Rosary Meditation — Fifth Joyful Mystery, Part 2

Last Sunday was the feast of the Holy Family. The Gospel reading was the Fifth Joyful Mystery about finding Jesus in the temple. I wrote a rosary meditation on this mystery earlier, but I had another thought as I was listening to it at Mass that I wanted to share.

Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child Jesus
Image via Wikipedia

Last Sunday was the feast of the Holy Family.  The Gospel reading was the Fifth Joyful Mystery about finding Jesus in the temple.  I wrote a rosary meditation on this mystery earlier, but I had another thought as I was listening to the Gospel at Mass that I wanted to share.

In Luke’s Gospel, after finding Jesus in the temple, Jesus said that He had to be in His Father’s house.  The Gospel then says that Mary and Joseph, “did not grasp what He said to them” (Luke 2:50).  I have a hard time understanding why Mary and Joseph were so confused by Jesus’ words.  After all, He was immaculately conceived.  An angel came to Mary saying that she was going to be the mother of God.  Choirs of angels sang at His birth.  Three wise men sought him out and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Those aren’t events that just happen to any regular human being.  So why were Mary and Joseph so confused despite the fact that they understood that Jesus was God made man?

I now realize that Mary and Joseph’s confusion is no different, in some respects, to our confusion of Jesus’ message today.  How many times does Jesus speak to us through the Mass, prayer, the Bible, and the teachings of the Church?  He may not physically appear to us, but that does not diminish His message of love, peace, and faith.  And yet, we still do not understand His teachings and struggle to live according to His will.  We still fall into temptation and sin.  We still choose to live for this earthly world and not His kingdom.  We even have the advantage of knowing of His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven and yet our actions reflect a confusion and sometimes a total lack of understanding of Jesus’ teachings.  So when the Gospel writers talk of Mary’s confusion of Jesus’ words, perhaps they are commenting more on our human condition of not understanding Jesus’ nature.

As we enter a new decade may we make a resolution to better understand Jesus’ teachings.   Let us also resolve to live and treat each other as Jesus tells us.  May we have the courage to let the Holy Spirit lead us through life’s difficult situations.  As Mary asks us repeatedly, may we make room in our hearts for Jesus through prayer, meditation, and fasting.  Finally, may this be a new decade of decades (rosary decades that is) as we resolve to pray the rosary more than ever.  Happy 2010 everyone!

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Rosary Meditation — The First Luminous Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan. In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin. For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance. While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession. He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart. These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.

Farmer at the dentist, Johann Liss, c. 1616-17.
Image via Wikipedia

This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.  In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin.  For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance.  While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession.  He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart.  These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.

Think about how you take care of your teeth.  You brush and floss daily to keep them clean.  However, every six months you also need to go to a dentist to have your mouth thoroughly inspected and cleaned by a professional.  Seeing your dentist is not a sign of bad oral health.  It’s not like the only people who need to see a dentist are those who do not brush regularly.  Rather, everyone needs regular brushing and checkups or else our teeth will not be their strongest.  Skipping the daily brushing routine or the checkups might lead to premature dentures.

What does this have to do with repentance besides the fact that most people would probably consider a trip to the dentist as some sort of penance?  Like brushing your teeth, prayer must be part of your daily routine to keep your soul healthy.  Regular prayer is your time to reflect on all those ways you have lived God’s will and offer Him thanksgiving.  You also ask for strength and guidance to continue living a spiritually healthy life.  Prayer serves as a little check to prevent sin from entering and decaying your soul.  However, every so often you also need to see a professional to give your soul a thorough scrubbing away of sin.  And that scrubbing is the Sacrament of Confession.

Just like how brushing alone isn’t enough to keep your teeth healthy, individual prayer alone is not enough to keep your soul healthy.  You can’t completely fix the effects of sin with only individual prayer.  There are instances where your soul requires the help of a professional in order to fix the spiritual decay that may be attacking and spreading within you.  You may think that my analogy leads to the priest hearing your confession to be that professional who “fixes” your soul.  However, the priest is merely the assistant.  The real professional, the one who actually cleanses your soul of sin, is God.  God works through the priest to clean your soul and restore it back to a clean and healthy state.

This mystery should remind us of John the Baptist’s message that we should “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Mt 3:3).  Let us remember to be thoroughly repentant not just through our private prayers but also by receiving the sacrament of Confession.  That way we clear out souls of everything that blocks us from fully receiving God’s graces.  Instead of seeing confession as some sort of punishment, let us see it for what it really is — a gift.  It is our chance to set things right, fix what is broken in our life, and build a stronger relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May we remember that it is through confession that we return to that pure innocence that we had at our Baptism.  We return to that state of grace that God desires for all of us.  So let us make the effort to go to Confession regularly (the Church says at least once a year) and live as true disciples of Jesus Christ.  And you might want to pop in to see your dentist as well!

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Medjugorje Message: August 25, 2009

The August 25, 2009 message from our Mother Mary at Medjugorje:

Dear children! Today I call you anew to conversion. Little children, you are not holy enough and you do not radiate holiness to others, therefore pray, pray, pray and work on your personal conversion, so that you may be a sign of God’s love to others. I am with you and am leading you towards eternity, for which every heart must yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Medjugorje Mary Statue

The August 25, 2009 message from our Mother Mary at Medjugorje:

Dear children! Today I call you anew to conversion.  Little children, you are not holy enough and you do not radiate holiness to others, therefore pray, pray, pray and work on your personal conversion, so that you may be a sign of God’s love to others. I am with you and am leading you towards eternity, for which every heart must yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Mary isn’t pulling any punches in this message.  She basically tells all of us that we need to step up our game and become holier.  She even has tough words for those who do try to live a good and holy life of prayer and avoiding sin.  Mary says that it is not good enough to be holy in private, but we must “radiate holiness to others.”  All too often I think we have a tendency to erect a wall between our spiritual lives and our “normal” lives.  Mary challenges us to make our spiritual life our normal life for all to see.

