Rosarium Virginis Mariae: Chapter 2

As with the past couple of weeks once again we go even deeper into this Apostolic Letter.

Chapter II: Mysteries of Christ-Mysteries of His Mother

In the second chapter Pope John Paul II take a close look at each set of Mysteries and suggest the addition of another five mysteries. We begin the chapter with the idea that the Rosary is a compendium of the Gospel as each of the mysteries seems to hit a moment in the life of Christ and is typically tied back to the Bible in some way. John Paul notes that the form of the Rosary being a collection of 150 Hail Mary’s is because that is how many Psalms there are in the Psalter. John Paul think that “the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion” are what is missing and he offer them as a suggestion for the Church to take or to leave, but there is a major push in the letter for the addition to make it more closely resemble a “compendium of the Gospel.” Pope John Paul II calls these new mysteries the mysteries of light.In the next section the Pope goes through all the different mysteries and sums each mystery up in like three paragraphs.

John Paul II begins with the Joyful Mysteries which he says are “marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation.” The first three mysteries (Annunciation, Visitation and Nativity) are filled with joy and the final two (Presentation and Finding) still contain the joy but it is tempered by the drama that is to come. John Paul notes that to meditate on the Joyful Mysteries “is to enter into the ultimate causes and the deepest meaning of Christian joy.”

John Paul next moves onto the Luminous Mysteries, the new mysteries that cover the public life of Jesus. One of the overarching things about these mysteries is listen to Jesus, at his Baptism we have God saying Jesus is his beloved and we should listen to him, at the Wedding at Cana we have Mary saying to the servant do as Jesus tells them,  as he Proclaims the kingdom where Jesus calls us to change,  at the Transfiguration once again we have God saying listen to him, and at the Eucharist Jesus tells us to do this in memory of him. We are told to “Do whatever Jesus tells you” to do.

We move on to the Sorrowful Mysteries. These mysteries are the heart of the faith. The Passion narrative, from the Agony in the Garden, to the Scourging, to the Crowning with Thorns, and the Carrying of the Cross until his Crucifixion. We follow these in the step of many as John Paul notes these mysteries help believers 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.

Finally we reach the Glorious Mysteries, this is the joy which we remember it isn’t in death that we remember Jesus but it is in new life. Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, were all feast we just celebrated and they are followed with two Mary centric events, Assumption and Crowning of Mary. John Paul notes that these mysteries 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.”

With these mysteries we are hopefully are brought closer to the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ which are found in the Gospel. John Paul II points out  that as the Church enters into the third millennium will need to have the ability 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) and the Rosary is one way of getting there. We could call it Mary’s way.

The Pope then reminds us earlier he mentioned that the Rosary is “the simple prayer [which] marks the rhythm of human life”  and he goes into detail explaining how it is so. John Paul concludes the second chapter by reaffirming his statement “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.” We can only hope that when we pray the Rosary our burdens are lessened.


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