Excerpts from "The Rosary: Chain of Hope" | Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. | IgnatiusInsight.com
The Rosary: Chain of Hope | Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
Chapter Six | Prayers for the Mysteries
The following prayers are composed to help you sum up prayerfully what
we have written about the Rosary as a message of hope. Each prayer could
be used for quiet meditation at the beginning of the decade.
O Lord Jesus Christ, You come to us in mystery and generosity. Your coming
is totally beyond the human mind because You are God, yet You are totally
comprehensible to us because You became an infant child. Thy mysteries
of heaven and earth come together in this little baby. Give us the grace,
O Lord, to kneel in adoration before Your divinity incarnate in this world.
O Lord Jesus Christ, teach us the humility of Your Mother and the humility
that was in Your own life. Humbly, as a gentle country woman, she visits
her cousin to do works of kindness and charity. This meeting may seem
irrelevant to some and its significance obscure. Yet it is really the
beginning of the teaching of Christian charity and love for neighbor.
O Lord Jesus Christ, help us to kneel at Your Christmas crib, to look
at that tiny baby and his tiny skull. Underneath that skull human thoughts
are linked to divinity and eternity. This must remain completely incomprehensible
to our minds. Lord Jesus, You are mysterious, incomprehensible, and unfathomable,
but You are also merciful and caring toward all of us. In the mystery
of Your love, O Christ, help us to kneel at the manger, where You were
wrapped in humble clothes and surrounded by animals. Amen.
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
O Lord Jesus Christ, in this mystery You remind us of the humility of
Joseph and Mary, of the humility expressed by Your own Divine Person in
coming to the temple as one of the poor. Give us the grace to be humble
enough to fulfill our religious duties and not try to escape them by rationalizing
or pseudo-sophistication. Amen.
The Finding of Christ in the Temple
O Lord Jesus Christ, even Your life and Your coming were fraught with
human anxiety and trial. Why should we, as followers of You, expect fewer
trials than others? No, we should expect trials, but we should be able
to overcome them and carry them with greater ease because we believe in
Commentary by Fr. Groeschel
The First Joyful Mystery
The events of the Annunciation, as given in the Gospel of Saint Luke,
can be known to us only through the testimony of the Virgin Mary herself
or by inspiration to the evangelists. No one besides Mary was present
at the incredible meeting of the human and divine. This mysterious event
described by Saint Luke in a few lines presents a number of the basic
foundation stones of Christian belief.
The first and obvious fact of the mystery of the Annunciation is that
it is a visitation from a heavenly messenger; something occurs that is
completely from outside the natural world. This event can only be an object
of faith. It is Gods self-revelation in the world. Acceptance of
the Annunciation is the foundation of the Christian faith. The second,
startling truth is that Mary must give her consent to the invitation given
to her. Often in salvation history God has chosen young peasant girlsRuth
in the Old Testament, Joan of Arc, Catherine Laboure, Therese of Lisieux,
and the children of Fatima. He has chosen these little ones to his witnesses
and instruments for grace in the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
In no event is this clearer than in the life of the Virgin Mary. Her consent
was necessary, and for this reason from the earliest times she has been
called the Mother of the Redeemed, Mother of the Church.
There is no indication that Mary was coerced into accepting Gods
invitation or that she responded out of some religious intuition. As a
humble believing girl from a peasant village, she accepted the word that
the Lord had spoken to her. As we meditate on this first mystery, let
our hearts be filled with hope in the presence of the Incarnate Word,
the Son of God, in the world. He comes to bring salvation to us, to those
dear to us, and to as many human beings as possible. This mystery also
calls us personally to the response necessary for any true disciple of
Christ: We must say Yes to Him. We must give him Him our wholehearted
consent. We must believe the word that the Lord has spoken.
The Second Joyful Mystery
In this mystery we move from the sublime and mysterious aspects of the
Annunciation to its equally mysterious reality in the world. We move from
the transcendent truth of God made man in the Annunciation to a very humble
and touchingly human situation. A young girl goes to visit her older cousin
who has unexpectedly conceived a child. Both of these women live in humble
peasant villages. As we can see from their words, they are both deeply
imbued with the truths of the Jewish faith. They are familiar with Scripture.
