The Gracious Mysteries

Of Hope… on Wednesday

1. The Supplication of Mary of Our Lord
2. The Petition of Fortitude of Our Lord
3. The Intercession of Counsel of Our Lord
4. The Thanksgiving of Understanding of Our Lord
5. The Wisdom of Praising the Lord


Excerpt from The Holy Family Rosary: CHAPTER III

After reflecting on the words in the Gospel of St. Luke saying: “all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and his answers,” we have an opportunity to recount with Mary after Finding Jesus in the Temple to contemplate the often-times ‘hidden’ mysteries of the merging of God’s gifts with our prayers.

The Great Church Doctor St. Gregory (540-604) wrote: “The intimate conversation of God consists in the revelation of His secrets to the souls of men, and in elucidating them by His presence. It is said that He holds His intimate conversations with the simple because, by the light of His presence, He reveals the divine mysteries to the souls of those who are not steeped in shadow by their duplicity.”[1]  In this sense, finding Him in the Temple relates to both church common and Church Proper in as much as by our fruits the truth shall become visibly known.

By God’s grace we learn to discern this directive in patience through Joseph and Mary’s request for answers from their Son as God Incarnate, which herein leads us to the wisdom of praising the Lord in the same way that Jesus praised and worshiped His Father in wisdom within the House of the Lord.

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274) spoke of three principle properties of Jesus as our tree of Life saying: “We are asked to consider three things in the image of the tree – its being well-rooted, its fruitfulness, and the sustaining of its life. To be well-rooted, the tree must be well-watered, otherwise it will dry up and wither away; thus, we are told that the tree is planted beside running waters, which symbolize the currents of grace.  `He who believes in me…out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’[2] The one whose roots draw on the living waters will bear much fruit in all the good works that he does, and fruitfulness is the second aspect of the image that we are asked to contemplate.  ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness’, etc.[3] The tree does not wither away: it is sustained in life.  Some trees lose their leaves, but others never lose their leaves; and thus it is with righteous men […]; they will not be forgotten by God even in their tiniest and least significant actions.  ‘The righteous will flourish like a green leaf.’[4][5] This analogy identifies God’s sustaining Grace that flows from the hallowed waters of Christ’s Church.

The very humble Cure (Pastor) of Ars, St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney (1786-1859), writes: “God has never and will never refuse anything to those who ask Him for His graces in the right way. Prayer is the great recourse we have for escaping from sin, for persevering in grace, for moving God’s heart and drawing down upon ourselves all manner of heavenly blessings, whether for our soul or to meet our temporal needs.”[6] And again tells us that “Humility is the source and foundation of every kind of virtue, it is the door by which all God-given graces enter; it is what seasons all our actions, making them so valuable and so pleasing to God.  Finally, it makes us masters of God’s heart, to the point, so to speak, of making Him our servant; for God has never been able to resist a humble heart.”[7]

Prayer is our prerequisite to grow in confidence of God while the expectant realm of hope was foretold would be perfected in the coming Savior prophesied by Isaiah: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.  And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness.  And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.”[8]

The wonder of these meditations are that we are shown our path to godliness, through and with Mary’s love for the Lord, as they unfold before our eyes. Holy Mother Church defines the pursuit of this desire by the practice of the five forms of prayer. They are blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. As mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are fear of the Lord, piety, knowledge, fortitude, counsel, understanding, and wisdom. As will be seen in these unfolding meditations as mysteries of hope, we learn how and why Mary is our steadfast mediatrix and abundant recourse being “Full of Grace.”

Found within the five books of the Psalter,[9] the psalms teach us with the Holy Family why we pray and are our “sacred steps” in finding answers to our needs from God when seen through the mind and Holy Spirit of God in Mary and her son, Jesus the Christ child. As spoken through the prophets, the psalms explain the ascending order of the descending graces of God (Jacob’s ladder)[10] and are uniquely important in directing us to an exact methodology for the resolution of our prayers. And, as is so clearly pointed out in the psalms, our foundation for hope is need – and our recourse in need is prayer.

When seen as Words of the Holy Spirit spoken through the prophet David and found alive within Mary and Joseph’s son, through the psalmists’ prayers we begin to comprehend the truth of Christ’s proclamation: “Before Abraham was made, I AM.”[11] He is, was, and ever shall be true God and true man as proclaimed in our Church’s Creed[12] in acknowledgment of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

Christ lived these psalms as the Word of God made flesh – historically, perfectly, and prayerfully, even before time as we know it, began.  Keeping this in mind while reading the Psalms, in renewed understanding one sees they were spoken and prayed in unison with the Holy Ghost who is, was, and ever shall be One with Christ’s commands.  Truly an amazing grace for all time, even when first sung as we come to the description of these Christocentric mysteries combined as double-edged swords within God’s Son in the same manner as the Merciful Mysteries, revealed by His Holy Word that was adhered to by the Holy Patriarchs and firmly spoken through the Prophets.

In “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” Blessed Pope John Paul II states: “Much has been written about prayer, and further, prayer has been widely experienced in the history of humankind, especially in the history of Israel and Christianity. Man achieves the fullness of prayer not when he expresses himself, but when he lets God be most fully present in prayer. The history of mystical prayer in the East and West attests to this: Saint Francis, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and, in the East, for example, Saint Serafim of Sarov and many others.”[13]

We must ponder how to arrive at this degree of faith and hope promised by Jesus, knowing He said: “Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you.”[14] It becomes our responsibility to accomplish this surety begun and defined as belief.

