Meaning of the Rosary...
To pray the Rosary means nothing else than to find a way to be with Jesus and Mary. By meditating on the mysteries of their life, we are with Jesus and Mary: be it the joy of Christmas and the seriousness of the presentation in the temple, or the sorrow and bloody sweat on his face, the wound on his back from the scourge and the cross, or the crown of thorns on his head. When we are daily linked with Mary and Jesus by such meetings, then the joy of victory over death and sin is guaranteed to us with them and the special gifts of the Spirit and final triumph in heaven are assured us.
So, to recite the Rosary does not mean to hide oneself somewhere in a corner and to live far from the world and life. It means to prepare oneself for one’s own and other people’s crosses, the way Jesus and Mary carried them. To be with them means to have troubles and problems, and yet never to become embittered. To be with them means to experience contempt and disappointment, and yet never to seek revenge. To go with them means to go the way of a person who believes in God who makes everything new.
Every prayer can be finished in a hasty manner so that we “say” all our prayers to the end without having met Jesus and Mary. If we do this there is the danger that prayer will become a waste of time for us and we will never come to like prayer. It is just like meeting a friend. If we never have time for our friend or, if the time we devote to him is too short or if we speak with bad grace, then our friendship is bound to die.
Therefore it is important to have time for the prayer of the Rosary and for every prayer.
• Fr Slavko Barbaric, Pray With The Heart
The Joyful Mysteries of Uncertainty
Donald Rumsfeld, the former United States Secretary of Defence, once said: “As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
None of us, it seems, have all the answers – not even Donald Rumsfeld. But for all the unknowns and uncertainties in life, we can also be assured of, through God’s goodness, the certitudes of joy. Sometimes the two feelings go hand in hand. Uncertainties can raise questions, even when we experience joy in our heart. The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary illustrate this truth. Each occasion of joy, each bead, is threaded and tied with a question of uncertainty.
In the mystery of the Annunciation, the news that she is chosen to be the Mother of God prompts Mary to ask with uncertainty: “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?”
Her cousin Elizabeth, overjoyed and excited by Mary’s visitation also raises a question: “Why should I be so honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?”
And surely there is uncertainty for Mary and Joseph as they make their way to Bethlehem to register for the census, aware that the birth of Jesus is imminent. No hospitals in those days, not even room in a warm guest-house.
Then the time arrives for Joseph and Mary to fulfil the law and present Jesus in the Temple – a joyful occasion, notably for Simeon who has waited so long to set eyes on the Saviour of the world. But for Mary and Joseph, they can only stand and wonder at the things Simeon is saying about Jesus, especially when he speaks to Mary of a sword that will pierce her heart.
Life’s unknowns for Mary and Joseph manifest again in the final joyful mystery when Jesus goes missing. It’s a joy to discover that he is safe in the Temple. But this joy is mixed with uncertainty when Mary asks her Son, “My child, why have you done this to us?” And even when Jesus explains, his parents fail to understand his answer. The question of uncertainty remains.
Each joyful mystery is a journey, each bead a stop on the journey, a station, an incident – an episode in our life. And we know there is a degree of uncertainty with any journey we undertake.
The journey for Mary begins with the arrival of the Angel Gabriel. Pregnant, she sets out on a long journey from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea, some 70 miles away. Three months later Mary returns to Nazareth. Almost six months pass before Joseph and Mary are on the move again, this time to Bethlehem. From Bethlehem it’s just a short passage to Jerusalem for the Presentation; and then follows the long journey into Egypt before the Holy Family eventually move back to Nazareth.
St Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph would journey to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. On one occasion on their way back to Nazareth, they discover that Jesus is missing from the caravan. And so yet another journey, another step of uncertainty, is undertaken to search for the twelve-year-old.
The journeys for Jesus and Mary continue with the Mysteries of Light, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries.
In her messages from Medjugorje, Our Lady often refers to the journey with Jesus as the path – of perfection, of peace, of love, of salvation, the path towards eternal life.
It is impossible to share in this journey and its joys and illuminations, its sorrows and glories, without confronting uncertainty and the unknown. There is no easy by-pass to Heaven, just the certainty of faith knowing that Jesus has prepared a place for each of us that desire to make the journey and follow him.
I desire that through you the whole world may get to know the God of joy. By your life bear witness for God’s joy. Do not be anxious or worried. God himself will help you and show you the way.
part Medjugorje message, May 25, 1998
“My child, why have you done this to us?”
FOUR SIMPLE QUESTIONS...
Today, and every other day, I ask myself four simple questions.
