The Rosary: The Resurrection

JMJ

As the Funeral Mass says, “For thy faithful people, O Lord, life is not ended, but changed.” This Mystery changes the key signature of the entire work. What went before – both joy and sorrow – now has meaning. What comes after now is possible – for it wasn’t at all possible before. I ascend to my Father and your Father. He wasn’t our Father before: save in the law. Now, if we are in Christ, in the Resurrection, we are a New Creature. The Old Man is passing away: God is our Father. Now we are the very Sons of God in Christ, “buried with him in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life”.

My own words fail me here. So I will resort, in this mystery, to the Paschal Homily of St John Chrysostom. If these seem wordy, remember: the little extra verses are for reading while you pray. For “on the go” praying (I love the Rosary for walking), just use an embolism.

The embolism I use is the Paschal Troparian:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, risen from the dead, trampling down death by death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Recently I found another collection of embolisms for the Rosary on this page.

The First Glorious Mystery:
The Resurrection of Christ

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

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
Hail, Mary, &c.

You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
Hail, Mary, &c.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into Hades and took Hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted His flesh!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Hell was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains! It took a body and came upon God! It took earth and encountered Ηeaven! It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
Hail, Mary, &c.

O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
Hail, Mary, &c.

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept. To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

GLORIOUS Virgin Mary, by that unspeakable joy which you did receive in the resurrection of your Divine Son, we beseech you obtain for us of Him, that our hearts may never go astray after the false joys of this world, but may be for ever wholly employed in the pursuit of the only true and solid joys of heaven. Amen.

The Rosary: Introduction to the Glorious Mysteries

JMJ

The Glorious Mysteries are the key to the entire Rosary. The rest of the Rosary is meaningless without these Mysteries.  Our Lord’s life and death are in vain without his Resurrection. St Paul, in fact, says the entirety of the Christian teaching is meaningless without this. Calling out again, the Catechism:


516
 Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father’s will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest “God’s love. . . among us”.

517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:

– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;
– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;
– in his word which purifies its hearers;
– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;
– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.

518 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of recapitulation. All Jesus did, said and suffered had for its aim restoring fallen man to his original vocation:When Christ became incarnate and was made man, he recapitulated in himself the long history of mankind and procured for us a “short cut” to salvation, so that what we had lost in Adam, that is, being in the image and likeness of God, we might recover in Christ Jesus.185 For this reason Christ experienced all the stages of life, thereby giving communion with God to all men.186

The story is told of the filming of the T.V. miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth, that after filming the crucifixion, the cast felt they were finished because that was so powerful a moment. Someone said, “Hey, shouldn’t there be a Resurrection somewhere?”  I think this is apocryphal because most works are not film in a chronological sequence, but rather based on outdoor and indoor shoot schedules and the availability of studio space and special effects resources.  But the story does point out the modern error that the crucifixion, itself, is the focus of the story.

Neither, point of fact, is the Resurrection on it’s own: but rather the Entirety of the Life of Christ from his action in the creation of the world to the the prophetic foreknowledge of the prophets, from his incarnation in the Virgin’s womb to his institution of the Holy Eucharist, from his Crucifixion to the Descent of the Holy Ghost, and finally to his action in the life of the Church, his Body, today. This is the ongoing action of salvation: we can no more point at one point in time as “the event of salvation” than we can point to magical words in the Eucharistic Canon as “the exact moment of consecration.”  As the late Canon Edward West once said of the Eucharist, so it is for the life of the world: “We do not know when Christ enters in and we can not reach in and pull him out again.”

Christ is saving you right now if you are willing to participate in the on-going action of your salvation. What he began in the Garden, continued through the Old Testament, and Crowned in the Mysteries of the Rosary is all laying the foundations for what he is doing right now in your heart.

  1. The Resurrection of Our Lord
  2. The Ascension of our Lord
  3. The Coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost
  4. The Assumption of Our Lady
  5. The Coronation of Our Lady

The Glorious Mysteries show us what should be the crowning glories of our life as Christians: as our Lord Rises, so do we. As our Lord prays the holy Spirit down on the world from his Father, so do the saints continue to pray God’s grace into the world. As the Blessed Virgin is crowned, so are will we, by God’s grace, reign with her in Heaven.

