Perhaps no other devotion in the history of the Church has been so universally recognized and faithfully practiced than the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary. From the holiest of saints to the lowliest of sinners, people from all walks of life have reaped its benefits. It is arguably the most beautifully designed of all devotions, for it is a prayer which engages one’s whole being in an act or worship and veneration. Properly said, the rosary is not merely a bodily recitation of a fixed formula but includes a profound contemplation upon the sacred mysteries of our Redemption. Acclaimed as one of the most efficacious devotions in the history of the Church, the great Marian giant, St. Louis de Montfort, was even moved to assert:
“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins ‘you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory’Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul.”
In view of such lofty praise, let us now examine the various mysteries of this most beautiful prayer as they are found in Sacred Scripture and particularly as they pertain to the life of the individual Christian.
Beginning with the first of the Joyful Mysteries, the Annunciation may be aptly described as the mystery from which all other rosary mysteries proceed, for if the Annunciation had not occurred, then likewise none of the later mysteries would ever have transpired.
Located in the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation is well known as the mystery in which we meditate upon the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in the womb of the Virgin Mary through the operation of the Holy Spirit. It fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 which states that “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”At long last, the prophesied Messiah promised to Israel has entered the world.
As we meditate upon the announcement of the archangel Gabriel to Mary, we strive to recall the virtues she exhibited in this moment as well as the profound implications of her prompt and submissive “fiat” to the Divine will. Luke states that Mary “was greatly troubled” by the lofty address issued to her by Gabriel, which is itself a manifestation of deep humility. Of overriding importance here, however, is how Mary’s selfless and unconditional acceptance of God’s will for her life should spur us to imitation in our own spiritual lives. We also should strive to accept God’s plan for us with an attitude of humility, trust, and peace.
Immediately following the Annunciation in Sacred Scripture, the Visitation is located in the Gospel of Luke 1:39-56. The mystery in which we meditate upon the visit of Mary with her cousin Elizabeth, the Visitation fulfills Old Testament prophecy in several ways. Mary’s Magnificat sounds very similar to the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. As Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, being that she carries the physical Divine Presence within her, there is also a great deal of significance to be noted in how she is greeted by Elizabeth and the yet to be born John the Baptist. Luke quotes Elizabeth as saying that “when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy.”This bears a striking similarity to how David “danced before the Lord” in 2 Samuel 6:6:19. Other similarities include how David’s reaction to the Ark mirrors Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary and how the Ark remained in Jerusalem for three months while Mary remained with Elizabeth for three months. Thus, the overriding importance of the Visitation lies in how Mary is the New Testament fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant.
As we meditate upon the Visitation, we strive to recall the dignity of Mary as the chosen vehicle through whom the Son of God came to Redeem mankind. We also reflect upon Mary’s generosity in traveling more than sixty miles across the barren desert in order to serve her cousin during her final months of pregnancy. As the Mother of God, Mary certainly had the right to quietly prepare for the arrival of her own divine Son, but she chose in the charity of her heart to render service rather than to be served.
Located in the Gospels of Luke 2:1-21 and Matthew 2:1-12, the Nativity of the Lord is one of the richest of all mysteries with regard to the fulfillment of prophecy. Certainly, it is the mystery that is most often remembered and reflected upon, even by the secular culture. It is the mystery in which we mediate upon the miraculous yet humble birth of the Christ Child. Most of the world was unaware of this great mystery as it was taking place, save for three simple shepherds who came to worship Christ at that time. Followed by the three Magi from the east, Christ was presented with gifts of gold, symbolizing royalty, frankincense, symbolizing worship, and myrrh, symbolizing suffering, poverty, and healing.
The Nativity fulfills the Old Testament prophecy of Micah 5:1-2, which states that a new ruler will be born in Bethlehem, the prophecy is Isaiah 7:14, which states that the Messiah will be born of a virgin, and the prophecy of Malachi 3:1, which states that there will be a forerunner of the Messiah who will prepare his path. In a much broader sense, the Nativity brings to fulfillment all the hopes of Israel for the coming Redeemer of mankind.
