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.

The Rosary: The Wedding At Cana

JMJ

It is true that it is from Christ’s presence at Cana that the Church develops a sacramental idea of marriage.  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 an action wholly governed by the Church in which 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 divorces, churches complied.

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

JMJ

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 Rosary: Introduction to the Luminous Mysteries

JMJ

To the traditional 15 Decades of the Rosary, Pope St 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 most Roman Catholics, they are not in very common use by other Christians who prefer to stick with the “traditional Rosary”.  (Some TradCaths also reject them.) 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 – but 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. The Catechism underscores this:


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.184

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. For this reason Christ experienced all the stages of life, thereby giving communion with God to all men.

These five new mysteries then 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

I realize that for some Catholics and also Orthodox (as I mentioned at the top of the post) these things are too new. They are “modernism” because the Pope dared to change something. But he changed a devotion not a doctrine. The Rosary – long beloved in the West – is not part of the universal deposit of the faith, it’s not a teaching of the church. In fact, if considered in this way at all, it falls into the realm of “private revelation” to St Dominic. It cannot be made compulsory. But it is rich in grace, tradition, and piety. There’s no reason not to address the contemporary needs of the Church with this wholly salutary way.

If the main objection that the 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 continue the five posts in this series.

The Rosary: The Finding in the Temple

JMJ

The Fifth Joyous Mystery contemplates the time when, as a child, Christ lingered in Jerusalem after his parents had departed for home. The Gospel text relates that they were traveling with a party so large they assumed he was someplace out of sight and didn’t discover he was gone until three days into their homeward journey.  When they got back to Jerusalem they found him teaching in the Temple and he said: “Didn’t you know I would be about my father’s business?” (“Wist ye not,” it says in the Authorized Version.) This event in the childhood of Christ is not commemorated liturgically at all in the West. It only comes up here in the Rosary.

There is, however, a feast in the East called “Midpentecost”. It is celebrated at the half-way point between Pascha and Pentecost, the 4th Wednesday after Pascha. It has no real scriptural warrant: the Gospel used is of Christ crying out “in the middle of the feast” which, of course, would be only the one-week long feast of Passover. But the icon used is “Christ Among the Doctors” which is of the youth Christ – in other words, it’s an icon of the Mystery of the Finding of Christ in the Temple. The liturgical hymns for this feast – such as I’ve used below – are taken from various events in the scriptures as you will see from the texts I used below.

The feast itself is made up: a conflation of events to make a point. That’s not a bad thing; the West does it as well with feasts for the Motherhood of Mary, the Holy Eucharist, and even Trinity Sunday.  The feasts of the Church’s Calendar are not all tied to an historical event that happened on that specific day. The entire Calendar is a teaching tool, an icon, if you will. The Truth of Christ revealed in the Calendar is the reason for the Calendar.

When praying this mystery the embolism I use is:

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

The Fifth Joyous Mystery:
The Finding of Christ in the Temple

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, after having lost her beloved son in Jerusalem, sought him for the space of three days; and at length found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the Doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.

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 Wisdom of God stands teaching and refuting the unbelieving Pharisees and Scribes, crying out to them with boldness.
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.

Jesus was in the Temple teaching, saying to the doubting Jews, One who thirsts, let them come to me and drink living, eternal water, and they will not thirst for ever.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At thy teaching, O Saviour, the Jews asked, ‘How does this man know letters, never having learned?’ They knew not that thou art the Wisdom ordering the world.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Sending out the rays of thy Godhead, O Christ, thou art a feast of joy for the saved and the cause of our salvation.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Judge not according to appearance, O Scribes and Elders, said the Master, as he stood teaching in the temple, as it is written, at the mid-point of the feast according to the law.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Judge not according to appearance, O Elders and Pharisees: Christ has come, whom the Prophets declared would come from Sion, and call back the world.
Hail, Mary, &c.

If ye believe not my, O Jews, I will show you my Works: why dost thou err, rejecting the Holy One of whom Moses wrote in the Law?
Hail, Mary, &c.