Given in context of an active Holy Spirit, with God’s gifts we can see why these prayers become a living foundation for the Lord’s Prayer[15] to become our own. The psalms preceded the New Testament account of God’s gifts being gained and dispensed through Christ’s example fulfilling them; and as given before each pending meditation of the “Gracious Mysteries” they also address the seeking of God’s Will in Christ by Mary, both prepared in faith a millennium earlier, within David’s enlightening songs.

With such divine grace contained within these mysteries, we must never grow tired of their use in formation of our souls. Knowing Mary was the first living witness of the fruition of these great expectations in belief, we must confide our desires with hers in order to comprehend her virtue, and felicitous for us to learn in recollection to accomplish the same.

By the blessing of Abraham and his seed forever, the confirming words of Elizabeth to Mary, and Mary’s reaffirmation recognized in her Magnificat, we immediately ascertain an important foundation regarding prayer and the gifts of the Holy Ghost with Mary having said: Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”[16]

The first is that blessing comes from knowledge of the Lord and that Mary is “blessed” as a result (or fruit) of her humility (also called piety) which is filial fear of the Lord. Knowledge is the basis of wisdom which we were told is rooted (i.e., the beginning) in fear of the Lord, as we also gain insight within her continual affirmation of faith, saying: And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.”[17]

From the supremely important first dialogue between Mary and Jesus we are given a glimpse into the profound understanding of St. Louis de Montfort’s saying: “This Mother of fair love will take away from your heart all scruple and all disorder of servile fear. She will open and enlarge it to run the way of her Son’s commandments[18] with the holy liberty of the children of God. She will introduce into it pure love, of which she has the treasure, so that you shall no longer be guided by fear, as hitherto, in your dealings with the God of charity, but by love alone.  You will look on Him as your good Father, whom you will be incessantly trying to please, and with whom you will converse confidently, as a child with its tender father. If, unfortunately, you offend Him, you will at once humble yourself before Him. You will ask His pardon with great lowliness, but at the same time you will stretch your hand out to Him with simplicity, and you will raise yourself up lovingly, without trouble or disquietude, and go on your way to Him without discouragement.”[19]

The second aspect of this first form (blessing) of prayer is the adoration of the Lord.  Obviously with the Annunciation and acceptance of her participation with the impending birth of Christ, Mary is the first human who adored Christ. From the adoration of the angels at His birth until Mary’s finding Him in the Temple, we learn of the increasing public adoration of her son being told: “And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.”[20] Again, this blessing and adoration of the knowledge of the Lord, rooted in twofold fear of the Lord, will be prayed for fellow laborers later in St. Paul’s writing(s): “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.[21]

Although occurring in Christ’s lifetime it was verified when St. Luke spoke of those who witnessed the Lord’s Ascension with: “And it came to pass, whilst he blessed them, he departed from them, and was carried up to heaven. And they adoring went back into Jerusalem with great joy. And they were always in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”[22]

The depth of this adoring concern for God can be best understood through the Mother of the Son of God in her compelling questions to Him. Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote: “We see symbolized in the heart of Mary her maternal love, her singular sanctity and her central role in the redemptive mission of her Son. It is with regard to her special role in her Son’s mission that devotion to Mary’s Heart has prime importance, for through love of her Son and of all of humanity she exercises a unique instrumentality in bringing us to him.”[23]

In the first of the following meditations we are offered a unique view of God’s blessing from the knowledge of Jesus through His Mother’s adoring Heart. His “godliness” will eventually become recognized as we are more acutely aware of her intermediary importance as our example for petitioning and receiving the Word of the Lord.

From these meditations it can be easily seen that the fruits of the Holy Spirit blossom forth from the practice of the knowledge of these mysteries as partially listed [above] in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galations saying: “But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” [Gal 5:22-25.]

With the assurance of this practice of the Presence of God as a living prayer, Mary’s beseeching of her son Jesus in the Temple reinforces our comprehension of the significance of her Motherly attention while seeking the same blessing and adoration of knowledge from the Lord for ourselves. The personal experience of God’s saving grace unfolds in us in exactly the same manner through our attention to Our Lady’s careful admonition of faith in, of, and to her son as the Son of God. And this really is an amazing grace to believe and behold!

[1] Regula Pastoralis, 3, 11.
[2] Jn. 7:38.
[3] Gal. 5:22.
[4] Prov. 11:28.
[5] Postilla super Psalmos, 1, 3.
[6] Selected Sermons, Fourth Sunday after Easter.
[7] Ibid., Tenth Sunday after Pentecost .
[8] Isa. 11:1-3.
[9] CCC #2585-89.
[10] Cf. Gen 28:12.
[11] Jn. 8:58.
[12] CCC #194, 196.
[13] Crossing the Threshold of Hope; Praying: How and Why.
[14] Mk. 11:24.
[15] CCC #2759, 2803.
[16] Lk. 1:48.
[17] Lk. 1:50.
[18] Cf. Ps. 118:32.
[19] True Devotion to Mary, #215.
[20] Lk. 2:47.
[21] Philemon 1:25.
[22] Lk. 24:51-53.
[23]Pope John Paul II: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX/2 (1986), (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1986), 843 ; L’Osservatore Romano (English edition with the first number indicating the cumulative weekly edition number, and the one after the colon indicating the page number) 960:7.

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