As we meditate upon the Nativity, we strive to recall the humility and infinite love of Christ in condescending to assume our human nature and be born in a stable to a poor and obscure household. If our Lord and God is so profoundly humble, loving, and self-sacrificing, then so must we be. We may also meditate upon the correlation between the Most Holy Eucharist and the placing of Christ in a manger, a device used for feeding. On a broader scale, we may strive to be grateful for all of the gifts and blessings that have come to us in the New Testament as a result of Christ’s Nativity.
Located in the Gospel of Luke 2:22-36, the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple is the mystery in which we recall the offering of Christ to His Heavenly Father in the temple as a kind of foreshowing of His future Sacrifice on the Cross. We also recall the purification of Mary in accordance with the prescribed laws of the Old Covenant.
The Presentation of Christ fulfills the Old Testament obligation in Exodus 13:2 which commands the Israelites to “Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”At the same time, Mary’s purification fulfills the prescription of Leviticus 12:8, which calls for two young pigeons or turtledoves to be sacrificed in the purification ceremony when the woman involved is too poor to afford a lamb.
As we meditate upon the Presentation of Christ, we would do well to remember that Mary’s purification was unnecessary seeing as she is perfectly sinless and she is the Mother of God. Regardless of these facts, however, Mary chose to observe the laws of the Old Covenant faithfully as an act of obedience and humility. She did not simply ignore the rules because they did not apply to her but kept them as a means of showing her love for God. We should also remember that both Jesus and Mary knew in advance all that Jesus was going to suffer at the time of His Crucifixion. His entire private life was lived in view of preparing for this great Sacrifice. As individual Christians, we too should be obedient to the spirit of the law, even if the letter of the law does not always apply to us. We too should present ourselves to our Heavenly Father as a sacrifice for His glory in living our Catholic Faith and in pouring out or lives in service to others.
The Finding in the Temple
Located in the Gospel of Luke 2:41-52, the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple is the mystery in which we meditate upon the loss of Jesus, the three day search of Mary and Joseph, and the finding of Christ in the temple as He is instructing the temple elders.
In the Old Covenant, the Jerusalem temple was perceived as God’s dwelling place on earth. This fact is alluded to in 2 Samuel 7: 4-7, wherein David is commanded to build a permanent temple to be God’s place of rest. David ultimately chooses Jerusalem as its location. Christ’s presence within the temple serves to fulfill this Old Testament perception in the sense that Christ is the new or true temple and also in the sense that God Himself has now come to physically reside within His own dwelling place; a fulfilling of the Messianic expectation in essence.
As we meditate upon the Finding in the Temple, we strive to empathize with Joseph and Mary in the pain of their loss, seeing it as analogous to the loss of Christ’s presence experienced in times of spiritual dryness. The Finding we may equate to the return of divine consolation at the end of such dry periods. We meditate also on Christ’s words to His Mother when He says “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”With these words, Christ means to remind His Mother of His ultimate mission, which is to teach, to suffer, to die, and to rise again. In our own spiritual lives, we must search for Christ where we know He will be. We will find him in prayer, in solitude, in church, and in suffering. Our Master’s house must be our house as well.
The Baptism in the Jordan
Moving on now to the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary, we find that the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, found in the Gospel of Matthew 3: 13-16, is of enormous importance in the life of the Church. It is the mystery in which we meditate upon Our Lord’s act of undergoing the Baptism of water administered by His own forerunner, John the Baptist.
From the very beginning of time, there is a visible link between the Holy Trinity and “the waters.” Imagery from the Book of Genesis comes to mind, wherein “the Spirit of God was moving over the waters.”The imagery and use of water in the Old Testament is invariably connected with a sense of renewal or rebirth. The flood of Noah certainly falls into this category as water was the instrument used to renew the earth by cleansing it from a sinful generation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also identifies the crossing of the Red Sea as type of Baptism:
“But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism.” The significance of Christ’s entering into “the waters” of the Jordan River is so that He may sanctify them by His presence in preparation for their eventual use in the Sacrament of Baptism by the Holy Spirit; a Sacrament in which the soul is truly cleansed from sin and reborn as a child of God.
