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The Luminous Mysteries explained
Among the many gifts which St John Paul II left to the Church is the wonderful teaching he gave through his Encyclicals and Apostolic Letters.
The document “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” is one of those treasures which need to be read and reread in order to better appreciate and love the Holy Rosary.
St John Paul states that the Rosary contains “the memories of Our Lady”; this statement suggests that we enter into the Rosary prayer through the recollection of Mary’s thoughts and feelings.
In this Apostolic Letter, St John Paul II offers us a new way of praying the Rosary, indeed a way to complete the journey through Christ’s life which begins at the Annunciation and which ends with the Crowning of our Blessed Mother as Queen of Heaven.
In this journey we traditionally accompanied Christ through the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries. Yet the public life of Our Lord needed to be included in this journey and the Luminous Mysteries are given to complete this journey.
The Mysteries of Light are a very rich source of meditation for they cover a number of crucial doctrines.
The Divinity of Christ is fully revealed in these mysteries. They contain the Sacraments of the Church.
Just as Mary and the other disciples followed Our Lord, sometimes in the background, we can also follow him.
In each of these mysteries there is a command to “do” and our minds and hearts can be engaged in obeying this command.
The divinity of Christ becomes manifest in the Mysteries of Light. At the Baptism of Our Lord, the Spirit is seen in the form of a dove and we hear the voice of the Father saying: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.
The Holy Trinity is revealed in this mystery. Christ, the second Person, the Word of God, is proclaimed to be ‘the Son of God’.
Jesus is the only Son, of the same divine nature as the Father. As as we know from the Creed, he is “consubstantial with the Father”.
The full revelation that Christ is God unfolds through his public life, through his claims and miracles until it is manifest with the Resurrection.
The miracle of Cana is the evidence which convinces the disciples and “they believe”. This is the first ‘sign’ of the divinity of Christ.
It is also a ‘sign’ from the Father that he wants Mary to intercede for us. This is the sign that she will be the one to distribute the graces which come from her Son.
The proclamation of the kingdom, the call to repent and believe, present Christ’s mission to show us the way to the Father. The mission is completed when the Saviour dies on the Cross in the 5th Sorrowful mystery.
In the third Mystery of Light, Jesus shows us the path to heaven with the Beatitudes, and teaches us the sublime prayer which is said by all Christians, the Our Father.
At the Transfiguration, the Holy Trinity is again present and once again we hear the voice of the Father. Jesus is transfigured; Peter, James and John are entranced as they contemplate in awe the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
The institution of the Holy Eucharist, the gift of God himself as He offers his Body and Blood, is the culmination of the Rosary of Light.
This is the gift which surpasses all other gifts, the sacrificial meal which is the memorial of His Passion and Resurrection.
The Luminous Mysteries also contain all the Sacraments. Jesus chooses to be baptized as he wishes to identify himself with sinners. He wants to show us that it is through Baptism that we can become adopted children of God.
The Father, gives us a new nature, a supernatural life. We receive a share in the divine nature, in the life of God himself, through sanctifying grace.
We are cleansed from original sin and we are promised the reward of heaven.
Marriage is sanctified by the miracle of Cana. Mary’s role at the wedding shows the power of her intercession.
Marriage becomes a Sacrament offering its own grace, a grace which we can draw on, a grace so needed throughout the journey of married life.
The third Mystery of Light is the call to repentance. Before we turn to Christ, we must cast off attachment to sin and focus our ultimate end on God.
As we become followers of Christ, again and again we can go to the Sacrament of Penance to help us get rid of our self-love, to purify our love for the One who loves us and who wants us to give ourselves wholly.
Even hardened sinners are offered the gift of Reconciliation, sometimes at the moment of death when they receive the Sacrament of the Sick.
At the Transfiguration the Father confirms the statement made at the Baptism: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Now the Son has revealed his divinity more clearly as the apostles have witnessed his miracles.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is an affirmation of our commitment to our Faith. The Holy Spirit, the giver of life, is there to reinforce those seven gifts given at Baptism so that we may increasingly learn to move through the Spirit.
The institution of the Holy Eucharist completes the sacramental journey made through the Mysteries of Light.
Christ consecrates his priests in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It is only through the priest that we can obtain the Eucharist, it is through the priest that we receive pardon for our sins.
The Eucharist is the “miracle of miracles”, the Sacrament which is Sacrifice, the Sacrament which is Communion, the Sacrament which is Presence.
The Luminous mysteries are a path of life. At the Baptism, the voice of the Father points out the Son as a model to be followed.
At Cana, the Mother shows us the way as she tells the waiters at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you”.
The call to “repent and believe the Good News” is a further appeal to mend our lives by living the life of Faith. At the Transfiguration, it is again the voice of the Father calling us to “Do as He tells you”.
The institution of the Holy Eucharist is the climax of this command. Jesus tells the Apostles to “do this”, this action which makes the Body and Blood of Christ present across time and space in the Mass.
Every time the priest consecrates the Host, we are there present at Calvary.
Truly the Luminous Mysteries shed a light on the splendour of our Faith.
They move us to contemplate Christ in the joy of his sacramental gifts, in the wonder of a love so great that God himself would choose to become man so that we might be divinised.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 28 No 9 (October 2015), p. 8
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