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The Rosary Mysteries

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The Mysteries of the Rosary (Mysteria Sacratissimi Rosarii)

The Joyful Mysteries (Mysteria Gaudiorum)

I. The Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Beata Maria Virgo ab Angelo salutatur)

Scripture


‘And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.’ (Luke 1.26-38)

Catechism


494 At the announcement that she would give birth to ‘the Son of the Most High’ without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that ‘with God nothing will be impossible’: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word’. Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace.
505 By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. ‘How can this be?’ Participation in the divine life arises ‘not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit’s gift to man. The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God is fulfilled perfectly in Mary’s virginal motherhood. 

Before the Decade

Let us contemplate, in this mystery, how the Angel Gabriel saluted our Blessed Lady with the title ‘Full of grace,’ and declared unto her the Incarnation of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

After the Decade

Let us pray. O holy Mary, Queen of Virgins , by the most high mystery of the Incarnation of thy beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which our salvation was so happily begun, obtain for us, through thy intercession, light to know this so great benefit He hath bestowed upon us, vouchsafing in it to make Himself our brother, and thee, His most beloved Mother, our Mother also. Amen.


II. The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Beata Maria Virgo Elisabeth visitat)

Scripture


‘And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house.’ (Luke 1.39-56) Catechism:
2676 ‘Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.’ After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. ‘Filled with the Holy Spirit,’ Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary ‘blessed.’ ‘Blessed is she who believed....’ Mary is ‘blessed among women’ because she believed in the fulfilment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth. Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God's own blessing: Jesus, the ‘fruit of thy womb.’

Catechism

2677 ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God.’ With Elizabeth we marvel, ‘And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: ‘Let it be to me according to your word.’ By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: ‘Thy will be done.’

Before the Decade

Let us contemplate, in this mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, understanding from the angel that her cousin St. Elisabeth had conceived, went with haste into the mountains of Judea to visit her, bearing her Divine Son within her womb, and remained with her three months.

After the Decade

Let us pray. O Holy Virgin, most spotless mirror of humility; by that exceeding charity which moved thee to visit thy holy cousin St. Elisabeth, obtain for us by thy intercession, that our hearts may be so visited by thy most holy Son, that, being free from all sin, we may praise Him and give Him thanks forever. Amen.


III. The Nativity of the Lord. (Iesus Christus in Bethlehem nascitur)

Scripture


‘And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us. And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.’ (Luke 6.2-20)

Catechism


457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who ‘loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins’: ‘the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world’, and ‘he was revealed to take away sins’. Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Saviour; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?

563 No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a new-born child.

Before the Decade

Let us contemplate, in this mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the time of her delivery was come, brought forth our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, at midnight, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inns at Bethlehem.

After the Decade

Let us pray. O most pure Mother of God; through thy virginal and most joyful delivery, by which thou gavest to the world thy Son, our Saviour; we beseech thee obtain for us, by thy intercession, grace to lead so pure and holy a life in this world, that we may worthily sing without ceasing, both by day and night, the mercies of thy Son, and His benefits to us by thee. Amen.

IV. The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. (Iesus infans in templo præsentatur) 

Scripture


‘And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons: And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, He also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth.’ (Luke 2.22-39)

Catechism


529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Saviour — the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the ‘light to the nations’ and the ‘glory of Israel,’ but also ‘a sign that is spoken against.’ The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had ‘prepared in the presence of all peoples.’
725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love, into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate, in this mystery, how the most blessed Virgin Mary, on the day of her purification, presented the child Jesus in the Temple, where holy Simeon, giving thanks to God with great devotion, received Him into his arms.
After the Decade
Let us pray. O Holy Virgin, admirable mistress and pattern of obedience, who didst present in the Temple the Lord of the Temple; obtain for us, of thy beloved Son, that, with holy Simeon and devout Anna, we may praise and glorify Him forever. Amen.

V. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Iesus puer in templo inter doctores invenitur)

Scripture


‘And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch, And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.’ (Luke 2.41-52) Catechism
534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship. ‘Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s work?’. Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary ‘kept all these things in her heart’ during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.
583 Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father’s business. He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover. His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.

