Prayed on Thursdays (except during Lent and the Octaves of Christmas and Easter)
The First Luminous Mystery: The Baptism of the Lord
Grace: Rebirth in Christ and fidelity to one’s vocation.
Saint: St. Paul–St. Paul, once known as Saul, persecuted Christians for much of his public life until one day, while on the road to Damascus, he was thrown off of his horse and blinded by a bright light. This was accompanied by the voice of Christ asking Saul why he was persecuting Jesus Himself through the Church. From then on, St. Paul used his life to bring many to Christ until his martyrdom.
Before He begins His public ministry, Jesus goes to the Jordan River to be baptized by His cousin John the Baptist. Why? He was the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. There was no real need for Him to undergo such a ritual. But, as He tells John, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). His Baptism, although not deemed necessary in the eyes of those around Him, was necessary in order to fulfill the Divine Plan and set the example for His followers. Jesus’s life was always focused on pleasing His Father and fulfilling the plan of salvation for which He came down to earth. Although not inwardly necessary, outwardly Jesus’s reception of Baptism made manifest to those around Him the favor He had with God the Father, as evidenced by the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, and the role that He would have in the Divine Plan.
When we received the Sacrament of Baptism, we too received a special role in the Divine Plan. We were reborn as sons of God and received into Christ’s death, in hope of resurrecting with Him at the hour of our death. We were given roles as priests, prophets, and kings. This is our universal vocation. Our individual vocation must be discerned through prayer and reflection, but firstly, we are all called to be faithful to the vocation given to us at our Baptism. Meditation on this sacrament is necessary, as well as prayer and examination of our lives. We must first learn to “put on the new man” (Ephesians 4:24) in order to fulfill our role of bringing Christ to others.
- How faithful have I been to my baptismal promises and the vocations, both universal and individual, that God has given to me?
- What are some things that I can do in my own life to “put off the old man and put on the new”?
The Second Luminous Mystery: The Wedding at Cana
Virtue: Trust in the Lord and His Mother
Saint: St. Padre Pio–St. Padre Pio was often in poor health, but he used this to serve God and carry out His will instead of worrying. In fact, he felt that worry was useless because only God knows what is truly best for us and his motto was “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
In my reflection on the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, I alluded to the fact that Mary’s growth as our Mother and intercessor would come to its climax in this mystery. And it has, because Her trust and reliance on the goodness of God reaches its peak in this account. When Mary sees that there is no more wine for the wedding guests, She calmly relays this information to Jesus. His response, although also an allusion to the fact that His hour to die on the Cross has not yet come, is a way to test Mary in that moment. Jesus often used questions and statements to test His followers, as He did to the apostle Philip before the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:5). He wanted to test Philip’s trust in Him to provide and by saying to Mary “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4), He is testing Her trust in His Providence and Her readiness to accept His mission and Her role in that mission. Mary’s response, if there even was one, is not recorded in Scripture, but given that Jesus went on to perform the miracle of turning water into wine, we can assume that Her prompting, whether it was verbal or nonverbal, gave Jesus the answer that He needed. She may not have been ready for the change that the beginning of His ministry would bring some eighteen years ago in the Temple, but She was ready now. Her trust and devotion had grown. She was no longer anxious about what would happen to Jesus; She was ready to accept everything. She realized that both of their hours had come; not to die, but to begin the ministry that had been planned for both of them since the beginning of time.
To fulfill our own ministries in our lives, we have to learn how to trust just as Mary did. And we also have to trust Her in Her role as our Mother and intercessor as Queen. But if we spend time in prayer and reflection on the lives of Jesus and Mary, as well as ask Mary to help us grow in trust, She will. She can because She was first to learn how to trust.
- Is it too difficult for me to surrender control over certain circumstances in my life and give it all to God? If so, why?
- Do I struggle to move forward with things that I feel called to in life because of fear and anxiety? How can I use these things in my life to grow in my trust of God?