Messiah must surely come, O Jews, and now Messiah has come! So why dost thou err, ejecting the Just One, of whom Moses wrote in the Law?
Hail, Mary, &c.

Standing in the Temple, O Christ, thou spakest with the Jewish people, revealing thy glory, and showing that thou are consubstantial with the Father.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Opening thy lips, O Master, thou proclaimest thine immaculate Father together with the all-holy Spirit, being with them of one nature even after the incarnation. Completing thy Father’s plan, thine own words were confirmed by thy works, O Saviour.
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 blessed Virgin, more than martyr in thy sufferings, and yet the comfort of such as are afflicted: by that unspeakable joy wherewith thy soul was filled when at length thou didst find thy dearly beloved son in the Temple, teaching in the midst of the Doctors, obtain of him that we may so seek him and find him in his Holy Orthodox Catholic Church as never more to be separated from him. Amen.

The Rosary: The Presentation

JMJ

Candlemas is one of my favourite feasts. The following from the Catholic Encyclopedia shares a little bit of the history of the feast:

According to the Roman Missal the celebrant after Terce, in stole and cope of purple colour, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, whilst the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, “Nunc dimittis”. The antiphon “Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel” is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon “Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion”, composed by St. John of Damascus, one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem. It forms an essential part of the liturgical services of the day, and must be held in every parochial church where the required ministers can be had. The procession is always kept on 2 February even when the office and Mass of the feast is transferred to 3 February. Before the reform of the Latin liturgy by St. Pius V (1568), in the churches north and west of the Alps this ceremony was more solemn. After the fifth oration a preface was sung. The “Adorna” was preceded by the antiphon “Ave Maria”. While now the procession is held inside the church, during the Middle Ages the clergy left the church and visited the cemetery surrounding it. Upon the return of the procession a priest, carrying an image of the Holy Child, met it at the door and entered the church with the clergy, who sang the canticle of Zachary, “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel”. At the conclusion, entering the sanctuary, the choir sang the responsory, “Gaude Maria Virgo” or the prose, “Inviolata” or some other antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin.

The mention of the pagan feast of the Lupercalia is because of the lamentable German Protestant “scholars” and their anti-Catholicism attempting to show that every Christian tradition handed down was really a pagan custom.

The Blessing of Candles has found its way into the Slavonic (at least) Orthodox practice. One source indicates that the Ukrainians may have brought it into the Orthodox Church (from Rome) and thence to the other Slav churches.  I remember being quite surprised at seeing the blessing of Candles in my OCA parish, but the west got the Feast from the East – at least some backwash is seen to happen as well.  The Russians also took bells and their blessings from the West.

Below I have woven in texts from the services of February 2nd in the Byzantine Rite – mostly from Vespers the night before.  When contemplating this Mystery while walking, I add an embolism like this:

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

The Fourth Joyous Mystery:
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the day of her Purification, presented the Child Jesus in the Temple, where holy Simeon, giving thanks to God, with great devotion received him into his arms.

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

Now let the heavenly gate be opened. God the Word, begotten beyond time from the Father, has been born from a Virgin, taking flesh, for as he is good he wishes to call back mortal nature and set it at the Father’s right hand.
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 Word uncircumscribed, above all being, who rides in glory on the heavenly thrones, Simeon takes into his arms and cries, ‘Now release me, according to thy word, my Saviour, the salvation and delight of the faithful’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When he saw thee, the Word begotten from the Father before the ages, as an infant, wondrous Simeon cried out, ‘I quake and tremble to hold thee in my hands, my Master. But, I beg thee, now release thy servant in peace, for thou art compassionate’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Today the holy Mother, who is higher than the Holy Place, has come to the Holy Place, revealing to the world the Maker of the world and the Giver of the law. Simeon the Elder took him in his arms and cried with veneration, ‘Now release thy servant. For I have seen thee, the Saviour of our souls’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Hail, full of grace, Virgin Mother of God, for from thee there dawned the Sun of righteousness, Christ our God, who enlightens those in darkness. Be glad too, righteous Elder, for thou receivest in thy embrace the Liberator of our souls, who grants us also resurrection.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Say, Simeon, whom dost thou carry in thy arms, as thou rejoicest in the temple? To whom dost thou cry and shout aloud, ‘Now I have been set free. For I have seen my Saviour’? ‘This is he who was born from a Virgin. This is the Word, God from God, incarnate for our sake and who saves mankind. Hail, Mary, &c.

