Rosary Meditation — The Fourth Glorious Mystery

In the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the holy rosary we meditate and pray on Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. Having accepted God’s plan in the Annunciation, Mary was honored by being assumed, body and soul, into God’s kingdom. However, Her work was far from over as She now takes the role of our guide and spiritual mentor. She is always trying to bring us closer to Her son, Jesus Christ.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

In the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the holy rosary we meditate and pray on Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.  Having accepted God’s plan in the Annunciation, Mary was honored by being assumed, body and soul, into God’s kingdom.  However, Her work was far from over as She now takes the role of our guide and spiritual mentor.  She is always trying to bring us closer to Her son, Jesus Christ.  She has a difficult challenge since She needs to not only fight the forces of evil, but also fight against our own weaknesses to live as one of God’s children.

Mary has appeared to many different people over the centuries and reiterated the ways we can live in God’s grace and ultimately live in His kingdom of Heaven.  Her messages can be narrowed down to five simple behaviors that She wants all of us to do:

  • Pray:  How can you have a meaningful relationship with God unless you talk to Him?  It doesn’t matter whether you recite prayers, meditate, or just have a free-form prayer session.  You need to talk to God and more importantly, listen to what He tells you.
  • Bible: Again, how can you love God if you do not know Him or His Church?  Read the Bible, the Catechism, and the writings of saints and scholars.  Know your faith so that you can live it with every thought, word, and action.
  • Fast: The key is to detach yourself from the bonds of this world and leave room in your soul for God’s grace.  Mary’s messages at Medjugorje always talk about leaving room for Jesus’ love and mercy and fasting makes you more receptive to God’s truth.
  • Confession: You need to free yourself from the bonds of sin by receiving absolution.  Like a shower for your soul, the Sacrament of Confession cleans away the damage sin inflicts on you and strengthens your resolve to remain in a state of grace.
  • Eucharist: You need to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood regularly because it is your spiritual fuel that will give you the strength and resolve to do God’s will.

Mary wants only the best for us.  She wants us to be close to Her son, Jesus Christ.  That is why She was assumed into Heaven so that She can be our guide and protector from evil.  What She asks of us is not terribly difficult.  She asks us to recognize God in our lives through prayer and act according to His Word.  Taking the time to listen to Mary and following Her guidance will lead to something far greater than anything in this world — God’s kingdom.  So, when we pray this mystery we should ask ourselves, “Are we listening to our Heavenly Mother?”

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Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing

The rosary has the ability to heal and mend what is broken in our lives. Fr. Dwight Longenecker, on Catholic Online, discusses how praying the rosary brings us inner peace by replacing all that is earthly with what is heavenly.

Blessed Virgin Mary - Mother of God
Image by Ted Abbott via Flickr

The rosary has the ability to heal and mend what is broken in our lives.  Fr. Dwight Longenecker, on Catholic Online, discusses how praying the rosary brings us inner peace by replacing all that is earthly in our life with what is heavenly.

From the article:

In a mysterious way Christ’s perfect life and the perfect love he shared with his mother, flow into the wounded places in our lives. This grace empowers us to return to the confessional with a clearer vision. It helps us to be open to the healing Christ brings through the Eucharist, and it gives us the strength to continue the daily hard work of being transformed into Christ’s image.

I really like this idea of replacing our “wounded places” with Christ’s love.  It goes hand-in-hand with many of the message from Mary at Medjugorje when she asks us to clean out all that prevents us from fully accepting God’s graces.

The article also discusses how our lives mimic the values and themes seen in each mystery of the rosary:

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae writes, “The rosary marks the rhythm of human life, bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God’s own life.”

Pope John Paul II said that we can reflect on all the joys, sorrows, and challenges in our lives by looking at the ones shown in the mysteries of the rosary.  Over time, through rosary prayer, our ways begin to mimic Jesus’ ways revealed in those mysteries.  For example, we see Jesus taking up the cross in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.  We know that Jesus fell down repeatedly and yet He always got back up and continued on.  We can learn that we all have our “crosses” in life and at times we might fall (either by sin or just lacking faith and spiritual energy).  However, to imitate Jesus we must get up and continue working towards His kingdom.