As we meditate upon the Baptism in the Jordan, we are called to reflect upon the day of our own Baptism, at which time we also entered into “the waters” and were reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit into the life of divine grace. At the same time, it is a calling to live out our vocation as sons and daughters of God in view of our adoption into the communion of saints.
The Marriage Feast of Cana
Located in the Gospel of John 2:1-11, the Marriage Feast of Cana is the mystery in which we meditate upon the first instance when Christ publically manifests Himself. Having worked the miracle of transforming water into wine at the request of His Mother, we are left with several profound insights to ponder in our meditation.
Both Genesis and Exodus state very clearly that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, which is seen as the dawn of new creation or era.The Gospel of John begins by enumerating a series of events in the life of Jesus which occur over a span of four days. By the time we reach the Wedding of Cana, another three days have already passed since the last narrative given. This is an intentional device used by John to demonstrate that the Marriage Feast of Cana is occurring on the seventh day. This point becomes even clearer in light of John’s Gospel beginning with a creation narrative similar to that of Genesis. To draw the parallel between Genesis and the Marriage Feast even further, Jesus here refers to His Mother as “woman” while the entire conversation between them takes place in the background of a marriage, which is itself a link back to Genesis. The implication of all this is that Jesus is the New Adam and Mary is the New Eve. Jesus first publically manifests Himself on the seventh day, indicating that a new creation or a new era has begun.
As we meditate upon the Marriage Feast of Cana, we recall that Christ has raised the state of marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament. We also recall the intercessory power of our Blessed Mother with Christ, as it only upon the request of “the woman” that He was moved to perform His first public miracle. We recognize also that Mary’s statement to the servant is equally a statement to each one of us when she says, “Do whatever he tells you.”We must strive to be submissive to God’s will and to actively participate in bringing about its fulfillment.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom
Located in the Gospel of Mark 1:14-15, the entire New Testament passage containing this mystery may here be conveniently provided: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
For many centuries, the Israelites had been awaiting the coming of the promised Messiah who would usher in God’s reign or kingdom on earth. While this was always meant in a spiritual sense, over time and especially under the occupation of the Romans, the Jews began to view the coming of the kingdom of God in a much more physical, militaristic sense. Thus, while Christ’s proclamation fulfills the entire Old Testament expectation of the coming of God’s kingdom, it was unfortunately misinterpreted by many within the Jewish community at that time. Ultimately, Jesus would be rejected by this community as it had grown too accustomed to thinking of its Messianic deliverance in terms of material prosperity and conquest.
What the Israelites failed to understand about the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God is that Christ mean it to be understood in a spiritual sense, both in the life of the individual and on a much broader scale. The individual Christian is called to accept the kingdom of God into his heart and thereby to live according to its standards of holiness and charity. Doing so will give him a foretaste of the life of the Church Triumphant in Heaven, which is the kingdom of God in the broader sense. All Christians must strive to become faithful citizens of this kingdom and must repent of their sins in order to enter it.
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 17:1-8, the Transfiguration is the mystery in which we meditate upon the manifestation of Christ’s Divinity to the Apostles Peter, James, and John atop a high mountain. At once becoming totally suffused with dazzling light, Christ thereby shared a magnificent grace with His apostles in allow them to witness a faint reflection of His true glory.
The Old Testament imagery here is as ample as it is compelling. In the Book of Exodus, we read how Moses’ face shown with a dazzling light on Mount Sinai as he received the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. As Jesus is now transfigured with a dazzling light atop a high mountain, the correlation between Moses as the type and Christ as the fulfillment becomes obvious. Even more so in light of the fact that Moses himself along with Elijah, a type of John the Baptist, also appear on the mountain top with Christ in this moment.
