A rosary the author got during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2018. (Photo by Gina Del Rosario)

A rosary the author got during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2018. (Photo by Gina Del Rosario)

Living and Growing: The Holy Rosary — our spiritual sword

Do you have a favorite song that brings back to your heart precious events in your life that you want to keep alive? Praying the holy rosary is like singing your favorite song, every Hail Mary allows us to revisit and keep alive in our heart each mystery of the holy rosary.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” This simple and yet very powerful prayer is repeated 53 times during the holy rosary.

Saint Louis de Montfort said, “The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the heart of Jesus, our redeemer, who loves his mother.” In 1571, Pope Pius V called upon all of Europe to pray the rosary during the Battle of Lepanto and on Oct. 7, 1571, the Muslim Turks were miraculously defeated which prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe. The church celebrates that victory by honoring our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7 every year.

Our most holy mother Mary continues to lead us to her son, our Lord Jesus. When we pray the holy rosary devoutly, we ask our holy mother Mary — our most powerful intercessor — to pray for us, sinners, as we journey with her through the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries in Jesus’ incarnation, His passion, death and resurrection. With our most holy mother Mary as our guide and companion we become present, in our heart, at each mystery. Each Hail Mary imprints in our heart the mysteries of our salvation and God’s everlasting love for humanity. Being present at each mystery brings us closer and strengthens our faith in God.

In the Joyful Mysteries we begin with the “Annunciation” where the archangel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the mother of our Savior. Our most holy mother Mary responds in complete trust and humility “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.”

In the second Joyful Mystery, “The Visitation,” we journey with Mary as she visits her cousin Elizabeth. John the Baptist, still an infant in Elizabeth’s womb, leaped for joy upon Mary’s arrival. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months until the birth of the Baptist. Here the most holy mother teaches us complete trust in the Lord, humility and love for others.

In the third Joyful Mystery, “The Nativity,” we rejoice at the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Here we visit the baby Jesus, the King of Kings wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger, stripped of all the material comforts of this world, where his first guests are the poor shepherds of the field. May God’s humility and love for the poor inspire us to always help the poor and the needy.

During the fourth Joyful Mystery, “Presentation,” of the baby Jesus in the temple, we feel the joy of the devout and righteous Simeon at the fulfilment of God’s promise that he shall see the messiah before he dies.

On the fifth Joyful Mystery we focus on the joy in the hearts of Mary and Joseph upon finding the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple after losing him for three days.

The Luminous Mysteries shed light on who our Lord Jesus Christ is, beginning with the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River at the start of his public ministry, with John the Baptist performing his baptism. John 1:32 “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon Him” as John the Baptist described the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus.

In the second Luminous Mystery we journey to the wedding at Cana, where Mary says to Jesus “son, they ran out of wine” and tells the servants “do whatever he tells you.” Jesus performs his first miracle, turning the six jars of water to the best wine.

In the third Luminous Mystery we focus on Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God. During the three years of his public life Jesus, accompanied by his apostles and disciples, teaches about God’s kingdom and God’s saving love, and performs many miracles so that all will believe in God.

In the fourth mystery, “The Transfiguration,” Jesus invites three of his apostles — Peter, John and Andrew — to come to a high mountaintop where Jesus showed his divine nature, transformed into light.

In the fifth Luminous Mystery, “The Institution of the Eucharist,” we witness, in our hearts, the institution of the first Eucharist during Jesus’ Last Supper with his apostles and disciples, where he breaks the bread and shares it: “This is my body which will be given up for all”; pours the wine and shares it: “This is my blood which will be shed for all for the forgiveness of sins”; and instructs all to “Do this in memory of me.”

During that first Eucharist, Jesus gives himself to all — his body, blood, soul and divinity, hidden in the simple bread and wine. Over 2,000 years later, to this day, Jesus continues to invite us, every single day, to the Supper of the Lamb, during every Holy Mass, where he continues to give himself to us — body, blood, soul and divinity — in the Holy Communion, so we all might have life.

We enter the Sorrowful Mysteries beginning with the Agony in the Garden where Jesus’ grief caused his sweat to become drops of blood as he sees the future where men will continue on the path of sin despite what he was about to suffer, including the death on the cross.

As we step into the second Sorrowful Mystery — the Scourging at the Pillar — we witness and feel in our hearts the severe physical pain and suffering of our Lord Jesus for the sins of humanity. Isaiah 53:7 “Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth” Isaiah 50:5 “I gave my back to those who beat me.”

In the third Sorrowful Mystery, “Crowning with Thorns,” we focus on the wounds on Jesus’ head as they placed a crown of thorns and struck his head and spat on him that had caused severe pain on his head. Luke 15:18-20 “Hail, King of the Jews” They struck his head with a reed and spat on him; and they went down on their knees to do him homage.”

As we enter into the fourth Sorrowful Mystery, “Carrying of the Cross,” we walk with Jesus on the road to calvary where although severely beaten, wounded, scourged and bleeding embraces and carries the heavy cross of the sins of mankind. Mark 8:34-35 “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

In the fifth Sorrowful Mystery, “The Crucifixion, “we feel Jesus’ pain as they pierced his hands and feet. Oh, what pain our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for love of us. John 15:13 “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

The Glorious Mysteries start with Jesus’ resurrection on the third day when the women disciples came to the tomb at early dawn and noticed that the stone was already removed and two men in dazzling clothes said to them “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen” Luke 24:5.

Continuing on with the second Glorious Mystery, “The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven,” we witness Jesus’ return to Heaven, forty days after his resurrection. Luke 24:51 “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. Acts 1:10-11 states “Suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.“

As we pray the third Glorious Mystery, “The Descent of the Holy Spirit,” we focus on the coming of the Holy Spirit, the advocate promised by Jesus, 50 days after His resurrection from the dead. Acts 2:1-3 “When the time of Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together and suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”

Journeying through the fourth Glorious Mystery, “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,”, we witness, in our heart, when the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up to Heaven, body, and soul. Finally, in the fifth Glorious Mystery, “The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth,” we remember the prophesy of the psalmist Ps 45:9 “At your right hand stands the queen in the gold from Ophir.” Revelation 12:1 “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the Sun, with the moon at her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Although already in Heaven, our most holy mother continues to appear on Earth imploring her children to return to God while there is time. In Medjugorje, where our most holy mother still appears daily since June 24, 1981, she invites all to pray daily the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

As we continue this pilgrimage on Earth, let us answer the most holy mother’s call to pray the rosary daily:

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be a world without end. Amen. O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.

For info on the 15 Promises of the Rosary please visit: https://www.societyoftheholyrosary.com/15-promises-rosary.

For info on how to pray the Rosary, please visit https://www.usccb.org/how-to-pray-the-rosary.

• Gina Del Rosario is a Roman Catholic, and is a parishioner at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Juneau.

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