The next time we pray the rosary, let us ask ourselves what each mystery reveals about our own lives.  Are we imitating what Jesus did in those mysteries or are we ignoring His teachings and example?

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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.
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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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Becoming a Winner Through Sacrifice

Along with the rewards and benefits that come with membership in the Catholic Church comes duties, obligations, and even sacrifices. This article on the Catholic News Agency discusses how the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, says that modern society has lost the ideas of duty and sacrifice. I see the theme of duty represented in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery and the importance of sacrifice shown in the Third Luminous Mystery. We should meditate on these mysteries for the strength and courage to do all that God asks of us.

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Along with the rewards and benefits that come with membership in the Catholic Church come duties, obligations, and even sacrifices.  This article on the Catholic News Agency discusses how the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, says that modern society has lost the ideas of duty and sacrifice.  I see the theme of duty represented in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery and the importance of sacrifice shown in the Third Luminous Mystery.  We should meditate on these mysteries for the strength and courage to do all that God asks of us.

Through His death, Jesus showed us that we all have a duty to live and defend our faith.  As I said in my Crucifixion meditation, I feel that Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate example that we are all called to follow God’s plan even in the face of great difficulty.  It is our duty, as Catholics, to remain faithful no matter the earthly consequences our faith might bring.  I see so many instances where peoples’ duty to the Catholic faith stops as soon as it comes in conflict with their personal views, beliefs, or lifestyle.  However, the Church always reminds us that we have an obligation to put God first in our lives.  And while that can cause great hardship in this life, God rewards our dedication with everlasting life in His kingdom.

The Third Luminous Mystery, The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion, outlines the need for sacrifice.  I typically see sacrifice in terms of fasting.  However, I often wonder what difference it makes whether I fast or not.  After all, am I a better person because I skip a dessert or give up drinking soda?  Do my prayers carry any more weight because I didn’t eat meat on a Friday?  When put into the context of the Third Luminous Mystery, sacrifice and fasting make more sense.  In his book, “Fasting,” Fr. Slavko Barbaric explains the sacrifice of fasting as “a call for conversion directed to our body… by which we become free from and independent of all material things.”  Notice how he echos the idea of sacrifice being a tool for conversion.  When we fast and sacrifice, we detach ourselves from the fleeting pleasures of this world and open ourselves to the much greater gift of God’s grace.  In other words, God is no more receptive to us because we fast (after all, He is already infinitely receptive to everyone) but we become more receptive to God.

Our duty as Catholics to live a life of sacrifice will not be easy.  However, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues is very direct when he says, “God’s plan cannot be fulfilled except through sacrifice.”  In other words, sacrifice is not something optional for Catholics nor is it something we should only think about during holy seasons like Lent.   Yes, our faith can present challenges.  But what challenge can be so great that it is not worth the promise of God’s Heavenly kingdom?

Here’s a little snippet from the movie, “Rocky Balboa” where Rocky explains to his son that winning means being able to make sacrifices and endure life’s challenges.  Think about this philosophy in terms of your faith.  Are you a fighter or are you letting life’s hardships keep you down?  Do you have the conviction to really live for God’s kingdom by always striving to do God’s will even in the face of great difficulty?

PS: “Fasting” is out of print, but it is worth picking up a used copy.  It is only 47 pages (large type), but it is a great introduction on the importance of fasting.

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Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Luminous Mystery

This rosary meditation is on the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration. In this mystery, Jesus took his apostles, Peter, John, and James up to a mountain to pray. There His clothes turned dazzling white and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Then a voice came from the clouds saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.”

The upper part of the Transfiguration (1520) b...
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This rosary meditation is on the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration.  In this mystery, Jesus took his apostles, Peter, John, and James up to a mountain to pray.  There His clothes turned dazzling white and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him.  Then a voice came from the clouds saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.”