But as with Christ, so with us: it is the entirety of the action of our life that becomes the actualization of Salvation.  We cannot be crowned without being conceived, we cannot rise without dying.  The Rosary of Our Blessed Lady shows us that the entirety of life has been sanctified: and that we are called to live in that on-going sanctification.  The Natural Order of life can be broken by us, yes: but we can also live into it and offer it to God in a great Eucharistic action.

The Rosary: The Crucifixion

JMJ

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery is perhaps one of the most visual images of our faith. Everyone seems to know what a cross is, and most people have seen an artistic rendering of Crucifixion.  The image below is form Giotto’s Life of Christ, as are many of the works used to illustrate this series.

When we see the Crucifixion, I don’t know if we see it for what it really is: not only capital punishment, but ignominy. Those condemned to death in the arena might die fighting. Those beheaded, like John Baptist, died quickly. Those left to rot in prison died slowly in the dark. Those crucified, however, were exposed to public and official ridicule, dying slowly through asphyxiation whilst fighting for every breath. We have no equivalent in the modern world: our executions take place quietly and behind closed doors.

This is Jesus sanctifying death. The death of Christ on the Cross is the supreme triumph of life. O life, how canst thou die?” We seeing on Friday night.  Life cannot die. Breathing can be stopped, the heart can be stopped, but Zoe is forever. All of life now – from conception to birth, to the tomb – is an open door. Death is no longer “the end” but the gateway to the fullness of life in God. There is no fear. There can be precious little sorrow. Jesus, by his Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection (for this Mystery is not the Last) has open for us the entrance to Eternal Life: we have only to walk through.

When praying this Mystery, I add an embolism such as:

“…blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus; the Incarnate Word of God, crucified, dead, and buried. Holy Mary, Mother of God…”

The verses below are taken from the Good Friday Matins and Vespers.

The Fifth Dolorous Mystery:
The Crucifixion and Death of Christ

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 nailed to the cross, in the presence of His most afflicted Mother.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Through a tree Adam was led out of Paradise; but through the tree of the Cross the Thief made Paradise his home: for the former set aside his Maker’s commandment, while the latter, crucified with him, confessed the hidden God, crying out, ‘Remember me, O Lord, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The lawless bought the Maker of the Law from a disciple, and as a lawbreaker stood him before Pilate’s judgement seat, crying, ‘Crucify’ the one who gave them manna in the desert. But we, imitating the just Thief, cry with faith, ‘Remember us also, O Saviour, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Impious and lawless nation, why dost thou imagine a vain thing? Why hast thou condemned the life of all to death? O great marvel! That the Creator of the world, who loves mankind, is betrayed into the hand of transgressors and lifted up on a tree, that he may free the prisoners in Hell. Long-suffering Lord, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thy life-bearing side, gushing like a spring in Eden and giving drink to your Church, O Christ, is a spiritual Paradise, from thee dividing, as into four heads, into four Gospels, it waters the World, making creation glad and faithfully teaching the nations to worship thy Kingdom.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou wert crucified for my sake, becoming for me a source of forgiveness. Pierced in thy side, gushing forth for me streams of life. Transfixed by nails, that I, assured of the height of thy power by the depth of thy sufferings, might cry to thee, O Christ, giver of life, ‘Glory to thy Cross, O Saviour, glory to thy Passion!
Hail, Mary, &c.

All creation saw thy crucifixion, O Christ, and trembled. The foundations of the earth quaked with fear of thy might. The lamps of heaven hid themselves and the veil of the Temple was rent. The mountains quailed, and rocks were split, and with the faithful Thief we cry to thee, O Saviour, ‘Remember us in thy kingdom!’
Hail, Mary, &c.