Receive, Simeon, the One whom Moses in the dark cloud saw of old giving the Law on Sinai, now become a babe and subject to the Law. This is he who spoke through the Law. This is he who was told of in the Prophets, incarnate for our sake and who saves mankind.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, let us too, with songs inspired, go to meet Christ. Let us receive him, whose salvation Simeon saw. This is he whom David proclaimed, and who spoke through the Prophets, was incarnate for our sake and who proclaims by the Law.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Let heaven’s gate be opened today. For he who is without beginning, the Word of the Father, taking a beginning in time, yet not abandoning his godhead, is being willingly brought into the temple of the law as a babe of forty days by a Virgin Mother, and the Elder receives him in his arms.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The servant cries to the Master, ‘Release me, for my eyes have seen thy salvation’. Thou hast come into the world to save the human race. Lord, glory be 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.

O Holy Virgin, most admirable example and pattern of obedience, who didst present the Lord of the Temple in the Temple of God, obtain for us, of thy Blessed Son, that, with holy Simeon and devout Anna, we may praise and glorify Him forever. Amen.

The Rosary: The Nativity

By way of introduction to the Third Joyous Mystery of the Rosary, please remember the scripture: Jesus was born in to a family that owned its own business. Jesus was born in a manger not because no inn would house a poor pregnant woman, but rather because the inns were full. Church tradition tells us that Joseph was chosen by Mary’s family because he was wealthy enough to care for her. He was much older than she, having at least one fully grown son already. Some traditional images of the holy family show St Joseph with grey hair. Please get all that modern political theory about a poor homeless family out of your Christmas meditations.

The Third Joyous Mystery: The Nativity

Let us contemplate, in the Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the time for her delivery was come, brought forth our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, at midnight, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inns of Bethlehem.

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

Christ is born, glorify him! Christ comes from heaven, meet him! Christ is upon earth, rejoice! Sing to the Lord all the earth; and let all raise the hymn with joy, for 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.

Shepherds abiding in the fields had a vision of light which filled them with fear; for the glory of the Lord shone round them and an Angel crying aloud: Sing praises, for Christ is born.
Hail, Mary &c.

At the word of the Angel the armies of heaven cried out: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.
Hail, Mary &c.

To the Son begotten of the Father without change before the ages, and in these latter times without seed incarnate of a Virgin, to Christ God let us cry out: Holy art thou O Lord!
Hail, Mary &c.

The Magi, called by a star, are the first fruits of the gentiles brought to thee as an infant in a manger; sceptres and thrones did not astonish them, but utter poverty; for what is meaner than a cave, what is more humble than swaddling clothes?
Hail, Mary &c.

Let heaven rejoice and let earth be glad the Lamb of God is born on earth, granting redemption to the world. The Word who is in the bosom of the Father comes forth from the Virgin without seed.
Hail, Mary &c.

Rod of the stem of Jesse’s and it’s blossom forth, O Christ, thou springest from the Virgin, the shadowed covered mountain; thou art incarnate from her who knewest not wedlock, and are yet God not formed of matter!
Hail, Mary &c.

As thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, thou hast sent us thine Angel of great counsel, who granting us peace; so guided by the knowledge of God, watching before dawn we glorify thee, only lover of mankind’.
Hail, Mary &c.

Christ our God, whom the Father begot from the womb before the morning star and who holds the reins of the immaculate Powers, is laid in a manger of dumb beasts; he is swaddled in rags, but looses the tangled cords of our sins.
Hail, Mary &c.

A young child has been born from Adam’s race: a Son given to believers; this is the Father and Ruler of the world to come, the Angel of great counsel; the mighty God who holds by his authority all creation.
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 pure Mother of God, through thy virginal and most joyful delivery, whereby thou gavest to the world thine only Son, our Saviour, obtain for us, we beseech thee, through thine intercession, the grace to lead such pure and holy lives in this world that we may become worthy to sing, without ceasing, the mercies of thy Son, and His benefits to us given by thee. Amen.