In this mystery, Jesus reveals himself as being God made man.  This instance separates Jesus from the prophets of the Old Testament.  Yes, He performed miracles and preached God’s word, but so did the prophets.  The Old Testament is full of stories of people using the grace of God to perform miracles such as Moses parting the Red Sea.  But in the Transfiguration, Jesus shows that He is no mere prophet following God’s will, but He IS God’s will, God’s word, and God’s truth in human form.  I think this is why Moses and Elijah appeared next to Jesus; as if God was contrasting Himself with the prophets that came before Him.

God, Creator of all that exists and ever will exist, the ultimate truth, our final judge, the alpha and the omega, humbled Himself and came down to earth in a human form so that we may know Him personally.  God desires all of us to live in His grace and love and so He became man through Jesus Christ so that we may better understand His ways.  Our human minds cannot possibly understand God’s infinite complexity and He knows that.  So like an adult trying to explain a complex idea to a child, God revealed Himself in a very simple and direct way — by taking a form which people could see, hear, and touch.

God gave the apostles a very direct command to listen to Jesus.  And yet, after all they had seen and heard, they abandoned Jesus at His crucifixion.  Unfortunately, we continue to imitate the apostles’ behavior whenever we disobey God’s will and sin.  Imagine our arrogance to have received the word of God directly from Jesus and then deliberately disregard it because it conflicts with how we want to live or it seem too difficult.  We say we are followers of Christ, but when it comes time to humble ourselves to God’s will and accept Jesus’ teachings we often tell Him, “thanks, but no thanks.”  In the Transfiguration, God gave us very simple and direct order on how we are to obtain grace and that is to listen to His son, Jesus Christ.  And yet, each one of us can probably think of an instance where we refuse God’s grace through our words, thoughts, or actions.

So let us take a moment to remember the awesome gift God gave us through His son, Jesus Christ.  We should remember the gift of the Catholic Church starting with the first pope, St. Peter, who was there at the Transfiguration and later personally appointed by Jesus to lead His people.  God told us to listen to Jesus which means we should learn what the Church teaches so that we may know Him, follow Him, and love Him.  God gave us a tremendous gift by making Himself more accessible through Jesus.  We should pray for all of those who are wasting this precious gift by not following God’s will.  We must pray for a world that seems to have gone out of its way NOT to listen to God’s message.

God made Himself available to all of us through Jesus Christ.  The question is, do we make ourselves available to God by listening to Him?


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Imitate Mary and Say “Yes” to God

On Sunday, August 16, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to Our Lady. Speaking to 4,000 people gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, he explained that, like Mary, Catholics are called to say yes to God. His reflection touches on themes found in various rosary mysteries such as the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Institution of the Eucharist. We should ask ourselves, do we have the faith to say yes to God as Mary did and the strength to carry out His will?

The icon of Annunciation from the Church of St...
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On Sunday, August 16, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to Our Lady. Speaking to 4,000 people gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, he explained that, like Mary, Catholics are called to say yes to God.  His reflection touches on themes found in various rosary mysteries such as the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Institution of the Eucharist.  We should ask ourselves, do we have the faith to say yes to God as Mary did and the strength to carry out His will?

Here is what Pope Benedict said as reported on the Catholic News Agency:

“What happened to Mary is also valid for every man and woman,” he expounded. “God asks each of us to welcome him, to make available to him our hearts, our bodies, our entire existence, so that he can dwell in the world. He calls us to join ourselves to him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, to form the Church together…by the very nature of our yes, that mysterious exchange also happens to and in us. We are assumed in the divinity of he who assumed our humanity.”

I like this idea that Mary not only said yes to God’s will, but also welcomed Him and made Him available to her heart.  I think often, even when we do God’s will, we do it begrudgingly and without a lot of joy.  We tend to think of God’s will as a burden, not a gift.  Of course going to Mass, receiving the sacraments, and following God’ laws are good things and something we should always strive to do.  But we should also remember than when we do say yes to God we receive a gift of grace which should fill our hearts with joy.  Who doesn’t find it even a little bit exciting that God lives within us when we accept His will?  With that prospect of God working through us, we should not only say yes to Him, but we should also jump at the opportunity with passion and vigor.