All creation was struck with fear when it saw thee hanging on the Cross, O Christ; the sun was darkened and the foundations of the earth were shaken; all things suffering with thee, the Creator of all. All this thou didst endure willingly for us. Lord, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Lifted up on the Cross, destroying the power of death and as God wiping out the record against us, O Lord, only Lover of mankind, grant the repentance of the Thief also to us who worship in faith, Christ our God, and who cry to thee, ‘Remember us also, Saviour, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

O Christ, thy Mother, bearing thee in the flesh without seed, was truly Virgin and remained inviolate after child-birth. By her intercession, most merciful Master, to grant pardon of offences to those who ever cry, ‘Remember us also, Saviour, in thy kingdom’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When she saw thee, O Christ, the Creator and God of all, hanging on the Cross, she who bore thee without seed, cried bitterly: My Son, where has the beauty of thy form gone? I cannot bear to see thee unjustly crucified; hasten then, arise, that I too may see thy resurrection from the dead on the third day.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O HOLY Mary, Mother of God, as the body of thy beloved Son was for us stretched upon the cross may we offer up our souls and bodies to be crucified with Him, and our hearts to be pierced with grief at His most bitter Passion; and do thou, O most sorrowful Mother graciously vouchsafe to help us, by thine all-powerful intercession, to accomplish the work of our salvation. Amen.

The Rosary: The Carrying of the Cross

JMJ

Christ carries the Cross.  It is at this point that his path has grown into full parallel with ours for we are each called “to take up your cross and follow” Christ. What is your cross?  You want to, I’m sure, look for some great thing to be your cross. Forgive me if I am projecting. But if the Cross is a sign of our death, our loss of the illusion of self-ownership in sacrifice to Christ, then the Cross is our very life. The things that make you you; that make me me. Our passions, our talents, our temptations, our joys, our friends and loves, our families, our loss, our pain, our mourning. If we are here to “work out your salvation in fear and trembling” then it is your very gifts, your wins, and your losses, that are your cross.  The thing that is your bliss when you follow it: that is your cross. The sin you mistakenly think really is you, that is your cross. Take it up and sacrifice it.

To be clear, this is not a subtle, Disneyesque plea to “be yourself and everything will be fine” except insofar as “be yourself” means “the saint God wants me to be”. Your real self is not defined by “follow your bliss” or by giving in to your desires, lusts, cravings, and passions. Your real self is not who you think you are – especially if you define “self” by anything that departs from Christian teaching. You must become, by his grace, the Saint that God set out to create: the loving, self-sacrificing, God-praising, and God-pleasing light in your corner of the world. We must avoid any claim of “if it’s hard I must be doing it wrong.” In fact, it is when things are too easy that you’re doing it wrong!

Christ carries the Cross. This is not “for us” in the sense of paying a debt, but rather to show us how it’s done. You, too, in conforming to Christ, will die. And rise.

The verses below are taken from Matins for Holy Friday. The embolism I use in this Mystery is “the Incarnate Word of God, carrying his cross.”

The Fourth Dolorous Mystery:
The Carrying of the Cross

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how our Lord Jesus Christ, being sentenced to die bore, with most amazing patience, the Cross which was laid upon him, for his greater torment and ignominy.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Israel my firstborn son hath twice done wickedly: he abandoned me, source of the water of life, and hath dug for himself a broken well. He crucified me on a tree but hath asked for Barabbas, releasing him.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Heaven was amazed at this and the sun hid its rays; yet Israel felt no shame, and handed me over to death. Forgive them, holy Father, for they know not what they have done.
Hail, Mary, &c.

A destructive band of wicked men, hateful to God; an assembly of slayers of God came upon thee, O Christ, and dragged thee away as a malefactor, who art the Creator of all things, whom we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The impious, ignorant both of the Law and of the Prophets, meditating vain things, unjustly dragged thee away to slaughter as a sheep, the Master of all things, whom we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The priests with the scribes, wounded by envious malice, handed thee over to the nations, to be done away with, Thou who by nature art very Life, and the Giver of life, whom we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c.

They surrounded thee like many dogs, Sovereign Lord; they struck thee cheek with a blow; they questioned the, they bore false witness against thee, and thou, enduring all things, hast saved all.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Seeing thee crucified, O Christ, all creation trembled; the foundations of the earth quaked with fear at thy might. For when thou wert lifted up today, the Hebrew race perished; the veil of the Temple was rent apart; the graves were opened, and the dead arose from the tombs.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Centurion, seeing the marvel, was afraid; whilst thy Mother, standing by, cried out, lamenting as a mother, ‘How should I not lament, and beat my breast, as I see thee naked as one condemned, hanging on a tree?’
Hail, Mary, &c.

