To celebrate the month of the Holy Rosary, I will be reposting my reflections on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Since today is Friday, we will start with the Sorrowful Mysteries.
Prayed on Tuesdays, Fridays, and every day during Lent
The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
Grace: True contrition for sin
Saint: St. Dominic–St. Dominic, the great founder of the Dominican Order, was often found in prayer for sinners and would scourge himself severely in reparation for their offenses. He was known to exclaim, “Oh Lord, what will happen to the sinners?” We can ask St. Dominic to help us feel the same deep sorrow for our own sins and the sins of others and for the desire to repent.
After the Last Supper, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him separately into the Garden of Gethsemane. He began to feel deep anguish and even began sweating Blood. This was the extent of His sorrow at seeing all of the sins that mankind had and still would commit until the end of time. And He was willingly taking the weight of all of it onto Himself. This kind of agony and disgust for sin is what is needed in our own lives in order for us to realize what we should be doing in our lives and the love that God has for us to rescue us from something so wretched. We can also learn obedience and trust from Jesus in this mystery as He does ask for the cup to be taken from Him, but then adds “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We must also take care not to fall asleep, as Peter, James and John did, but to stay awake and be on our guard against temptations and sin.
- How often do I make a true examination of conscience and feel true contrition for my sins? Do I go to Confession as often as I should?
- Do I make a consistent and conscious effort to avoid occasions of sin?
The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
Virtues: Purity and modesty
Saint: St. Agnes–Recognized as the patron saint of purity, St. Agnes was admired for her beauty and wanted as a wife but had consecrated her virginity to Christ at a young age. She was even forcefully put into a brothel in order to try to seduce her to break her vow and be defiled. However, an angel protected her and she was finally condemned to die by being beheaded. When we are tempted by impure thoughts and unclean things around us, we can ask St. Agnes for her intercession to strengthen us.
Before His crucifixion, Pilate orders Jesus to be scourged. If you’ve ever seen Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, you know that this part of the Passion narrative was absolutely brutal. It brought out the ugliness of sin and what people intent on evil will do to what is good. The more that the soldiers saw Jesus bloody and suffering, the more that they struck Him. And this is why we must fight for purity and modesty, not only in body but of heart as well. We must cultivate these virtues to make reparation for the people who do not and as a result offend Him over and over again. The scourging at the pillar was just a physical representation of what human nature has done to Christ and we must look at it and reflect on it, making a firm resolve to not be the ones who join in, but instead make an effort to stop it by prayer and example.
- Do I join in or ignore it when others are openly offending Christ or the Church instead of admonishing and educating?
- Do I make an effort to avoid situations that may cause me to compromise the virtue of purity of mind, heart, and body?
The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
Saint: St. Sebastian–Although he may be more well known for being the patron saint of athletes, St. Sebastian is also recognized as the patron saint of courage. He converted many to Christianity and was condemned to death during the reign of Diocletian.
Before He was led out to be crucified, Jesus was subject to the humiliation of being mocked because of His designation as a King. He was crowned with a crown of thorns, dressed in a purple cloak, and then taunted with cries of “Hail, King of the Jews!” He uttered not a single word or cry during this torture and we are called to show the same courage when spreading and teaching the Faith. We will encounter the same mockery and taunting that Jesus endured simply for being a follower of Christ, and we are to be steadfast and never give up on the mission that He has given us. If we endure to the end, we can be sure that we will receive our reward in the life to come.
- Do I shy away too easily from spreading the truth of the Gospel because I fear being shunned or mistreated by others?
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
Virtue: Patience in suffering
Saint: St. Monica–St. Monica is known for her perseverance in prayer for the conversion of her son St. Augustine. She suffered greatly seeing her son away from the Church and in such a state of sin, but she was patient and never gave up hope that her prayers would be answered.
This mystery is the physical representation of what our lives are like here on Earth. Jesus Himself said to his disciples before His Passion that “if anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Jesus took up His Cross to show us how we should do it in order to be like Him. We will encounter the same things that Jesus did on the road to Calvary. Some people will be willing to help us and be by our side, like Simon of Cyrene, Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem. There will also be people taunting and mistreating us for our allegiance to God, like the soldiers and the crowd around Jesus. Our family and friends will also be there to help us along, just as the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene were there. But whatever we encounter, we must lean on God and ask for the strength and patience we need to carry our own cross and make it to the end without complaining, just like Jesus did.
- Do I often complain about trials I encounter in my life, even if they are small?
- What are some things in my everyday life that God is asking me to come to Him for strength to endure?
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
Grace: Final Perseverance
Saint: St. Dismas–More commonly known as “The Good Thief,” St. Dismas was never formally beatified or canonized by the Church. However, he is recognized as a saint in some places because of Jesus’s words to him in Scripture while they both were dying, “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). St. Dismas trusted in Jesus and believed that He was the Son of God and could forgive his sins. This is the kind of trust and perseverance in faith that we need, especially at the moment of death.
Imagine dying the kind of death that Jesus endured. And it wasn’t just the crucifixion, the torture and ridicule leading up to it was nothing that anyone would want to go through. And yet, Jesus trusted in His Father through it all and was confident that He would be delivered. And that is the kind of confidence and perseverance that we must have, no matter what manner of death that God has planned for us. If we stay focused on where we are going after we take our last breath and offer up the pain and suffering that comes with the death we are to die without losing hope and faith in our destiny, then we will succeed in the final perseverance that Jesus wishes us to have.
- Meditate on the Scripture account of the Crucifixion. What jumps out at me and how can it help me to imitate Jesus in His final hours when my time to leave this earth has come?