I think Mary had a very good understanding of the benefits and joy that come out of saying yes to God.  Did following God’s will make her life easier?  Of course not.  She was burdened with the scandle of an unwed pregnancy and then the sorrow of seeing her son crucified.  But I think she understood that these earthly burdens were minimal when compared to the eternal rewards of living in God’s grace.  I think we often forget about the infinite treasures of heaven amongst our daily struggles.  Because this heavenly reward is something beyond our understanding, we tend to lose sight of it and settle for meager substitutes.  We fall into sin doing things that make us temporarily happy now instead of taking that harder road that will ultimately lead to eternal happiness.  So let us listen to Pope Benedict and be like Mary.  Let us not only say yes to God, but say yes with the joy of knowing that following His plan for us will lead to a happiness greater than anything we can imagine.  And let us pray for everyone who has lost sight of that goal and have said no to God either through their words, thoughts, or actions.

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The Rosary: Heavenly Medicine

If you notice, the tag line for my website is, “A rosary a day keeps the devil away.” As clever as that sounds, there is a great deal of truth in that statement. The rosary is not a piece of fashion or some sort of magical talisman. It is more like medicine or a vitamin that helps fight off the devil who is as real as any disease but many orders of magnitude deadlier. It is extremely important to use the rosary and pray to Mary for She is incredibly powerful and will keep you safe.

In Christianity, Satan is considered the being...
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If you notice, the tag line for my website is, “A rosary a day keeps the devil away.”  As clever as that sounds, there is a great deal of truth in that statement.  The rosary is not a piece of fashion or some sort of magical talisman.  It is more like medicine or a vitamin that helps fight off the devil who is as real as any disease but many orders of magnitude deadlier.  It is extremely important to use the rosary and pray for Mary’s intercession for She is incredibly powerful against evil and will keep you safe.

Why is the devil deadlier than any physical disease?  He is such a grave threat because he can kill something far more precious than your body and that is your eternal soul.  Keep in mind that your physical body only exists for an instant when compared to the eternity of the afterlife.  Any physical pain and suffering endured in this world is minuscule compared to the joy or torment in the afterlife.   But in that instant you are in this world, the devil is actively trying to claim your soul for all eternity.  It is an ongoing battle and you must be prepared to fight and resist sin.

But like many diseases, there is a very effective, preventative medicine to prevent ESD (eternal soul death).  In case you didn’t guess, it’s the rosary.  It may be made of simple rope or a chain, but it is your life line to keep your soul healthy and resistant to the devil.  Praying it will build up your immunity to evil and prevent you from falling into mortal sin.  When you focus on the rosary, you focus on God and doing His will, not indulging in sinful activity.  By praying routinely the temptation to fall into sin will diminish.  However, even the best medicine is useless if you never take it.  For the rosary to be effective, you need to take it off your rear view mirror of your car or out of your desk drawer and pray it.  And you have to match that prayer with a spiritually healthy lifestyle with the intent to do God’s will.

Prayer is an effective antidote to sin because it was given to us from the Mother of God.  The Virgin Mary gave us the rosary like a good mother gives medicine to a child.  She intends for us to use it so that we may live in a state of grace.  The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, had this to say about appealing for Mary’s intercessions to fight the devil:

She brings us to Jesus, she protects us and cares for us in this difficult ministry … Mary also participates in exorcisms. She herself is an exorcist and expels the devil through her sanctity.

Mary is our heavenly mother and one tough opponent for the devil.  With Her, our Lord Jesus Christ, the saints, and the angels in Heaven, you are well protected from the devil and anything he may throw at you.  So let’s take advantage of this great, heavenly medicine and pray regularly because our immortal souls depends on it.

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Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation is The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery — The Crucifixion. After suffering through the scourging, being mocked with a crown of thorns, and carrying a cross, Jesus died alongside two criminals. Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate example that we are all called to follow God’s plan even in the face of great difficulty. As imitators of Christ, we cannot ignore or avoid God’s will when we find ourselves in difficult situations.

