In the spirit of the apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, written by Pope John Paul II, the full list of mysteries is presented here. For each group, a quote from the letter is given. For each mystery, a few thoughts from the letter, a reflection and then a short “prayer for the fruits of that particular mystery.” (RVM)
At the end of each, there is a scripture connected with the mystery.
The Joyful Mysteries – Monday and Saturday
The Mysteries of Light or Luminous Mysteries – Thursday
The Sorrowful Mysteries – Tuesday and Friday
The Glorious Mysteries – Wednesday and Sunday
The Joyful Mysteries – “Mysteries in which Mary’s presence is especially pronounced.”
- The Annunciation – This is the beginning of the world being reconciled to God. The Father looks with favor on Mary, and in her agreement with God’s Will, humanity begins to return to its Creator. We are offered the grace to imitate Mary in her perfect obedience to God. Let us commit ourselves to God’s plan for us, and let Jesus work in us for the salvation of the world.
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you say.”
- The Visitation – Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and the infant John the Baptist in the womb both rejoice when the bearer of Christ greets them. At this, Mary exults in God, and gives glory to Him. John the Baptist began to prepare the way for Jesus while still in the womb. May we who are no longer infants make our way straight before the Lord.
“My spirit rejoices in God my savior!”
- The Birth of Jesus – Mary and Joseph see Jesus for the first time, and the light of Christ is shown first to the poor. There was no room for Jesus to be born in the world, so he came where he could, accepting this indignity out of love for us. May we bear harsh treatment and injustice against us out of love for others, and keep the Christ child company amid the poor, as Mary did.
“Mary kept in mind all these things, and treasured them in her heart.”
- The Presentation in the Temple – For hundreds of years, God’s glory had been absent from the Temple. Mary brought the glory of an obedient Son there, and by her action God’s promise to Simeon was kept. Simeon praised God and warned Mary of her share in the sufferings of Jesus. May we bring Jesus to others, and recognize him in others, whatever the cost.
“Lord, according to your promise, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
- The Finding in the Temple – When Mary realized Jesus was not present on her journey, she searched and found him doing his Father’s work. Mary was grieved at the loss of Jesus, even for a short time. May we also seek him in his Father’s work, and never wish to be separated.
“Why were you searching for me everywhere, did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?”
- Baptism in the Jordan – As Jesus descended into the waters, the Heavens were opened and the mystery further revealed. The Father and Holy Spirit are present, and John the Baptist testifies that “this is the one.” Jesus, who did not know sin, submitted to the Baptism of John as righteousness. May we humbly follow the teachings of the Church out of a desire to fulfill the Will of the Father.
“Let it be so for now, it is proper to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
- The Wedding at Cana – The first sign is accomplished at the request of the first believer in Jesus, Mary. We learn that Jesus cares for our needs and responds to our pleas. Mary teaches us to “do whatever he tells you.” May we remember that prayer is the first step in the best results, and that confident obedience is the best action we can take.
“He did not realize where the wine had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the bridegroom aside and said … you have saved the best until now.”
- Proclaiming the Kingdom – Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God, calls us to conversion, “and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust.” (RVM) This mystery continues to the end of the world, as the Body of Christ continues to preach the Gospel to all the earth. May we preach the Good News always, most especially by our actions in everyday life.
“Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
“By this will they know you are mine, by your love for one another.”
- The Transfiguration – Most truly a mystery of light, the Transfiguration revealed more about Jesus, and strengthened the Apostles in anticipation of the coming sufferings. The face of Jesus shone like the Sun, and the Father reminds those present, “This is my Son, my chosen, listen to him.” In the presence of such Glory, the Apostles do not know what to say. May we turn our thoughts to the Glory of Christ often, and practice the contemplation that comes from being speechless in the awesome presence of God.
“He did not know what to say…”
- The Institution of the Eucharist – In his perfect love, Jesus gave himself to his own under the appearance of bread and wine. This utterly new gift of God to us, a perfect sacrifice on our behalf, reveals the depth of His love, the love that gives his life itself to us. The Apostles could not fully grasp this until later, and they have passed that knowledge on to our generation. May we receive the gift of the Eucharist with sweet gratitude and deep devotion, and so be transformed into the shape of Christ.
“This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
- The Agony in the Garden – At Gethsemane, Jesus understands the sufferings he is to bear; as a man he would wish to avoid it, but knows the Father’s Will. And so he does what Adam could not: obey the Father perfectly, “even unto death, death on a cross!” His love for the Father is love for us, giving his very life that we might truly live. In those moments where we stand between sin and obedience to God, may we choose with Jesus, and pledge our selves to the Father anew. We can be sure of God’s help to strengthen us, too.