As we meditate upon the mystery of the Transfiguration, we are reminded of how the humility of Christ, willingly assumed, acted as a veil to conceal His glorious Divinity. If our omnipotent Lord and God has freely chosen to conceal His true glory while on earth, then so should we His disciples. Rather than go about in search of praise for our virtues and good deeds, we must conceal them in humility so that they may one day be rewarded and glorified in the kingdom of God. We would also do well to remember not to judge by outward appearances alone, but should rather look inward to the heart and soul; to a person’s true nature as it were.
The Institution of the Eucharist
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 26: 26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22: 14-23, the Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist is one of the deepest and most profound mysteries of all, for it is the mystery by which we mediate upon the Sacrament by which Our Lord communicates Himself to us most intimately. At the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Christ gave His twelve Apostles His very own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to partake of while granting them the power and authority to do so in His name and memory for all future generations.
The ways in which the Old Testament prefigures the Holy Eucharist are so many and intricate that it would be impractical to enumerate all of them. For the sake of convenience, I shall here enunciate three of the most obvious and profound ways. We learn from Exodus 16:14-35 that God fed His chosen people in the desert for forty years with “bread from heaven,” commonly referred to as manna. As Jesus refers to Himself as “the living bread which came down from heaven”in John 6, it is clear that the manna of the Old Testament prefigures the flesh of Christ in the New Testament, which He gives to His Apostles at the Last Supper. We also learn from Exodus 25-26 that the Old Testament Bread of the Presence was kept inside the Ark of the Covenant, indicating that it was regarded with the highest reverence, since anyone who touched the Ark directly would die. In the New Covenant, the Bread of Life was kept in the womb of Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant. Since New Testament fulfillments are always greater than their Old Testament prefigurements, it follow logically that the Bread of Life, which is the Eucharist, must truly be the Real and Substantial Presence of Christ, for only in this manner could the sacredness of the Eucharist outweigh that of its Old Testament prefigurement. Lastly, there is an often overlooked dimension to the sacrifice of the paschal lamb in the Old Testament as it prefigures the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. It is that God commanded the flesh of the lamb to be consumed by the chosen people. Sprinkling the lamb’s blood on their doorposts was not enough. The people actually had to partake of the sacrifice in order to attain protection from the angel of death. If Jesus is the fulfillment of the paschal lamb in the sense of His Sacrifice, then He must also be its fulfillment in terms of partaking of His Sacrifice. The only way in which this can be accomplished is through the consumption of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, indicating that the reception of Holy Communion not optional but actually essential for salvation, as Christ Himself has asserted many times in John 6.
The implications of the institution of the Eucharist for the individual Christian are endless. Having already stated the necessity of receiving Holy Communion for salvation, we must also treat this most sublime mystery with the utmost reverence and holy fear and it is truly the Living Presence of God on earth. We should avail ourselves of this wondrous privilege we have in the New Testament to be psychically present with the Son of God at Mass, in Adoration, and in our reception of Him into our body and soul. The Catechism states that “the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life.”So too should it be the source and summit of each individual Christian’s life.
The Agony in the Garden
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46, The Agony of Our Lord in Garden of Gethsemane is the mystery in which we meditate upon the physical and emotional pain Christ endured as He began to bear the full, crushing weight of our sins in His spirit.
Jesus’ reference to “this chalice” from which He must drink hearkens us back to the Old Testament understanding of a cup or chalice being connected with God’s wrath. The Book of Isaiah provides us with an example of this type of imagery: “Rouse yourself, rouse yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering.”Another example can be found in Jeremiah 25:15-20, which speaks of “the cup of the Lord’s hand” from which nations are to drink and thereby be cursed by God. A further example is provided in Psalms 75:6-10. As Jesus must now drink from “the cup of the Lord,” it is a reference to the fact that He must now bear the punishment for our sins. Not only must He drink from the chalice of God’s wrath, but He must drink it to the dregs; every last drop must be consumed for the justice of God to be satisfied.
