana the Gospel clearly shows the power of Mary's intercession as she makes known to Jesus the needs of others: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).

    The Rosary is both meditation and supplication. Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. She is “all-powerful by grace”, to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady.25 This is a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people. The supreme poet Dante expresses it marvellously in the lines sung by Saint Bernard: “Lady, thou art so great and so powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings”.26 When in the Rosary we plead with Mary, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35), she intercedes for us before the Father who filled her with grace and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us.

 Proclaiming Christ with Mary

    17. The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience. Its form is that of a prayerful and contemplative presentation, capable of forming Christians according to the heart of Christ. When the recitation of the Rosary combines all the elements needed for an effective meditation, especially in its communal celebration in parishes and shrines, it can present a significant catechetical opportunity which pastors should use to advantage. In this way too Our Lady of the Rosary continues her work of proclaiming Christ. The history of the Rosary shows how this prayer was used in particular by the Dominicans at a difficult time for the Church due to the spread of heresy. Today we are facing new challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us? The Rosary retains all its power and continues to be a valuable pastoral resource for every good evangelizer.

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CHAPTER II

MYSTERIES OF CHRIST – MYSTERIES OF HIS MOTHER

The Rosary, “a compendium of the Gospel”

    18. The only way to approach the contemplation of Christ's face is by listening in the Spirit to the Father's voice, since “no one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt 11:27). In the region of

Caesarea Philippi, Jesus responded to Peter's confession of faith by indicating the source of that clear intuition of his identity: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What is needed, then, is a revelation from above. In order to receive that revelation, attentive listening is indispensable: “Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery”.27

    The Rosary is one of the traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ's face. Pope Paul VI described it in these words: “As a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany- like succession of Hail Mary’s, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel's announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: 'Blessed is the fruit of your womb' (Lk 1:42). We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Mary’s constitutes the warp on which is woven the contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of mysteries proposes to us now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin”.28

A proposed addition to the traditional pattern

    19. Of the many mysteries of Christ's life, only a few are indicated by the Rosary in the form that has become generally established with the seal of the Church's approval. The selection was determined by the origin of the prayer, which was based on the number 150, the number of the Psalms in the Psalter.

    I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).

    Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a “compendium of the Gospel”, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer's traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary's place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory.

The Joyful Mysteries       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    20. The first five decades, the “joyful mysteries”, are marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation. This is clear from the very first mystery, the Annunciation, where Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin of Nazareth is linked to an invitation to messianic joy: “Rejoice, Mary”. The whole of salvation history, in some sense the entire history of the world, has led up to this greeting. If it is the Father's plan to unite all things in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10), then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favour with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of his Son. The whole of humanity, in turn, is embraced by the fiat with which she readily agrees to the will of God.

    Exultation is the keynote of the encounter with Elizabeth, where the sound of Mary's voice and the presence of Christ in her womb cause John to “leap for joy” (cf. Lk 1:44). Gladness also fills the scene in Bethlehem, when the birth of the divine Child, the Saviour of the world, is announced by the song of the angels and proclaimed to the shepherds as “news of great joy” (Lk 2:10).

    The final two mysteries, while preserving this climate of joy, already point to the drama yet to come. The Presentation in the Temple not only expresses the joy of the Child's consecration and the ecstasy of the aged Simeon; it also records the prophecy that Christ will be a “sign of contradiction” for Israel and that a sword will pierce his mother's heart (cf Lk 2:34-35). Joy mixed with drama marks the fifth mystery, the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. Here he appears in his divine wisdom as he listens and raises questions, already in effect one who “teaches”. The revelation of his mystery as the Son wholly dedicated to his Father's affairs proclaims the radical nature of the Gospel, in which even the closest of human relationships are challenged by the absolute demands of the Kingdom. Mary and Joseph, fearful and anxious, “did not understand” his words (Lk 2:50).

    To meditate upon the “joyful” mysteries, then, is to enter into the ultimate causes and the deepest meaning of Christian joy. It is to focus on the realism of the mystery of the Incarnation and on the obscure foreshadowing of the mystery of the saving Passion. Mary leads us to discover the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is, first and foremost, euangelion, “good news”, which has as its heart and its whole content the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the one Saviour of the world.

The Mysteries of Light

    21. Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our

contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”.  Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12).  Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. In proposing to the Christian community five significant moments – “luminous” mysteries – during this phase of Christ's life, I think that the following can be fittingly singled out: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.

    Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus. The 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 (cf. 2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out. Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. 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. Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. 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 (cf. Jn 20:22-23). 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” (cf. 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. 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.

    In these mysteries, apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background. The Gospels make only the briefest reference to her occasional presence at one moment or other during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-5; Jn 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the “mysteries of light”.

The Sorrowful Mysteries       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    22. The Gospels give great prominence to the sorrowful mysteries of Christ. From the beginning Christian piety, especially during the Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross, has focused on the individual moments of the Passion, realizing that here is found the culmination of the revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation. The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. The sequence of meditations begins with Gethsemane, where Christ experiences a moment of great anguish before the will of the Father, against which the weakness of the flesh would be tempted to rebel. There Jesus encounters all the temptations and confronts all the sins of humanity, in order to say to the Father: “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42 and parallels). This “Yes” of Christ reverses the “No” of our first parents in the Garden of Eden. And the cost of this faithfulness to the Father's will is made clear in the following mysteries; by his scourging, his crowning with thorns, his carrying the Cross and his death on the Cross, the Lord is cast into the most abject suffering: Ecce homo! This abject suffering reveals not only the love of God but also the meaning of man himself.

    Ecce homo: the meaning, origin and fulfilment of man is to be found in Christ, the God who humbles himself out of love “even unto death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God's love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.

The Glorious Mysteries

    23. “The contemplation of Christ's face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!”29 The Rosary has always expressed this knowledge born of faith and invited the believer to pass beyond the darkness of the Passion in order to gaze upon Christ's glory in the Resurrection and Ascension. Contemplating the Risen One, Christians rediscover the reasons for their own faith (cf. 1Cor 15:14) and relive the joy not only of those to whom Christ appeared – the Apostles, Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – but also the joy of Mary, who must have had an equally intense experience of the new life of her glorified Son. In the Ascension, Christ was raised in glory to the right hand of the Father, while Mary herself would be raised to that same glory in the Assumption, enjoying beforehand, by a unique privilege, the destiny reserved for all the just at the resurrection of the dead. Crowned in glory – as she appears in the last glorious mystery – Mary shines forth as Queen of the Angels and Saints, the anticipation and the supreme realization of the eschatological state of the Church.