The Rosary: The Visitation

JMJ

The second of the five Joyous Mysteries is known as the Visitation and commemorates the visit of our Blessed Lady to St Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner, John Baptist.  The Visitation is a later-comer to the Calendar and devotional life of the Western Church, having been introduced by St Bonaventure in 1263. The Franciscans, in their devotions to the Ever-Virgin, spread the feast throughout the Church. It was extended to the entire Western Church by Pope Urban VI. The feast, with a vigil and an octave, was assigned to 2 July, the day after the octave of St. John, about the time when Mary returned to Nazareth. It did not arrive in the liturgical East until the mid-19th Century, and it is not, even now, widely celebrated. It is reported to have a service approved for use in the Orthodox Church, but no amount of Googling could find the text of the service, just copies of the same report over and over.

As is related in the Gospel text, when Mary said “Shalom!” the infant prophet, still in the womb of his mother, leapt for joy. Hearing of the baby’s action in utero the Blessed Virgin Mary uttered her poem in praise of God, the Magnificat. In the Byzantine rite, this is the Matins Gospel for nearly all the feasts of the Theotokos. The Magnificat is sung as the 9th Ode of the Canon in every Matins service as it also is part of every Vespers in the West. Even though in most Byzantine parochial practice all the other parts of the Canon get skipped for expediency, the 9 Ode is still sung in full.  Since this form is familiar to most users of the Byzantine rite, I will use it for the meditation on this mystery.

When away from a prayerbook and praying this mystery, I use the embolism as below.

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

As before, the introductory comment and the closing prayer comes from The St Ambrose Prayerbook, available from Lancelot Andrewes Press.

The Second Joyous Mystery: The Visitation

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, understanding from the Angel that her cousin St Elizabeth, had conceived, went in haste into the mountains of Judea to visit her, and remained with her three months.

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 

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
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.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

For he that is mighty hath magnified me; and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
Hail, Mary, &c.

He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek;.He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O thou who from thy virginal loins ineffably lentest a body unto the Luminary that was before the sun, even God, Who hath dawned upon us, and dwelt among us in the body: O blessed and all-pure Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He that made the water to gush from the cloven rock for the disobedient people, to our joy granteth thee to the obedient nations as the fruit of barren loins.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O abrogation of the harsh ancient sentence, uprighting of our first mother, cause of God’s kinship with our race, and bridge unto the Creator: O Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

Thou art the mystical paradise, O Theotokos; for that thou, being untilled, didst bud forth Christ, by Whom was planted on earth the life-giving tree of 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, spotless Mother of humility, by that exceeding love which moved thee to visit thy holy cousin St Elizabeth, obtain for us, through thine intercession, that our hearts being visited by thy divine Son, and freed from all sin we may praise and thank Him for ever. Amen.

The Rosary: The Annunciation

JMJ

The first decade of the Holy Rosary is in honor of the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel came to Blessed Mary, the Ever-Virgin, and, greeting her, offered her the chance to become the mother of her Creator. Her acceptance of this greeting is the beginning of our salvation. One traditional way of meditation on the mysteries is to add a verse of scripture.  In these posts I will be added a liturgical verse from the Byzantine Rite, to borrow from Ghostbusters, I will be “Crossing the Streams”.

Another way to add to the meditation is to add a short phrase, called an embolism, to indicate the mystery after the words, “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…”  For example, in this mystery, you might say the Hail, Mary like this:

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

I find this method very useful when I am walking and praying the Rosary, as on my way to work.

The First Joyous Mystery: The Annunciation

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Archangel Gabriel saluted our Blessed Lady with the title, Full of  Grace, and declared unto her the Incarnation of our Lord, God, and Saviour 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

In the sixth month the archangel was sent to the pure Virgin. And as he opened his mouth and said to her: Rejoice! And he announced to her that from her will come the Redeemer. And having accepted the greeting with faith, she conceived God.
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. 