As we meditate upon the Agony in the Garden, we strive to recall the sheer grief our own personal sins have caused Him in this moment as well as His willingness to suffer for even His enemies. There are times in our own lives when we suffer in the garden of our hearts over some evil or injustice done to us or to our loved ones. It is in moments like these that we must unite our sufferings to those of Christ, Who, though innocent, was willing to suffer all that His Father’s will permitted that He must in order to bring about the greater good of our Redemption. We also must be willing to drink from the cup of suffering for the greater good in our own lives.
The Scourging at the Pillar
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15, Luke 22:23-25, and John 19:1, the Scourging of Christ at the Pillar is the mystery in which we meditate upon the cruel flagellation of Our Lord at the hands of his Roman captors after having been arrested by the temple authorities.
The Scourging of Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant, particularly with regard to verse 5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.”
It has long been understood that Jesus allowed Himself to undergo the scourging in order to make atonement for our sins of the flesh. In view of this fact, we should strive to develop the virtue of chastity and frequently perform some act of mortification so as to gain mastery over our lower bodily inclinations. The scourging of Christ shows us how truly abhorrent sexual sins are in the eyes of God, and that reparation must be made for them.
The Crowning with Thorns
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15: 16-20, Luke 22: 63-65, and John 19:1-3, the Crowning with Thorns is the mystery in which we meditate upon the physical beating of Christ and mocking of His Divine kingship by His Roman torturers.
There is reference to the mockery of Christ during His Passion in the Book of Psalms when it says, “All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; He committed his cause to the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”Certainly, the passage of the Suffering Servant from Isaiah also prefigures the Crowning of Thorns, particularly with regard to verse 3: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
As we meditate upon the Crowning of Thorns, we recall the rejection of Christ’s Divinity and the blasphemy against His kingship. We are called to examine whether we ourselves have treated Christ in this manner, in professing Him to be our King while simultaneously offending with by our sins. We must profess Christ as our King not merely with our lips but with our hearts and actions.
The Carrying of the Cross
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 27: 32, Mark 15: 21-23, Luke 23: 26-31, and John 19: 17, the Carrying of the Cross is the mystery in which we meditate upon the Passion of Our Lord as He struggled underneath the weight of the cross which represents our sins.
In this mystery, we have yet another prefigurement in Isaiah 53, this time with specific reference to verse 7: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”The fact that a lamb is described in this passage also reminds us of the Passover in Exodus, wherein the paschal lamb, as fulfilled by Christ, delivers God’s people from death. In a broader sense, the entire passage of Isaiah 53 and particularly verses 4-5 also prefigure the mystery of the Carrying of the Cross.
As we meditate upon this mystery, we quickly discover that there are many angles from which it can be examined. From the agony Christ endured under the weight of our sins to the symbolism of His three falls to the assistance of Simon of Cyrene, there are many lessons to be gleaned from even a brief meditation upon the Passion of Our Lord. As individual Christians, therefore, it would behoove us to mediate often and deeply upon the Way of the Cross devotion. If one overarching concept should be enumerated here, it would certainly be the necessity of carrying our own cross in the footsteps of Christ. He Himself has said that anyone who would be His disciple must “take up his cross and follow me.”We must we willing to bear the weight of our sufferings, we must persevere in following Christ no matter how many times we fall along the way, and we must trust that God will bring a greater good out of the evil which befalls us. As Christ was willing to suffer, so must we also be.
Located in the Gospel of Matthew 27:32-56, Mark 15: 21-39, Luke 23:26-49, and John 19: 17-37, the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord is at the center of all other rosary mysteries. Earlier mysteries anticipate it while later mysteries are dependent on it. It is the mystery in which we mediate upon the affixing of Christ to the cross and the three hours during which He hung in agony upon it before experiencing death in His human nature.
