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 and are denying Christ who is God and Man in spite: those statements coming after God’s Incarnation are a rejection of 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.

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

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 an 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 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 revolutions, 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 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 no where near that now. We are, in the words of Douglas Adams, “Mostly Harmless”.  We’ve caved in to being nice instead of proclaiming the Kingdom.

The verses I’ve chosen are the most clear 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.

The Rosary: The Wedding At Cana

My most sincere apologies for the lateness of this post – it should have happened on Sunday!

This mystery is about the Wedding at Cana: given all the hoopla currently around marriage, I think is a mystery for us all to pray all the time.

It is true that it is from Christ’s presence at Cana that the Church develops a sacramental idea of marriage.  But it is also true that for the longest time marriage was seen as a secular issue with which devout Christians could work out their salvation.  First it was a state of life, governed by the state, which is blessed by the Church – giving it a sacramental grace.  Later it became a sacrament wholly governed by the Church.  But the State has always held so many of the cards in hand, that this state of life has always had risks: when the Byzantine Emperors and the English Kings wanted divorce, churches complied.

But as St Paul says, the Union of a Husband and Wife is a Mystery of Christ and his Church.  This union of opposites, the merger of the two poles of human nature into one flesh, is how God becomes Man to save Man.  At every wedding, inside every measure, God takes our human water – used for washing dishes – and turns it into Divine Wine.

It is exactly in washing dishes that we find salvation with our spouse.

There is no liturgical commemoration (east or west) of the Wedding at Cana outside of every Wedding Ceremony, so I have take parts of the Byzantine Rite of crowning and marriage.  It’s important to know: in the ER there is no vow. It is the blessing of the priest  – more correctly, God’s response to that blessing – that makes the marriage happen, just as it is his blessing that makes the Eucharist.

Mary’s place here is important for she prays her son to do something.  And he listens to his mother.  From this we draw the idea that she is our Intercessor and Mediatrix before the Divine Throne.

The embolism I use for this:

...blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, who heard thy prayers at the Wedding in Cana, changing water into wine. Holy Mary…

The Second Luminous Mystery:
Christ at the Wedding in Cana

Let us contemplate in this mystery the presence of Mary and Jesus in the Wedding Feast at Cana and how Jesus through the intercession of Mary, performed his first miracle and changed water into wine.

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

The Eternal God, brought into unity what had been separated and establish an unbreakable bond of agreement; blessing Isaac and Rebecca, and declared them to be the heirs of thy promise.
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 Lord our God betrothed himself to the Church from the nations as a pure virgin.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Lord our God in the beginning created male and female, and it is by you that woman is linked to man as a helper and for the continuation of the human race.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Our God most pure transformed the rib of our forefather Adam into a woman and blessed them saying, “Increase and multiply and have dominion over the earth”.
Hail, Mary, &c.

God declared them both to be one through wedlock, “for because of this a man will abandon his father and mother and be attached to his own wife, and the two shall become one flesh” and “those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Lord blessed Abraham and opened Sara’s womb, making him the father of many nations. God gave Isaac to Rebecca and blessed her offspring. He joined Jacob with Rachel and from him revealed the Twelve Patriarchs.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Lord accepted Zachary and Elisabeth and declared their offspring to be the Forerunner and God made the Ever-Virgin spring from the root of Jesse according to the flesh, and from her he became incarnate and was born for the salvation of the race of man.
Hail, Mary, &c.

By his ineffable gift and great goodness God was present in Cana of Galilee and blessed the marriage there, to show that lawful wedlock and the begetting of children that comes from it is his divine will.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Lord our God is the sacred Celebrant of the mystical and most pure marriage, Lawgiver of bodily marriage, Guardian of incorruption, loving Steward of our livelihood.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. Glory to thee, Christ God, boast of Apostles, joy of Martyrs whose preaching was the consubstantial Trinity.
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 holy Virgin Mother of God and our mother, as thou wert present with thy divine Son at the wedding of Cana where he heard thy prayers for the young couple, so pray for all thy children united in the sacrament of matrimony that they may be preserved in peace and concord who have been joined to each another. Pray that their marriage be honourable; keep their marriage bed undefiled; and that their life together to be without spot; ask your Son that they may reach a ripe old age, carrying out his commandments with a pure heart.