    At the centre of this unfolding sequence of the glory of the Son and the Mother, the Rosary sets before us the third glorious mystery, Pentecost, which reveals the face of the Church as a family gathered together with Mary, enlivened by the powerful outpouring of the Spirit and ready for the mission of evangelization. The contemplation of this scene, like that of the other glorious mysteries, ought to lead the faithful to an ever greater appreciation of their new life in Christ, lived in the heart of the Church, a life of which the scene of Pentecost itself is the great “icon”. The glorious mysteries thus lead the faithful to greater hope for the eschatological goal towards which they journey as members of the pilgrim People of God in history. This can only impel them to bear courageous witness to that “good news” which gives meaning to their entire existence.

From “mysteries” to the “Mystery”: Mary's way

    24. The cycles of meditation proposed by the Holy Rosary are by no means exhaustive, but they do bring to mind what is essential and they awaken in the soul a thirst for a knowledge of Christ continually nourished by the pure source of the Gospel. Every individual event in the life of Christ, as narrated by the Evangelists, is resplendent with the Mystery that surpasses all understanding (cf. Eph 3:19): the Mystery of the Word made flesh, in whom “all the fullness of God dwells bodily” (Col 2:9).  For this reason the Catechism of the Catholic Church places great emphasis on the mysteries of Christ, pointing out that “everything in the life of Jesus is a sign of his Mystery”.30 The “duc in altum” of the Church of the third millennium will be determined by the ability of Christians to enter into the “perfect knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-3). The Letter to the Ephesians makes this heartfelt prayer for all the baptized: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power... to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:17-19).

    The Rosary is at the service of this ideal; it offers the “secret” which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it Mary's way. It is the way of the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, a woman of faith, of silence, of attentive listening. It is also the way of a Marian devotion inspired by knowledge of the inseparable bond between Christ and his Blessed Mother: the mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him. By making our own the words of the Angel Gabriel and Saint Elizabeth contained in the Hail Mary, we find ourselves constantly drawn to seek out afresh in Mary, in her arms and in her heart, the “blessed fruit of her womb” (cf Lk 1:42).

Mystery of Christ, mystery of man       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    25. In my testimony of 1978 mentioned above, where I described the Rosary as my favourite prayer, I used an idea to which I would like to return. I said then that “the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life”.31

    In the light of what has been said so far on the mysteries of Christ, it is not difficult to go deeper into this anthropological significance of the Rosary, which is far deeper than may appear at first sight.  Anyone who contemplates Christ through the various stages of his life cannot fail to perceive in him the truth about man. This is the great affirmation of the Second Vatican Council which I have so often discussed in my own teaching since the Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis: “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man is seen in its true light”.32 The Rosary helps to open up the way to this light. Following in the path of Christ, in whom man's path is “recapitulated”,33 revealed and redeemed, believers come face to face with the image of the true man.

    Contemplating Christ's birth, they learn of the sanctity of life; seeing the household of Nazareth, they learn the original truth of the family according to God's plan; listening to the  Master in the mysteries of his public ministry, they find the light which leads them to enter the Kingdom of God; and following him on the way to Calvary, they learn the meaning of salvific suffering. Finally, contemplating Christ and his Blessed Mother in glory, they see the goal towards which each of us is called, if we allow ourselves to be healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. It could be said that each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man.

    At the same time, it becomes natural to bring to this encounter with the sacred humanity of the Redeemer all the problems, anxieties, labours and endeavours which go to make up our lives. “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Ps 55:23). To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. Twenty-five years later, thinking back over the difficulties which have also been part of my exercise of the Petrine ministry, I feel the need to say once more, as a warm invitation to everyone to experience it personally: the Rosary does indeed “mark the rhythm of human life”, bringing it into harmony with the “rhythm” of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing.   

      The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

CHAPTER III

“FOR ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST”

The Rosary, a way of assimilating the mystery

    26. Meditation on the mysteries of Christ is proposed in the Rosary by means of a method designed to assist in their assimilation. It is a method based on repetition. This applies above all to the Hail Mary, repeated ten times in each mystery. If this repetition is considered superficially, there could be a temptation to see the Rosary as a dry and boring exercise. It is quite another thing, however, when the Rosary is thought of as an outpouring of that love which tirelessly returns to the person loved with expressions similar in their content but ever fresh in terms of the feeling pervading them.

    In Christ, God has truly assumed a “heart of flesh”. Not only does God have a divine heart, rich in mercy and in forgiveness, but also a human heart, capable of all the stirrings of affection. If we needed evidence for this from the Gospel, we could easily find it in the touching dialogue between Christ and Peter after the Resurrection: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Three times this question is put to Peter, and three times he gives the reply: “Lord, you know that I love you” (cf. Jn 21:15-17).  Over and above the specific meaning of this passage, so important for Peter's mission, none can fail to recognize the beauty of this triple repetition, in which the insistent request and the corresponding reply are expressed in terms familiar from the universal experience of human love. To understand the Rosary, one has to enter into the psychological dynamic proper to love.

    One thing is clear: although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to be conformed ever more completely to Christ, the true programme of the Christian life.  Saint Paul expressed this project with words of fire: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). And again: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The Rosary helps us to be conformed ever more closely to Christ until we attain true holiness.

 A valid method...

    27. We should not be surprised that our relationship with Christ makes use of a method. God

communicates himself to us respecting our human nature and its vital rhythms. Hence, while Christian spirituality is familiar with the most sublime forms of mystical silence in which images, words and gestures are all, so to speak, superseded by an intense and ineffable union with God, it normally engages the whole person in all his complex psychological, physical and relational reality.

    This becomes apparent in the Liturgy. Sacraments and sacramentals are structured as a series of rites which bring into play all the dimensions of the person. The same applies to non-liturgical prayer.  This is confirmed by the fact that, in the East, the most characteristic prayer of Christological meditation, centred on the words “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”34 is traditionally linked to the rhythm of breathing; while this practice favours perseverance in the prayer, it also in some way embodies the desire for Christ to become the breath, the soul and the “all” of one's life.

... which can nevertheless be improved       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    28. I mentioned in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte that the West is now experiencing a renewed demand for meditation, which at times leads to a keen interest in aspects of other religions.35 Some Christians, limited in their knowledge of the Christian contemplative tradition, are attracted by those forms of prayer. While the latter contain many elements which are positive and at times compatible with Christian experience, they are often based on ultimately unacceptable premises. Much in vogue among these approaches are methods aimed at attaining a high level of spiritual concentration by using techniques of a psychophysical, repetitive and symbolic nature. The Rosary is situated within this broad gamut of religious phenomena, but it is distinguished by characteristics of its own which correspond to specifically Christian requirements.

