(The first part of this post suggested a Scriptural key to assist with praying the Rosary, and we already used it for the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries).
There are probably few enough people who don’t struggle with remaining recollected during prayer. We have so many things on our minds, so many distractions from work and study, so many competing signals in the fast-paced world in which we live. Even if you have an hour’s commute to work which you intend to use profitably by saying the Rosary, it is very easy to find that you are still only on the first or second mystery by the time you arrive.
A venerable technique of remaining recollected during the Rosary is to focus on a relevant piece of Scripture. As our mind wanders, the Scripture draws us back and helps us to enter more deeply into the mystery. However, this can be difficult if you aim to say the Rosary while you are driving, or doing some other activity that makes reading difficult. To solve this problem, we are suggesting that a single short passage from Scripture be utilized for delving deeply into every one of the twenty mysteries.
The Fatherhood of God
Among Jesus’ short parables on the Kingdom is the following:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13,44)
We already know the sense of this passage and don’t need to memorize it exactly for it to be useful, but how can such a short passage illuminate the entire Rosary? In the Garden of Eden, humanity rejected the Fatherhood of God. We believed the serpent and stopped trusting that God wanted what was really best for us. In response, God sends his Son to show us that he loves us so much that he wants us to not only be his creatures, but be inducted into the very life of the Trinity, sharing in his Spirit. All the mysteries of the redemption express the saving action of God in history which restore us to a filial relationship with God. Given that the treasure in the field is this rightful relationship with God, it is no surprise that the segment of Scripture turns out to be such a fruitful source of meditation.
The Glorious Mysteries.
1. The Resurrection. The baptised Christian is already sharing in the life of the risen Christ. In fact, St Paul likens baptism to entering into the tomb with Christ, dying to sin and rising to the new life of the Spirit. By his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus restores you and me to that relationship with the Father, that hidden treasure that was lost in Eden. While you and I went our own way, pursuing our own interests, Jesus is the Son who is completely faithful, even onto death. He unites himself to us in the flesh, so that when the Father raises Jesus from the dead, we too are raised, so long as we join ourselves to him.
2. The Ascension. The ultimate goal of our earthly existence is to be united to God. The resurrection initiates us into the life of the Spirit, the restoration of the relationship with the Father, but we are still sojourners in a foreign land. Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father, pleading for us, his brothers and sisters in human flesh. He is drawing us into the full realisation of union with the Father, the precious treasure that will fill us with eternal joy.
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit. By our sins, we drive the Holy Spirit out of our hearts, filling the resulting emptiness with material things, possessions, pleasure, entertainment, the esteem of others. We were disobedient, but by his obedience Jesus restores us to rightful relationship with God. The fact that Jesus has joined himself to our human flesh - and he has mended the breach between God and man - means that the Holy Spirit can once again be restored to humanity. What a gift this is! The Holy Spirit is sent into our hearts, making us realise that God is our Father. In fact, the Spirit makes us cry “Abba! Father!” Now we will be willing to sell everything, to forgo anything else that might damage this relationship.
4. The Assumption. Mary is the one person (apart from Christ) who gave up everything to possess the treasure of being in right relationship with God. She valued nothing above that relationship, so it is fitting that she was assumed into heaven, since everything about Mary was already suffused with God. The rest of us need purgatory. We need to be purified. It is natural that our bodies will see decay because we did not always use them in service of the relationship with God. By contrast, Mary’s body was from the beginning a pure sacrifice offered to the Lord.
5. The Coronation of Mary Queen of Heaven. If anyone were to ask what treasures Queen Elizabeth possesses, someone might answer, “The Crown Jewels”. These are a collection of royal ceremonial objects that are considered to be of inestimable value. Mary’s greatest treasure was her relationship with God. Truly, it can be said that she “sold” everything to possess that treasure. In fact, Mary emptied herself so completely that the Lord was able to fill her utterly with his grace. It is fitting that such a lady, who possessed no crown jewels of any sort, but who made God her only treasure, should be queen of heaven. We can say in fact that Mary’s queenship derives from the fact that she had given the Lord total kingship of her heart.
The Luminous Mysteries.
1. The Baptism of Jesus. Jesus is restoring us to filial relationship with the Father by fulfilling in human flesh the obedience that was absent from the human race since Adam and Eve. It is significant that, at the baptism of Jesus, the heavens open and the Father says, “This is my Son, the beloved”. This shows us that the key to baptism is the rightful filial relationship between God and his children. When we are baptised, we become the Father’s beloved once again, even though it was humanity’s sin that drove the Holy Spirit out of our hearts. Now, as adults, it is important that we live out our baptism, that we sell everything else to possess that treasure, that relationship with the Father that was restored in the waters of regeneration.
2. The Wedding at Cana. When Jesus refers to his mother as “woman” at Cana, he is clearly alluding to the woman of Genesis who listened to the lies of the serpent and precipitated humanity into a broken relationship with God. Now Jesus is beginning to re-establish that relationship. Mary, the new Eve, tells the servants to “Do whatever he tells you”, in contrast to the first Eve who did not do as God had told her. The abundance of wine at Cana is a sign of the coming messianic banquet, the redemption of humanity, the conquest of sin and suffering, the restoration of joy and union with God.
3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom. This is the very thing that we are using as a key to the entire Rosary. Jesus proclaims a hidden reality that is in some way already present, but has yet to attain its complete fulfilment. God loves us and cares for us providentially. This fact, the Fatherhood of God, is already a reality, but if I spend all my days focussed on my career, entertainment, pleasure or other material idols, then it is these things that have become my father; it is these things that I turn to in order to draw life. The Lord wants to be a Father to me, to fill me with life and make me fruitful. If I am to possess the treasure of his Fatherhood, then it is necessary that I “sell” everything else.
4. The Transfiguration. When Jesus is transfigured up the mountain, it is for our sake, not for his own. He wishes to show us the beauty of the divine life that we are invited to share with him. Once again, the Father refers to Jesus as “My Son, the Beloved”. The aim of our lives is to be transfigured into images of Christ. Sin has resulted in our disfigurement. Jesus restores us to rightful relationship with the Father, sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts, and this infusion of grace has the power to transfigure us, to make us beautiful, pure, righteous, patient, joyful, intelligent, wise and generous. In short, the right relationship with God, the selling of everything else to possess this treasure, will make us holy and shine with the light of Christ.
5. The Institution of the Eucharist. During our earthly existence, the reception of the Eucharist is the deepest possible instance of union with God. Yet it remains very much a hidden treasure. How often we can receive Communion without awareness of what we are doing! Our minds are filled with distractions, with empty thoughts, with other interests and plans. To possess this treasure meaningfully, we must sell everything else, dismiss these empty thoughts and distractions. We must put Jesus first by preparing ourselves well, clearing our hearts and minds of all competing things, making union with Jesus our priority and our joy. God has given us such a treasure! That we might do what is necessary to possess this treasure in a pure and unadulterated way.
This year marks sixty years since the onset of the visions of Garabandal (more here)