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The mysteries of the Rosary: part 1

24 Jan 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Mater Dei

Looking at the mysteries of the Rosary closely, you would observe that they are more of Jesus than Mary. Though I have no problem even if they are more of Mary because she deserves all the honour, we Catholics honour her with pride.

The Holy Rosary is a form of devotional prayer in the Catholic Church in which we reflect on twenty mysteries in the history of our salvation. The Holy Rosary is especially associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary. We owe no one apology for that; however, I wish to let you know that the Holy Rosary is a form of prayer that goes far beyond the Blessed Virgin Mary to reflect more of God. When you understand the greatness, the power, and the beauty of the Holy Rosary, you will never want to miss it, even for a day. It is my intention here to lead you into this understanding with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Holy Rosary are divided into the five JOYFUL MYSTERIES, the five MYSTERIES OF LIGHT, the five SORROWFUL MYSTERIES, and the five GLORIOUS MYSTERIES. These mysteries summarize our salvation history, and this history cannot be completed without mentioning the Blessed Virgin Mary. I will now take these four divisions and explain them one after the other.

The five joyful mysteries are The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, and the finding of the child in the Temple.

(1) Annunciation: This is the beginning of the fulfillment of what God said in Genesis 3:15 when he cursed the serpent; “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  From the very beginning of the fall of man, God planed his salvation. He was going to raise the Son of a woman who will bruise the head of the serpent. The prophets of old talked about this woman; …”Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel…” (Is. 7:14f). When it was time for the long-awaited child to be born, the Child that would crush the head of the serpent, God sent the Angel Gabriel to a City of Galilee named Nazareth. The Angel was sent to a young virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house, and the virgin’s name was Mary.



The Angel came with a message from God the Almighty Father for this young virgin, and the message was; “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you, have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Lk.1:30). The Angel announced the conception of the savior of the world. The Message was from the Father, who loves the world so much to send his Son (Jn. 3:16). The conception of this Child was to take place by the Holy Spirit’s power, which means that the Annunciation, the first of the five joyful mysteries of the Rosary, is more of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, before Mary. In this mystery, we meditate on the love of the Father, Son’s humility, and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. We also rejoice with Mary for been so highly favored by God, we honour her because God first honored her, and we ask for her intercessions. We ask her to pray for us before her Son Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Like her, let us simply surrender to the word of God; “I am your handmaid; let it be done to me according to your word.”

(2) Visitation: The second joyful mystery is the visitation. Mary, after listening to the Angel and also been informed that her kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has conceived, and was even in her sixth Month; “Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a City of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit….” (Lk.1:39-41).



Mary’s visit brought the Holy Spirit into the house of Zechariah even before Pentecost. So, in this mystery of the visitation, we recall that beautiful moment; how Mary visited her kinswoman and brought joy to their home. With the help of God, Mary was able to bring the Holy Spirit into the life and home of Zechariah. We call on her to intercede for us before her Son Jesus Christ, to visit us and fill us with the same Spirit. God allowed it in the life of Elizabeth, and he also allows it in our lives.

(3) Nativity: The nativity is the third of the joyful mysteries; it refers to the accounts of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The nativity is primarily based on Mathew’s gospel accounts (Mt. 1:18-25) and Luke (Lk. 2:1-21). Jesus humbled Himself to be born of a woman. Here, we pray in appreciation of the love of God, the humility of Jesus, and the grace to allow him to be born again in our lives. Mary’s role in bringing Jesus into the world is worth noting here also, her “yes” to the Lord, the Nine Months of pregnancy, and the pains of childbirth.


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We meditate on these and ask for her intercessions; as Jesus himself said that anyone who listens to the word of God and keeps it is his mother. We pray for the grace to carry Jesus not necessary in our womb but in our hearts and give birth to him in our daily actions.

(4) Presentation: This is the Fourth of the joyful mysteries; it is all about the fulfillment of the command of God to dedicate every first male born to him. It is written that when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male child that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (Lk. 2:21-24).



The presentation of Jesus to God in the Temple is an acknowledgment of the greatness of God. Therefore, we meditate on the dedication of Jesus himself as an example for us to follow. The obedience of Mary and Joseph to the word of God is equally set before us as an example; we, therefore, pray for the courage to dedicate ourselves to God.

(5) Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple: When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents took him to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. At the end of the ceremony, the boy Jesus stayed back in Jerusalem unknown to his parents. When the parents discovered that the boy was missing, they sought for him among their friends and relations without finding him. They had to return to Jerusalem only to find him in the Temple, listening to Rabbinic teachings and asking questions (Lk. 2:41-51).



Here we imagine how Mary and Joseph felt, looking for their only Child for three days and the joy of finding him. The absence of God in our lives can create the pains and agony such as Mary and Joseph experienced; so also, finding Christ in our lives can also bring the joy they experienced when they found him.