    In effect, the Rosary is simply a method of contemplation. As a method, it serves as a means to an end and cannot become an end in itself. All the same, as the fruit of centuries of experience, this method should not be undervalued. In its favour one could cite the experience of countless Saints.  This is not to say, however, that the method cannot be improved. Such is the intent of the addition of the new series of mysteria lucis to the overall cycle of mysteries and of the few suggestions which I am proposing in this Letter regarding its manner of recitation. These suggestions, while respecting the well-established structure of this prayer, are intended to help the faithful to understand it in the richness of its symbolism and in harmony with the demands of daily life. Otherwise there is a risk that the Rosary would not only fail to produce the intended spiritual effects, but even that the beads, with which it is usually said, could come to be regarded as some kind of amulet or magic object, thereby radically distorting their meaning and function.

Announcing each mystery

    29. Announcing each mystery, and perhaps even using a suitable icon to portray it, is as it were to open up a scenario on which to focus our attention. The words direct the imagination and the mind towards a particular episode or moment in the life of Christ. In the Church's traditional spirituality, the veneration of icons and the many devotions appealing to the senses, as well as the method of prayer proposed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, make use of visual and imaginative elements (the compositio loci), judged to be of great help in concentrating the mind on the particular mystery. This is a methodology, moreover, which corresponds to the inner logic of the Incarnation: in Jesus, God wanted to take on human features. It is through his bodily reality that we are led into contact with the mystery of his divinity.

    This need for concreteness finds further expression in the announcement of the various mysteries of the Rosary. Obviously these mysteries neither replace the Gospel nor exhaust its content. The Rosary, therefore, is no substitute for lectio divina; on the contrary, it presupposes and promotes it.  Yet, even though the mysteries contemplated in the Rosary, even with the addition of the mysteria lucis, do no more than outline the fundamental elements of the life of Christ, they easily draw the mind to a more expansive reflection on the rest of the Gospel, especially when the Rosary is prayed in a setting of prolonged recollection.

Listening to the word of God

    30. In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken “for me”.

    If received in this way, the word of God can become part of the Rosary's methodology of repetition without giving rise to the ennui derived from the simple recollection of something already well known.  It is not a matter of recalling information but of allowing God to speak. In certain solemn communal celebrations, this word can be appropriately illustrated by a brief commentary.

Silence

    31. Listening and meditation are nourished by silence. After the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word, it is fitting to pause and focus one's attention for a suitable period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. A discovery of the importance of silence is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation. One drawback of a society dominated by technology and the mass media is the fact that silence becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Just as moments of silence are recommended in the Liturgy, so too in the recitation of the Rosary it is fitting to pause briefly after listening to the word of God, while the mind focuses on the content of a particular mystery.

The “Our Father”       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    32. After listening to the word and focusing on the mystery, it is natural for the mind to be lifted up towards the Father. In each of his mysteries, Jesus always leads us to the Father, for as he rests in the Father's bosom (cf. Jn 1:18) he is continually turned towards him. He wants us to share in his intimacy with the Father, so that we can say with him: “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). By virtue of his relationship to the Father he makes us brothers and sisters of himself and of one another, communicating to us the Spirit which is both his and the Father's. Acting as a kind of foundation for the Christological and Marian meditation which unfolds in the repetition of the Hail Mary, the Our Father makes meditation upon the mystery, even when carried out in solitude, an ecclesial experience.

The ten “Hail Marys”

    33. This is the most substantial element in the Rosary and also the one which makes it a Marian prayer par excellence. Yet when the Hail Mary is properly understood, we come to see clearly that its Marian character is not opposed to its Christological character, but that it actually emphasizes and increases it. The first part of the Hail Mary, drawn from the words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel and by Saint Elizabeth, is a contemplation in adoration of the mystery accomplished in the Virgin of Nazareth. These words express, so to speak, the wonder of heaven and earth; they could be said to give us a glimpse of God's own wonderment as he contemplates his “masterpiece” – the Incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary. If we recall how, in the Book of Genesis, God “saw all that he had made” (Gen 1:31), we can find here an echo of that “pathos with which God, at the dawn of creation, looked upon the work of his hands”.36  The repetition of the Hail Mary in the Rosary gives us a share in God's own wonder and pleasure: in jubilant amazement we acknowledge the greatest miracle of history. Mary's prophecy here finds its fulfilment: “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).

    The centre of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge as it were which joins its two parts, is the name of Jesus. Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this centre of gravity can be overlooked, and with it the connection to the mystery of Christ being contemplated. Yet it is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to his mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary.  Pope Paul VI drew attention, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, to the custom in certain regions of highlighting the name of Christ by the addition of a clause referring to the mystery being contemplated.37 This is a praiseworthy custom, especially during public recitation. It gives forceful expression to our faith in Christ, directed to the different moments of the Redeemer's life. It is at once a profession of faith and an aid in concentrating our meditation, since it facilitates the process of assimilation to the mystery of Christ inherent in the repetition of the Hail Mary. When we repeat the name of Jesus – the only name given to us by which we may hope for salvation (cf. Acts 4:12) – in close association with the name of his Blessed Mother, almost as if it were done at her suggestion, we set out on a path of assimilation meant to help us enter more deeply into the life of Christ.

    From Mary's uniquely privileged relationship with Christ, which makes her the Mother of God, Theotókos, derives the forcefulness of the appeal we make to her in the second half of the prayer, as we entrust to her maternal intercession our lives and the hour of our death.

The “Gloria”

    34. Trinitarian doxology is the goal of all Christian contemplation. For Christ is the way that leads us to the Father in the Spirit. If we travel this way to the end, we repeatedly encounter the mystery of the three divine Persons, to whom all praise, worship and thanksgiving are due. It is important that the Gloria, the high-point of contemplation, be given due prominence in the Rosary. In public recitation it could be sung, as a way of giving proper emphasis to the essentially Trinitarian structure of all Christian prayer.

    To the extent that meditation on the mystery is attentive and profound, and to the extent that it is enlivened – from one Hail Mary to another – by love for Christ and for Mary, the glorification of the Trinity at the end of each decade, far from being a perfunctory conclusion, takes on its proper contemplative tone, raising the mind as it were to the heights of heaven and enabling us in some way to relive the experience of Tabor, a foretaste of the contemplation yet to come: “It is good for us to be here!” (Lk 9:33).