They stripped me of my garments, and clothed me in a scarlet cloak; they placed a crown of thorns upon my head and put a reed into my right hand, that I might smash them like a potter’s vessels.
Hail, Mary, &c.

I gave my back to scourgings, while I did not turn away my face from spittings. I stood at Pilate’s judgment seat and endured the Cross for the salvation of the world.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Virgin, model of patience, by the most painful carrying of the Cross, in which thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, bore the heavy weight placed upon him, obtain for us of him, by thine intercession,  courage, and strength to follow his steps, and bear our cross after him to the end of our lives.  Amen. 

The Rosary: The Crowning with Thorns

The Crown of Thorns was of great interest to the Faithful of the Late Middle Ages.  This instrument of torture and mocking was as important as the scourging (perhaps in that it added to the number of drops of blood) and also as important as the cross: it was to house the Crown of Thorns that King Louis IX caused to be built the great Sainte Chapelle 

Although we moderns cannot enter the pious hearts of our ancestors, I think we might see something here, if we open our own hearts to Christ, who is the King of All in All Ages: he is crowned not by his own people, but rather by the Army of the then-King-of-the-World. Although the pattern had not yet started, it was the same way that future Emperors of Rome would be crowned by their legions and then brought to Rome.  But here the crowning is a mocking. The mocking is merciless bullying, but it seems odd to put it here. Why did the soldiers do this?

Recently it dawned on me that Jesus was near collapse after the scourging. Ever see someone get drunk at a college party, pass out on the sofa, and then his fraternity buddies will draw pictures on his face? That’s what I see here. Dress him like a king! Crown him with thorns! Laugh and spit! Hey, this is getting boring, slap him and wake him up… yo, prophet dude, who hit you? Bwahahahaha.

Yet in Christ is fulfilled the real meaning of the Divine Kingship that all monarchs share: not only to rule, but to be a bridge and a sacrifice. It is Gentiles at the beginning of his life who hail Christ as king. It is Gentiles at the end of his life who mock him as king again. Do we Gentiles today claim him as king as the wise men did, in sincerity with gifts and honour; or as the Romans did, in mockery, with pain and blood? When you cast your crowns before your King, does it wound him?

The State crucifies, but it is individuals who mock. The state punishes, but it is people who bully. Jesus, thus, experiences pan at the hands of “Church”, State, and individual people. This is the God of Love.

In praying this mystery, I add the embolism “the Word of God incarnate, crowned with thorns by the Romans” after the Holy Name.

In the meditation below, rather than Byzantine hymnody, I have chosen to use verses from the western hymn, O Sacred Head Sore Wounded. There are rather a few more verses than you may be familiar with! At the end of the post, there is a video to let you hear the melody.

The Third Dolorous Mystery:
The Crowning of Christ with Thorns

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

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

O sacred Head, sore wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!

How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Hail, Mary, &c.

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

Hail, Mary, &c.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Hail, Mary, &c.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Hail, Mary, &c.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

Hail, Mary, &c.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
and take away my sorrow by virtue of Thine own!

Hail, Mary, &c.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Hail, Mary, &c.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

Hail, Mary, &c.

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Mother of our Eternal King of Glory, by those sharp thorns wherewith his sacred head was pierced, we beseech thee to obtain, by thine intercession, that we may be delivered from all temptations of pride and escape that shame which our sins deserve on the Day of Judgement. Amen.

The Rosary: The Scourging

JMJ

The Scourging of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Romans – at the command of Pilate – is a favourite visual image: it has more action than the Crucifixion and also more blood.  Movie makers love it: it’s gory and allows them to play others off Jesus as bad guys.  See how cruel the Romans are to this peaceful teacher? Since the Occupied Nation could not do such things to her own citizens, it was the Romans who did it. The scriptures say Pilate wanted to let Jesus go but had him scourged just to make a point.  Roman cruelty towards its occupied peoples. Ever see Spartacus?  Ben Hur?  Romans are often the Bad Guys.

This is the punishment of a criminal by the state and of a heretic by the religious leaders. This is, properly, persecution against a religion: Jesus made theological claims that the Romans and the Jews both rejected. For this they oppressed him.