The Rosary: The Baptism of Christ

In the East this event is commemorated on 6 January, which feast is called the Theophany, or manifestation of God.  In the West the Baptism of Our Lord is commemorated on 13 January: the Octave Day of Epiphany, which feast commemorates the coming of the Magi and the manifestation of the Messiah to the Gentiles. The Byzantine texts celebrate this feast not just as the manifestation of the Messiah but as a full manifestation of the Trinity: with the voice of the Father and the descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of the dove.  This feast then – not just to the Gentiles – but to everyone – is the first full revelation of the One God as a Trinity of Love, the passing of the old covenant, the beginning of the new.

In praying this Mystery, I use the embolism, “Who was baptized in the Jordan by John.

The First Luminous Mystery:
The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan

Let us contemplate in this mystery the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the descending of the Holy Ghost upon him and the Father’s voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, in him I am well pleased”.

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

Make ready, O Zebulon, and prepare, O Nephtali: River Jordan, cease thy flow and receive with joy the Master coming to be baptized. Adam rejoice with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. 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 the Forerunner saw Him Who is our Illumination, Who doth illuminate every man, coming, to be baptized, his soul rejoiced, and his hand trembled.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Behold the Rescuer of Israel, Who delivereth us from corruption. Wherefore, O Christ our God, Who art sinless, glory to Thee.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The hosts of the angels trembled when they beheld our Redeemer being baptized by a servant, and testified to by the presence of the Spirit, while a heavenly voice from the Father cried,saying, Verily, this One on whom the Forerunner placeth his hands, is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The courses of the Jordan received Thee, O Fountain; and the Comforter descended in the likeness of a dove.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Yea, He Who bowed the heavens, boweth His own head; and the clay crieth unto the potter, saying, How dost thou command me to do what is more exalted than my station? It is I who need to be baptized by Thee.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou didst bow Thy head to the Forerunner, thereby crushing the heads of the dragons. And having stood in the streams, Thou didst illuminate the whole creation. Wherefore, let it glorify Thee, O Savior, Thou Illumination of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When Thou didst choose to save lost man, Thou didst not disdain to put on the likeness of a servant; for it was meet for Thee, O Lord God, to accept what is ours for our sakes; for when Thou wast baptized in the flesh, O Redeemer, Thou didst make us worthy of forgiveness.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou didst appear, O our Savior, to sinners and tax-gatherers out of the multitude of Thy mercy; for where else would Thy light shine but to those who sit in darkness? Wherefore, glory to Thee.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Today the nature of water is sanctified, and the Jordan is cloven, and its waters shall be withheld from flowing; the Master being shown washed therein.
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 prayers, beg thy Son to bury us with him in death that we may be raised to walk with him in newness of life; pour upon us the Holy Ghost so that we may be strengthened and guided ever to him and to you, turning away from our sins and running the race set before us.

The Luminous Mysteries: Introduction

To the standard 15 Decades of the Rosary, Pope John Paul II suggested another 5, the Mysteries of Light or the Luminous Mysteries. He did this in his letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae on 16 October 2002.  Whilst these have been accepted by Roman Catholics, they are not in very common use by other Christians who prefer to stick with the “traditional Rosary”.   These five “new” mysteries are:

  1. The Baptism of Christ
  2. The Wedding of Cana
  3. The Preaching of the Kingdom of God
  4. The Transfiguration
  5. The Mystical Supper

It may surprise some Orthodox – even those Byzantine Rite folks generally supportive of the Western Rite and also Western Rite folks in general – to hear that I advocate the use of John Paul the Second’s “innovation”.  I do so for three reasons:

  1. It does (as the Pope said) expand this devotion to encompass the whole life of Christ.
  2. It expands the meditation to the Holy Sacraments.
  3. It makes (by both 1 & 2 together) the entire meditation more Orthodox.
1. The Whole Life of Christ
The existing 15 Mysteries focus our attention on the Birth and the Death and Resurrection of Christ, but it is the entire presence of God with us that is salvific.  These five new mysteries widen out the scope of the prayer to teach that every action of God from the Annunciation (and before) to the Glorification (and beyond) was part of our salvation.