The concluding short prayer

    35. In current practice, the Trinitarian doxology is followed by a brief concluding prayer which varies according to local custom. Without in any way diminishing the value of such invocations, it is worthwhile to note that the contemplation of the mysteries could better express their full spiritual fruitfulness if an effort were made to conclude each mystery with a prayer for the fruits specific to that particular mystery. In this way the Rosary would better express its connection with the Christian life. One fine liturgical prayer suggests as much, inviting us to pray that, by meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, we may come to “imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise”.38

    Such a final prayer could take on a legitimate variety of forms, as indeed it already does. In this way the Rosary can be better adapted to different spiritual traditions and different Christian communities.  It is to be hoped, then, that appropriate formulas will be widely circulated, after due pastoral discernment and possibly after experimental use in centres and shrines particularly devoted to the Rosary, so that the People of God may benefit from an abundance of authentic spiritual riches and find nourishment for their personal contemplation.

The Rosary beads        The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    36. The traditional aid used for the recitation of the Rosary is the set of beads. At the most superficial level, the beads often become a simple counting mechanism to mark the succession of Hail Marys.  Yet they can also take on a symbolism which can give added depth to contemplation.  Here the first thing to note is the way the beads converge upon the Crucifix, which both opens and closes the unfolding sequence of prayer. The life and prayer of believers is centred upon Christ.  Everything begins from him, everything leads towards him, everything, through him, in the Holy Spirit, attains to the Father.

    As a counting mechanism, marking the progress of the prayer, the beads evoke the unending path of contemplation and of Christian perfection. Blessed Bartolo Longo saw them also as a “chain” which links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A “filial” chain which puts us in tune with Mary, the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, made himself a “servant” out of love for us (Phil 2:7).

    A fine way to expand the symbolism of the beads is to let them remind us of our many relationships, of the bond of communion and fraternity which unites us all in Christ.

The opening and closing

    37.At present, in different parts of the Church, there are many ways to introduce the Rosary. In some places, it is customary to begin with the opening words of Psalm 70: “O God, come to my aid; O Lord, make haste to help me”, as if to nourish in those who are praying a humble awareness of their own insufficiency. In other places, the Rosary begins with the recitation of the Creed, as if to make the profession of faith the basis of the contemplative journey about to be undertaken. These and similar customs, to the extent that they prepare the mind for contemplation, are all equally legitimate.  The Rosary is then ended with a prayer for the intentions of the Pope, as if to expand the vision of the one praying to embrace all the needs of the Church. It is precisely in order to encourage this ecclesial dimension of the Rosary that the Church has seen fit to grant indulgences to those who recite it with the required dispositions.

    If prayed in this way, the Rosary truly becomes a spiritual itinerary in which Mary acts as Mother, Teacher and Guide, sustaining the faithful by her powerful intercession. Is it any wonder, then, that the soul feels the need, after saying this prayer and experiencing so profoundly the motherhood of Mary, to burst forth in praise of the Blessed Virgin, either in that splendid prayer the Salve Regina or in the Litany of Loreto? This is the crowning moment of an inner journey which has brought the faithful into living contact with the mystery of Christ and his Blessed Mother.

Distribution over time

    38. The Rosary can be recited in full every day, and there are those who most laudably do so. In this way it fills with prayer the days of many a contemplative, or keeps company with the sick and the elderly who have abundant time at their disposal. Yet it is clear – and this applies all the more if the new series of mysteria lucis is included – that many people will not be able to recite more than a part of the Rosary, according to a certain weekly pattern. This weekly distribution has the effect of giving the different days of the week a certain spiritual “colour”, by analogy with the way in which the Liturgy colours the different seasons of the liturgical year.

    According to current practice, Monday and Thursday are dedicated to the “joyful mysteries”, Tuesday and Friday to the “sorrowful mysteries”, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to  the “glorious mysteries”. Where might the “mysteries of light” be inserted? If we consider that the “glorious mysteries” are said on both Saturday and Sunday, and that Saturday has always had a special Marian flavour, the second weekly meditation on the “joyful mysteries”, mysteries in which Mary's presence is especially pronounced, could be moved to Saturday. Thursday would then be free for meditating on the “mysteries of light”.

    This indication is not intended to limit a rightful freedom in personal and community prayer, where account needs to be taken of spiritual and pastoral needs and of the occurrence of particular liturgical celebrations which might call for suitable adaptations. What is really important is that the Rosary should always be seen and experienced as a path of contemplation. In the Rosary, in a way similar to what takes place in the Liturgy, the Christian week, centred on Sunday, the day of Resurrection, becomes a journey through the mysteries of the life of Christ, and he is revealed in the lives of his disciples as the Lord of time and of history.

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CONCLUSION

“Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain linking us to God”

    39. What has been said so far makes abundantly clear the richness of this traditional prayer, which has the simplicity of a popular devotion but also the theological depth of a prayer suited to those who feel the need for deeper contemplation.

    The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to its choral recitation and to its constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.

    Today I willingly entrust to the power of this prayer – as I mentioned at the beginning – the cause of peace in the world and the cause of the family.

Peace

    40. The grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new Millennium lead us to think that only an intervention from on high, capable of guiding the hearts of those living in situations of conflict and those governing the destinies of nations, can give reason to hope for a brighter future.

    The Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of Christ, the Prince of Peace, the one who is “our peace” (Eph 2:14). Anyone who assimilates the mystery of Christ – and this is clearly the goal of the Rosary – learns the secret of peace and makes it his life's project. Moreover, by virtue of its meditative character, with the tranquil succession of Hail Mary’s, the Rosary has a peaceful effect on those who pray it, disposing them to receive and experience in their innermost depths, and to spread around them, that true peace which is the special gift of the Risen Lord (cf. Jn 14:27; 20.21).

    The Rosary is also a prayer for peace because of the fruits of charity which it produces. When prayed well in a truly meditative way, the Rosary leads to an encounter with Christ in his mysteries and so cannot fail to draw attention to the face of Christ in others, especially in the most afflicted.  How could one possibly contemplate the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem, in the joyful mysteries, without experiencing the desire to welcome, defend and promote life, and to shoulder the burdens of suffering children all over the world? How could one possibly follow in the footsteps of Christ the Revealer, in the mysteries of light, without resolving to bear witness to his “Beatitudes” in daily life?  And how could one contemplate Christ carrying the Cross and Christ Crucified, without feeling the need to act as a “Simon of Cyrene” for our brothers and sisters weighed down by grief or crushed by despair? Finally, how could one possibly gaze upon the glory of the Risen Christ or of Mary Queen of Heaven, without yearning to make this world more beautiful, more just, more closely conformed to God's plan?

