The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part of the Hail Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life and Passion. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and––added by Saint John Paul II in 2002––the Luminous.

So, why do we meditate on the mysteries?

When Catholics recite the twelve prayers that form a decade of the rosary, we meditate on the mystery associated with that decade. If we merely recite the prayers, whether vocally or silently, we are missing the essence of the rosary.

When we pray the rosary, we may have specific intentions in mind as we work our way through the mysteries. Or perhaps we envision the scenes from Scripture that correspond with each mystery.

Meditating on the spiritual fruit of each mystery — a specific virtue that we can aspire to live out in our own lives like Jesus and Mary — can make our prayer experience deeper and our devotion more spiritually fruitful. Meditating on the fruits of each mystery of the rosary is a way to preach the rosary with our lives, pursue and attain virtue, and become more of the person that God is calling each of us to be.

The Five Luminous Mysteries are traditionally prayed on Thursdays.

We make the sign of the cross while holding the crucifix and recite the Apostle’s Creed. This Creed is dated from the earliest period of the church. It is not only a statement of our beliefs, but it is a very powerful prayer. The Creed outlines salvation history and calls us to acknowledge the Lord for who He is and what He has done for us.

Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell.
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

Amen.

On the first large bead we recite the Lord’s Prayer. The Our Father is called the Lord’s Prayer because it was given to us by Jesus. The Lord’s Prayer contains the traditional Jewish formula of prayer which begins with praise and thanksgiving and moves toward petition.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, 
Thy will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Amen.

We pray a Hail Mary on the next three beads. The Hail Mary is a combination of two scriptures. First, we hear the words of affirmation from the angel Gabriel. Second, we hear the word of Elizabeth who also affirms Mary as the mother of Jesus.

 

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among 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.

As we pass on to the fifth bead, we say The Glory Be to the Father. This prayer is given in praise of the Trinity. It also acknowledges the sovereign Lordship of our God over all time-the past, the present, and the future.

The Glory Be

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning
is now, and ever shall be
world without end.

Amen.

Next, we pause and call to mind the mystery that we are to pray.

First Luminous Mystery-The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan

“After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3;16-17)

The first steps in the luminous life begin with the voice of the Father thundering from heaven, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” He said that to his son, but we are baptized into Christ Jesus and participate in his life, so we can understand how it also applies to us.

In baptism, God embraces us, loves us, respects us, gives his whole life for us. He asks for our life in return for his — a life of beatitude and service — “going about doing good,” just as Jesus did.

We pray for openness of the Holy Spirit.

On the fifth bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

After finishing each decade, some (myself included) say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the second mystery that we are to pray.

Second Luminous Mystery-The Wedding Feast of Cana

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ [And] Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me?

My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”  (John 2:1-5)

The Wedding Feast at Cana is about turning ordinary things into extraordinary things. At the wedding, water turns to wine because Christ is there at the center of it. Family life can be transformed in the same way if Christ is in the middle of it.

This puts the light of Christ at the heart of your home, illuminating it from the inside out.

Mary gives a simple formula to the servants at the wedding for how to transform the water: “Do whatever he tells you.” It’s the same formula in family life: “Do whatever He tells you.”

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the third mystery that we are to pray.

Third Luminous Mystery-Proclamation of the Kingdom of God

“’This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” (Mark 1:15)  

As Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, he demonstrated his mercy by calling all to repentance. Acknowledging that the kingdom of God is at hand and that Jesus is the Messiah is one thing, but then we need to embrace him by committing to a life of faith. This means that every Christian who professes faith in Jesus Christ must be open to ongoing conversion.

As a result, we must strive continuously for a right relationship with God. Remember what the Lord said, “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:28)

We can be thankful for the grace that God extends to us, repenting our sins and resting in his mercy.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the fourth mystery that we are to pray.

Fourth Luminous Mystery-The Transfiguration

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” Matthew 17:1

One day, while Jesus prayed on a mountain, the glory of God shone from his face. In this passage, Peter, James, and John see a glimpse of Jesus’ true glory: God the Son, the beloved Son who reigns eternal, and against whom the gates of Hell shall not prevail. Through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. You are the light of the world . . . your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Lord Jesus, grant us the courage to shine Your light in our lives.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

We now pause and call to mind the fifth mystery that we are to pray.

Fifth Luminous Mystery- Institution of the Eucharist

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” – Matthew 26:26

At the last supper, Jesus instructs us to remember him in celebration of the Eucharist. Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. “By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man.” We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model:

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Lord Jesus, make us a sign of the unity for which you prayed.

On the next large bead of the rosary, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Next, move from bead to bead, praying one Hail Mary on each of the next ten beads. After we have prayed the 10th hail Mary, pray the Glory Be.

Pray, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.

At the end of the fifth decade, we pray the Hail Holy Queen. Mary helps us as pilgrims moving toward our final destiny in Christ. She is our advocate who helps us to endure the hardships and to discover peace.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

The Concluding Prayers:
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son, by his life, Death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Conclude the Rosary with the Sign of the Cross (In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen).

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary
The Fatima Prayers
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