Her message has many connections to the mysteries of the rosary.  She tells us that we must orient ourselves towards eternity which means we must orient ourselves towards God.  This is the message of the Transfiguration that we become oriented towards God whenever we listen to His son and follow Jesus’ teachings.  Mary calls us to go out and spread Jesus’ message by living  holy life.  We do this with the help of the Holy Spirit as seen in the Pentecost.  We are also called to lead a holy life through the Institution of the Eucharist where we act as holy vessels of Jesus Christ by being His hands, legs, and voice in this world.

This message reminds me of a story I heard from Father Corapi.  He talked about one day when St. Francis asked one of his fellow friars to go and preach throughout the village.  They walked around all day in their robes and conversed casually with the townspeople.  They never got up and gave a formal sermon.  At the end of the day the friar asked St. Francis when they were going to preach God’s word.  St. Francis replied that they had been doing that all day.   They were “radiating” holiness by making others aware of God’s presence in the world by the simple act of making themselves, and hence, the Catholic Church, available to others in the community.  It is as true today as it was back in the time of St. Francis that small acts of holiness can go a long way in bringing people closer to God.

So, how will you radiate holiness today?

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Praying through the Pain

One of the main themes of my website is that prayer is exercise for the soul. In a previous post I said that we should let the Holy Spirit be our personal trainer and allow Him guide us in our prayer life. I came across this article where someone did just that. Stacy Peterson used to pray the rosary while jogging until she broke her leg and could not run. She took it as a sign that God was calling her to contemplate Him in stillness rather than action.

Holy Spirit dove window

One of the main themes of my website is that prayer is exercise for the soul.  In a previous post I said that we should let the Holy Spirit be our personal trainer and allow Him guide us in our prayer life.  I came across this article where someone did just that.  Stacy Peterson used to pray the rosary while jogging until she injured her ankle and could not run.  She took it as a sign that God was calling her to pray to Him in a different way.

From the article:

For some reason God’s will for me this summer is to contemplate him in the stillness I find hard to achieve when I am of sound body. Since my injury enforces a driving hiatus, I must sit and read to my “little ones” from whom I can become distracted during my hectic days of bustling around the house and town. Weeks of healing have given me the gift of listening to tiny voices doing “talk-overs” for Polly Pockets. Their pleasure at play reminds me that my Heavenly Father, too, delights in my smallest endeavors, like when I “crutch over” to inspect sun-kissed blueberry bushes.

This woman really knows the meaning of “not my will, but Your will be done.”  How many of us would see a broken leg as a blessing and an opportunity to pray differently?  If it were me, I would be a little disgruntled that God took away my usual and comfortable way of praying.  But as we can see in any of the Sorrowful Mysteries, God’s plan for us isn’t always comfortable and can sometimes be a challenge.  But like Jesus in His Agony in the Garden, we can overcome any obstacle when we ask God earnestly for the strength to do His will.

Further in the article, Stacy discusses how the Holy Spirit drew her out of her comfort zone:

The theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love are the gifts that the Holy Spirit infused into my soul at my baptism and through worthy reception of the Sacraments, to draw me away from myself and unite me to the Trinity during this apparent trial.

In physical fitness, a personal trainer will switch up exercises so that your muscles don’t get too comfortable with the usual routine and stop developing.  In other words, our muscles need a challenge to grow and develop.  The Holy Spirit can do the same thing with our spiritual fitness.  We need variety and depth in our prayer to build spiritual muscle.  And like a good trainer, sometimes the Holy Spirit needs to push us hard especially when we become too comfortable or complacent with our usual routine.

I’m not saying that God deliberately broke this woman’s leg to force her to pray differently.  But I do think that the Holy Spirit lead her to a new way to approach prayer after her injury.  Because she had already built up a good spiritual base, she was receptive to what the Holy Spirit had to offer.  And that is why it is so important to pray regularly.  We all need to have the reservoir of grace so that we can follow God’s will and grow in faith even when life hits us with the unexpected.

PS:  Interestingly enough, it looks like even the Pope needs a little spiritual kick every now and then.  Regarding his recent wrist injury, Pope Benedict said:

Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility, give me more time for prayer and meditation.

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Medjugorje Message: May 25, 2009

The May 25, 2009 message from our mother Mary at Medjugorje. She sends a message that the Holy Spirit will lead you on the way of witnessing your faith.

St. James Church in Međugorje.
Image via Wikipedia

The latest message from our mother Mary at Medjugorje:

“Dear children! In this time, I call you all to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon every baptized creature, so that the Holy Spirit may renew you all and lead you on the way of witnessing your faith – you and all those who are far from God and His love. I am with you and intercede for you before the Most High. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Let us pray for all of those who have wondered away from God’s grace whether it be deliberately or inadvertently.  As I discussed in my Third Glorious Mystery meditation, the Holy Spirit’s greatest give is the strength and courage to live the faith and remain in God’s grace.  The question is, will you let the Holy Spirit into your life or are you blocking Him?  Let us make an effort to quiet our hearts and minds so that we may hear the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us.   We must also pray double for those who are the furthest away from God’s Word and truth since they need the intercession of the Holy Spirit the most.

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