In mediæval piety there was a great fascination with the scourging: how many times was Jesus struck with how many whips? How many tails on each whip? How many leaded hooks on each tail? The count of the wounds let to a different level: how many drops of blood from each wound? Without flippancy, my first comment is: they had no television.  Church provides all the brightest and most colorful visuals in an otherwise dull life pattern. This is not a visual, however: this is counting and calculation. This is mental play for when there is no pageantry.

When praying this mystery, I used the embolism “scourged at the pillar”:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, scourged at the pillar. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Byzantine Rite text I modified for this meditation comes from the “Akathist to the Divine Passion of Jesus Christ”, available in full at Monochos. It’s quite a vivid text.  Since approved liturgical sources rarely provide authors and dates, we’re left with guessing: my guess would be Russian and mid to late Victorian era.

The Second Dolorous Mystery:
The Scourging of Our Lord by the Romans

Let us contemplate in this Mystery how our Lord Jesus Christ was most cruelly scourged in the house of Pilate.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Having true power as High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek, Thou didst stand before the criminal high priest Caiaphas. O Lord and Master of all, Who didst accept torture from Thy slaves, accept thy Mother’s prayers for us
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Wishing to deliver mankind from slavery to the enemy, Thou didst humble Thyself before Thine enemies, O Jesus, and like a lamb that is dumb Thou wast led to the slaughter, and didst endure wounds all over, that having healed the whole man, he might cry: Alleluia!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus, Innocent Lamb, torn by cruel scourges, rescue me from mine enemies! Jesus, High Priest, Who hast entered the Holy of Holies with Thy Blood, cleanse me from fleshly impurity! Jesus bound, Who hast power to bind and to loose, absolve my grievous sins! Jesus, Son of God, remember us when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of the Virgin, tortured by the sons of iniquity! Jesus, mocked and stripped, Who givest the flowers of the field their beauty and deckest the sky with clouds! Jesus, covered with wounds, Who satisfied the hunger of five thousand men with five loaves of bread!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus, King of all, who instead of a tribute of love and gratitude receivest cruel tortures! Jesus, Who art wounded all the day long for our sake, heal the wounds of our souls! Jesus, Son of God, remember us when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou wast all arrayed in Thy divine blood, O Thou Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment. I know, indeed I know with the Prophet why Thy garments are purple. I, Lord, it is I who wounded Thee with my sins. So to thee Who was wounded for my sake I thankfully cry: Alleluia!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Foreseeing Thee in spirit covered with shame and wounds, the divinely inspired Isaiah cried in horror: We have seen Him, and He had no form or beauty.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus, enduring dishonour, Who hast crowned man with glory and honour! Jesus, on Whom angels cannot gaze, slapped in the face! Jesus, Who was struck on the head with a reed, bow my head in humility!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus, Whose bright eyes were darkened with blood, turn away my eyes from beholding vanity! Jesus, Who from head to feet hadst not part whole, make me perfectly whole and healthy! Jesus, Son of God, remember us when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou wast a spectacle and marvel to men and angels, and to Pilate who said of Thee: Behold the Man! Come, then, let us worship Jesus Who suffered abuse for our sake.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Mother of God, Fountain of Patience, through those stripes thy only and dearly beloved Son vouchsafed to suffer for us, obtain of him for us grace to mortify our rebellious senses, to avoid the occasions of sin, and to be ready to suffer everything rather than offend God.  Amen.

The Rosary: The Garden of Gathsemene

JMJ

The Passion in the Garden is Jesus’ last “alone time” before the climax of his ministry.  He often went aside to pray, but, as it were, those might be considered “training prayers” for this one.  He experienced stress, certainly (as seen by the bloody sweat) and probably fear.  He asked his Father if there was another way – even after he had committed to doing this.  See the verses below from Byzantine Holy Week: as God, he himself was among the plotters agreeing to his own betrayal.

For the Orthodox, it is Jesus’ active participation in his own passion that is important: for us mortals, a “passion” implies (as Kallistos Ware points out) the Latin passio, something that happens to us.  For Jesus, it’s something he submits to fully and undertakes willfully.  He allows Judas to sell him to the Jews. He allows the Jews to give him to the Romans. He allows the Romans to nail him to the Cross.  He allows the demons to take him into hell. And then… O, Glorious God of All, what then! Oh, then and what more in your love for us!  Glory to Thee!