2. The Holy Sacraments
Each one of the Luminous mysteries seems, to me, to point to one of five Sacraments:

  1. The Baptism of Christ – Our Baptism
  2. The Wedding of Cana – Holy Matrimony
  3. The Preaching of the Kingdom of God – Holy Orders
  4. The Transfiguration – Confirmation/Chrismation
  5. The Mystical Supper – The Holy Eucharist
I recognize that #4 is a stretch, but we’re talking poetic meditation here, not doctrinal teaching. 
3. More Orthodox
If the main objection Orthodox have to the Rosary (as I have heard) is not “it’s Roman Catholic” but rather “too Western” (whatever that means), I think the addition of the Mysteries of Light fixes that.  They remove the focus from all the “sad stuff”, widening it out to “all the stuffs”.  It makes it a more holistic discussion of the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of the God-Man, or, to use a mid-century modern phrase, the Christ Event.   
Those of you who didn’t drop your reading device at the end of the last paragraph are begged to pray for me.  I will wrap up this intro now and on Wednesday begin the last five posts in this series.
Those of you who have asked for one of my hand-made Rosaries will get one when the series is done!

The Rosary: Closing Prayers & Suggestions

When praying the Rosary, it is traditional to do one set of five mysteries (eg, The Joyous Mysteries) – also known as five decades – at a time, although another pious practice is to do three Mysteries a day as a minimum.  My personal practice is five decades a day, although I do not get them all at once (more on that below).  At the end of the last decade, including the concluding Gloria, it is traditional to end your Rosary with these prayers:

The Salve Regina 

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send forth our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, thy Son.

O GOD, Who by the life, death, and resurrection of Thy only-begotten Son, hath purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

℣. May the Divine Help remain with us always,
℟. And with those who are absent from us.

℣. May the souls of the faithful through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

In my own practice I end each set of five decades this way, but if I have to stop “in the middle” as it were, I  say instead, only this prayer, which is the oldest known prayer to the Blessed Virgin (dating back at least to 250 AD):

Under thy protection we flee, O Holy Theotokos; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

There are various traditions of how to pray this and on what days to pray what.  You can see various suggestions around the net.  I stick with doing the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday, and starting the Joyous Mysteries on Monday.  However:

The traditional Dominican Rosary, as we have it today, with the three sets of five decades as we have included it in this series, is the method of praying the rosary that survived the middle ages.  There were other methods at that time: I’ve heard one scholar say that at one time there were 150 different mysteries, one “Ave” for each.  I don’t know about that… but the point is made that the Rosary went through an evolution before Dominic de Guzman and his Preachers made it popular in a standard form.  It survived that way for nearly 775 years, until Pop John Paul suggested five more mysteries.  I will continue this in a new post, but I think JPII’s additional mysteries actually make the Rosary more Orthodox and so I think they should be included.  Thus I pray:

Monday: the Joyous Mysteries
Tuesday: the Luminous Mysteries
Wednesday: the Dolorous Mysteries
Thursday: The Glorious Mysteries
Friday: The Dolorous Mysteries
Saturday: The Joyous (and/or the Luminous) Mysteries
Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

The Rosary: The Coronation of the Blessed Virigin

Our Lady’s coronation by her divine Son as Queen of Heaven is, in fact, the second coronation in the Rosary: the first being that of her Son, himself, by the Romans; but where the Virgin receives a crown of twelve stars from Jesus, he, at the hand of his fellow men, received a crown of thorns.  Jesus entire ministry was taking man into divinity.  Our nature, the stuff of which we are made – each of us, born of woman, born in pain between blood and feces – is raised up to God that we might follow and, here, Mary is the first.