Before the Decade

Let us contemplate, in this mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, having lost her beloved Son in Jerusalem, sought Him for the space of three days, and at length found Him on the fourth day in the Temple, in the midst of the doctors, disputing with them, being then about twelve years old.

After the Decade

Let us pray. O Holy Virgin, more than martyr in thy sufferings, and yet the comfort of such as are afflicted; by that unspeakable joy wherewith thy soul was ravished finding thy beloved Son in the Temple, in the midst of the doctors, disputing with them, obtain of Him for us to seek Him and find Him in the holy Catholic Church, that we may never be separated from Him. Amen.

The Sorrowful Mysteries (Mysteria Dolorum)

I. The Agony in the Garden. (Iesus Christus, in horto orans, sanguinem sudat)

Scripture


‘And they came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray. And he taketh Peter and James and John with him; and he began to fear and to be heavy. And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. And when he was gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground; and he prayed, that if it might be, the hour might pass from him. And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words. And when he returned, he found them again asleep, (for their eyes were heavy,) and they knew not what to answer him. And he cometh the third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now, and take your rest. It is enough: the hour is come: behold the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go. Behold, he that will betray me is at hand.’ (Mark 14.32-42)

Catechism


478 Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: ‘The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me.’ He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, ‘is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings’ without exception.
612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemane, making himself ‘obedient unto death.’ Jesus prays: ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. . . .’. Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death. Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the ‘Author of life,’ the ‘Living One’. By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for ‘he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree’.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ was so afflicted for us in the garden of Gethsemane, that His body was bathed in a bloody sweat, which ran trickling down in great drops to the ground.
After the Decade
Let us pray. Most holy Virgin, more than martyr, by that ardent prayer which thy beloved Son poured forth unto His Father in the garden, vouchsafe to intercede for us, that our passions being reduced to the obedience of reason, we may always, and in all things, conform and subject ourselves to the will of God. Amen.

II. The Scourging of Our Lord at the Pillar. (Iesus Christus ad columnam flagellis cæditur) 

Scripture


‘Pilate said: Whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people, that they should ask for Barabbas, and take Jesus away. And the governor answering, said to them: Whether will you of the two to be released unto you? But they said, Barabbas. Pilate saith to them: What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ? They say all: Let him be crucified. The governor said to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying: Let him be crucified. And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult was made; taking water washed his hands before the people, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it. And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and our children. Then he released to them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him unto them to be crucified.’ (Matthew 27.17-26)

Catechism

572 The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of ‘all the Scriptures’ that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: ‘Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’. Jesus’ sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was ‘rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes,’ who handed ‘him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified’.
609 By embracing in his human heart the Father’s love for men, Jesus ‘loved them to the end,’ for ‘greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: ‘No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord’. Hence the sovereign freedom of God’s Son as he went out to his death.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ, being delivered up by Pilate to the fury of the crowds, was most cruelly scourged at a pillar.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O Mother of God, overflowing fountain of patience; by those stripes thy only and most beloved Son vouchsafed to suffer for us, obtain of Him for us grace that we may know how to mortify our rebellious senses, and to cut off all occasions of sinning, with that sword of grief and compassion which pierced thy most tender soul. Amen.

III. The Crowning of our Blessed Saviour with Thorns. (Iesus Christus spinis coronatur) 

Scripture


‘And the soldiers led him away into the court of the palace, and they called together the whole band: and they clothe him with purple, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon him. And they began to salute him: Hail, king of the Jews. And they struck his head with a reed: and they did spit on him. And bowing their knees, they adored him. And after they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own garments on him, and they led him out to crucify him.’ (Mark 15.16-20)

Catechism


613 Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,’ and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the ‘blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’.
615 ‘For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous’. By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who ‘makes himself an offering for sin,’ when ‘he bore the sin of many,’ and who ‘shall make many to be accounted righteous,’ for ‘he shall bear their iniquities’. Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how those cruel ministers of Satan plaited a crown of sharp thorns, and most cruelly pressed it on the most sacred head of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O Mother of our Eternal Prince and King of Glory; by those sharp thorns wherewith His most holy head was pierced, we beseech thee that, by thy intercession, we may be delivered from all notions of pride; and in the day of judgement from that confusion which our sins deserve. Amen.