    In a word, by focusing our eyes on Christ, the Rosary also makes us peacemakers in the world. By its nature as an insistent choral petition in harmony with Christ's invitation to “pray ceaselessly” (Lk 18:1), the Rosary allows us to hope that, even today, the difficult “battle” for peace can be won. Far from offering an escape from the problems of the world, the Rosary obliges us to see them with responsible and generous eyes, and obtains for us the strength to face them with the certainty of God's help and the firm intention of bearing witness in every situation to “love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14).

The family: parents...

    41. As a prayer for peace, the Rosary is also, and always has been, a prayer of and for the family.  At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the Rosary.

    In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I encouraged the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours by the lay faithful in the ordinary life of parish communities and Christian groups;39 I now wish to do the same for the Rosary. These two paths of Christian contemplation are not mutually exclusive; they complement one another. I would therefore ask those who devote themselves to the pastoral care of families to recommend heartily the recitation of the Rosary.

    The family that prays together stays together. The Holy Rosary, by age-old tradition, has shown itself particularly effective as a prayer which brings the family together. Individual family members, in turning their eyes towards Jesus, also regain the ability to look one another in the eye, to communicate, to show solidarity, to forgive one another and to see their covenant of love renewed in the Spirit of God.

    Many of the problems facing contemporary families, especially in economically developed societies, result from their increasing difficulty in communicating. Families seldom manage to come together, and the rare occasions when they do are often taken up with watching television. To return to the recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images, images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the centre, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on.

... and children       The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

    42. It is also beautiful and fruitful to entrust to this prayer the growth and development of children.  Does the Rosary not follow the life of Christ, from his conception to his death, and then to his Resurrection and his glory? Parents are finding it ever more difficult to follow the lives of their children as they grow to maturity. In a society of advanced technology, of mass communications and globalization, everything has become hurried, and the cultural distance between generations is growing ever greater. The most diverse messages and the most unpredictable experiences rapidly make their way into the lives of children and adolescents, and parents can become quite anxious about the dangers their children face. At times parents suffer acute disappointment at the failure of their children to resist the seductions of the drug culture, the lure of an unbridled hedonism, the temptation to violence, and the manifold expressions of meaninglessness and despair.

    To pray the Rosary for children, and even more, with children, training them from their earliest years to experience this daily “pause for prayer” with the family, is admittedly not the solution to every problem, but it is a spiritual aid which should not be underestimated. It could be objected that the Rosary seems hardly suited to the taste of children and young people of today. But perhaps the objection is directed to an impoverished method of praying it. Furthermore, without prejudice to the Rosary's basic structure, there is nothing to stop children and young people from praying it – either within the family or in groups – with appropriate symbolic and practical aids to understanding and appreciation. Why not try it? With God's help, a pastoral approach to youth which is positive, impassioned and creative – as shown by the World Youth Days! – is capable of achieving quite remarkable results. If the Rosary is well presented, I am sure that young people will once more surprise adults by the way they make this prayer their own and recite it with the enthusiasm typical of their age group.

The Rosary, a treasure to be rediscovered

    43. Dear brothers and sisters! A prayer so easy and yet so rich truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian community. Let us do so, especially this year, as a means of confirming the direction outlined in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, from which the pastoral plans of so many particular Churches have drawn inspiration as they look to the immediate future.

    I turn particularly to you, my dear Brother Bishops, priests and deacons, and to you, pastoral agents in your different ministries: through your own personal experience of the beauty of the Rosary, may you come to promote it with conviction.

    I also place my trust in you, theologians: by your sage and rigorous reflection, rooted in the word of God and sensitive to the lived experience of the Christian people, may you help them to discover the Biblical foundations, the spiritual riches and the pastoral value of this traditional prayer.

    I count on you, consecrated men and women, called in a particular way to contemplate the face of Christ at the school of Mary.

    I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian families, to you, the sick and elderly, and to you, young people: confidently take up the Rosary once again. Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives.

    May this appeal of mine not go unheard! At the start of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate, I entrust this Apostolic Letter to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary, prostrating myself in spirit before her image in the splendid Shrine built for her by Blessed Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary. I willingly make my own the touching words with which he concluded his well-known Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary: “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompei, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven”.

From the Vatican, on the 16th day of October in the year 2002, the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate.

JOHN PAUL II

      The Mysteries of the Rosary - back to the beginning    Top of page

1 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 45.
2 Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus (2 February 1974), 42: AAS 66 (1974), 153.
3 Cf. Acta Leonis XIII, 3 (1884), 280-289.
4 Particularly worthy of note is his Apostolic Epistle on the Rosary Il religioso convegno (29 September 1961): AAS 53 (1961), 641-647.
5 Angelus: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, I (1978): 75-76.
6 AAS 93 (2001), 285.
7 During the years of preparation for the Council, Pope John XXIII did not fail to encourage the Christian community to recite the Rosary for the success of this ecclesial event: cf. Letter to the Cardinal Vicar (28 September 1960): AAS 52 (1960), 814-816.
8 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 66.
9 No. 32: AAS 93 (2001), 288.
10 Ibid., 33: loc. cit., 289.
11 It is well-known and bears repeating that private revelations are not the same as public revelation, which is binding on the whole Church. It is the task of the Magisterium to discern and recognize the authenticity and value of private revelations for the piety of the faithful.
12 The Secret of the Rosary.
13 Blessed Bartolo Longo, Storia del Santuario di Pompei, Pompei, 1990, 59.
14 Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus (2 February 1974), 47: AAS (1974), 156.
15 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10.
16 Ibid., 12.
17 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 58.
18 I Quindici Sabati del Santissimo Rosario, 27th ed., Pompei, 1916, 27.
19 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 53.
20 Ibid., 60.
21 Cf. First Radio Address Urbi et Orbi (17 October 1978): AAS 70 (1978), 927.
22 Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
23 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2679.
24 Ibid., 2675.
25 The Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary was composed by Blessed Bartolo Longo in 1883 in response to the appeal of Pope Leo XIII, made in his first Encyclical on the Rosary, for the spiritual commitment of all Catholics in combating social ills. It is solemnly recited twice yearly, in May and October.
26 Divina Commedia, Paradiso XXXIII, 13-15.
27 John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001), 20: AAS 93 (2001), 279.
28 Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus (2 February 1974), 46: AAS 6 (1974), 155.
29 John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001), 28: AAS 93 (2001), 284.
30 No. 515.
31 Angelus Message of 29 October 1978 : Insegnamenti, I (1978), 76.
32 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
Gaudium et Spes, 22.
33 Cf. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus Haereses, III, 18, 1: PG 7, 932.
34 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2616.
35 Cf. No. 33: AAS 93 (2001), 289.
36 John Paul II, Letter to Artists (4 April 1999), 1: AAS 91 (1999), 1155.
37 Cf. No. 46: AAS 66 (1974), 155. This custom has also been recently praised by the Congregation for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments in its Direttorio
su pietà popolare e liturgia. Principi e orientamenti (17 December 2001), 201, Vatican City, 2002, 165.
38 “...concede, quaesumus, ut haec mysteria sacratissimo beatae Mariae Virginis Rosario
recolentes, et imitemur quod continent, et quod promittunt assequamur”.
Missale Romanum 1960, in festo B.M. Virginis a Rosario.
39 Cf. No. 34: AAS 93 (2001), 290.

Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana
 

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How to pray the Rosary? From the Vatican website.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
O God come to my aid;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

At the beginning of each decade, announce the "mystery" to be contemplated, for example, the first joyful mystery is "The Annunciation".

After a short pause for reflection, recite the "Our Father", ten "Hail Marys" and the "Glory be to the Father".

An invocation may be added after each decade.

At the end of the Rosary, the Loreto Litany or some other Marian prayer is recited.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen..

The Loreto Litanies

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy; hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

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How can I deliberately answer Jesus' call to follow Him?  Basics - Progress - Perfection

BASICS - living fully         Jesus said "9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:9-11 (English Standard Version)     Jesus is our Master Teacher, Saviour, and Lord. We have much to learn from following Him.

To live is to connect with life - with God - with my own life - with others - with living things - with the world of men (humans) - with Creation, the Universe

Connecting with...

life - Simply put, God created us, me, as an immortal spirit being, soul, enfleshed in a mortal human body. So my body with all of its        
        faculties is my interface with life - life happening within me and life happening outside and all around me. My fundamental connection with life is in me,  
        in my body, and every day and at every moment, there is before me the freedom to choose to enter into that life, to welcome it, to nurture and cultivate
        it, to care for it, to watch it grow and develop, and to share it through my other connections.

       
In Jesus we have from God an example of a human being fully alive, gratefully welcoming his own life, freely entering into it, carefully cultivating it, with openness willing to receive from others and everything around Him and to learn, energetically participating in his own life, and generously sharing his life with others through his other connections. Much of Jesus' teaching and many of his parables were about doing this, living fully and participating fully in all of life, in all its aspects and all of its seasons, in all conditions and situations, never turning our back on life, but accepting to go through whatever life brings and to be changed by whatever happens to us.

Jesus taught all those willing to listen. This is what he said according to Matthew 5:1-12:

5 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 
        2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
        3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
        4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
        5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
        6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
        7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
        8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
        9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
    10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

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God



 

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my own life



 

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others



 

COLF - Catholic Organization for Family and Life

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living things



 

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the world of men (humans)



 

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Creation, the Universe








 

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PROGRESS - setting out with Jesus

        Begin and end the day well

        On opening my eyes first thing in the morning, I learn to immediately become aware of God's presence in me and all around me. What follows is  lively and dynamic and is ever different and new, but has as a basic direction gratitude at being alive and having slept and rested. As gratitude moves in me and lifts up my spirit towards God, my focus shifts away from me to God, to the 3 divine Persons, now to the Father, or to Jesus his Son, or to the Holy Spirit.... I may become aware of Mary's presence near them, of Joseph and other saints, and quietly, simply greet them....
        This spiritual discipline, practice, or skill is about not just waking up in body, but also in mind, heart, and soul to the most real reality there is in the universe: God the Blessed Trinity of Persons, before whom nothing existed and for whom all has been created. To begin each day this way is to anchor myself in the depths of reality and open myself to the guidance of God into the rest of my day and all day long, and eventually, into eternity itself. In this way I let God make me strong in Him and set me as a strong pillar in the face of all that life, my own living organism, my family, the world, others, work, my responsibilities, society, and the devil and his cohorts can throw at me.

        Getting out of bed and responding to essential body functions, I pick up again on God's presence and go to my prayer chair or corner and enter into my first formal prayer of the day, using the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Book of Psalms in the Bible, the Book of God's inspired Word also called the Sacred Scriptures, or the Mysteries of the Rosary, or the readings of the Mass of the day, or any other version of the Word of God. It is essential that before I feed my body I go to God our Father so He can nourish my mind, heart, and soul with his Word, his Beloved Son, who alone brings us the Father's mind, heart, and will in the form of God's Word.

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        Begin and end the week well

        God gave his Chosen People, the Jewish People, the people of Israel and Judah, the gift of his own Day of Rest, the seventh day known as the Sabbath. Jesus gave his disciples a new day for the new life He won for us by his passion, death, and resurrection - what was for the Jews the first working day of the week - Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, no longer remained the first day of the week but was transformed into the eighth day, Sunday, the Lord's Day, the Day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church, the day Christians gather together for Liturgy to worship the Lord.
        This is the origin of what we have come to call the weekend, a combination of those two days of rest, which for a time in the West gave families a long period of two days to worship the Lord and be together as a family, leaving aside the worries of work and of the world and focusing on the experience of wonder and awe before God and gratitude for his bountiful gifts of life.
        The world ignores the value and importance of rest on the Lord's Day, and does all it can to steal our peace and joy from us in exchange for the illusion of endless acquisition and consumption of material things. It is an essential skill and strength of each Christian to resist the trends of society, culture, governments, organizations, and individuals and observe the Lord's Day. There is an inner logic and dynamism in God's prescription that we rest that brings together the members of a family in cooperation to accomplish together a Christian Sabbath Rest and allows them to reveal themselves to each other and support one another, growing and deepening the intimacy of their mutual relations and love.
        The Sunday Liturgy is the visible gathering of the members of the Body of Christ, and the time and place when the Lord continues to walk among them, speak to them, feed them with his Body and Blood, and send them out into the world to continue his mission to bring the Good News from his Father to the ends of the Earth and continue making disciples of Jesus. The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the life of every Christian and of the whole Church united to Christ as the Head of his Body and his Bride.

        Care for the self on my own turf & time

        The most satisfying way for men and women to care for themselves is to do it in a way that doesn't impose on others. There is a formation center in Montreal that specializes in forming people to greater autonomy and learning how to help others to develop their own greater autonomy. It is normal for children to be an imposition on their parents because they are still dependent on them. Once they begin to grow up and become youth, the go from depending on their parents to relying on themselves to care for their own life and health. One thing that distinguishes adults from youth is their awareness, ability, and willingness to do what they need to care for themselves on their own time and in their own space as much as possible.

