The Church has used three sets of mysteries for many centuries. In 2002 Pope John Paul II proposed a fourth set of mysteries – the Mysteries of Light, or Luminous Mysteries. According to his suggestion, the four sets of mysteries might be prayed on the following days: the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday, and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.
Why say the Rosary? This question was asked of Fr Tim Finnegan by a Catholic Herald reader in October 2014. To see his considered reply, click this link
The Sistine Madonna
This picture, painted by Raphael Sanzio in 1513-14 is known as “The Sistine Madonna”. It was commissioned by Pope Julius II for the Church of St Sixtus in Piacenza, a newly annexed Papal State. Pope Julius himself is in the picture commending the viewer to the care of Our Blessed Lady and her Son. Elizabeth Lev has a beautiful and detailed description of the spirituality of this painting which you can read by following this link
The Four Sets of Mysteries of the Rosary
|The Joyful Mysteries|
|The Annunciation||Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus|
|The Visitation||Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered|
|The Nativity||Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem|
|The Presentation||Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God|
|The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple||Jesus is found in the Temple discussing the law of Moses with elders and Rabbis|
|The Mysteries of Light|
|The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan||God proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son|
|The Wedding Feast at Cana||At Mary’s request, Jesus performs his first miracle|
|The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God||Jesus calls all to conversion and service to the Kingdom|
|The Transfiguration of Jesus||Jesus is revealed in glory to Peter, James, and John|
|The Institution of the Eucharist||Jesus offers his Body and Blood at the Last Supper|
|The Sorrowful Mysteries|
|The Agony in the Garden||Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he dies|
|The Scourging at the Pillar||Jesus is lashed with whips|
|The Crowning With Thorns||Jesus is mocked and crowned with thorns|
|The Carrying of the Cross||Jesus carries the cross that will be used to crucify him|
|The Crucifixion||Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies|
|The Glorious Mysteries|
|The Resurrection||God the Father raises Jesus from the dead|
|The Ascension||Jesus returns to his Father in heaven|
|The Coming of the Holy Spirit||The Holy Spirit comes to bring new life to the disciples|
|The Assumption of Mary||At the end of her life on earth, Mary is taken body and soul into heaven|
|The Coronation of Mary||Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth|
Question: We were reminded last Sunday that October is the month of the rosary. My problem is that I have never been able to get anything out of the rosary and I find myself reluctant to join in with it. Is it compulsory?
Fr Finnegan’s reply
One riposte would be to say that we do not pray to get something for ourselves, but to give praise and glory to God. He sometimes gives us consolations, and sometimes challenges us to leave these behind to enter a deeper relationship with Him.
Even so, it is important to understand what the rosary is meant to be. Essentially, it is a form of meditation in which we ponder the mysteries of Our Lord's life, death and Resurrection in order to adore God, to thank Him, to repent of our sins and to ask for grace. Repeating the Hail Mary has been described as a “ pious timing device” although it also serves as a backdrop for us which can take the focus of our prayer.
My personal favourite description of the rosary is that of St John Paul II who was so fervently devoted to Our Lady. He said: “ To recite the rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
He spoke of us being “ at the school of Mary”, who teaches us by her example and obtains for us the gifts of the Holy Spirit in abundance. As we think of the finding of the child Jesus in the temple, the scourging at the pillar, or the Ascension of our Lord, we can ask Our Lady to help us contemplate these things, perhaps imagining ourselves at her side as we learn from her.
We do have freedom to choose which devotions we make use of in our life of prayer and so it would be wrong to describe the rosary as “compulsory”. We should rather rejoice in it as one of those popular devotions which Pope Francis commended as “incarnate”, enabling us to relate personally to Christ, with Mary, and not with vague spiritual energies or powers. As the Holy Father said: “These devotions are fleshy, they have a face.”
Fr Tim Finnigan, ordained priest in 1984, is Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark and since September 2014, Parish Priest of St Austin and St Gregory with St Anne, in Margate. He was for 17 years Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen./p>
He is a visiting tutor in Sacramental Theology at St John's Seminary Wonersh. He writes a weekly column in the Catholic Herald, answering questions put by readers.
He also writes a popular blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity, the title recalling Pope Benedict’s address to the Curia at Christmas 2005 in which the Holy Father deplored the Main Stream Media’s mis-interpretation the Vatican II and had produced a ‘Hermeneutic of Discontinuity’.