The Third Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom
Grace: Conversion of heart
Saint: St. Augustine–St. Augustine wasn’t always the pious saint we know him to be. He dappled in pagan religions, lived with a mistress, and had a child out of wedlock. His conversion is attributed to the prayers of his mother, St. Monica, and a sermon he heard by St. Ambrose. His story is a testament to the fact that anyone can experience a conversion by the grace of God. He went on to become a great bishop and defender of the Faith.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where THE proclamation of the Kingdom happened. There are numerous parables told by Jesus that begin “The Kingdom of God is like…” and the Beatitudes are also a glimpse into the kind of kingdom that the Kingdom of God is. But the initial proclamation came after the death of John the Baptist, when Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming that “the time is fulfilled; the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, what is the first condition to be admitted to the Kingdom? Repent! You can’t enter Heaven with attachment to sin, whether venial or mortal. You have to experience a true conversion of heart. But what then? Believe! You have to believe in and obey the commandments and statues of Jesus Christ and His Church. The next natural thing to do is to evangelize. When you know such life-saving and life-giving Good News, it’s hard (and selfish) to keep it to yourself. We are all called to inspire conversion of heart and belief in as many people as we can.
- Are there things in my life that I am reluctant to give up and turn away from even if they are keeping me from fully living my Catholic faith?
- Am I making an honest effort to evangelize others in my daily life?
The Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration
Grace: Unity of one’s will with the will of God
Saint: St. Peter–St. Peter wasn’t always in tune with the will of God, but just like with all of the other saints, Jesus perfected this quality in him. St. Peter’s will had to be united with that of God’s because he was the one that He chose to be the earthly head of His Church! If St. Peter had wanted things his own way, it never would have worked out. But he surrendered himself to God’s plan for him and ended up dying a martyr for the Faith.
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to Mount Tabor and is transfigured before them. In other words, His earthly body is changed into the brightness of His heavenly one. It was St. Peter who said “It is good, Lord, for us to be here…” He goes on to say that he would like for three tents to be built: one for Jesus, and two for Moses and Elijah, who appeared alongside Him (Matthew 17:4). He wanted to remain in that moment because he saw it as good and he wasn’t ready to go back to their previous lives. But Peter came to understand that numerous things had to be accomplished before they could all be together in the glory of Heaven. And this is something that we too have to come to understand. We all want to be in Heaven to behold the beatific vision, but here on earth we are often reluctant to unite our wills with God and accept whatever He sends us as graces to help us get there. And it’s not just about accepting or submitting ourselves to His will. It’s WANTING whatever God wants for us. And that’s often hard, because it involves trials and suffering. But it’s for our good and it will get us to Heaven. And as long as we keep our eyes on Christ, it will become easy. That’s why Jesus was transfigured. He wanted Peter, James, and John to take up their respective crosses and He wanted them to see why they were doing it: to spend eternity with their Lord in all His glory. And that’s why we do it too.
- Do I often complain or think it’s too difficult to do what God wants for me in this life?
- What can I do in my life to begin to let go and let God accomplish His will in me?
The Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist
Grace: Devotion to and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament
Saint: St. Catherine of Siena–St. Catherine was a Third Order Dominican who had a very profound love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Many mystical graces came to her through the Eucharist, such as visions and ecstasies. During the last seven years of her life, she took no food besides the Eucharist, and instead of weakening her, this fast filled her with great energy.
Before His Passion and Death, there was one thing left for Jesus to do. He gathered His apostles together for the Last Supper and gave them a valuable Gift that would last until the end of time: Himself. And we still have that Gift today, at every Mass and in every tabernacle at every Catholic church and adoration chapel in the world. It is Jesus Christ Himself, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This Sacrament deserves our devotion and reverence. And Jesus went so far as to give His own Self to us. Shouldn’t we give all of the reverence and devotion we have in our hearts back to Him? The next time you receive the Eucharist at Mass or go for an hour of adoration, really think about Who you’re receiving and talking to. Jesus wanted to stay on earth with us for a reason. Take time to thank Him and appreciate this wonderful Gift. And to honor Him properly, always make an examination of conscience before you receive Him at Mass, for St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians “…whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).
- Have I taken time to really think about and realize Who is hidden under the appearance of bread and wine when I am in a church or adoration chapel?
- Do I make an adequate examination of conscience before receiving the Eucharist?