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Friar’s E-Spirations: Reflections on the Joyful Mysteries

With this E-spiration, I am offering brief meditations on the Five Joyful Mysteries. My long-range plan is to share similar reflections on each of the four Mysteries of the Rosary. Thus, after the Joyful Mysteries, we will move on to the Luminous, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious Mysteries. But these will not follow in strict succession. Rather, each of the sets of mysteries will be published only after a break of two or three months. This allows me to deal with other topics that call, perhaps, for more timely attention. And so we begin with:

The Five Joyful Mysteries

1. The Annunciation. The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the Mother of our Savior. Mary humbly asks an honest question: “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The angel responds, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Mary answers simply: “Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Humility and trust pervade Mary’s entire attitude before God. Mother Mary, help us imitate your example.

2. The Visitation.
Mary enters the house of her cousin Elizabeth. At the sound of her greeting, the infant leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth says to Mary: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And so we are inspired not only by Mary’s humility but by her absolute trust that what the Lord promised would indeed come about. If John the Baptist—in Elizabeth’s womb—leaped for joy at the arrival of Mary, we too should find cause for joy when we come to pray before the Mother of God.

3. The Nativity.
At the decree of Caesar Augustus, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to be enrolled. There Mary gives birth to her firstborn son, wrapping him in swaddling clothes and laying him in a manger. Consider the humility of Mary on the one hand—and the humility of the Son of God on the other. In one of his sermons, St. Anthony of Padua expressed awe at the humility of God: “The Lord of the Universe is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lays . . . in a narrow manger.” May all of us seek to imitate the humility of Mary—and of God!

4. The Presentation. Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate him to the Lord. There, a devout and righteous man named Simeon was awaiting “the consolation of Israel. It had been revealed to Simeon . . . that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.” Simeon said, “Behold, this child is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that shall be contradicted.” Along with Simeon, we too have been introduced to the long-awaited Messiah. May the Holy Spirit show us how to welcome and respond to him!

5. The Finding of the Child Jesus. After a trip to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus had accidentally been left behind. Returning, they find Jesus in the Temple, listening to the teachers and asking questions. Mary says to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?” Jesus answers, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” In family life today, we also find that we can run into conflicts when faced with confusing priorities. Ultimately whose will must we follow? The will of our parents? Or the will of our heavenly Father? Again, we will certainly need wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

“The Power of Relationships,” by Friar Jim Van Vurst, OFM, was such a powerful and moving revelation. What a way to put it! It really became much clearer of how God could possibly love us so much. Not only because he is God, but any of us who knows what it’s like to take care of a baby would definitely understand the relationship of the adult to the child. I used to always say that I was totally “in love” with my children. Sometimes they just melt your heart and you want to give them everything. Nick

Thank you for sharing this wonderful selection. I agree that God gives us the greatest gifts of his love: by letting us have relationships in our mortal lives, we are allowed to share the mystery of his love for all of us. You dealt with the positive sides of relationships, but I have found that, even in the negative, we are called to see Christ’s own suffering within ourselves. For instance, when we are rejected by someone, we are sharing in God’s rejection by mankind. Kathryn

A: Dear Kathryn and Nick: Thanks for your thoughtful responses. I often wonder how we could even speak our language if certain words were excluded, e.g. love, friendship, relationships. We simply are connected, first to the Lord and through him to each other. I imagine Mary’s love for Joseph and what his death meant to her and Jesus. How many tears they must have shed because of their loving relationship. Friar Jim