The First Joyful Mystery

The Annunciation
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you."  But she was greatly troubled by what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for  you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,  and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,  and of his kingdom there will be no end."  But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, 

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and  the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
 
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done unto me according to your word."   Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1: 26-38

494 At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without  knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain  that "with God, nothing will be impossible": 
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."  Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus.
Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to  the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve  the mystery of redemption with him and  dependent on him, by God's grace.
461 Taking up St. John's expression, "The Word became flesh", the Church calls "Incarnation" the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.


462 The Letter to the Hebrews refers to the same mystery: Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God."
463 Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning whenever she sings "the mystery of our religion": "He was manifested in the flesh."
Catechism of the Catholic Church 494
, 461-463

 

 

 

The Second Joyful Mystery

The Visitation
During those days Mary set out and traveled to  the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where  she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant in  her womb leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of  my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound  of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

Luke 1: 39-45

495 Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus," Mary is  acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord." In fact, the One whom  she conceived by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her son according to the flesh, was none other than the  Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God"(Theotokos).

496 From the first formulations of her faith, the Church  has confessed that Jesus was conceived by  the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of  the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect  of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit  without human seed."  The Fathers see in the virginal  conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God  who came in a humanity like our own. Thus  St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of  the second century says:

"You are firmly convinced about our Lord,
who is truly of the race of David according
to the flesh, Son of God according to the will
and power of God, truly born of a virgin,...
he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh
under Pontius Pilate...he truly suffered,
as he is truly risen."

497 The gospel accounts understand the virginal  conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses  all human understanding and possibility: "That which  is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit," said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine  promise given through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son."
717 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." John was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb" by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 495, 496, 497, 717

 

 

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The Third Joyful Mystery

The Nativity
While they were there, the time came for her to have  her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She  wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a  manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the  fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they  were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been  born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly  host with the angel, praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace  to those upon whom his favor rests."

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing
that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,  and the infant lying in a manger. When they saw this,  they made known the message that had been told  them about this child. All who heard it were amazed  by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Luke 2: 6-19

 

Birth of Jesus


437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." From the beginning he was "the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world", conceived as "holy" in Mary's virginal womb. God called Joseph to "take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", so that Jesus, "who is called Christ", should be born of Joseph's spouse into the messianic lineage of David.
525 J
esus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were
the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven's glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

"The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible. The angels and the shepherds praise him And the magi advance with the star, For you are born for us, Little Child, God eternal!"

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become "children of God" we must be "born from above" or "born of God." Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us.  Christmas is the mystery of this "marvelous exchange":

"O marvelous exchange! Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers of the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity."


Catechism of the Catholic Church 437, 525, 526

 

 

Presentation in the Temple

The Fourth Joyful Mystery

The Presentation
in the Temple

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord." and to offer the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young  pigeons," in accordance with the dictate of the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit  was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the
peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and a glory for your people Israel."

The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and the rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of  God was upon him.
Luke 2: 22-40

 

527 Jesus' circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham's descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel's worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that "circumcision of Christ" which is Baptism.
529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him  to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord.  With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter  with the Savior-the name given to this event in the  Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light unto the nations"  and the "glory of Israel," but also "a sign that is  spoken against." The sword of sorrow predicted for  Mary announces Christ's perfect oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God "had  prepared in the presence of all peoples."
Catechism of the Catholic Church 527, 529


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The Fifth Joyful Mystery

The Finding
in the Temple

Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve  years old, they went up according to festival custom.  After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.  

Luke 2: 41-52

531 During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, a life in the community.From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was "obedient" to his parents and that he increased  in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

532 Jesus' obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both 
announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday:  "Not my will..." The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of  restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed. The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into  fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life:

533 "The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus--the school of the Gospel.  First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensible condition of mind, revive in us...A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and 
inviolable character...A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the "Carpenter's Son," in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work...To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world,  holding up to them their great pattern, their brother who is God."
Pope Paul VI

534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my  Father's work?" Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 531, 532, 533, 534

 

 

Queen of Heaven


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Hail, Holy Queen.
Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness,
And our hope.
To you do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve.
To you do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping
In this valley of tears.
Turn, then, Most Gracious Advocate,
Your eyes of mercy towards us,
And after this, our exile,
Show unto us
The blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of
The promises of Christ.
Amen

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April 15, 2006