She was the first to carry within her body the God-Man in the flesh: as we do now, after communion, also carry his flesh and blood.  She was the first to open fully her life to the Holy Ghost, as we do (or try to do) daily. She was the first to know the Incarnation, to dance in the new gavotte that God was calling.  And so she is the first to be fully divinized, fully en-theosed, to be crowned in heaven.

We to, if we dare, can be filled with the Holy Ghost, bear Christ in our bodies to the world, only fall asleep, never die, and be crowned in heaven. But only if we dare to take God by the hand and dance.   Yet, more than just a prophetic sign for us, Mary is Queen of Heaven and of each of us if we will let her reign.  Her coronation is her confirmation: she is mother of the Church, the untilled field from when sprang the divine wheat, she is the fount of wisdom, the unhewn mountain, the multiplier of wheat, the way shower, the gate through which the king has passed.  The titles continue for pages and pages.

I’ve taken the verses from the Akathist to the Blessed Virgin which would be a bit long-winded if one were reading these texts as part of a full, five- or fifteen-decade devotional, but as a meditation on this one mystery, they make perfect sense.

The embolism I use for walking or private prayer is: and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, crowning thee Queen of heaven and Queen of my heart.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery:
The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

LET us contemplate, in this Mystery how the glorious Virgin Mary was, to the great jubilee and exultation of the whole court of heaven, and particular glory of all the Saints, crowned by Her Son with the brightest diadem of glory.

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

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
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.