IV. The Carrying of the Cross. (Iesus Christus, morte condemnatus, Calvariæ locum, crucem baiulans, petit)

Scripture


‘And as they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country; and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us; and to the hills: Cover us. For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry? And there were also two other malefactors led with him to be put to death.’ (Luke 23.26-32)

Catechism


2669 The prayer of the Church venerates and honours the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Saviour’s steps. The stations from the Praetorium to Golgotha and the tomb trace the way of Jesus, who by his holy Cross has redeemed the world.
2674 Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son ‘who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties’. Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, his mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him: she ‘shows the way’ (hodigitria), and is herself ‘the Sign’ of the way, according to the traditional iconography of East and West.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ, being sentenced to die, bore with great patience the Cross, which was laid upon Him for His greater torment and ignominy.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O holy Virgin, example of patience; by the most painful carrying of the Cross, on which thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, bore the heavy weight of our sins, obtain for us of Him, by thy intercession, courage and strength to follow His steps, and bear our cross after Him, to the end of our lives. Amen.

V. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord. (Iesus Christus, cruci affixus, coram Matre sua moritur)

Scripture


‘And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written. The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.’ (John 19.17-30)

Catechism


609 By embracing in his human heart the Father’s love for men, Jesus ‘loved them to the end’, for ‘greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men. Indeed, out of love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: ‘No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.’ Hence the sovereign freedom of God’s Son as he went out to his death.
1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal - so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ, being come to Mount Calvary, was stripped of His clothes, and His hands and feet most cruelly nailed to the Cross, in the presence of His afflicted Mother.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O Holy Mary, Mother of God; as the body of thy beloved Son was for us extended on the Cross, so may our desires be daily more and more stretched out in His service, and our hearts wounded with compassion for His most bitter Passion; and thou, O most Blessed Virgin, vouchsafe, to negotiate for us and with us the work of our salvation, by thy powerful intercession. Amen.

The Glorious Mysteries (Mysteria Gloriæ)

I. The Resurrection of Our Lord. (Resurrectio Iesu Christi) 

Scripture


‘And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre. And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead? He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words. And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles. And these words seemed to them as idle tales; and they did not believe them. But Peter rising up, ran to the sepulchre, and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid by themselves; and went away wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.’ (Luke 24.1-12)

Catechism


646 Christ’s Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus’ daughter, the young man of Nain, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus’ power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is ‘the man of heaven’.
648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power ‘raised up’ Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as ‘Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead’. St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ, triumphing gloriously over death, rose again the third day, immortal and impassible.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O glorious Virgin Mary, by that uspeakable joy thou receivedst in the Resurrection of thy only beloved Son, we beseech thee obtain of Him for us, that our hearts may never go astray after the false joys of this world, but may be ever and wholly employed in the pursuit of the only true and solid joys of heaven. Amen.

II. The Ascension of our Beloved Saviour. (Ascensio Iesu Christi)

Scripture


‘And he said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: and that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. And I send the promise of my Father upon you: but stay you in the city till you be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as Bethania: and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. And it came to pass, whilst he blessed them, he departed from them, and was carried up to heaven. And they adoring went back into Jerusalem with great joy. And they were always in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.’ (Luke 24.44-53)

Catechism


661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who ‘came from the Father’ can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.’ Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the ‘Father’s house’, to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.
662 ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, ‘entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.’ There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he ‘always lives to make intercession’ for ‘those who draw near to God through him’. As ‘high priest of the good things to come’ he is the centre and the principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in heaven.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ, forty days after His Resurrection, ascended into heaven attended by angels, in the sight of His most holy Mother, and His apostles and disciples, to the great admiration of them all.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O Mother of God, comfort of the afflicted; as thy beloved Son, when He ascended into heaven, lifted up His hands and blessed His apostles, so vouchsafe, most holy Mother, to lift up thy pure hands to Him for us, that we may enjoy the benefit of His blessing here on earth, and hereafter heaven. Amen.