Once again, we make reference here to the passages of Isiah 53, this time with particular regard to verses 10-12:
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief, when he makes himself an offering for sin he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors, yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The Book of Psalms also reveals how Christ’s Crucifixion fulfills Old Testament prophecy in a narrow sense as well as a broad one when it says, “I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”Jesus fulfills two aspects of prophecy here in that the Roman soldier cast lots for His clothing, and that He was so badly beaten and scourged that His ribs could been seen and counted. Still another way in which the Crucifixion fulfills Old Testament prophecy can be found in Psalms 34: 20 which reads, “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” None of Jesus’ bones were broken in spite of the cruel torment He was subjected to. The ways in which Our Lord’s Crucifixion fulfills prophecy are virtually endless.
As we mediate upon the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord, we are called to remember at what infinite price our Redemption was bought for us. No greater act of love could there be than for the Eternal God to lower Himself to the point of assuming human nature for the express purpose of suffering and dying as one of us in the cruelest, most excruciating way possible. We are called to remember that every gift of grace we have received in the New Covenant is the result of this single, greatest act of love. In light of this reality, we must therefore strive to imitate Our Lord’s selfless love according to our own ability and circumstances. In imitating His love, we shall also spread it, thereby becoming more like Christ ourselves.
In examining the final five mysteries of the rosary, we see that the Resurrection of the Lord is perhaps the most glorious of all the mysteries, for in it we mediate upon how Christ rose from the dead by His own Divine power, thus conquering sin and death. Indeed, the Resurrection brings to completion Christ’s act of Redemption upon the cross, thereby opening the gates of Heaven for all future generations that would choose to follow Christ.
There are a few allusions in the Book of Isaiah to a prefigured resurrection of Christ, as it says in Isaiah 25: “He will shallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all face, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” There is also an allusion to the Resurrection in the Book of Job which says: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.”Even Isaiah 53:10 contains an allusion to the Resurrection in saying, “when he makes himself an offering for sin … he shall prolong his days.” A further evidence for the Resurrection can be found in Our Lord’s admonition to the Pharisees concerning the “Sign of Jonah.”As Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days before returning, so too the Son of Man would remain for three days in the heart of the earth before returning. The Resurrection of Christ thus fulfills the Old Testament prophecy of a Redeemer Who would rise from the dead.
As we meditate upon the Resurrection of the Lord, we strive to recall all of the magnificent gifts which proceed from Christ’s victory over sin and death. Specifically, we think of how we ourselves are empowered by His victory to overcome sin in our own lives, and of how God’s grace will ultimately triumph over every evil, no matter how powerful it might be. We look forward with hope to the day when our own risen bodies will be transformed in the image of Christ’s Body, possessing glory, impassibility, agility, and subtility. We strive to pattern our lives on earth after that of Christ so that one day our eternal life may be patterned after His own Divine life in Heaven.
Located in the Gospel of Luke 24:36-63 and in the Book of Acts 1:6-11, the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven is the mystery in which we mediate upon Christ’s return to His Heavenly Father in glory after spending forty days with His Apostles after the Resurrection. No longer poor and obscure, Christ in this moment manifests His Divinity to the Apostles, as He had already done several times since His Resurrection, thereby alluding to the fact that the virtues of poverty, humility, and obedience, among all other virtues will be rewarded and glorified in eternity.
The Ascension is prophesied in the Book of Psalms when it says of the Lord, “You ascended the high mount leading captives in your train.”St. Paul connects this passage with the Ascension when he speaks in Ephesians 4: 8-9. The reference to the captives seems to be an allusion to the liberation of the just souls from Limbo at the time of Christ’s Ascension. The concept of ascension as an exclusively divine act is established in various Old Testament passages like Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Proverbs 30:4, and especially 2 Kings 2:11-12, wherein the prophet Elijah is taken up into Heaven in a whirlwind. For Jesus to Ascend into Heaven by His own power in the presence of His Apostles therefore serves as a proof of His Divinity.