Rejoice, Thou through whom joy will shine forth: Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease! Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam: Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve! Rejoice, height inaccessible to human thoughts: Rejoice, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels! Rejoice, for Thou art the throne of the King: Rejoice, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all! Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear: Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation! Rejoice, Thou through whom creation is renewed: Rejoice, Thou through whom we worship the Creator! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, initiate of God’s ineffable will: Rejoice, assurance of those who pray in silence! Rejoice, beginning of Christ’s miracles: Rejoice, crown of His dogmas! Rejoice, heavenly ladder by which God came down: Rejoice, bridge that conveyest us from earth to Heaven! Rejoice, wonder of angels sounded abroad: Rejoice, wound of demons bewailed afar! Rejoice, Thou Who ineffably gavest birth to the Light: Rejoice, Thou Who didst reveal Thy secret to none! Rejoice, Thou Who surpassest the knowledge of the wise: Rejoice, Thou Who givest light to the minds of the faithful! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, branch of an Unfading Sprout: Rejoice, acquisition of Immortal Fruit! Rejoice, laborer that laborest for the Lover of mankind: Rejoice, Thou Who givest birth to the Planter of our life! Rejoice, cornland yielding a rich crop of mercies: Rejoice, table bearing a wealth of forgiveness! Rejoice, Thou Who makest to bloom the garden of delight: Rejoice, Thou Who preparest a haven for souls! Rejoice, acceptable incense of intercession: Rejoice, propitiation of all the world! Rejoice, good will of God to men: Rejoice, boldness of men before God! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd: Rejoice, fold of rational sheep! Rejoice, torment of invisible enemies: Rejoice, opening of the gates of Paradise! Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth: Rejoice, for the things of earth join chorus with the heavens! Rejoice, never-silent mouth of the Apostles: Rejoice, invincible courage of the passion-bearers! Rejoice, firm support of faith: Rejoice, radiant token of Grace! Rejoice, Thou through whom hades was stripped bare:Rejoice, Thou through whom we are clothed with glory! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, Mother of the Unsetting Star: Rejoice, dawn of the mystic day! Rejoice, Thou Who didst extinguish the furnace of error: Rejoice, Thou Who didst enlighten the initiates of the Trinity! Rejoice, Thou Who didst banish from power the inhuman tyrant: Rejoice, Thou Who didst show us Christ the Lord, the Lover of mankind! Rejoice, Thou Who redeemest from pagan worship: Rejoice, Thou Who dost drag us from the works of mire! Rejoice, Thou Who didst quench the worship of fire: Rejoice, Thou Who rescuest from the flame of the passions! Rejoice, guide of the faithful to chastity: Rejoice, gladness of all generations! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, uplifting of men: Rejoice, downfall of demons! Rejoice, Thou who didst trample down the dominion of delusion: Rejoice, Thou who didst unmask the fraud of idols! Rejoice, sea that didst drown the Pharaoh of the mind: Rejoice, rock that doth refresh those thirsting for life! Rejoice, pillar of fire that guideth those in darkness: Rejoice, shelter of the world broader than a cloud! Rejoice, sustenance replacing manna: Rejoice, minister of holy delight! Rejoice, land of promise: Rejoice, Thou from whom floweth milk and honey! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, flower of incorruptibility: Rejoice, crown of continence! Rejoice, Thou from whom shineth the Archetype of the Resurrection: Rejoice, Thou Who revealest the life of the angels! Rejoice, tree of shining fruit, whereby the faithful are nourished: Rejoice, tree of goodly shade by which many are sheltered! Rejoice, Thou that has carried in Thy womb the Redeemer of captivesRejoice, Thou that gavest birth to the Guide of those astray! Rejoice, supplication before the Righteous Judge: Rejoice, forgiveness of many sins! Rejoice, robe of boldness for the naked: Rejoice, love that doth vanquish all desire! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride! Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, container of the Uncontainable God: Rejoice, door of solemn mystery! Rejoice, report doubtful to unbelievers: Rejoice, undoubted boast of the faithful! Rejoice, all-holy chariot of Him Who sitteth upon the Cherubim: Rejoice, all-glorious temple of Him Who is above the Seraphim! Rejoice, Thou Who hast united opposites:Rejoice, Thou Who hast joined virginity and motherhood! Rejoice, Thou through whom transgression hath been absolved: Rejoice, Thou through whom Paradise is opened! Rejoice, key to the kingdom of Christ: Rejoice, hope of eternal good things! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, receptacle of the Wisdom of God: Rejoice, treasury of His Providence! Rejoice, Thou Who showest philosophers to be fools: Rejoice, Thou Who exposest the learned as irrational! Rejoice, for the clever critics have become foolish: Rejoice, for the writers of myths have faded away! Rejoice, Thou Who didst rend the webs of the Athenians:Rejoice, Thou Who didst fill the nets of the fishermen! Rejoice, Thou Who drawest us from the depths of ignorance: Rejoice, Thou Who enlightenest many with knowledge! Rejoice, ship for those who wish to be saved: Rejoice, harbor for sailors on the sea of life! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
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 GLORIOUS Queen of the heavenly host, we beseech you accept this rosary, which, as a crown of roses, we offer at your feet; and grant, most gracious Lady, that, by your intercession, our souls may be inflamed with so ardent a desire of seeing you so gloriously crowned, that it may never die within us, until it shall be changed into the happy fruition of your blessed sight. Amen.

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This is the final mystery of the traditional 15 Decade Rosary. On Sunday I will be posting the “Concluding prayers” together with an  essay on the manner of using this devotion.  But after that, I will do a series on the Luminous Mysteries recommended for use by the late Pope John Paul II.  

The Rosary: Our Lady’s Death and Assumption

Here, at last, is one place where the Romans and the Orthodox might differ in the Rosary – although as recently as the middle of the last century this was not so. When I was a freshman in High School I found at a used bookstore, a book on the Apparitions of Our Lady. It was certainly Roman Catholic, including the stories of Knock, the Miraculous Medal, Lourdes, etc.  It started with a Vita, a Life of the Blessed Virgin and included the stories of her birth and the Presentation in the Temple, of Joseph’s miraculous rod and the like. And in the end it told of her death: how the Apostles had been drawn from all the ends of the world to witness her death, and how Thomas was not there. How when he arrived, three days later, John took him to the tomb and it was empty: filled with the scent of roses.

This is, essentially, also the Orthodox story of the Life, Death, and Assumption of the Virgin. It is painted in many icons and many western painting (see below for an image by Giotto).

For some Romans, today, however, Mary did not die. How could she? Since she had never sinned and was free of “original sin” (not an Orthodox teaching per se) how could she be subject to death? Death is the punishment for sin! This is not the case with all Catholics. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia makes that clear in the articles on Mary and on her Assumption. Both articles refer to her death. So, again, I’m only talking about some Roman Catholics. I’ve even heard one Catholic Priest use the Orthodox Title for this feast (“Dormition” or “Falling Asleep”) as proof that we don’t believe she died either: it’s a “process so unlike death”, he said, that we “call it a falling asleep”. Of course, as we know from Orthodox Teaching, for all Christians, death is now only Falling Asleep in the Lord. We will all do it: Just as Mary did.

This Mystery is, thus, a meditation on our own death and a realization that the fear of death is needless as death is but a gateway to victory. In his death, Jesus has turned death into only more life. And so for us, if we die in Christ, we are more alive. As the Mass for the Dead (Western Rite) says, “Tuis enim fidelibus, Domine, vita mutatur, non tollitur: et dissoluta terrestris hujus incolatus domo, aeterna in coelis habitatio comparatur.” For to thy faithful people, Lord, life is changed, not taken away; and when the home of this earthly sojourn is dissolved, an eternal dwelling is made ready in heaven.

I have chosen verses from the Feast of the Dormition. For an embolism I usually say, “Fruit of thy womb, Jesus assuming thee, body and soul, into heaven.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery:
The Death and Assumption of Our Lady

 LET us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the glorious Virgin, twelve years after the resurrection of Her Son, passed out of this world unto Him, and was by Him assumed into heaven, accompanied by the holy Angels.

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

It was fitting for the eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word to see the Dormition of his Mother according to the flesh, the final mystery concerning her, that they might not only see the Ascension of the Saviour from the earth, but also be witnesses to the Translation from earth of her who bore 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.

She who is higher than the heavens, more glorious than Cherubim and greater in honour than creation, who through her surpassing purity became the vessel of the eternal one, today places in the hands of her Son her all-holy soul. With her the universe is filled with joy and to us is given his great mercy.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The all-blameless Bride and Mother of the Father’s Good Pleasure, who was foreordained by God as his dwelling in a dwelling in a union without confusion, today delivers her immaculate soul to her Maker and God. The angelic powers receive her in a manner fitting God, and she, who is indeed Mother of life, passes over to life, the lamp of the unapproachable Light, the salvation of the faithful, the hope of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, all the ends of the earth, let us call blessed the Dormition of the Theotokos. She has placed her unblemished soul in the hands of her Son. Therefore the world, restored to life by her holy Falling Asleep, celebrates the feast with the angelic hosts and the Apostles.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come now, on Zion, the holy and living mountain of the living God, let us be glad as gazing on the Theotokos.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, you faithful, let us approach the tomb of the Theotokos, and let us embrace it, touching it sincerely with the lips, eyes and brows of the heart; and let us draw abundant gifts of healing, which flow from an ever-owing fount.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Receive from us this burial hymn, O Theotokos; and overshadow us with thy light-bearing and divine grace. Grant victories and peace to the people that love Christ, and to us who sing in thy honour forgiveness and salvation of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At thy glorious Dormition the heavens rejoice and the Angels exult; the whole earth is glad uttering its funeral hymn to thee, Mother of the Master of all things, all-holy Virgin, who knew not wedlock, who have delivered the human race from the ancestral curse.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At a divine command the chief Apostles hastened from the ends of the earth to bury thee, and when they saw thee taken from the earth to heaven they cried out with joy in Gabriel’s words: Hail, chariot of the whole Godhead; hail, who alone by thy childbirth have joined together things on earth with those on high.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Virgin Mother, Bride of God, who gave birth to life, thou hast passed over to immortal life by thy holy Dormition. Angels, Rulers and Powers, Apostles, Prophets and all creation escorted thee, and thy Son received in his immaculate hands thine unblemished soul.
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 MOST prudent Virgin who, entering the heavenly palaces, did fill the angels with joy and man with hope; vouchsafe to intercede for us at the hour of our death, that, being delivered from the illusions and temptations of the devil, we may joyfully and securely pass out of this temporal state, to enjoy the happiness of eternal life. Amen.