The Crucifix and Calvary (#109)
Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr

Today’s rosary meditation is The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery — The Crucifixion.  After suffering through the scourging, being mocked with a crown of thorns, and carrying a cross, Jesus died alongside two criminals.  People seeing Jesus on the cross were puzzled because He saved others, but couldn’t save Himself (Matthew 27:42).  They wanted Him to perform one more miracle so that they would believe in Him forgetting all the miracles He had already performed and that His largest miracle, conquering death and opening the gates of Heaven, was yet to come.

I feel that Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate example that we are all called to follow God’s plan even in the face of great difficulty.  Jesus, being the son of God, could have easily put an end to His suffering any time He wanted.  And yet, He suffered and died horribly.  Why?  Because Jesus practiced what He preached.  His entire ministry revolved around the principles of sacrifice, redemptive suffering, charity, forgiveness, and having faith in God’s plan for us.  And when the time came for His crucifixion, Jesus did not ignore His teachings in order to save his earthly body.   When Jesus taught that we must “take up our cross” in order to gain salvation, He knew full well those words also applied to Him.  Therefore,  as imitators of Christ, we cannot ignore or avoid God’s will when we find ourselves in difficult situations.

Jesus’ crucifixion, while extreme, highlights a situation we find ourselves in all the time.  How often do we try to ignore God’s plan for us because following it causes difficulty or suffering?  How many times do we feel the urge to tell a little lie in order to avoid punishment?  How much easier is it to drown ourselves in drugs or alcohol when times are difficult?  How much simpler is it to “go with the crowd” and not stick out even when the crowd is not living morally?  But God calls us to have faith in His plan despite our situation.  Jesus loved and forgave those who tortured or abandoned Him on the cross because God’s way is one of unconditional forgiveness.  We often try to make excuses for our shortcomings, but in the end we must understand that we are called to live as Jesus taught us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without exception.   The last time I checked, Jesus did not say “love thy neighbor EXCEPT when he is really, really annoying.”

Let us recall those times in our lives when we did not follow God’s will because it seemed too difficult.  Let us remember when we ignored His plan out of fear of suffering and pray that we can show more resolve in the future.  May we remember that all earthly suffering is temporary and is a minuscule when compared to the infinite joy and happiness of Heaven we gain by following Christ.  It’s true that many people have a much tougher road and a much heavier cross to bear than others.  But we must have faith that God never gives us a larger burden than we can handle.  So we should pray, not only that we have find our innate strength to imitate Jesus’ unconditional love and sacrifice, but that others can find that same God-given, moral fortitude as well.

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Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation is the Second Joyful Mystery — The Visitation. After accepting God’s will in the Annunciation, Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. This mystery is one of the best examples of using God’s grace to help others. As the Mother of God, Mary chose to use God’s grace to serve others and not to be served. This is a theme seen in Jesus’ ministry as well as the lives of the saints.

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Today’s rosary meditation is the Second Joyful Mystery — The Visitation.  After accepting God’s will in the Annunciation, Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist.  Mary came with this message, “My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my savior.  For He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call me blessed” (Lk 1:46-48, emphasis mine).  She stayed with Elizabeth for three months presumably offering a helping hand whenever needed.

This mystery is one of the best examples of using God’s grace to help others.  Keep in mind that traveling to see relatives in the time of the Roman Empire was no easy task.  It would take weeks, if not months, to travel between villages.  Traveling was a challenge and dangerous for the very strong let alone a pregnant teenager.  Despite the hardship, Mary made the journey in order to share the good news with her cousin and help in any way she could.  As the Mother of God she chose to use God’s grace to serve others and not to be served.  As she said in Luke’s Gospel, God’s greatness is found in His lowly servants doing His will, not those who try to be masters.   We see this same theme through Jesus who is King of Heaven and yet came into this world as a humble servant.

When I meditate on this mystery I’m often reminded about the difference between acquiring God’s grace and using it.  I know that prayer, fasting, and receiving the Sacraments (particularly washing away sin during Confession) all help me achieve God’s grace.  However, I often fail in using grace to help others in need.  I could help others more whether it be donating some of my time for charitable causes to just making myself available when friends or family need me.  I’m sure I miss great opportunities to actually put my faith into practice all the time.   Ask yourself, are you using all of your God-given gifts to their full potential?  Are you choosing to serve others as Mary did or are you expecting to be served?