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how our Lord Jesus was so afflicted for us in the Garden of Gethsemane that his body was bathed in a bloody sweat, which rand down in great drops to the ground.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet, Judas the ungodly was darkened with the sickness of avarice; and to lawless judges he delivered the only just judge. O lover of money, look upon him who for its sake hanged himself; flee from the insatiable soul, which dared such things against the Master.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Judas ran, saying to the lawless scribes, ‘What wilt thou give me and I hand him over to thee?’ As they came to their agreement thou, even the object of their agreement, standest among them invisibly agreeing. O thou who knowest the heart, spare our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Because of the raising of Lazarus, O Lord, who lovest mankind, the children of the Hebrews cried out to thee, ‘Hosanna’. But Judas the transgressor did not want to understand.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At thy Supper, O Christ our God, thou foretellest thy Disciples, ‘One of you will betray me’. But Judas the transgressor did not want to understand.
Hail, Mary, &c.

For thirty silver pieces, O Lord, and a deceitful kiss, the Jews sought to slay thee, the only lover of Mankind. But Judas the transgressor did not want to understand.
Hail, Mary, &c.

‘Watch and pray that ye may not be tested’, thou saidst to thy Disciples, O our God. But Judas the transgressor did not want to understand.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At the Supper thou nourished thy Disciples and, knowing the plan of the betrayal, thou exposed Judas during it, wishing all to know that it was by thine own will that thou wast handed over, that you might snatch the world from the Stranger.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Today the Creator of heaven and earth saith his own Disciples: The hour has drawn near and Judas who betrays me is at hand; let none deny me when they see me on the Cross, between two thieves; for as man I suffer, and as lover of mankind I save those who believe in me.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Today the Jews send to the Cross the Lord who parted the sea with a staff and led them through the desert. Today with a lance the Romans pierced the side of the One who scourged Egypt with plagues for their sake, and they gave vinegar as drink to the One who rained down the manna as nourishment.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Lord, as thou went to thy voluntary passion, thous saidst to thy Disciples, ‘If ye did not even have strength to keep vigil with me for one hour, how promised thee to die for me? Seest thou how Judas does not sleep, but hurries to betray me to sinner? Rouse thyselves to pray, let none deny me when they see me on the Cross’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Virgin, more than martyr, by that ardent prayer which our beloved Saviour poured forth to his heavenly Father, vouchsafe to intercede for us, that our passions being under the yoke of reason and faith, we may always, and in all things conform and subject ourselves to the holy will of God.  Amen.

The Rosary: Introduction to the Dolorous Mysteries

JMJ

The Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” was also conceived before the foundation of the world, raise by Joseph, potty trained by Mary, educated in the synagogue of Nazareth, raised from the dead, and crowned in glory from before the foundation of the world. Jesus is God’s eternity participating in our time, but to God things are not sequential. A thing either is or is not. Things come into being, yes: but for God they are not a process. The Dolorous or Sorrowful mysteries are the events at the End of Christ’s ministry. But to God – like all the other events of the life of Christ, they are always present. By his grace (his energy), as we contemplate them, we may enter into them:

  1. The Passion in the Garden
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross
  5. The Crucifixion, Death, and Burial of Our Lord

Perhaps these are what many people think about when they think of “meditating on the Rosary”.  Any sort of “Affective Piety” or “Pious Visualization” may give one a very stereotyped idea of someone conjuring up a mental image of the Crucifixion or the Scourging and, working themselves into an emotional state, having a good, cathartic cry.

One of the most emotionally moving, “religious feeling” experiences of my life was hearing a sermon on the medical aspects of the Passion of Christ: what one feels when one is so stressed out as to sweat blood, how the purple robe would have soaked up the blood from the scourging and then dried, like a large woolen bandage – which was ripped of Jesus’ back later, opening all the wounds again, tearing off more flesh. I was on a crying jag for about 30 mins after that sermon – which I heard in 1980 on Passion Sunday at the Methodist Church in Acworth, GA. It was one of those things that sticks with you.  The Anglican and later, Byzantine hymns of Holy Week can still leave me an emotional mess because they call to mind, 30+ years later, the image in that sermon. But feelings ain’t faith and no one was ever saved by feeling something.  Faith is a walk, not a breakdown.

