Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Luminous Intentions

The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, discussed in the previous post, correspond with the birth of faith in us, to the gentle call of God leading us into relationship, and with our first steps responding to that call. We respond first with humility, recognising our own frailty and littleness, and in so doing, truly begin to value and love others. In our humility we foster our poverty of spirit and our need for God, and begin to strive to obey His Laws. And yet, without the fullness of His grace in us, we recognise that we are incapable of living our lives in obedience to Him. We need God's help to really change and become the person He wants us to be. Through this process, we come humbly to the waters of baptism, where the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary begin. These mysteries, recently added by Bl. Pope John Paul II, correspond in their turn to growth in the life of Grace through entrance into the Covenant Family of God.

The First Luminous Mystery: The Baptism of Jesus
For Faithfulness and Submission to God's Will

When we meditate upon the Baptism of Jesus, we ask His Mother to help us to remain more faithful to those promises that we made (or that were made for us) at our own baptism. When we come to the waters of new life, the priest asks us (or, in the more common cases of infant baptism, he asks our parents on our behalf),
Do you renounce Satan and all his works and all his empty show?
Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who came upon the apostles at Pentecost
and today is given to you sacramentally in Confirmation?
Do you believe in the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
After which question, we (or our parents) answer, "I do." We are then baptised, and the waters of baptism sacramentally give new life to our souls, we are born again, and the Holy Spirit enables us to truly and freely cooperate with the grace that God had given us previously, which called us to this point. Now, He gives us "sanctifying grace" which further enables us to actually be obedient to His Law. However, since our passions still wrestle within us against our intellect and our will, in our freedom we often stumble and fall, seduced by those very works and that empty show of Satan, tempting us away from God and back into sin.

And so, having returned to God once more through Confession (as discussed in the Fifth Joyful Mystery), through the Rosary and with Mary's help, holding us up as our parents did at our first baptism, we renew our baptismal promises once more, and submit ourselves again to God's will for our lives.

The Second Luminous Mystery: The Wedding at Cana
For Greater Devotion to Mary

When we first come to faith, we don't always know how to pray as we ought, or how best to go about living for Jesus. This is why the Rosary itself is so important! Through it, Mary teaches us more and more about her Son, and through it, we ask her to pray to Him for our needs, expressing trust that she knows them better than we do, and that her motherly care for us knows how best to present them to her Eldest Son. And we know that Jesus Himself honours His Mother, and will readily receive our requests from her. When we ask Mary to pray for us, we further exercise that humility that we learned from her in the First Joyful Mystery. We continue to live and to grow in that foundational virtue, adding to it that virtue of trust. Even when we've grown in our faith and understanding, this growth manifests not as a greater self-sufficiency in our prayers, but greater trust in and honour of Mary, as even Jesus Himself as an adult honoured her so completely.

When we meditate on the Wedding at Cana, our trust in Mary's maternal intercession grows as we recall the fact that Jesus worked His first miracle at her behest, and Mary herself asked this of Him, not for herself, but for the happy newlyweds and their guests. And we recall as well, that the answer to the prayers of the servants came only when they obeyed her injunction to "Do whatever He tells you" (John 2:5).

The Third Luminous Mystery: Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom
For the Grace of Conversion

Of course, to do what Jesus tells us necessitates hearing His Words, so that we can then do them. And so we meditate on Jesus' preaching of the Gospel so as to internalise His words in the Sermon on the Mount, or in His parables, or in the many other passages in the Gospel where He proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven! I have personally found it quite helpful to meditate throughout the week on the Gospel from the previous Sunday when I come to this mystery. We pray that we might truly understand what Jesus is teaching us, that we might become more fully conformed to Him and know Him more intimately, and through our lives, become the vehicle for God to begin drawing others to Him, as well.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration
For Holy Fear of the Lord

The closer we come to knowing Jesus, the more we see of His absolute glory. Truly knowing Him inspires a reverence and awe at His power and majesty. This reverence and awe is what's commonly referred to as "the fear of the Lord" in Scripture. When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured before them, they were quite rightly terrified. They had come to Jesus because they recognised wisdom and authority in His teaching. As they journeyed with Him, they saw the miracles knew God was at work through Him. But with the Transfiguration, they came face to face with the majesty of God in Jesus. So too should our reverence for Jesus continue to grow as we ourselves grow in the spiritual life. For it is with reverence that we approach and receive the most precious gift that Jesus has to give us.

The Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist
For Thanksgiving to God

The Eucharist, the Church tells us, is the source and the summit of our faith. This is because in the Eucharist, Jesus Himself is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He makes His sacrificial death on Calvary present to us once more, and in receiving Him, we unite ourselves more fully and completely to Him. The word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek and means "Thanksgiving", and so when we meditate on the mystery of Jesus' institution of the Eucharist, we seek to be even more thankful to God for our salvation through Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection, but more so, to be thankful for every aspect of the life that God has given to us. When we have grown in humility, poverty of spirit, and the fear of the Lord, we are able to recognise that all that we are and all that we have are gifts from God. When we consider that above and beyond everything else, Jesus Himself would come to us in the form of Bread and Wine, that we might, through consuming Him, become so intimately united with Him that His very life of grace grows in us and nourishes our souls, how could there be any other response than sheer gratitude? It is this grateful love for Jesus that allows us to fully receive the graces that He has for us, so that we may grow into the Saints He wants us to become.

The graces we receive in the Eucharist help us to conform even more fully to the Gospel, and strengthen us to face the inevitable hardships in life. Through thanksgiving to God, and trust in His goodness, we can cling tightly to Mother Mary's hand, and with joy even in the pain, daily take up our crosses. This is the theme of the Sorrowful Mysteries...

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