The Rosary: Pentecost

The Mystery of Pentecost, the Out-Pouring of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles and all of Creation, is the beginning of the fruits of Christ’s actions among us. The Holy Ghost makes all of us divine if we will but let Him into our lives and reform, reshape, heal, cleanse, make whole what is shattered, make up what is lost, and in our weakness to fill us with strength.

This is my own parish’s feast day and why I answer anyone asking “What should we pray for?” with “Revival”. This is what my parish should be doing: holding the heavenly doors open for the continued outpouring of the Holy Ghost on us, on San Francisco, and on the world around us. But it is also what all of us should be doing as Christians.  As we are the Body of Christ and as Christ prays for the Father to send the Spirit so should we be likewise doing.  Not for some sort of Benny Hinnesque back-falling of moaning with our mouths flecked with foam.

But for salvation. Peace. Joy. Holiness. Love.  Against these the only thing standing is our refusal to pray.

The embolism I use is “sending us the Holy Ghost from his father.

The texts I’ve woven in below come from the Vespers and Matins for Pentecost.

The Third Glorious Mystery:
The Coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost

LET us Contemplate in this Mystery, how Our Lord Jesus Christ, being seated on the right hand of God, sent, as He had promised, the Holy Ghost upon His Apostles, who, after He was ascended, returning to Jerusalem, continued in prayer and supplication with the blessed Virgin Mary, expecting the performance of His promise.

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

Marvelous things have all the nations seen this day in the City of David, when the Holy Ghost came down in tongues of fire, as Luke, God’s mouthpiece, declared, saying: When Christ’s Disciples were assembled, there came a sound as of a mighty wind, filling the whole house where they were sitting; and all began to speak with strange words, new doctrines, wondrous teachings of the holy Trinity.
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 Holy Ghost always was, and is, and ever will be, with neither beginning nor end, but always together with the Father and the Son; life and giver of life; light and bestower of light; goodness itself and source of goodness; through whom the Father is known and the Son glorified and by all is known, one power, one order, one worship of the holy Trinity.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Holy Ghost is light and life a living and spiritual fountain to all. Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of understanding; good, right, spiritual, ruling all, and cleansing faults. God who makest us Divine; fire from fire, speaking, working, distributing the gifts of grace; through whom all the prophets and Apostles of God with the Martyrs have been crowned. Strange tidings, wondrous sight: fire divided in the distribution of gifts.
Hail, Mary, &c.

In sending down thy Spirit, Lord, to the Apostles as they were sitting, then the children of the Hebrews saw it and were beside themselves with amazement; for they were hearing them speaking in other, strange tongues, as the Holy Ghost gave utterance; for though simple, they were made wise; and having caught the nations in thy net, the Apostles preached things divine. We also cry out to thee in joy: Thou hast appeared on earth saving us; Glory to thee, O Lord!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Once tongues were darkened because of the presumption of building the tower; but now tongues are enlightened through the glory of the knowledge of God. There God condemned the impious for their offence; here Christ has enlightened the fishermen with the Holy Ghost. Then discord was wrought as punishment; now concord is renewed for the salvation of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed art thou, Christ our God, who hast revealed the fishermen to be most wise by sending down to them the Holy Ghost, and through them thou hast drawn the world in thy net: Lover of mankind, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, he parted the nations; when he divided out the tongues of fire, he called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the All-holy Spirit.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Holy Ghost gives all things: making prophecies flow, perfecting priests, teaching the unlettered wisdom, revealing the fishermen to be theologians, welding together the whole body of the Church. Consubstantial and equal in majesty with the Father and the Son, our Advocate, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who hast saved us.
Hail, Mary, &c.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth! Who art everywhere present and fillest all things. Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls, O Good One!
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 SACRED Virgin, Tabernacle of the Holy Ghost ! we beseech you obtain, by yours intercession, that this most sweet Comforter, whom your beloved Son sent down upon His Apostles, filling them thereby with spiritual joy, may teach us in this world the true way of salvation, and make us to walk in the path of virtue and good works. Amen.