The lesson behind The Visitation is that God calls on us all to put our faith into action.  Yes, our faith is something that is deeply personal.  But it is also something that should be very public.  God gives us grace not only for our own sake, but to also help others in their conversion towards God’s love and their ultimate salvation.  I’m reminded of the saying, “actions speak louder than words.”  Let us remember that about prayer.  Let us not just pay lip service to God, but actually put into action what we believe.  Prayer is good and necessary, but it is the foundation for good works and not an end in itself.

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The Rosary: Speaking God’s Language

In my previous post I shared a video expressing the joy of praying the rosary. The video quotes several excuses and criticisms people often have about praying the rosary. The one that really struck a cord with me was, “that I always pray the same thing.” However, prayer is not only about the words, but it is also about setting aside time to focus on our relationship with God.

Hail Mary Full of Grace
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In my previous post I shared a video expressing the joy of praying the rosary.  The video quotes several excuses and criticisms people often have about praying the rosary.  The one that really struck a cord with me was, “that I always pray the same thing.”  I not only hear this from others, but that thought often crosses my mind before I pray.  Sometimes the engineer in me wants to utter the equation, “(Our Father + (Hail Mary * 10) + Glory Be + Fatima Prayer)*5*4” and tell God to fill in the details.  Or I want to tell God that He already knows what I usually pray for so He can just take what I said yesterday and pretend I said it today.  As efficient as that may seem, it defeats the purpose of prayer.  For prayer is not only about the words, but it is also about setting aside time to focus on our relationship with God.

Think about your favorite movie.  Think about one that you’ve seen a hundred times and wouldn’t mind watching it a hundred times more.  I know that I can watch any “Star Wars” movie a countless number of times and still be thrilled (excluding “The Phantom Menace“).   I’m not sure why this is the case for certain movies.  Maybe there is a certain level of comfort viewing something that is familiar or invokes good memories.  In a very loose way, the same can be said about the rosary.  We should look forward with happy anticipation to pray the rosary although we recite the same prayers every time.  After all, praying the rosary is our time to talk to God.  And while the words may be the same, the way God reveals Himself to us is always different.  Praying the rosary, like a good movie, should be a time of peace and happiness.  After all, at the heart of the rosary is God and God is all good.

The rosary may be made of simple parts, but that does not mean that it is a mindless prayer.  The “Hail Mary” and “Our Father” prayers serve as a backdrop so that we can focus our hearts, minds, and souls on God.  Think of these simple prayers as the building blocks for deeper contemplation and meditation.  For example, professional swimmers must coordinate basic strokes in order to win a gold medal.  When they first start training, they focus on the mechanics of each individual stroke — their arm and leg placement, breathing, etc.  But over time those movements become second nature and they can concentrate on really pushing themselves to do better.  The same goes for prayer.  These relatively-simple prayers are the building blocks we need to form a deeper relationship with God.  The more we pray, the more receptive we become to hear how God wants us to live.

Through prayer, we bring forward all the important issues in our lives and place them before our Lord, Jesus Christ.  We have our whole day to focus on other tasks — work, family, friends, traffic, finances, daily chores, etc.  But praying the rosary is our time to concentrate on our relationship with God.  I’m not saying that work, family, and friends have no place in prayer.  Quite the contrary, they are an important part of prayer since we bring all our concerns from our daily lives and place them before God.  And when we pray earnestly, God speaks to us and provides us guidance.  He doesn’t make our problems magically disappear, but He will show us the way to handle them if we make ourselves receptive to His Word.

So let us pray the rosary with joy.  May we view the rosary as our chance to bring all our problems, concerns, and thanks before God.   If we really have faith knowing that our prayers go directly to God then we would never view fifty “Hail Mary” prayers (one mystery of the rosary) as too long or just mindless repetition.  For the rosary is the God’s language and we owe it to ourselves to learn it.

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