Having flown down from the vaults of Heaven to Nazareth, Gabriel cried the greeting unto Mary the Virgin: Rejoice, O all-pure Maid; thou shalt bring forth a Son Who existed ere Adam was: He is the Maker of all, and the Ransomer of all them that cry Rejoice to thee.
Hail, Mary, &c.

From Heaven Gabriel brought the good tidings full of joy unto the holy Virgin, crying out Rejoice to her. In thy womb shalt thou both conceive and contain Him Whom all things cannot contain, and shalt be seen as the Mother of Him that shone from the Father ere the morning star.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Theotokos, being the living tabernacle of God, shall never be touched by an unclean hand. But the lips of believers shall sing unto her ceaselessly with the voice of angels, crying joyfully:
Hail, Mary, &c.

How dost thou overflow with milk, O undefiled Virgin? Verily, thou hast appeared as a strange manifestation, unutterable by human tongue, transcending nature and the bounds of the laws of birth.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The God-inspired Scriptures, O Mother of the Highest, have spoken of thee mystically; for Jacob, when he saw the ladder of old, which was a foresign of thee, cried: This is the ascent of God.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The bush and the fire did reveal to God-beholding Moses a wonderful miracle. And seeking the fulfillment thereof with the passing of time, he cried, saying, I shall behold her who is a spotless Maiden, who shall be addressed with rejoicing as the Theotokos.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou hast transcended the bounds of nature, O Maiden, having conceived God in an ineffable manner; for being of a perishable nature, thou was exempted in thy birth-giving from that which pertaineth to mothers. Wherefore, as is meet we say:
Hail, Mary, &c.

Now the beginningless Father’s own co-eternal Word, in His extreme compassion and immeasurable mercy, parting not from things above, cometh below, to take pity on us who fell; and having taken a form that is not His own, He assumeth Adam’s poverty.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Behold, now is our recall made manifest; for God is united with mankind in an ineffable manner. And at the voice of the archangel error hath vanished; for the Virgin hath received joy and earthly things have become heavenly, and the world is free from the ancient curse.
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, Queen of Virgins, through the most high Mystery of the Incarnation of thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein our salvation was begun, obtain for us, through thy most holy intercession, light to understand the greatness of the benefit He hath bestowed upon us, in vouchsafing to become our Brother, and in giving thee, His own beloved Mother, to be our Mother also.  Amen.

The Rosary: Introduction to the Joyful Mysteries


JMJ

The Joyful Mysteries are those events at the beginning of the life of Christ:

  1. The Annunciation of the Archangel to Mary
  2. The Visitation of Our Lady to St Elizabeth
  3. The Nativity of Our Lord
  4. The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
  5. The Finding of Christ teaching among the Elders in the Temple

Each one of these represents a direct interplay between Our Lady and Our Lord.  These are called Joyful because of the deep joy they signified to Mary, but also to us! The joys of Lady Day in March and Christmas in December, of Circumcision and Candlemas.

The first two can seem as if Christ is very passive – even missing – but it should never be forgotten that Christ is God in the Flesh: he is never passive, no matter how it may seem to us. But he is never over-ruling either. Mary was asked if she would partake of this joy and she consented. Likewise in the Visitation, it was Christ who made the Forerunner leap for joy, but it was at his Mother’s actions and words.

His actions for our salvation have been the divine plan of the ages.  Fr John Behr says that Protestantism can make it sound like God made the world, man messed it up, and Christ’s Life, Death, and Resurrection are a sort of “Plan B”.  But God knew from the beginning, from before the beginning how Man’s freedom would take him away: As the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world so was he incarnate, born, fed on his mother’s milk, bounced on Joseph’s knee, and lost and found in the temple, all from the foundation of the world. The Mysteries of the Incarnation were always there, waiting for Man’s freedom to be ready to participate in the Divine Dance: that’s the Doctrine of Synergy.  We are saved in a dance with God, not by “following your bliss” or by “submission” to a divine override, but by participation.

The Joyous Mysteries are the revelation of the Dance.  All of Creation from “let us make…” to “it is finished” were the opening measures of it. Praying the Rosary will draw you into the same dance by letting you hear the same music.