1 In what way have I experienced or shared a joy today, be it only briefly?
2 Have I experienced or shared a moment of clarity and understanding?
3 Have I experienced or shared a sorrow or regret in my heart?
4 In what way have I marvelled at something special, seen or heard?
Asking these four questions of myself leads to understanding and accepting that every day is an opportunity to share and experience the wonderful graces of life’s mysteries associated with the Rosary… Joy, Light, Sorrow, and Glory. Try asking these four questions for the next seven days and experience the difference this simple meditation makes in your life.
Starting a Rosary prayer group
Can you remember who taught you to pray the Rosary. Perhaps your mother or father? In my case, it was my mother, and in her case it was her father. Whoever, it’s a gift to be passed on.
I can’t remember exactly when I stopped praying the Rosary, probably in my early teens – and I didn’t pick up the beads and start again until some 35 years later!
My return to the Rosary came about after I had listened to a priest preaching at Mass about Medjugorje and prayer groups. I don’t know what exactly prompted me but I remember approaching the priest after Mass and asking if he had any objection to me starting a Rosary prayer group in my home once a week and inviting other parishioners.
Of course, he had no objection. In fact he was delighted. So for the next couple of Sundays I began asking people after Mass if they would like to come to the prayer group to pray the Rosary. About 15 people responded.
And every Tuesday evening, for the past 20 years a group of us meet at my home to pray the Rosary. When we first started my idea was to encourage the group to go to different homes each week. But that didn’t happen. The people were quite content to stay in one place.
Numbers have varied over the years, even diminished, but there is still a solid group of six of us who keep the prayer group alive.
The main prayer intention for the group has always been for “Peace in our homes”. But for a few years now we have also been praying for those in need, especially the sick.
Why I should have wanted to start a prayer group in the first place, I’m still not sure. I hadn’t even been to Medjugorje at the time. But seven years after staring the group I did make my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje, and was blessed with many graces.
But was it coincidence that this was the message of Our Lady for September 25, 2000, given on the final day of my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje?
Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. May prayer become joy for you. Renew prayer in your families and form prayer groups. In this way, you will experience joy in prayer and togetherness. All those who pray and are members of prayer groups are open to God’s will in their hearts and joyfully witness God’s love. I am with you, I carry all of you in my heart and I bless you with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call.
I’ve looked at and read this message several times in the past and have always tried to see if there was any significance in the words that I could relate to my visit to Medjugorje in September 2000. I never could until now, thirteen years on, after writing this post about Rosary prayer groups!
“Renew prayer in your families and form prayer groups...”
Joseph Haydn loved music and the Rosary
The great composer Franz Joseph Haydn loved Our Lady and the Rosary. Once, when discussing mental fatigue, he shared his secret. “I always carry a rosary with me. After a few decades I am sure to feel refreshed, both in mind and body.”
Joseph Haydn once set out to write a religious oratorio. In order to do so he became practically a hermit. For 13 months the composer remained in seclusion praying, studying and working. Some days were filled with success, others with anguish. Often he went for days without an idea. “Then I would pick up my rosary,” he later said, “and, as the beads slipped through my fingers, I would relax, gather new strength and collect my thoughts. I would return to my piano and once again hammer away!”
The Finding in the Temple
Is your prayer life on the wane? Maybe can’t even say a prayer to save your life, complete a rosary or even begin to start one? Calling out to Jesus and he just doesn’t seem to be around? It happens!
It happened to me around a year ago. Everything just dried up! And then one day I made the effort to sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour and the ball was back in play again.
I talked, he listened. He talked and I listened. And then there were the silences and a sense of peace and quiteness all around before the conversation got going again. It’s not so strange to sit in silence and enjoy each other’s company. My wife and I do it all the time!
And then it was time to go with a promise from me saying, “We must do this again at sometime!”
Later that day I picked up my Bible, started to read Luke’s Gospel and began to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. It was when I got to the fifth mystery, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, that I experienced one of those ‘moments’ – an insight, a revelation, a realisation that Jesus was still carrying on the conversation from that afternoon.
It was when the caravan was returning to Nazareth after the Passover in Jerusalem that Mary and Joseph woke up to the fact that Jesus had gone ‘missing’. For the first day they hadn’t noted his absence and then suddenly his disappearance caused worry and concern. They went to look for him among their relatives and friends but he was not with them, so they returned to Jerusalem to continue their search there. It took another two days before they discovered Jesus – in the temple, in the church!
And just like my time earlier that day, Jesus was sitting there, listening and asking questions, in conversation with those in the temple, and coming up with some amazing answers.
So even in Our Lady’s life, Jesus went ‘missing’, and it took a visit to church to find him! Mary and Joseph didn’t understand at the time when Jesus said they shouldn’t be surprised to find him in the temple going about his Father’s business. But I know and understand now that if I am to discover Jesus I must seek and discover him in the church, as well as in the temple of my own heart and the hearts of others.
