I enjoyed the mixed blessing today of forgetting my handbook of prayers when I prayed the rosary today, which lead me to reflect on my memory of the mysteries and the various reflections on them I have experienced as opposed to reflecting more acutely on some aspect of the reflection that ‘stands out’. While in some sense I very much missed having a reflection to assist my meditation, I also enjoyed a more high level approach to the mysteries than I typically do, and found in all of them some connection of what it really looks like to walk with Him.
First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
Luke 1:34 But how can this be, since I am a virgin?
This line, included in my normal reflection, was so much more vividly in my memory than any other line today it was impossible to not focus on it. The cliché big point about the annunciation is typically “Mary’s yes”, which also naturally demanded some focus. Returning to the first line from Luke, however, there is a line of understanding to which I subscribe that suggests Mary may well have been a consecrated virgin at this point in her life. If this is the case, her response is seemingly very natural. If it is not, it is a little peculiar that she wouldn’t assume she would simply conceive by her husband (especially already being betrothed to Joseph). Although there may be some value in considering the debate about which is more likely, my reflection did not hang on this and instead chose to consider, assume she was already a consecrated virgin. What did her ‘yes’ really mean?
For a start, if she is already a consecrated virgin, it is readily apparent that this is not her first ‘Yes’ to God. She was His in a very concrete and real way before she was entrusted with His only son. She gave herself to Him, and received a calling along the way. Her devotion to Him then is absolutely independent of her calling and His plan for her life. Luke 1:34 takes this idea and runs with it to a new extreme when considered under the assumption that she was a consecrated virgin. If this is the case, Mary never intended to be a mother. She intended to live a life for Him, while married to Joseph, to whom she was already betrothed, and her life had a clear structure and future. Her ‘Yes’ is then significantly more than some sort of gamble on God, some sort of acceptance of His plan where she had none- it is precisely a decision to find her plans and His plans at odds, and to prefer His plans.
Mary had always done her best to live for Him, and plan her life around her understanding of His will. The moment she had it figured out how to do this, set up her future to allow for this, the Annunciation comes at her like a curveball out of left field and informs her she is to be a mother, and not only a mother, but THE mother of God. I think there is a valuable lesson in this progression related especially to discernment-heed His call, always. It is important to at once not be lazy as we await his call, and also to not grow comfortable that he won’t call again.
Second Joyful Mystery: The visitation
My reflection on this mystery ended up very much being an simple extension of the annunciation reflection- Mary found herself with a bat at home plate, waiting for God to throw her the curve ball he told her was coming her way, to which she replied ‘lay it on me’…and her response is to check up on Elizabeth and Zechariah. What!?!?!?! Even while transitioning between her own plan to serve Him to his plan for how she should serve Him, she serves. How tireless Mary is in chasing His will, His goodness, His life!!!
Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity
In short, the importance of the detail around the Nativity today was its unimportance. Ever since that moment, God was concretely available to Earth. The divide is no more, the arm he has reached out to us since the fall in the garden has met its mark.
Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation at the Temple
Just think: She- Mary Immaculate! -submits to the law as if she were defiled!
The above line is what was most easily remembered in my reflection today. It is a direct quote from the handbook of prayers, and simply states a profound truth: even Jesus consecrated himself to Himself. What a beautiful example of how to live in God’s light! On some level, this seems like a redundant act. It reminds me of a confession with only a light dusting of sin, or mass as a daily medicine whether it is needed or not. However, it is not. Jesus’ participation in the presentation at the temple, in baptism, in adhering to jewish tradition, it is a sign to us. He speaks with his action and his submission. So to, should we.
If we are saved, it is through Him- through His sacraments- through confession to Him- through soaking ourselves in His blood that our sacrifice may be made worthy. If we are adhering to His will in our life, perhaps confession once a week, or mass every morning are not entirely necessary for our salvation- but what a gift to receive them anyway!!! To devote to him our time precisely when we feel, precisely when we know it is not necessary for our own redemption! What better way to say “this is what I value”!?!?! How normal is it for athletes, for stars, for champions to give back to their roots? Observe what Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce have done for Jamaica! Observe how Olympians honor their roots! How natural this is! When we feel we are His champion, why should we not feel obliged to honor and spend time with our roots in Him?
Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding in the Temple
In all my wisdom, I have for this mystery that simple insight, that when we lose sight of Jesus, look for him in church. Duh? But how often do we forget! It is a useful reminder. He does not hide.
Threading it together
So, the really cool part of the high level thought on these topics was that it somewhat prevented me from ever becoming lost in any particular meditation or reflection to lose sight of all the Joyful mysteries as a family. From this, they flow together to make a strong and simple image of the life of a Saint:
1) Prefer His will, always.
2) Serve Him while you search for His will, when he tells you His will, and all the time in between.
3) Be happy, you have Him and He is good. The riches of this world matter not.
4) If you are already in His will, eat a cookie! [JK- seek His will anyway, it is your roots and your salvation. That makes it still very precious.]
5) If you can’t find His will, go to church. He literally calls it His father’s house, in a very literal way. What other door would you knock on when you want to see if He can play?