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        Make room, time, & energy for others

                Love - family, co-workers, friends, neighbours.... Pope John Paul II wrote a remarkable letter on the Christian Family in the Modern World, in which he reflected on the wonder of God's plan for humanity rooted firmly in his blessing on human marriage and the human family, and the added depth and blessing He offers to Christians as they respond to his call to found their marriage and family life on the example of Jesus and look to the gift of himself for their personal, couple, and family sustenance.

                Duties - God created man in order to participate in his own divine work of creation - see On Human Labor by John Paul II. Good Pope John XXIII updated Pope Leo XIII's reflection on the situation of human life, labor, and social conditions at the end of the 19th century with a reflection of his own past the halfway point of the 20th century in an encyclical offering the contemporary world the Roman Catholic Church as Mother and Teacher of the nations.  Two years later, he further studied various issues affecting people in the workplace and family life issuing from developments in science and technology and changes in thought and beliefs leading to new trends in the workplace and new challenges to Peace on Earth and in families. Pope John Paul II wrote his own update on these social issues for our time twenty years after Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the Development of Peoples.

                Suffering - If Adam and Eve3 had remained in harmony with God, obedient to his will, and docile to his Spirit, there would still have been death in the world, but it would have been a much awaited joyful deliverance from this mortal life and entry into eternity. There would also have been the efforts of labor, the satisfaction of rest, and the suffering inherent in mortal existence, but the pain of it would have been incredibly attenuated by the close relationship with God. As it is, humanity was subjected to such hopelessness and despair in the face of illness, pain, all manner of suffering, sin, and death exacerbated by separation from God; that in his great mercy the Father sent his Son to Earth as Jesus to lead us out of the morass of despair through the thickets of confusion due to the effects of original sin and the dangers lurking in temptation by the devil. Jesus has by his acceptance to share in our suffering given new meaning to human suffering and new impetus to our willingness to endure it in order to press on to our eternal destiny.

       

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Embracing my solitude

        There is inscribed in our human nature itself an essential solitude by virtue of the fact that no matter how close we get to others emotionally, personally, intellectually, or physically, we remain isolated individuals. No one except God - not even angels or demons - can enter into me and know exactly what it is like for me to be me the way I know it deep within; nor can I enter into another to see what it is like to be them on the inside, the way they alone and God can know that it is like to be them.
        We are called, as we enter into midlife, to embrace our essential solitude - not as a curse or burden but as a blessing - and discover that our own life has been given such value by God that we can actually come to enjoy our own company. Only after I have thus embraced my solitude can I enter more deeply into my soul, that spiritual place within where God has chosen to dwell in us, and there learn to distinguish God's voice speaking to me, whispering to me, in the gentle, quiet breeze of the Holy Spirit. The skills and disciplines that serve the Christian well in this work are such practices as: solitude, stillness, silence, and prayerfully visiting with God - the Blessed Trinity - the three divine Persons who are ever present everywhere and in everyone.
        For this reason, Jesus urged his disciples to enter into their secret room where no one but God our Father can see us and keep Him company there. 
"
5 'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. 6 But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 7 'In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. 8 Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 So you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us. 13 And do not put us to the test, but save us from the Evil One.'"

       

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Facing & accepting the truth - about God, others, the world, and myself....

        One of the reasons it is so important for us to observe life within us and around us and learn all we can from the world around us, from all that God has created in the universe and on Earth, is because of the struggle between good and evil in which we find ourselves embroiled from the moment of our conception; though we only become aware of it with our coming to the age of reason. Moral questions and the search for the truth are among the most important we face because of the dramatic and far reaching consequences usually involved. One of the chief values at stake is the very value, meaning, and purpose of our human life itself. Another key is the relationship between faith and reason and God's call to humanity to allow the light of faith shining from this revelation of the truth to shine and enlighten our observation of reality and our quest for meaning in the questions we raise or that life puts to us.
        The hardest truths to discover and accept are those about oneself, and in particular that I am a sinner. It's easy enough to notice the faults of others and to be convinced of their sinfulness, but it's quite another matter and a challenge of a deeper sort to notice and admit my own sinfulness. It is not for nothing that the first words Jesus ever spoke in public were about turning away from sin in order to become open to the good news of a new life He brought from his Father. Forgiving sins was so central to Jesus' message and ministry - far more important than all the miracles and healings He worked - that He really gave his authority to forgive sins to his Apostles and their successors. We Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians still practice this mysterious graced encounter with Jesus as the One sent by God to forgive sins, and call this mysterious encounter with God the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

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        Discipleship





       

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Stewardship





 

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Vocation






 

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PERFECTION - striving for holiness        Jesus said "43 'You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy. 44 But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? 47 And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? 48 Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'"  Matthew 5:43-48

        Attachment to God



        At the service of all



        As Jesus did Himself

 

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1.  I want to grow closer to God or stronger in faith or deeper in love - where do I begin or go from here?
1. This kind of desire is already.... Check it out...

2.  I can't take courses right now or maybe ever - does that mean I can't know God, understand the Bible, or become a saint?
2. You've gotten this far... here's a mini course you that can bring you further...  

3.  I've tried Sunday Mass, the Bible, the Rosary, and all kinds of prayers - but how can I really connect with God and know He is real?
3. There are many windows, doors, or paths you have already experienced that...  

4.  I used to get a lot out of going to Mass, or reading the Bible, or praying the Rosary, or saying other prayers, but now I get bored or distracted - what do I do now?
4.1. Would you believe that the antidote to boredom is actually...      
4.2. Distractions are not really a failure to pray...  
4.3. What's happening to you is no dead end but in fact...  

5.  Why isn't it enough for me as a Christian to be free as the wind - is discipline really necessary? Why does it always seem to crush enthusiasm?
5. Jesus came to inspire, not perspire; besides, the only discipline effective long term is rooted in an intention, motivation that lifts me out of myself toward God, the One who has given me the gifts I have and who moment by moment gives me the breath of life so that I may live fully and become willing and able to generously give back to Him.  

6.  So I'm beginning to think about the tools I need to have lots of vitality in my Christian life - can I carry everything I need without my tool kit becoming too heavy?
6. The Catholic Christian, in order to effectively follow Jesus as his disciple and live the new life given by Jesus, needs and will want to carry a few essential tools, most of them are part of a heritage given by God first to his Chosen People of the Jewish faith and increased by all that Jesus gave us and the ways in which holy men and women have learned to use these tools to enter ever more deeply into an experience of oneness with God in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. 

ADD YOUR OWN QUESTION - CLICK HERE, WRITE AND SEND IT TO US AND WE'LL POST IT.