“Not my will, but yours be done.”
- The Scourging – God, in His infinite power and majesty, remained untouchable by human hands, but becoming man allowed the touch of healing and the whip. The compassionate touch of Jesus was repaid with the scourging. The healing of others’ wounds was repaid with his own blood, as evil was returned for his mercy. So often, an act of kindness is unappreciated, but must be done to fulfill the Father’s plan. May we be grateful to God for His mercy and compassion, and never grieve Him by our sins.
“I gave my back to those who beat me, and my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting.”
- The Crowning with Thorns – Jesus received the crown of thorns, the only crown the world would grant him. The rightful king is mocked and abused, but remains silent and patiently endures an insult beyond all description. Yet there is a glory in this crowning, and a greater truth than the soldiers understood. We, too, can be mocked and called names unjustly. In these times, may we imitate Christ’s dignity and join our apparent dishonor to his, that we may share his crown at the end.
“After twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they knelt down before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'”
- Carrying the Cross – Jesus carried the instrument of our salvation to his death. Not a quick death, but an agonizing ordeal for the Son of David. For three years, crowds had gathered wherever he went, healing and forgiving. Now they have come to see him suffer and die. Perhaps they expected another miracle, but they did not understand what was happening. And Jesus kept walking, doing the Father’s Will. We must do the same, living in view of others, carrying our cross, obeying the Father.
“…bearing his own cross, to the place called the skull place, in Hebrew, Golgotha.”
- The Crucifixion – Jesus ascended the cross, and was raised up in the midst of sinners. Even in this, he continued to forgive and save, promising to bring one of the criminals crucified with him into paradise that very day. Jesus forgave those who crucified him, and showed us how to give to the very end. His cry of, “I thirst,” expresses both the human spirit desiring God and God’s desire that we would seek Him above all things.
May we contemplate the love that could survive our hatred and selfishness, and bring a drink of water to the suffering Christ.
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!”
- The Resurrection – The Peter and the women at the tomb found it empty and were puzzled, but John “saw and believed.” The Apostles were overjoyed at the sight of the risen Lord and the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized him in the breaking of the bread, but Thomas was slow to believe. May we believe without seeing, and be witnesses of the resurrection to all we meet.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
- The Ascension – After teaching his Apostles for a time after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended to the Father. After he had gone the Apostles stood there staring at the sky. He had led his disciples for three years, and now leads us toward Heaven, preparing a place for us. Although the Apostles yearned to see Jesus again, they obediently gathered with the other disciples and waited for the gift promised by the Father. May we always remember to turn our hearts toward Heaven and our eyes toward Christ as we await the fulfillment of his promise.
“He showed himself to the Apostles and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” Acts 1:3
- Pentecost – More than a hundred disciples were gathered together in prayer, including Mary. Peter began to assume the leadership conferred on him by Jesus, and as they prayed and kept the command to wait, the Father’s promise was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit entered the infant Church. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak as they received the Power. No longer fearful, they poured out into the streets and proclaimed the wonders of God, as the prophet Joel foretold. May we who have received the Holy Spirit be bold in our witness to the power and love of God, and may all who meet us encounter Christ.
“In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people …on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Acts 2:17-18 cf
- The Assumption – Mary was the first to receive the benefits of Christ in her Immaculate Conception, and the first also to follow Jesus into Heaven, body and soul. Her body was the new ark and a kind of tabernacle for the body of the infant Jesus, and it was preserved from corruption. She who trusted in God from the beginning shows what we may expect in the end; that God loves us completely, soul and body, and will bring both to Paradise in a way we cannot see now. May the Assumption remind us of our destiny, a glorified life in Eternity.
“You are the splendid boast of our people!” Judith 15:9
- Mary is Crowned Queen of Heaven – We are promised that we will one day reign with Christ the King, but Mary has already received her crown as the first disciple of Jesus. Just as our first parents’ refusal of God’s command brought grief upon all mankind, so did Mary’s willingness to accept God’s plan enable salvation for the world through Christ. If a simple girl in a small village can be crowned Queen of Heaven, anything is indeed possible with God. May we remember the glory to which we are called, and prepare to meet Jesus face to face.
“If we endure, we will reign with Him.” 2 Timothy 2:12
“… giving thanks to the Father, who grants us a share in the inheritance of the Saints…” Colossians 1:12 cf