As we mediate upon the Ascension of the Lord, we strive to recall the words of the angels who appeared to the Apostles after Christ had left their sight: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”As individual Christians, we should heed these words of the angels, who admonish the Apostles not to stand idly by, missing the presence of their Lord, but rather to go forth and accomplish the mission He had entrusted to them. We are to look forward in hope to the day when we ourselves shall enter into that glorious kingdom where Christ now reigns, but in the meantime we are to live His teachings, spread His truth, and continue the work of salvation that He has made possible for us.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Located in the Book of Acts 2:1-42, the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is that mystery in which we meditate upon the spiritual transformation of the Apostles at the time of their reception of the Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost. Having hidden themselves in the cenacle for ten days for fear of persecution by the Jews, the Apostles were in dire need of a divine strengthening to prepare them for their apostolic mission.
While there is no direct Old Testament prophecy of the actual Descent of the Holy Spirit which occurs in this mystery, there are many descriptions of the Spirit of God as being like wind and fire. Examples of this are found in Exodus 13:21-22, wherein God leads His chosen people out of Egypt by means of a Pillar of Fire; Isaiah 11:15, wherein God threatens to destroy the sea of Egypt with “his scorching wind;” and Exodus 2:3-6, wherein God manifests Himself to Moses in the form of a burning bush. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as “a mighty wind” and “tongues of fire” therefore establishes that the Spirit given is in fact the Spirit of God.
As we meditate upon this mystery of the coming of the Holy Spirit, we are compelled to reflect upon the miraculous transformation that the Apostles underwent as a result of this unprecedented infusion of divine grace into their souls. No longer were these men timid and dull and unfit for the task of evangelizing. Now they were filled with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit to such an extent that they were, in some sense, new men altogether. We are called as individual Christians, therefore, to remember that the Holy Spirit also came to us at the time of our Confirmation, and that we too must strive to develop and exercise the gifts of the Spirit in our own daily lives and circumstances. We would also do well to remember that this moment of the Descent of the Holy Spirit marks the beginning of the Church’s 2,000 year old mission to convert sinners and save souls in the name of Christ. How grateful we should be to have a share in this mission, according to the circumstances of our state in life.
Not found in any Gospel or direct Scriptural passage, the mystery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven by the power of her Divine Son is a rather unique mystery in this sense. It is the mystery in which we meditate upon the loving justice of God which refused to allow Mary’s perfect body to undergo corruption by assuming her body and soul into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.
We can infer from a few Old Testament events that God would logically decide to Assume His Mother’s body into Heaven. For instance, we know from our study of the Old Testament that the Ark of the Covenant was so holy and precious in the eyes of God that anyone who touched it directly would die.God took extremely jealous care of the Ark until it was eventually hidden away in a cave in preparation for the day when the true Ark would take its place.Since we know that Mary is the True Ark of the New Covenant, then how much more precious must she be in the eye of God. In connection with this, we have a passage from Psalms 16:10 which is a prophecy pertaining to the Messiah: “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one to undergo corruption.” If God will not permit the Body is His Only Begotten Son to undergo corruption and decay, then it may logically be inferred that the woman He has chosen for His Son’s Mother should also be preserved from corruption and decay by virtue of her intimate connection with Jesus. Additionally, as Christ is the New Adam Who conquers death and is therefore not subject to it, so too Mary is the New Eve who shares in Christ’s victory over death and who should therefore also be exempt from it. Aside from these and similar Scriptural inferences, we have the unanimous testimony of Sacred Tradition, as handed down to us from the Church Fathers, that Mary’s body was truly and literally Assumed into Heaven at the end of her life.
As we meditate upon the bodily Assumption of Mary into Heaven, we should strive to develop a deeper appreciation for the magnificent gifts bestowed upon her by Christ. Recognizing the power of Our Lord to make a person as holy and perfect as Mary, we should be inspired to become holy ourselves by imitating Our Lady’s virtues. We should also cultivate a longing for and hope in the joys of Heaven as we await the day when we too shall be taken into paradise in our glorified bodies at the end of time.
The mystery of the Coronation of Our Lady as Queen Heaven and Earth is the mystery in which we meditate upon Mary’s physical and spiritual crowning in Heaven as a reward for her unprecedented sanctity and importance in salvation history. It is the mystery wherein Our Lady is endowed with a glory, a power, and an authority that is second only to God Himself. The Church is commanded to venerate her, the angels are moved to bow before her, and even the demons of hell are made to tremble at the sound of her name.
