Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Pope Calls For A Rediscovery Of The Rosary

by Fr. Robert J. Fox


The five mysteries of light, each with a brief explanation given by Pope John Paul II and a prayer, added by Fr. Fox, to obtain spiritual fruit from meditating on the mystery.

Larger Work

The Wanderer


4 & 8

Publisher & Date

Wanderer Printing Co., St. Paul, MN, October 31, 2002

Without changing the centuries-old manner of praying the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the rosary, Pope John Paul II observed the beginning of the 25th year of his pontificate by adding to the rosary five "mysteries of light" and calling for a Year of the Rosary.

The roots of the rosary extend back even into the Old Testament. The 15 decades, or 150 Hail Marys, prayed whiled meditating on the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries, were a substitute for earlier Christians in place of the 150 Psalms of David prayed by priests and religious. Devout Catholics have known for centuries that while praying each of the 15 series of 10 Hail Marys, the proper manner was to meditate on one or other of the joyful, sorrowful, or glorious accounts of our salvation in Christ. These accounts, or mysteries, are recorded in the New Testament of the Bible and found in the Tradition of the Church.

Pope John Paul II said the manner of praying the rosary "gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God." In giving Christians five additional mysteries to contemplate while praying the decades of the rosary, Pope John Paul II calls all in their spiritual journey to "set out into the deep" (duc in altum). Thus they will proclaim again and cry out even more boldly. "Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior — 'the Way, and the Truth and the Life' (John 14:6)."

Pope John Paul II called the rosary a "Christocentric prayer" which "has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium."

The Pope, sensing the urgency of our times and evil conditions threatening the world at the beginning of the third millennium, made an impassioned appeal that the proper method of praying the rosary become widespread.

While recalling the miraculous wonders achieved in past history of Christians praying the rosary for victory and peace, the Holy Father pleaded: "Brother bishops, priests, and deacons, and to you, pastoral agents in your different ministries: through your own personal experience of the beauty of the rosary, may you come to promote it with conviction."

Pope John Paul II used the occasion of the beginning of his 25th year in the pontificate to issue his apostolic letter, October 16, 2002, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, expanding the scope of meditating on the mysteries of Christ in the rosary, so as to include five extra mysteries known as the "mysteries of light." They are drawn from the life of Jesus Christ and the public Revelation of His divine nature and mission.

Sample Meditations On Mysteries Of Light

Listed below are the mysteries of light. There is also the brief explanation given by Pope John Paul for each of the five additional mysteries. To each mystery of light I have added a prayer to obtain spiritual fruit from meditating on the mystery. His Holiness suggested we conclude each decade with some kind of prayer for spiritual fruit.

1) The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan: "Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became 'sin' for our sake (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares Him the beloved Son (cf. Matt. 3:17), while the Spirit descends to invest Him with the mission which He is to carry out" (n. 21).

Prayer at end of decade: Lord Jesus, give me light to know and do the mission in my life to which God has called me so that the Father may be pleased with my life.

2) The Wedding Feast of Cana (cf. John 2:1-12): Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers.

Prayer at end of decade: Lord Jesus, open my heart that I may always have faith in you as Lord, God, and Savior and influence others to the same faith. May Mary be my model in leading me and others to faith in her divine Incarnate Son.

3) The Announcement of the Kingdom: "[In this mystery we see] the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mark 1:15), and forgives the sins of all who draw near to Him in humble trust (cf. Matt. 2:3-13; Luke 7:47-48); the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which He continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which He has entrusted to His Church (cf. John 20:22-23)."

Prayer at end of decade: Lord Jesus, enlighten me to know always in faith that living in union with you, the Kingdom of God is with me. May I lead others to your Kingdom so as to know your merciful love and forgiveness through the sacraments.

4) The Transfiguration: The mystery of light par excellence is the transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to "listen to Him" (cf. Luke 9:35) and to prepare to experience with Him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with Him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer at end of decade: Lord Jesus, may I so live as to one day share in your glory in Heaven, prefigured at your transfiguration. I offer this rosary for all families to come to living faith on earth so as one day to live in your glory in Heaven.

5) The Institution of the Holy Eucharist: A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers His Body and Blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies "to the end" of His love for humanity (John 13:1), for whose salvation He will offer Himself in sacrifice.

Prayer at end of decade: Lord Jesus, may I always believe that you perpetuate your sacrifice of the cross at every Holy Mass with its infinite merits. May my faith know your Real Presence with your Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the consecrated Host, which is transubstantiated into yourself.

October 2002 — October 2003: The Year Of The Rosary

His Holiness has named the present year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary. "To recite the rosary," he wrote, "is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ." He sees the rosary properly understood and prayed as entering more deeply into the life of Christ in the third millennium.

"The rosary, reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the very heart of Christian life; it offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization."

The urgency for more intense Christian prayer today expressed by Pope John Paul is obvious in his letter as he reminds us that the rosary is the great prayer for peace and the great prayer for families. The current crisis of terrorism and the Pope's call for the rosary at the beginning of the third millennium can remind us of an earlier century when the invasion of Eastern Europe was threatened by Mohammedans and the Pope called for a great crusade of the rosary to save Europe for Christianity.

The Christians, greatly outnumbered, were miraculously victorious in the battle of Lepanto in 1571, sparing Christianity for Europe at that time.

The Pope also considers the critical contemporary issue of the family, the primary cell of society, as it is attacked by forces of disintegration and says: "The revival of the rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age" (n. 6).

The Pope returns to his urgent plea as he concludes his letter on the rosary:

"I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian families, to you, the sick and elderly, and to you, young people: Confidently take up the rosary once again. Rediscover the rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives.

"May this appeal of mine not go unheard! At the start of the 25th year of my pontificate, I entrust this apostolic letter to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary."

© 2002 The Wanderer Printing Co.

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