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Other Resources. Top of page


ABC's of the Disciple
Abstinence - Adoration - Angels - Anointing of the Sick - Baptism - Beatitudes - Beginning the day well - Belonging - Bible - Blessed Trinity - Catholic Christian Tool Kit - Celibacy - Chastity - Childhood - Commandments - Communion - Community - Confession - Confirmation - Contemplation - Conscience - Conversion - Correspondence - Couple Prayer - Crucifix - Daily Mass - Dark Night - Deaconate - Desire - Discipleship - Discipline - Duty of the moment - Ending the day well - Entertainment - Episcopacy - Evangelization - Exercise - Faith - Family Life - Family Prayer - Fasting - Father - Fatherhood - Femininity - Fertility - Food for the Christian - Food for the Journey - Forgiveness - Freedom - Friendship - Fruits of the Spirit - Fun - Generosity - Gifts of the Spirit - Good News - Healing - Holy Spirit - Home Schooling - Hope - Home Blessing - Icons - Jesus - Journaling - Leisure - Liturgy of the Hours - Loneliness - Lord's Day - Love - Charity - Manhood - Manliness - Mary - Matrimony - Meaning - Meditation - Motherhood - Mysteries of the Rosary - Novenas - Occupational prayer - Parenting - Play - Penance - Pilgrimage - Practicing the Presence of God - Praise - Prayer - Presence - Priesthood - Proverbs - Psalms - Purpose - Reading - Reconciliation - Repentance - Retreats - Rule of Life - Sabbath rhythm - Serenity - Service - Sexuality - Solitude - Spirituality - Stewardship - Study - Sunday Liturgy - Temptation - Vocation - Way of the Cross - Wellness - Will - Witness  - Word of God - Womanhood - Work
 

A CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN'S TOOL KIT - WHAT IS IT?  - WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

What exactly is a took kit for a Catholic Christian? 

What is Christian discipleship anyway?

Praying with God's inspired Psalm prayers in the Bible: e.g.
Psalm 112 – “The happiness of the just man”

The disciples followed Jesus and learned from watching Him. We too learn from others, freely adopt and make our own a Christian rule of life.
 
personal traditions, Rosary, solitude & communion, ending and beginning the day well, stewardship of time, Liturgy of the Hours, Scripture, stewardship of treasure, stewardship of talent, the current stage of my life

DESIRE

1.  This kind of desire is already God's gift and a sign of the Holy Spirit working in you. See what St. Augustine wrote to Proba.

DISCIPLINE
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5. Check out these books by Fr. Thomas Ryan, C.S.P., a Paulist Father who was 22 years in Montreal and has returned to the USA to do ecumenical work with Christians from other traditions – Wellness, Spirituality, & Sports: wellness, spirituality, leisure, learning to recognize soul food, fighting the demons of the night, a survival guide

Ryan – Disciplines for Christian Living: discipline, friendship & family life, living with a Sabbath rhythm, exercise & play, prayerful presence, fasting, service, vision of Christian faith.

DUTY OF THE MOMENT

4.3.  The "duty of the moment" - the great commandment of charity - love of God, of neighbour, and of self

FOOD FOR THE CHRISTIAN

2.  Our life as a Christian needs food too....
The Christian's four spiritual food groups
                   

Adventus - New Site of Catholic Internet Resources to empower people to live their baptismal call

OCCUPATIONAL PRAYER Top of page

4.2. 

PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD - ANTIDOTE TO BOREDOM

4.1.  The truth about God, the 3 divine Persons revealed for all time to humanity by Jesus of Nazareth called the Christ, the Lord, is that these 3 divine Persons who together are the one and only divine being we call God are ever present. The only place in the universe, in all of creation, where they can be absent is in the human soul when this individual soul turns away from God and delves into sin, any one of the myriad forms of evil made up by a refusal of the divine will, a denial of love and its demands, or any thought, word, act, or behaviour that is evil, an offence against God or others or the goodness of creation or of life itself. The most common forms of serious sin are various forms of selfishness that use other people as objects in such a way as to deny and denigrate the other person's essential goodness and dignity created by God, which simultaneously debased the sinner and estranges the sinner from the peace and blissful communion of God's love.

It is therefore possible and most desirable for every human being to make deliberate efforts often to enter consciously into this ever presence of God so as to be enlightened by God in all the shadows of darkness that creep into the human mind, heart, soul, and flesh, and so dispel temptations to turn away from God and misuse any of his wonderful and bountiful gifts or exploit them in such a way as to deprive access to them by others, and especially those with less means by virtue of their situation in the world, personal and family conditions, temperament, or dispositions.

ANTIDOTE TO BOREDOM - Taking interest as opposed to being bored – recognizing it’s up to me rather than waiting for someone else to make it happen, drawing on my inner freedom rather that staying trapped in the impulse to escape the present and run after anything else, freely and deliberately spending/wasting time to take interest in someone, something, in God, receiving the words, gestures, visuals, sounds, smells and rituals of the Eucharist and every other Liturgy as so many containers or prisms into which I can pour out all my thoughts, feelings, desires, fears, and experiences – my whole self – and let the Holy Spirit draw me to Jesus and the Father


SPIRITUALITY

3.  Do you remember the "Karate Kid" movie? The master has the boy doing manual labor in order to learn certain moves and strengthen those muscles even though the boy is fed up and wants to get into the real karate stuff. He couldn't yet understand the importance of developing the skills needed in order to enter into the discipline of karate. So too with the Catholic Christian faith. Now that you have been initiated to the Mass, the Bible, the Rosary, and other forms of prayer, you are ready to become more familiar with them and develop those muscles. The next step will be to go deeper, higher, faster, more directly into the mystery of God.

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Understanding the stage upon which my life unfolds or shrinks - where and to whom do I belong?

Who are we?  What is our journey?  What is our quest?  Who and where am I in it all?

The divine internet - getting and remaining really connected to everyone and everything












Christian stewardship of God's gifts of - time - life - created things

A decision daily and constantly renewed - giving oneself a Christian Rule of Life

The perennial place to start - ending and beginning the day well

Even when in solitude, I am not alone... even when assembled with others in Jesus, I am not lost....

Drawing daily from the Word of God in the Sacred Jewish and Christian Scriptures, the Bible

Daily Prayer - the Liturgy of the Hours

Daily Meditation - the Mysteries of the Rosary

 

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© 2006-2017 All rights reserved by Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Roman Catholic priest, Family Life Chaplain, Office for English Pastoral Services, Montreal,  Québec, Canada
© 2006-2017 Tous droits réservés à l'Abbé Gilles Surprenant, prêtre catholique Romain, Family Life Chaplain, OEPS, Montreal, Québec, Canada
 

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