Mini Meditations on the Joyful Mysteries
First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation to Mary
Luke 1:28, 31, 38. The Angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women…You shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus… Mary answered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church: #461-463, 491
Reflection: In the quiet of a garden, God proposes (through an angel) and a woman accepts. Mary is accepting to walk into a mystery. She does not know what lies ahead on this new path, but she knows who is asking and she trusts in him. There are many annunciation moments in our life, and sometimes we hesitate to say yes because we cannot foresee the future or control what will happen. In this mystery, ask Mary to give you a deep trust in the one who invites you to follow. Ask her to help you trust that even if the path ahead is full of crosses, God will be walking with you. If you hold his hand in the darkness, he will give you strength, peace, and an intimate joy that nothing can take away.
Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
Luke 1:42-44. Elizabeth was filed with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy.
Catechism of the Catholic Church: #495-497, 717
Reflection: One of the wonders of God’s plan is that he chooses to associate souls, one to another, so that they help each other on their journey. As cousins, Mary and Elizabeth share a bond of kinship. But they also share a spiritual kinship because of how the Holy Spirit is acting in their lives, fashioning the Messiah and his prophet deep inside their wombs. During those months, Mary and Elizabeth don’t just sit around waiting. They are working, preparing for Elizabeth’s baby, quietly conversing, and praying. Together, they are like a little monastic community. In our lives too, God gives us spiritual friendships and soul-mates who help us grow closer to him. Sometimes he links our lives together for a larger purpose that will reveal itself with time. In this mystery, ask Mary to help you and your spiritual friends listen carefully for God’s voice in your lives, so that you can walk with him and with each other.
Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity
Luke 2:6-7. “And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for Mary to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothing and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church: #437, 535-536
Reflection: All of Bethlehem was dark and quiet when the Savior made his entrance into the world, and his first home was in the protective circle of Mary’s arms. Imagine how Mary’s heart shone with a love spanning the tender, protective love of a mother holding her baby in her arms and the profound adoration of a soul adoring her Creator and Lord in the flesh. This was a day of fulfillment and joy—one of many along a path also rich in crosses. Nine months ago, she had given that first “yes” in the garden. Now it had become a life, a beautiful baby. It was so clear now that everything—even the future crosses that would be her “birth pains”—were worth it. In our lives too, there are times when God asks us to make a choice that we do not fully understand, and the blessing reveals itself only later in time. Once the blessing comes, we understand that the only way to understand God’s plan was to live it. In this mystery, ask Mary for the grace to believe in the blessings that were promised in your own life, even if they seem slow in coming. The most exquisite flowers sometimes take the longest to develop.
Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation
Luke 2:22, 34, 35. When the days of her purification were fulfilled they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord…Simeon blessed them and said to his Mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church: #527, 529
Reflection: There had never been a presentation like the one that took place in the Temple that day, and there never would be again. Mary and Joseph were presenting the Only Begotten Son to the Eternal Father, in a temple that was merely the shadow and copy of the real temple in heaven. They were also acknowledging that this child was not their own, and that his first bond of kinship was to his Heavenly Father. Mary was not one to cling to her child with overprotective love, as some mothers do. Yet even she, the selfless and obedient one, was promised that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart on the day of separation. Why does God give us such beautiful gifts and then ask us to give them up? Why does he allow a loving heart to be pierced with loss? These questions must be brought to Mary, who suffered this sword in a terrible way, more than any mother, any father. Through this mystery, she can help your heart accept what your mind cannot understand.
Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Luke 2:46, 51. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions…And He returned with His parents to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.
Catechism of the Catholic Church: #531-534
Reflection: All of the joyful mysteries are somehow tinged with sorrow, but they are also touched with light and glory. In the precocious wisdom of a 12-year-old boy, Jesus gives his parents and the teachers a glimpse of his true stature. He knows who he is and what he came for, even as a boy. But he did not begin by teaching, just as he did not begin by commanding. He began in the humble position of one who listens and asks questions. He also began in the humility of a boy who obeys his parents. Why does Jesus listen and ask questions when he already knows all of the answers with perfect certainty? And why did he obey his mother and father when he himself had called them into existence? Perhaps Mary also reflected on these questions, wondering at the sweetness and respect with which God introduces himself into our lives, as a fellow pilgrim who lives our lives with us, whose questions make us reflect and grow, who listens to us with kindness and interest, and who perhaps has obeyed us—answering our prayers, forgiving our sins in confession, coming into our hearts in holy Communion— far more than we have obeyed him. In this mystery, ask Mary to help you see and touch this goodness of Jesus in your own life.