I ran into a friend in the hardware store yesterday. She was in the paint section, looking to match some paint to refresh some of her rooms. I was also in the paint section, hoping to find some clean, pretty colors to replace our wallpaper. I hate wallpaper. Anyway, Susan is the mother of my daughter’s best friend, and I hadn’t seen her since last summer. We had so much to talk about! Right then and there, between samples of Harvest gold and Limoncello yellow we caught up as best we could, chatting about our daughters- their year so far in college, their stressors, their concerns. And then we turned to discuss our other children. When I got to my adult son who is living far away from my husband and me (on the opposite side of the country, in fact), Susan said something that jolted me in a good way. As I described to her my pain of my son leaving the nest and working so far from us she interjected,
“That’s the Ascension.”
“What?” I asked
“That’s the Ascension. You’re going through what Mary went through at the Ascension.”
She was referring to the event and the second Glorious Mystery of the rosary.
Hmmmm. I guessed so. Pain of separation. He was doing his work far from me. I always thought of the Ascension from the ‘significance to the faithful’ point of view- Jesus’ work was done and He was returning to Heaven. Susan made me think of the event from his mother’s perspective. Interesting.
As we continued to talk I mentioned another event in my life. She slid in with “Oh! The Visitation”
Yes, I suppose. I was experiencing something similar to Mary in that moment too. As our conversation continued, Susan continued to point out parallels in my life to certain mysteries of the rosary. It was combination of comforting and feeling déjà vu. I liked it.
And that’s what I realized what Susan had known all along- that the rosary mysteries could not only be meditations on the great events of Jesus’ life in terms of their significance to mankind in general, but they could be peeks into the mysteries of our personal lives as well. They were opportunities to relate to Him in a more personal way. As Catholics we are to unite our sufferings to Jesus on the cross to see their redemptive power. Our joys can also more fully unite us to God as we ponder their significance in our lives- what God might be trying to say to us in each mystery event, in each moment that we experience something similar, if even in a small way.
The “Agony in the Garden” in the Sorrowful Mysteries, for example, not only reminds us of the torturous suffering that Jesus went through in anticipation of his brutal death but we can possibly more fully understand, relate to and maybe accept with resignation and offer up the anticipation of some dreaded event in our lives when we pray and ponder this mystery. A student might be dreading a test. A father might be dreading a presentation or separation from the family. A mother might be dreading a medical procedure or even the simple challenges of a particular day. By meditating upon Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s will (In the Agony in the Garden he prayed, “Not mine but Your Will be done”) we can perhaps gain the courage to face our own cross, our own suffering, and approach it in the best way possible.
In pondering the Luminous Mystery Institution of the Eucharist we might come to a better understanding of and appreciation for the Holy Eucharist and what a gift it is to us. Maybe that thought will get us to daily Mass or at least to approach with a more appreciative and open heart the next Sunday that we go.
In short, I realized what my friend Susan must have known a long time- that applying the mysteries of the rosary to my daily life is a way to make it a living prayer- something that can be prayed almost constantly daily. I appreciate this insight from Susan, my “big sister in Christ”, and continue to be amazed how God uses little events and ordinary friends to teach us great things about Himself.
The Joyful Mysteries
Mystery: The Annunciation
Meaning: (The Angel Gabriel comes to Mary and asks her to become the mother of Jesus. She says ‘yes’)
To Think About: Mary’s ‘fiat’ changed the course of human history. Her unreserved ‘yes’ demonstrated complete trust in God and adherence to His will. What am I being asked to say ‘yes’ to today? How can I mirror Mary’s openness to God’s will in my own life this very moment? What was Mary doing when the Angel came to her? Daily chores? What did she look like? What was her demeanor? Did she hum? Was she exasperated? Or did she do simple tasks with patience and love? How can I emulate Mary’s open spirit today?
Mystery: The Visitation
Meaning: Mary, upon learning of her Cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy, left her home to visit and help Elizabeth
To Think About: Mary demonstrated unselfishness. She was pregnant herself and could have easily stayed where she was to simply take care of herself. Instead, she showed utmost generosity in serving the needs of another expectant mom. Attitude check: Am I hospitable? Charitable? Do I go ‘in haste’ to help others or hesitate?
Mystery: Birth of Christ
Meaning: Jesus, the Son of God, was born in a stable in Bethlehem
To Think About: What mother doesn’t relate to this- Mary, giving birth in an unfamiliar place and having to trust God and her husband totally during a time of need. Do I exhibit trust in God in my life? Certainly Mary felt uncertainty and discomfort as I often do. How did she handle it? How can I? God often accomplishes great things through humble, small people. Simply accepting the circumstances I find myself in today can bring glory to Him.
Mystery: The Presentation
Meaning: “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22) Mary and Joseph, following prescribed custom, present Jesus in the Temple
To Think About: Presenting a new child in the Temple fulfilled Jewish law. Jesus was the Son of God. The Holy Family certainly could have excused themselves from presenting their Child. He was God. However, in humbleness, they followed the norm, which included the custom of offering an animal sacrifice. (Incidentally, this is why pictures of The Presentation often show St. Joseph holding a cage with two doves. It was their animal sacrifice. The Holy Family was poor and could not afford a bigger animal.) Do I think of myself as too good for ‘the rules’? Do I fulfill my duties and responsibilities with humbleness and thoroughness?
Mystery: The Finding in the Temple
Meaning: Twelve year old Jesus remains behind in Jerusalem when His parents begin the journey home. Mary thinks Jesus is with Joseph. Joseph believes Him to be with Mary. Upon arrival they determine He is ‘lost’ and return to the Temple to find Him among the elders in the Temple. Upon learning of their concern Jesus says, “… “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49
To Think About: Modern parents can easily understand how this could happen! Mom thinks the child is with Dad. Dad assumes he is with Mom. What can we learn from this? Mary doesn’t understand but she accepts what He says to her. Do I accept what Jesus tells me/teaches me through His Church, even if we don’t understand? Mary and Joseph experienced anxiety over ‘losing Jesus’. (and we can imagine this stress was exacerbated knowing exactly WHO they lost!). We share the anxiety of the concerns over our children. The answer is trust, and continuing to seek God.
Perhaps we’ll tackle the other mysteries in future posts-
Would you like to brush up on the rosary? Start HERE: