We are now fully immersed in the season of Advent – a time of anticipation for the joy of our Savior’s birth. As we make ready and prepare for His coming, the Church reminds us to clean house – not our physical homes, but our souls.
Every parish provides a penance service to encourage individual confession. The readings during Mass remind us to repent and stay awake.
Those who pray the daily Rosary, or even just with their parish before Sunday Mass, will notice a difference as well. Instead of the customary Glorious Mysteries, the Joyful Mysteries may be prayed instead. In following the time up to Jesus’ birth, as well as His childhood, we are able to more fully set the scene for the approaching season of Christmas.
The Joyful Mysteries As A Model
The Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary provide a wonderful model for our lives. Meditating on the conception and early life of Jesus, affords us with the perfect example by which we optimally pattern our lives. It is amazing that Our Lord and Savior began His early days by submitting to the ordinary. Taking our cue from this total submission to His humanity, affords us with a goal for our own lives.
The Joyful Mysteries – The Annunciation
Mary’s acquiescence to the will of God shows us that the pro-life position is essential for a faithful life. Although fear most likely played a part in her initial reaction, Our Blessed Mother became the obedient handmaid of the Lord.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to Your word.”
~ Luke 1:38
As we pray this mystery, we meditate on Mary’s complete compliance to the will of God. The life of the child to come became her priority. In the same way, the call to obedience in regard to the unborn child is ours. We are also called to unconditional love. Care for and love the other is our goal.
In communion with the love of the unborn child, the care and love of the mother is essential. While striving to live according to a pro-life prerequisite, we must maintain respect for the dignity of every child of God – from fertilization through natural death.
The Joyful Mysteries – The Visitation
Meditating on the Visitation brings to mind the charitable act of being present to someone in need. Mary traveled to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. From reading sacred scripture we know that Elizabeth was both honored and surprised by her visitors. The Holy Spirit gave her the knowledge that the child in Mary’s womb was “The Lord”.
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
~ Luke 1:43
We, however, are not royalty or special in any way. Therefore, we need to pattern ourselves according to both Mary and Elizabeth. Mary humbly visited her cousin, while pregnant with Jesus. Elizabeth recognized the gift of this visit.
We are also called to be a gift to others. The lonely, widows, and those in prison need the gift of human contact. Love of neighbor calls us to seek out those in the most desperate of circumstances. The anticipatory season of Advent provides the perfect starting point of making ourselves available to others – especially those who are least likely to be loved.
The Joyful Mysteries – The Nativity
Throughout their years as family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph portrayed the perfect model of family life. In their faithful adherence to their faith life, they modeled the Domestic Church. Every action pointed toward obedience and worship for God.
We too are called to let our everyday lives reflect our faith. Faith is not something that is left at the church door. When we introduce our faith in God into our secular activities, we become a beacon of light. Our faithfulness serves to share the Gospel with others.
“The family, is so to speak, the domestic church.” (Lumen Gentium #11) This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to prayerfully seek His will for us. In the following bullet points you will find some suggestions on how to build your “domestic church” through a life of prayer that can help all the members of your family. Second Vatican Council: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
The Joyful Mysteries – The Presentation
The Fourth Joyful Mystery brings in the sacramental life. As practicing Jews, Mary and Joseph modeled a dedication to faith life and all that entails.
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
~ Luke 2:22
In following the practices of the Jewish faith, the Holy Family shows us the way in living our own lives. As practicing Catholics, we are all called to take full advantage of the gift of the sacraments. Like Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, some of these sacraments are a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Others present us with an individual responsibility. While reception of both Holy Communion and Confession are strictly prescribed at least once annually, our obligation to them is more binding if we are true adherents to the Catholic faith.
The Eucharist is available 365 days per year and every practicing Catholic, not bound by mortal sin, is blessed with the opportunity to receive at least weekly, during the obligatory Sunday Mass.
We are also advised to take advantage of the gift of Confession at least once per month. In this way, we are more capable to live our sacramental lives in the awareness of the state of our souls. Skipping this opportunity for absolution dulls our awareness and is detrimental to living a mindful life.
The Joyful Mysteries – Finding Jesus in the Temple
We have already determined that the Holy Family is the model of faithful adherence to the will of God. In the Fifth Joyful Mystery we find Jesus beginning to come into His own. As an obedient and holy child, He most likely was not difficult to raise.
However, when Mary and Joseph found Him missing, a new chapter of His life began. His finding in the temple demonstrates that we must continually search for God throughout our lives.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
~ Luke 46-49
Proclaim the Gospel
Like Jesus, we are called to proclaim the Gospel. Since we are His followers, however, we must speak to His authority and not our own. The Word is His message, and we are His messengers to one another on this earth. In uniting with Him in this mission, we obey by participating in His request.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
~ Mark 16:15
Meditating on the Joyful Mysteries gives us an entire battle plan. In following what they reveal, we are able to do our part in the ministry of Jesus. May we all aspire to faithfully pray the Rosary and meditate daily. Thy Kingdom come!