The Rosary in your hand and prayer in your heart... In the five decades of the Rosary I see the five smooth stones of the prophet David. There is nothing you cannot conquer. This is the weapon gainst your Goliath, against your enemy. Yes, you can defend your Jerusalem and your Israel. Can you believe that you are Our Lady’s David? Do not be afraid. Today Our Lady places the Rosary in your hand and the gift of prayer in your heart.
Fr Jozo Zovko
Meditations for the Glorious Mysteries
A selection of Our Lady’s messages for consideration as meditations when praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.
Dear children! Today I call you to love. Little children, love each other with God’s love. At every moment, in joy and in sorrow, may love prevail and, in this way, love will begin to reign in your hearts. The risen Jesus will be with you and you will be his witnesses. I will rejoice with you and protect you with my motherly mantle. Especially, little children, I will watch your daily conversion with love. Thank you for having responded to my call. March 25, 2005
THE ASCENSION OF JESUS INTO HEAVEN
Dear children! Do not forget that you are here on earth on the way to eternity and that your home is in Heaven. That is why, little children, be open to God’s love and leave egoism and sin. May your joy be only in discovering God in daily prayer. That is why, make good use of this time and pray, pray, pray; and God is near to you in prayer and through prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call. July 25, 2000
THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THE APOSTLES
Dear children! Today I call you, through prayer and sacrifice, to prepare yourselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Little children, this is a time of grace and so, again, I call you to decide for God the Creator. Allow him to transform and change you. May your heart be prepared to listen to, and live, everything which the Holy Spirit has in his plan for each of you. Little children, allow the Holy Spirit to lead you on the way of truth and salvation towards eternal life. Thank you for having responded to my call. May 25, 1998
THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY INTO HEAVEN
Dear children! Again today I call you to consecrate your life to me with love, so I am able to guide you with love. I love you, dear children, with a special love and I desire to bring you all to Heaven unto God. I want you to realise that this life lasts briefly compared to the one in Heaven. Therefore, dear children, decide again today for God. Only that way will I be able to show how much you are dear to me and how much I desire all to be saved and to be with me in Heaven. Thank you for having responded to my call. November 27, 1986
THE CROWNING OF MARY AS QUEEN OF HEAVEN
Dear children! Today I invite you to peace. I have come here as the Queen of Peace and I desire to enrich you with my motherly peace. Dear children, I love you and I desire to bring all of you to the peace which only God gives and which enriches every heart. I invite you to become carriers and witnesses of my peace to this unpeaceful world. Let peace reign in the whole world which is without peace and longs for peace. I bless you with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call. July 25, 1990
The 15 Mysteries of the Rosary
This section of a painting produced during the early 16th century is thought to be by Goswijn van der Weyden, son of the famous Flemish painter Rogier. It depicts the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious and is kept at the Met Museum, New York.
Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
Nativity of Jesus
Presentation of Jesus
Finding Jesus in the Temple
Agony in the Garden
Scourging at the Pillar
Crowning with Thorns
Carrying of the Cross
Crucifixion of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
Ascension of Jesus
Decent of the Holy Spirit
Assumption of Mary
Crowning of Mary in Heaven
Some more thoughts on the Joyful Mysteries
Everything I have in life is gift from God... my very life is such a gift... a gift is a present... it is given. There are two actions involved in making a gift or presentation – giving and receiving. To receive, I have to be present or present myself in some way. By making myself present or available, I am also giving of myself. Each Joyful Mystery is linked by a presentation theme... a present or gift.
The Annunciation: Mary is presented with the good news – the gift of Jesus in her womb. Mary gives of herself when she says, yes. She presents herself to accept or receive the gift.
The Visitation: Mary and Jesus present themselves to Elizabeth and the child in her womb, John. Elizabeth acknowledges the visitation; first giving praise to Jesus: “Blessed is the fruit of your womb,” and then to Mary: “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” Even the child in Elizabeth’s womb, an unexpected gift from God, is delighted and leaps for joy! Mary, too, then proclaims the gift of Jesus when she responds with the Magnificat.
The Nativity: Wise men, kings and shepherds present themselves to Jesus. Mary presents Jesus to the world, rich and poor. Jesus offers Peace to all men; but not everyone will present or give of themselves to receive and accept the gift.
The Presentation: Mary and Joseph present Jesus to God. Two doves are also presented as sacrifice. Simeon is given the gift of enlightenment and recognises God’s gift to the world and the hearts of mankind.
Finding Jesus in the Temple: The discovery of the ever-present Jesus in the hearts of men – an eternal present, an everlasting gift. Jesus gives of himself in the Temple, is present with the doctors, listening and giving answers to their questions.
LIFE IS PURE GIFT!