The Rosary: The Ascension

Our Lord’s Ascension is the first evidence that the “key has changed” as I noted in the last mystery: the Eastern liturgical texts speak of how amazed the Angels are at seeing one of our race of men entering into the Heavens.  The Psalm text, “Who is this king of glory?” is read as the angels asking each other “Look! Who is this? Who comes here? Who?”

It’s a mortal man now immortal and a divine being now dead and alive again.

The King of All the Ages, by gift of his Father, is one of us.

And there is no “one of us” there is only “All of Us”.  As in Adam, all die: even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The embolism I use is “the incarnate Word of God ascending to His Father’s throne.”

The Second Glorious Mystery:
The Ascension of Christ

LET us contemplate, in this Mystery, how Our Lord Jesus Christ, forty days after His resurrection, ascended into heaven, attended by angels, in the sight, and to the great admiration of His most holy Mother, and His holy Apostles and Disciples. Our Father, etc.

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

The choirs of Angels were astounded when they saw Christ, the mediator between God and mankind in the highest with his flesh, while with one voice they sang a hymn of victory. To God, who appeared on mount Sinai and gave the law to Moses, who saw God, and who was taken up in the flesh from the mount of Olives, let us all sing; for gloriously he has been glorified.
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.

O Christ, Giver of life, lover of humankind, thou wentest up to the Father and exalted our race in thine ineffable compassion. The ranks of Angels, as they saw thy mortal nature going up, O Saviour, were astounded and without ceasing sang thy praise.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The choirs of Angels were amazed, O Christ, as they saw thee being taken up with thy body, and they sang the praise of your holy Ascension. Human nature, which had fallen by corruption, thou didst raise, O Christ, and by thine ascension thou hast exalted and glorified us with thyself.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Lift up the heavenly gates, for see, Christ the King and Lord, wearing his earthly body, is at hand, said the powers below to those above. When thou soughtest Adam, who had been led astray by the deceit of the serpent, O Christ, as thou hadst clothed thyself in him, thou ascendedst and took thy seat as equal sovereign on the Father’s right hand, while the Angels sang thy praise.
Hail, Mary, &c.

As the Saviour had ascended to the Father with his flesh, the hosts of Angels were struck with amazement, and cried out: Glory, O Christ, to thine ascension! The angelic Powers cried out to those above: Lift up the gates for Christ, our King; whose praise we sing, together with the Father and the Spirit.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus the Giver of life, taking those he loved, ascended the mount of Olives and blessed them and, riding on a cloud, he came to the Father’s bosom, which he had never left. The whole world, visible and invisible, keeps the feast with gladness; Angels and humans leap for joy as they glorify without ceasing the Ascension of the One who by his goodness was united to us in the flesh.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou didst fill the universe with gladness, merciful Lord, taking thy place in mortal flesh among the powers on high. The angelic powers, seeing thee thus lifted up, cried out: Lift up the gates for our King!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Strange was thy Birth, strange thy Resurrection, strange and fearful thy divine Ascension from the mount, O Giver of life, of which Elias was an icon when he went up in a four-horse chariot, singing thy praise, O Lover of Mankind.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Angels came and cried out, O Christ, to thy Disciples: In the same way ye have seen Christ going up, he will come in the flesh as just Judge of all.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Appearing in the flesh, thou didst join in one things that were formerly separated, O Lover of mankind; and as thy Disciples watched, O Merciful, thou wert taken up to the heavenly places. Why are the garments red of the One who was united to the solidity of flesh? said the holy Angels, as they saw Christ bearing the divine marks of his precious passion.
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, comforter of the afflicted as your beloved Son, when He ascended into heaven, lifted up His hands and blessed His Apostles as He was parted from them; so vouchsafe, most holy Mother, to lift up your pure hands to Him on our behalf, that we may enjoy the benefits of His blessing, and of yours, here on earth, and hereafter in heaven Amen.