III. The Descent of the Holy Spirit. (Spiritus Sancti supra beatam Mariam Virginem et discipulos descensus)

Scripture


‘And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue.’ (Acts 2.1-6)

Catechism


726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve (‘mother of the living’), the mother of the ‘whole Christ.’ As such, she was present with the Twelve, who ‘with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,’ at the dawn of the ‘end time’ which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.
737 The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ’s faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may ‘bear much fruit.’

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ, being seated on the right hand of God, sent, as He had promised, the Holy Ghost upon His apostles; who, after He had ascended, returning to Jerusalem, continued in prayer and supplication with the Blessed Virgin Mary, expecting the performance of His promise.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O sacred Virgin, Tabernacle of the Holy Ghost; we beseech thee obtain, by thy intercession, that this most sweet Comforter, Whom thy beloved Son sent down upon His apostles, filling them thereby with spiritual joy, may teach us in this world the true way of salvation, and make us to walk in the paths of virtue and good works. Amen.

IV. The Assumption of Our Lady. (Assumptio beatæ Mariæ Virginis in cælum)

Scripture


‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.’ (Revelation 11.19-12.1)

Catechism


966 ‘Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death’. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.
967 By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a ‘pre-eminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church’; indeed, she is the ‘exemplary realization’ (typus) of the Church.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how the glorious Virgin, twelve years after the Resurrection of her Son, passed out of this world unto Him, and was by Him assumed into heaven, accompanied by the holy angels.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O most prudent Virgin, who, entering into the heavenly palace, didst fill the holy angels with joy and man with hope; vouchsafe to intercede for us in the hour of our death, that, being free from the illusions and temptations of the devil, we may joyfully and securely pass out of this temporal state, to enjoy the happiness of eternal life. Amen.

V. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven, and the Glory of All the Saints. (Beatæ Mariæ Virginis coronatio itemque Angelorum et Sanctorum Gloria)

Scripture


‘After these things I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia. Salvation, and glory, and power is to our God. For true and just are his judgments, who hath judged the great harlot which corrupted the earth with her fornication, and hath revenged the blood of his servants, at her hands. And again they said: Alleluia. And her smoke ascendeth for ever and ever. And the four and twenty ancients, and the four living creatures fell down and adored God that sitteth upon the throne, saying: Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out from the throne, saying: Give praise to our God, all ye his servants; and you that fear him, little and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord our God the Almighty hath reigned. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath prepared herself. And it is granted to her that she should clothe herself with fine linen, glittering and white. For the fine linen are the justifications of saints.’ (Revelation 19.1-8)

Catechism


972 After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own ‘pilgrimage of faith,’ and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, ‘in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity,’ ‘in the communion of all the saints’, the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as the Mother of the Lord and as her own mother.
969 ‘This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix’.

Before the Decade


Let us contemplate in this mystery how the glorious Virgin Mary was, with great jubilee and exultation of the whole court of heaven, and particular glory of all the saints, crowned by her Son with the brightest diadem of glory.

After the Decade


Let us pray. O glorious Queen of all the heavenly citizens; we beseech thee to accept this Rosary, which, as a crown of roses, we offer at thy feet; and grant, most gracious Lady, that, by thy intercession, our souls may be inflamed with so ardent a desire of seeing thee so gloriously crowned, that it may never die in us, until it shall be changed into the happy fruition of thy blessed sight. Amen.

The Luminous Mysteries (Mysteria Luminosa)

I. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. (Baptisma apud Iordanem) 

Scripture


‘Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him. And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3.13-17) Catechism
535 Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. John preaches ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.’ A crowd of sinners - tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. ‘Then Jesus appears.’ The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, ‘This is my beloved Son.’ This is the manifestation (‘Epiphany’) of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God. 

