As my wife and I await the arrival of our second child, our first daughter, we have been filled with many similar emotions and feelings that stirred within us during our first pregnancy. In May 2012, we found out we were expecting our son, Noah, who was born in January of 2013. As I reflect on that nine month journey, I call to mind the various experiences and how closely they are linked to the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. I’ve developed this guide for couples preparing to have a baby and wish to share it with others who are expecting.
An Expectant Couple’s Guide to Praying the Joyful Mysteries
- The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38)
Receiving the news that you are pregnant can elicit a range of emotions from excitement and happiness to anxiety and nervousness. This is completely normal and is to be expected! The idea of “my whole life is about to change” becomes very apparent to the expectant couple. While there certainly are numerous questions and uncertainties, the joy felt is unexplainable.
As we can see in Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s “troubled” reaction is brought about by the circumstances – an angel appearing before her, the fact that she had never been with a man, etc. One can imagine the uncertainty and questions that arose in Mary’s mind, all the while still desiring to do God’s will.
As you pray through this mystery, ask the Lord for the grace to trust in His plan for your life regardless of the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy. Ask Him, through the intercession of Mary, to replace your fears and doubts with faith and trust, so that you can experience the unexplainable joy of pregnancy.
- The Visitation (Luke 1:39-45)
Keeping the news to yourself is sometimes the hardest part in finding out that you will be welcoming a little one into the world. The general rule is to wait until the woman is twelve weeks along before making any major announcements as doctors and experts feel that is a “safe zone” due to the limited number of issues that may occur during the second and third trimesters. Often couples share the news with relatives and close friends before making a larger announcement to the world.
Mary immediately goes (in haste) to visit her relative Elizabeth to share the news! Elizabeth, who was with child as well, is overcome with happiness as Mary visits her. The presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb served as a source of hope and brought about this joyful exchange. Even in the womb, Jesus was sharing the Good News!
As you pray this mystery, pray for those closest to you who you will share the news with. Ask the Lord to bless them who are struggling with their own questions and doubts. As you tell your closest family and friends that you’re expecting, may it serve as a way for you to enter into the scene where the child in Elizabeth’s womb “leaps for joy.” Perhaps you will want to praise God and echo Mary’s words, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior…” (Luke 1:46-55)
- The Nativity (Luke 2:1-20)
Throughout the pregnancy, you can easily get caught up in the little (and not so little) details: nursery furniture, baby names, doctors’ appointments, choosing Godparents, etc. Before you know it, you are counting down the days until the due date. The birth brings about an entirely new set of questions and concerns, and some serious anxiety, waiting to finally meet the little one. The thoughts of who will they become? What will they look like? Will they be right or left handed? What will the world be like when they are older? All these questions creep into your mind. This paired with questions about labor itself can be unsettling.
Imagine Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem and Mary began to labor. Being far away from home, with no place to stay, in the middle of the night is not the ideal place to bring a child into the world. Yet our Lord chose the most trusting and humble of circumstances to bring forth our savior, Jesus Christ.
As you pray this mystery, call to mind the “darkness” in our world, the troubled regions, those in need, and the various dis-unities around the globe. Pray for these people and pray for your child, asking that he or she may do their part to bring about peace on earth.
- The Presentation (Luke 2:22-38)
After the baby is born, you may have many visitors in the hospital and at your home. People might bring small gifts, outfits, baby books, and tell you how precious the baby is. As parents you will feel so blessed to have the precious gift of God in your arms. As parents, you begin to think about baptism and raising their child in the faith. The planning of the baptism can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be, it’s about recognizing that this child is not your own.
Mary and Joseph were faithful people and planned to raise the child Jesus in the faith. According to the custom, they bring Jesus to be consecrated to the Lord in the Temple. Mary and Joseph wanted to raise Jesus to be a man of faith, to observe the laws, and lead him to holiness. They were to be a Holy Family.
As you pray this mystery, call to mind that your child is a gift from God and he or she is a son and daughter of God entrusted to your care. Pray that the Lord will help you in being the best parent you can be and that you will have the strength to lead them to the Lord. Ask the Lord through the intercession of Mary and Joseph that your family will be holy.
- Finding Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)
The entire pregnancy can be a learning process. From the moment of conception to the birth and beyond, parents learn to be parents. It is the ultimate “on the job training.” The husband will learn how to provide in new ways for his wife’s needs – from taking on more responsibilities, to helping her in and out of bed. The wife will learn, in the most profound way, what it means to be in cooperation with God’s creative act.
Mary and Joseph are not exempt from a parental oversight. They begin their journey home and become unaware of where He is. Even in this instance of error and, no doubt, panic, Jesus is teaching. He is teaching the elders in the Temple area, but He also teaches Mary and Joseph a little bit about who He is – He is God’s son first and foremost.
As you pray this mystery, think of the different things you have learned through this journey. Just as you were learning to be a married couple, you find out you are pregnant, just as you learn to be a parent of one child, you are blessed with a second and so on. Embrace the parental learning curve and ask the Lord to teach you through the various experiences this journey brings. Take each moment as a gift and allow yourself to “find” Jesus within it.