New Luster for the Rosary

Pope John Paul II gave us a special present on October 16, the 24th anniversary of his election as Holy Father. He enriched the Rosary.

Many people were worried when they heard there might be changes in the Rosary. Some have asked, "Do we have to learn new prayers?" Others wonder, "Will there be a new form to the Rosary?" Still others are concerned, "Will we have to buy new Rosary beads?"

No need to worry. The prayers are the same. The form is the same. The Rosary beads are the same.

What our Holy Father has done, in his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), is add five mysteries for our meditation as we recite the Rosary.

As you know, up until now we have had the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries to contemplate in our praying of the Rosary. They are as follows:

The Joyful Mysteries

  1. The Annunciation to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God
  2. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
  3. The Nativity of Our Lord
  4. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
  5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

The Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. The Agony of Jesus Christ in the Garden
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross
  5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord

The Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  2. The Ascension
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
  4. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
  5. The Coronation of the Blessed Mother

As you see, there is a gap between the Finding of Jesus in the Temple as a boy and His Agony in the Garden. The Holy Father has filled in that gap by offering for our prayerful attention mysteries from the public ministry of Jesus Christ. They are:

The Mysteries of Light

  1. The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
  2. His Self-manifestation at the Wedding of Cana
  3. His Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His Call to Conversion
  4. His Transfiguration
  5. His Institution of the Eucharist

The simplicity of the Rosary continues, therefore, with enhanced opportunities for meditation and contemplation. With the repetition of the prayers we have something similar to the rhythm of breathing, a mood being created that is conducive to reflection. As the Holy Father suggests, we come to read Christ in the school of Mary.

The Rosary remains, of course, a wonderful devotion of petition. In addition to all our personal requests, Pope John Paul II states that special circumstances in these years make the revival of the Rosary quite timely. There is a special urgency to pray for peace in the world and strength in the family. The Holy Father reminds us once again that, "The family that prays together stays together."

Some people pray all the decades of the Rosary, all the mysteries, every day. Most pray the five decades. For those who do the five decades, the Holy Father suggests appropriate days for the mysteries:

  • The Joyful Mysteries - Monday and Saturday
  • The Mysteries of Light - Thursday
  • The Sorrowful Mysteries - Tuesday and Friday
  • The Glorious Mysteries - Sunday and Wednesday

The Pope has proclaimed the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary. I am sure we will be responding to the Holy Father's invitation both individually and in our parishes and institutions throughout the Diocese for the coming year. The Rosary has been for centuries a revered religious devotion for millions of Catholics. I pray that we will experience a blessed advance in religious fervor throughout our Diocese by renewal of its practice. The Holy Father has brought new luster to the Rosary. May the Rosary bring new luster to our Diocese.

As I stated earlier, the recitation of the Rosary follows the traditional form. We begin with the Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, three Hail Marys and a Glory Be to the Father. Then we have five decades, each focused on a particular mystery, each decade including an Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be to the Father. We conclude with the Hail Holy Queen and the final prayer, which is my special prayer for all of us:

O God, Who by the life, death, and resurrection of Thine only
begotten Son has purchased for us the reward of eternal life,
grant we beseech Thee, that whilst meditating on these mysteries
of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may
both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise,
through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Most Rev. Henry J. Mansell
Bishop of Buffalo
October 24, 2002