Other than Jesus, Mary receives more respect in the Bible than any other person. From all the women ever created, from the ﬁrst woman Eve to the end of time, God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Because Jesus is divine as well as human, Mary is truly the mother of God. No one else has ever been honored so greatly. The honor shown to Mary by God was respected by the Angel Gabriel when he visited her and greeted her with the words, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28)
While carrying Jesus in her womb, Mary visited her cousin Elisabeth and was greeted by her with great respect, “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (Lk 1:43) When Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the circumcision ceremony, Simeon, a righteous and devout man who was looking for the consolation of Israel approached them and blessed them, saying to Mary: “Behold, this Child is appointed, for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
During the final hours of Jesus’ life in agony on the cross he showed his love and respect for his mother Mary when he spoke to the Apostle John and Mary in these words: to Mary, His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” and to John, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” (Jn 19:26-27)
When we honor Mary today, it is not to worship her. It is to respect her in the special way that God and others have ever since she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. We lovingly invite her into our household as John did to obey Jesus’ instruction, “Behold, your mother!” No matter how much our birth parents love us, or may fail to love us, we all have a mother in heaven, Mary, who loves us with all her heart, as Jesus knew she would.
As our mother in heaven, we know that Mary intercedes for us in prayer. God has even permitted her at times to appear to humble human beings to relay important messages through them to all the world. Her messages to the children at Fatima and Lourdes are known throughout the world. Through them she warns us of the continued struggle between good and evil in the world and the importance of prayer to discern what is true and good and to avoid what is evil and destructive. She encourages us to live lives focused on our eternal home that awaits us in heaven rather than on the temporary allurements of this world. Mary always draws us to her son, Jesus.
A most special gift from Mary is the prayer of the Rosary that she has told us we all should pray. The Rosary is made up of several prayers that are said together in a prescribed order. When we recite the rosary we profess the elements of our faith, what God has revealed that we must believe, we pray the prayer that Jesus gave us to God as our Father, we praise God with the “Glory Be To the Father”, and we unite our prayers with those of Mary whom we ask to pray with us. In addition to the prayers that are said, we reﬂect upon 20 mysteries derived from the most meaningful events in Jesus’ life and on their importance for our salvation. Following are the ﬁrst ﬁve of these mysteries:
The First Joyful Mystery
This mystery recalls when God chose to accept our humanity and enter our world as man in Jesus. To do this He prepared Mary from the moment of her Immaculate Conception to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word. The Angel Gabriel announced: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee.” Mary wonders at this salutation but the Angel assured her: “Fear not…you shall conceive in your womb, and give birth to a Son.” Mary is still troubled for she has made a vow of virginity. But the Angel answers her that she will conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, and her Son will be called the Son of God. Mary answers: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.” Mary conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and the Word was made ﬂesh and dwelt among us.
Reﬂecting on this mystery encourages us to desire the Spiritual Fruit of Humility
The Second Joyful Mystery
The mystery recalls how Mary’s cousin Elizabeth conceived a son in her old age, for nothing is impossible with God. Prompted by charity, Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth in the hour of her need. Though long and arduous, the journey is joyous, for Mary bears with her the Incarnate Word. At Mary’s salutation, John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy. Elizabeth exclaims: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed is she who believed that the Lord’s words to her would be fulﬁlled.” Mary replied: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit ﬁnds joy in God my Savior.” Mary serves her cousin in all humility for three months until the birth of John the Baptist.
Reflecting on this mystery encourages us to desire the Spiritual Fruit of Love of Neighbor
The Third Joyful Mystery
This mystery recalls how Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem to comply with the decree of Caesar Augustus as the hour for Mary to give birth nears. There is no room in the inns for them to stay; But in the stillness of the night, the Savior is born in a cave, Mary remaining a Virgin. She wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. Jesus entered the world in poverty to teach the lesson of detachment from earthly things. The angel announced his birth to shepherds: “Today, there is born to you in the town of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The angelic chorus sang: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.” Shepherds come to the stable to pay homage to the Infant Jesus. Magi come to adore the Holy Child and offer Him gifts.
Reﬂecting on this mystery encourages us to desire the Spiritual Fruit of Poverty of Spirit.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery
This mystery recalls how. observing the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to present Him to and consecrate Him to the Lord. Mary offers her Son to the Father, then ransoms Him back at the price paid by the poor. Though Jesus, as the son of God, is not subject to the law of Moses, to teach obedience he submits to it. Mary is not subject to the law of puriﬁcation because she is full of grace, yet in humility she submits to it; God had revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah. Recognizing the Child, he prays: “Now you can dismiss your servant in peace. You have fulﬁlled your word. This Child is destined to be the downfall and rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed.” And to Mary Simeon reveals: “And your own soul a sword shall pierce.” After they fulﬁll all the Law requires they return to Nazareth.
Reﬂecting on this mystery encourages us to desire the Spiritual Fruit of Purity of mind and body
The Fifth Joyful Mystery
THE FINDING OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
This mystery recalls how when Jesus was twelve years old, He went with His parents to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.
After the feast of the Passover, Joseph and Mary unknowingly set out for Nazareth without Jesus. At the end of the ﬁrst day’s journey they discover Jesus is missing and return immediately to look for Him. This loss causes grief and anxiety beyond our understanding to the hearts of Mary and Joseph. On the third day they ﬁnd Jesus in the Temple among the Doctors who were astonished at His wisdom. Mary said to Jesus: “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow.” Jesus replied: “Why did you search for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Jesus returns with them to Nazareth, and is subject to them. Mary keeps all these things in her heart.
Reﬂecting on this mystery encourages us to desire the Spiritual Fruit of Obedience
There are ﬁfteen more mysteries for meditation to complete the entire rosary. To pray the whole rosary takes about an hour or a little more. When one is ﬁnished, one has spent time in the presence of God, reﬂecting on the whole life of Christ. I know of no more simple nor better way than the recitation of the rosary to withdraw from the world for a few minutes and spend meaningful time with God while experiencing Mary’s love for us.
Mary has asked us to pray at least ﬁve decades of the rosary daily, which takes about 15 minutes. By doing so we will be drawn more closely to her Son, Jesus and grow in the virtues that allow us to live according to his will.