As with the Assumption, there are no direct Scriptural passages which record the Coronation of Mary. Like the Assumption, however, there are several strong inferences to Mary’s Queenship that can be brought forward. Certainly, there is the Davidic kingdom under the reign of Solomon. A unique feature of Solomon’s kingdom, as with other kingdoms of the time, is that he made his mother the queen rather than his wife.This was due to the fact that Solomon had over seven-hundred wives and was therefore incapable of selecting one as queen to the detriment of the others. As Solomon, in spite of his human failings, is universally understood as a biblical type of Christ the King, it follow logically that his mother, Bathsheba, is a type of Queen Mother Mary. This concept becomes all the more cogent in light of Bathsheba’s role as intercessor with Solomon, as demonstrated in 2 Kings 2: 19-25. As Bathsheba intercedes with Solomon and rules underneath him, so too Mary intercedes with Christ and rules underneath Him. Another Scriptural reference for the Queenship of Mary can be found in the Book of Revelation 12: 1-6, wherein “the woman” who gives birth to the Messiah is depicted as wearing a “a crown of twelve stars.” Who else would wear a crown if not a queen? As Mary is the Mother of the Messiah, it follows logically that she is also the Queen of Heaven.
As we meditate upon the Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven, we would do well to recall the sheer force of her intercessory power with God, to the extent that He will refuse her nothing. Let us cultivate a profound devotion to this most Blessed Virgin that we may have a gracious and unfailing advocate with Christ our King in our hour of judgment. Let us also look forward to that blessed day when we ourselves shall enter into that heavenly kingdom of Christ Our Lord, where we too shall receive glorious and unfading crowns of life as princes and princesses under Mary our Queen and Christ our King. Let us strive to imitate the virtues of Jesus and Mary in our own lives that we may one day partake of the glory in which they now reign.
Having thus examined the various mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary as they are found in Sacred Scripture and as they relate to the life of the Christian, we may see just how beautifully biblical the rosary actually is. Let it never be said by those ignorant of Scripture that the rosary is somehow unbiblical or merely an invention of medieval clerics. As both the Our Father and the Hail Mary are taken directly from the Gospels, it may be said that the rosary is a Bible for those who cannot read. Virtually every syllable of prayer uttered and every flash of meditation made upon these most precious beads has it origin somewhere within the pages of Sacred Scripture. The implication that we are left with therefore is inescapable: if the rosary is a biblical prayer, then the Bible is a Catholic book.
 1 Peter 5:4 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001.
 St. Louis de Montfort. God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis de Montfort, 156-57. New York: Montfort Publications, 1988.
 “Isaiah 7:14.
 Luke 1:44
 Exodus 13:2
 Luke 2:49
 Genesis 1:2
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1221. New York: Doubleday, 1994.
 Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 31:16-17 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001.
 Dr. Michael Barber, “The Coming Kingdom/ Jesus’ Sacramental Miracles/ Opposition to Jesus.” (lecture, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Escondido CA, November 4, 2014).
 John 2:5 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001.
 Mark 1:14-15
 Exodus 34:29-35
 John 6: 51
 Exodus 12
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324. New York: Doubleday, 1994.
 Isaiah 51:17 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001.
 Isaiah 53
 Isaiah 53:5
 Psalms 22:7-8
 Isaiah 53:3
 Isiah 53:7
 Exodus 12
 Matthew 16: 24
 Isaiah 53:10-12
 Psalms 22: 17-18
 Isaiah 25: 8
 Job 19:25
 Matthew 12: 38-41
 Psalms 68:18
 Acts 1: 11
 Acts 2: 1-4
 2 Samuel 6:6-8
 2 Maccabees 2: 4-8
 John 2: 1-11; John 19: 27; Revelation 12:1-6
 2 Kings 1-2