We are no more try and feel sadness here than we are supposed to feel or to try and feel sentimental Christmassy thoughts in the Joyous Mysteries or giddy, triumphalism in the Glorious Mysteries. Feelings may, of course, arise: but that’s not the point. We are not here to feel something, but to grow in Christ and to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. So what are we doing here?  We are thanking God for these events – as we do in the other Mysteries – and we are calling them to mind to make their reality present in our lives. We are, in a real sense, participating in them as we are in the other mysteries.

Sequebatur autem illum multa turba populi et mulierum, quae plangebant et lamentabantur eum. Conversus autem ad illas Jesus, dixit: Filiae Jerusalem, nolite flere super me, sed super vos ipsas flete et super filios vestros. Quoniam ecce venient dies in quibus dicent: Beatae steriles, et ventres qui non genuerunt, et ubera quae non lactaverunt. Tunc incipient dicere montibus: Cadite super nos; et collibus: Operite nos. Quia si in viridi ligno haec faciunt, in arido quid fiet?

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?

Jesus said, “if they do this to me, imagine what they will do to you when I’m not around!”  We echo our modern, whiny, and self-pitying culture if we are too fast to cry “Horrible Persecution!” when all that’s happening is a change in the tax laws.  We need to be strengthened in our faith by realizing what our God has done for us.  An Anglican priest, well-beloved of me, used to say (in nearly every sermon) that “…God, whose holy name is love, was so willing to share his love with us that he accepted steel in his hands and feet and side…” and then he would charge us in the name of love to do the same.  We need to be mindful of what happened so that we can have it happen to us.

As we enter into meditation on the Dolorous Mysteries, let us remember: this is not the Passion Theater of the Mind (or Heart). This is basic training.

The Rosary: The Transfiguration

In the Mystery of the Transfiguration, God is revealed as he really is: a human man, fully divine, enfleshed, and loving us so dearly. In the Transfiguration, the Son of God is revealed as God the Son. There are some religions that insist the divine has no body. They are wrong. Full stop. They speak after the incarnation after the divine has been revealed to us in flesh. They actively deny Christ who is God and Man and are rejecting God.

The Transfiguration also reveals man as he really is: fully participating in the divine dance, as was intended to be our place before the Fall. Through Christ, the human and divine united, we are made one with God’s divine energies but not his essence: Christ alone bears both humanity and divinity in full without loss or commingling. The only thing he doesn’t carry is sin.

In that both of these unveilings are “new” this is a Transfiguration. But these new things are, actually, things as they really are.

The Transfiguration reveals to his disciples, as the hymns show, that this is God and all that he does he does of his own will.

In praying this Mystery, I add “… who was Transfigured on Tabor” after the Holy Name.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery:
The Transfiguration of Christ on the Mountain

Let us contemplate in this mystery how Jesus is Transfigured on Mount Tabor; speaking with Moses and Elijah, Our Lord appears in radiance, and then the other two – symbolizing the Law and the Prophets – fade away. Christ is Lord of the Living and the Dead, of the Law and the Prophets.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

When Thou wast transfigured before Thy Crucifixion, O Lord, the mount resembled heaven, and a cloud spread out like a canopy, and the Father bore witness unto Thee. And there were present with Peter, James and John, since they were to be with Thee at Thy Betrayal; so that seeing Thy wonders they might not be dismayed at Thy sufferings.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