Mysteries of Light... Jesus Speaks with Authority
• The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
Do all that righteousness demands… Matthew 3 : 15
• The Wedding at Cana
Fill the jars with water… John 2 : 7
• Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
Repent and believe the Good News… Mark 1 : 15
• The Transfiguration
Stand up. Do not be afraid... Matthew 17 : 7
• The Institution of the Eucharist
Take it and eat. This is my body… Drink all of you from this for this is my blood… Matthew 26 : 26-28
I call all those who have consecrated themselves to my Immaculate Heart to become an example to others. I call all priests and religious brothers and sisters to pray the Rosary and to teach others to pray.
part Medjugorje message, August 25, 1997
When a message from Our Lady requested that the Rosary be prayed daily at Medjugorje...
This recollection by Fr Jozo was recorded by Pietro Zorza, and appears in the book: Ten Years of Apparitions, by Fr René Laurentin.
Soon after the start of the Medjugorje phenomenon the area around the hill of apparitions was blocked by the police and by the army. The visionaries, controlled by the home guards, could not leave their houses. Jakov had the apparition in his home. The Gospa gave a message to him to bring to me that evening at the church for Mass.
He was like a prisoner in his home, for the armed guard was in front of his door. Jakov, so small, felt he should obey the Gospa. He looked through the keyhole. When he saw that the guard had fallen asleep (for here in July it is very warm), quietly he opened the window and jumped out. The guard awakened, entered the house, and saw that Jakov was no longer there. By radio, he informed all the stations of the blockade in the direction of the church. Jakov changed cars six times in order to escape the stations of the blockade.
He arrived at the church as I was finishing Mass. I felt someone pulling on my sleeve. I looked down and saw him. He told me very quietly, “The Gospa has given me a message for the people.” I lifted him up and stood him on the altar before the microphone. He said: “ The Gospa told me to come to tell you to pray the Rosary this evening.” The people immediately felt that the Gospa was near them. Many began to weep because it was a period of great repression on the part of the police. They looked for the rosary in their pockets.
It was the first parish Rosary which was said in the church at Medjugorje. I put Jakov back on the floor. He was barefooted, dirty and dusty. On the altar cloth remained the imprint of his two little feet. Then the Gospa came in the middle of the church and thanked me, and added the same words: You must say the Rosary every evening. And since then, in Medjugorje, we always say the Rosary.
Fr Jozo Zovko OFM, parish priest of Medjugorje when the apparitions began in 1981.
Jakov Colo, the youngest of the six Medjugorje seers.
In the six month the angel Gabriel was sent by 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. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid: you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” the angel answered “and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.” “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary “let what you have said be done to me.” And the angel left her. Luke 1 : 25-38
This Annunciation scene forms the centre panel of a triptych known as the Merode Altarpiece, an oil on oak painting attributed to the Flemish artist Robert Campin (and assistant), circa 1427-32.
It is kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan, the largest art museum in the United States.
AND A SWORD WILL PIERCE
YOUR OWN SOUL TOO...
As the father and mother of Jesus stood wondering about the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “You see this child; he is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many will be laid bare.”
Luke 2 : 33-55
He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. Malachi 3 : 1-4
Now in Jerusalem there was a man called Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel. Luke 2 : 25-32
THE VISIBLE PRAYERS
Anyone who has travelled to Medjugorje will know of the strong witness given to the Rosary by pilgrims who carry their beads in a variety of visible ways… around the neck… held in the hand when out walking… wrapped around the wrist… sometimes as a fashion accessory… held up for blessing… attached to bags… But I’m guessing that when pilgrims return home, most times the beads are then confined to a pocket or purse and only taken out when prayed on. That’s what I usually do. In Medjugorje, it’s different. No one feels ‘uncomfortable’ about being seen carrying rosary beads.
PRAYER CANNOT BE REPEATED
Do not allow Satan to deceive you into thinking you can repeat prayer. Prayer cannot be repeated. A mother cannot repeat her child. A spring cannot repeat its water. The sun cannot repeat its rays, and the human heart cannot repeat prayer. It is the Holy Spirit who prays within us, and each Hail Mary is always a new grace, a new gift and a new strength.
Fr Jozo Zovko OFM
The Joyful Mysteries: The formative years of Jesus with his mother Mary.
The Mysteries of Light: The formative years of the apostles with their teacher Jesus.
The Sorrowful Mysteries: A period of suffering and separation from Jesus.
The Glorious Mysteries: Time of promised togetherness with His disciples and mother Mary.
THE BOOK OF THE AGED
“The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest dram of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple which initiates them in the mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged whose eyes close upon the shadow of the world and open on the substance of the next.”
Bishop Fulton Sheen 1953
THE MEDJUGORJE EXCHANGE
“This simple but powerful comment was passed on by Fr Slavko Barbaric: I know many who have given up drink, drugs, strife and hate. A young Italian pilgrim told me: “I used to take drugs but gave them up, as last summer a friend of mine went to Medjugorje with drugs in his hand and returned with the Rosary.”