Catechism

536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ Already he is anticipating the ‘baptism’ of his bloody death. Already he is coming to ‘fulfill all righteousness’, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to ‘rest on him’. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism ‘the heavens were opened’ - the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed - and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation. 

Before the Decade


We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this decade in honour of thy Baptism in the Jordan, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, humble self-abasement and repentance, and to walk in newness of life.



After the Decade


Grace of the Baptism in the Jordan, come down into my soul and truly make me a child of God. 

II The Wedding Feast at Cana. (Autorevelatio apud Cananense matrimonium)

Scripture


‘And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.’ (John 2.1-11) Catechism
1613 On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign - at his mother’s request - during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.

Catechism

1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ. 

Before the Decade


We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this decade in honour of the Miracle at Cana, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, to save us through the Hour of Thy Passion, and to be made worthy to sit at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

After the Decade
Grace of the Miracle at Cana, come down into my soul and help me do whatever Our Lord tells me. 

III. The Proclamation of the Kingdom. (Regni Dei proclamatio coniuncta cum invitamento ad conversionem)

Scripture


‘And when Jesus had heard that John was delivered up, he retired into Galilee: and leaving the city Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capharnaum on the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim; that it might be fulfilled which was said by Isaias the prophet: Land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people that sat in darkness, hath seen great light: and to them that sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 4.12-17) Catechism
541 ‘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.”’ ‘To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth.’ Now the Father’s will is ‘to raise up men to share in his own divine life’. He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, ‘on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdoms’.
542 Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the ‘family of God’. By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery - his death on the cross and his Resurrection - he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ Into this union with Christ all men are called. 

Before the Decade


We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this decade in honour of the Proclamation of the Kingdom, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, that we heed Thy call to repentance and to follow Thee.

After the Decade
Grace of the Proclamation of the Kingdom, come down into my soul and help me to obey Christ and gain entry into His kingdom. 

IV The Transfiguration. (Transfiguratio)

Scripture


‘And it came to pass about eight days after these words, that he took Peter, and James, and John, and went up into a mountain to pray. And whilst he prayed, the shape of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and glittering. And behold two men were talking with him. And they were Moses and Elias, appearing in majesty. And they spoke of his decease that he should accomplish in Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. And waking, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, that as they were departing from him, Peter saith to Jesus: Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias; not knowing what he said. And as he spoke these things, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them; and they were afraid, when they entered into the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son; hear him. And whilst the voice was uttered, Jesus was found alone. And they held their peace, and told no man in those days any of these things which they had seen.’ (Luke 9.28-36)

Catechism


555 For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to ‘enter into his glory’. Moses and Elijah had seen God’s glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets had announced the Messiah’s sufferings. Christ’s Passion is the will of the Father: the Son acts as God’s servant; the cloud indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit. ‘The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.’
556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed ‘the mystery of the first regeneration’, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration ‘is the sacrament of the second regeneration’: our own Resurrection. From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.’ But it also recalls that ‘it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God’.

Before the Decade


We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this decade in honour of Your Transfiguration, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, that we may pick up our crosses and follow Thee up the mountain of Calvary, and to behold Thy glory in heaven.



After the Decade


Grace of the Transfiguration, come down into my soul and strengthen me in sufferings and trials.

V. The Institution of the Eucharist. (Eucharistiæ Institutio)

Scripture


‘And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.’ (Matthew 26.26-29) Catechism
1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; ‘thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.’

Catechism

1340 By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus’ passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom. 

Before the Decade


We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this decade in honour of Thy Institution of the Eucharist, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, to unite us to Thee more nearly, and to make us sharers in Thy Passion.

After the Decade


Grace of the Institution of the Eucharist, come down into my soul and help me to love my brothers and sisters even as Jesus does.


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A Journey Through the Bible

Monday, July 03, 2017

Fr Richard Ounsworth OP recently spoke at a meeting of The Dominican Forum in the City of London (kindly hosted by CCLA). Lector in New Testament Studies at Blackfriars, Oxford, he offered a fresh way to re-engage with God's Word addressed to us in the Bible. This is an abridged version of his talk. Read more

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