When Thou wast transfigured, O Savior, on a high mountain, in the presence of Thy chief Disciples, Thou didst shine forth in glory, symbolizing that they who are recognized for the sublimity of virtue, shall also be made worthy of divine glory.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The mountain which was thick with smoke of old hath become now honorable and holy; for that Thy feet did rest on it, O Lord, for the mystery hidden before the ages, Thy Transfiguration before Peter, James and John hath made manifest.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Moses and Elijah, when they conversed with Christ, made manifest that He was the Lord of the living and the dead, and that He was the God Who spake of old in the law and the Prophets, the same to Whom the voice of the Father did bear witness from a radiant cloud, saying, Him do ye hear; for He it is Who by the Cross hath taken captive Hades bestowed life eternal to the dead.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When Thou didst prefigure Thy Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou didst take Thy three Disciples, Peter, James and John, and with them didst ascend Mount Tabor. And at Thy Transfiguration, O Savior, Mount Tabor was covered with light.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Peter, James, and John, not being able to bear the radiance of Thy face and the splendor of Thy raiment, did fall down on their faces kneeling, and being overcome with astonishment, wondered at the sight of Moses and Elijah conferring with Thee on things that were to befall Thee, while a voice from the Father bore witness, saying, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thy Disciples, they threw themselves on the ground, unable to bear the sight of Thy figure that may not be looked upon, O Word. And the angels did minister in fear and awe, while the heavens were affrighted and the earth trembled when they beheld on earth the Lord of Glory.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The servants of the Word, beholding new and wondrous things, and hearing the fatherly voice on Tabor, cried out rejoicing: This is our Savior, the Element of the ancient covenant.
Hail, Mary, &c.

O Thou Holy One Who hast sanctified the whole universe by Thy light, Thou hast been transfigured on a high mountain, and hast shown Thy Disciples Thy might and that Thou shalt deliver the world from transgression. Wherefore, do we cry out to Thee, O compassionate Lord, save our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When, O Christ our God, Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, Thou didst reveal Thy glory to Thy Disciples in proportion as they could bear it. Let Thine everlasting light also enlighten us sinners, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. O Thou Bestower of light, glory to Thee.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, as thy Son was Transfigured, revealing his glory and the glory of thy maternity, so by thy prayers, help us to be transformed by his divine Passion. Beg him to burn our sins by an immaterial fire, and make us worthy to be filled with his bliss, so that, rejoicing with thee, we may magnify him eternally.

The Rosary: the Preaching of the Kingdom

JMJ

The Proclamation of the Kingdom is a special mystery because it involves not only Christ and it is not limited in time or space. Anywhere the preaching of Christ is embodied in the world the Kingdom is taking place. Of course, the Kingdom here is a Mystery, not fully present outside the presence of a Sacrament: an outward and invisible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.  The Church is most assuredly the Kingdom of God on earth just as the Eucharist is really his Flesh and Blood, but it is only the eyes of Faith that can see it and, sometimes, humans can desecrate it, be it a thief stealing hosts or a gunman “claiming God’s will” in violence; a priest giving communion and not watching to see if the host is consumed, or a bishop bringing his boyfriend to Church: there is sin on earth. And yet the Kingdom of God is proclaimed not as coming, but as here, now.

Sleeper agents, covert operatives.

When you’re at the Post Office and you interact with the Postmistress using God’s grace, when you stand in humility before some perceived “injustice” knowing that you’re working out your salvation, when you reach out in love to some stranger around you – even when “sharing food” is illegal, you’re proclaiming the Kingdom to those around you, you are living in it and holding open a door to invite others in.

Ancient Romans thought Christians were violent revolutionaries, trying to destroy the state, refusing to participate in a Nationalist religion and thus subverting the blessings bestowed on Rome by the heavens. For this they killed Christians. At one time, Americans were afraid of Catholics holding political office because they claimed that Catholics owe allegiance first to the Vatican. I wish that were true, even partially. I pray for the day when such suspicion is raised about any Christian acting in our society and I pray for the day when it really is true for me. Because we’re nowhere near that now. We are, in the words of Douglas Adams, “Mostly Harmless”.  We’ve caved into being nice instead of proclaiming the Kingdom.

The verses I’ve chosen are the clearest proclamation of the Kingdom in the Scriptures: the Beatitudes which are sung nearly every Sunday in the Byzantine Liturgy.

The embolism I use in praying this Mystery is “…proclaiming the Kingdom of God in the world…”

The Third Luminous Mystery:
The Preaching of the Kingdom by Christ and the Apostles

Let us contemplate in this mystery how Jesus proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom, and his invitation to repent over our sins, and our need to grow in faith.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

In thy Kingdom remember us, O Lord, when thou comest in thy Kingdom.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called the sons of God.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Most Blessed Mother, by thy intercession grant we heed thy Son’s call to repentance and to follow him. Send the grace of the Proclamation of the Kingdom, into our souls, helping us to obey Christ and to live in His kingdom.