And the beautiful expression of Elizabeth, "And blessed is she who
believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from
the Lord" (Lk 1:45), fills us with confidence and hope. The great
events of salvation, like the Incarnation, come now into the smallest
events of human life. The Council of Ephesus proclaimed that it is true
to say that God was born, that God suffered, and that God died. The Second
Person of the Blessed Trinity, by taking to Himself a human body and human
soul, was able to experience human birth and human death. He sanctified
all human things. The love and charity of the two cousins present an image
that almost every human being can meditate on and receive with warmth.
The Lord is coming, but He comes in a humble, gentle, and human way. The
mystery of the ages becomes the joy of two humble women of the countryside
as they rejoice in each others pregnancy, as well as in the power
of God made manifest in both of them.
The Third Joyful Mystery
We have become so familiar with the image of the Nativity of Christ, ranging
from great paintings to Christmas decorations, that its incredible reality
is somewhat dimmed for us. We think of Christmas lights, family days,
good meals, and presents. But the Nativity took place in a dangerous situation
among the poorest of the poor. Mary wrapped her newborn baby and placed
Him in a mangeran animals feeding trough. In a very short
time he would be a political refugee from the homicidal wrath of an insane
ruler. The Incarnation, as seen from Gods eyes, was a descent into
a turbulent, disobedient, and unredeemed world. The mystery of evil operating
in the human race came right to the fore. It is clearly revealed before
us in the Nativity, in its poverty, its injustice, and its danger. But
at the same time there was tremendous joy. All of creation, on the brink
of redemption, rejoiced with the heavenly host, who appeared to announce
the great news to humble shepherds, who represent the house of Israel.
They heard the message, and they believed; then proceeding "with
haste", they decided to "go over to Bethlehem and see this thing
that has happened" (Lk 2:15). The Magirepresenting the Gentile
worldwere led by a star to find the Christ. "When they saw
the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy." In other words,
they believed; and seeing "the child with Mary his mother
fell down and worshipped him" (Mt 2:10-11). In the difficulties of
human life we must always affirm our belief in the mysteries of God and
the mysteries of Christ. Unfortunately, at the present time, the full
impact of the Incarnation has been eroded by skepticism and rationalistic
attempts to explain away the mystery in both theology and Scripture scholarship.
Kneeling in prayer with the Rosary, however, believers should be unaffected
by all of this and should open their eyes to see this great thing that
has taken place, as the shepherds did in the fields so long ago.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
The Presentation of the Christ Child in the temple, in fulfillment of
the regulations of the Law of Moses, gives us a beautiful example of the
humility of the Son of God. He teaches us to obey traditions, laws, and
customs. Though He would begin the religion that would end the first covenant
and usher in the second covenant, He nonetheless fulfills the requirement
of the first covenant, which was, after all, an expression of the divine
law. The humble figures of Joseph, Mary, and the Child, who come to make
the poor peoples offering of two turtledoves, the presence of the
elderly Anna and Simeon, both mysterious figures, should banish all skepticism
from our minds and help us to appreciate the little things of faith. If
you do not know the poor and have had little opportunity to share their
religious experience, then this mystery opens up the possibilities of
understanding why Christ taught that it is easier for the poor than for
the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. The devout poor are willing to
accept humbly and directly, to fulfill carefully and meticulously, what
they know to be the expectations of God.
There is something else to be learned from this event in the temple. It
is the value of simple devotion, of humble and heartfelt reverence for
God. We live in a time when people evaluate religious acts by "how
much we get out of them". In other words, we evaluate them primarily
in a psychological way, and this has led to an endless search for ways
to make worship more appealing and uplifting.
An experience of the profoundly moving customs of different ethnic groups
in the Church, who have their own time-honored traditions, reveals how
deeply expressive they can bethe Holy Week processions in the Spanish-speaking
world or the carolers in Eastern Europe going with candles and bells to
announce the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve.
I remember so well assisting as an altar boy on Sunday mornings long ago
when new mothers received a special blessing at the first Mass they attended
after the birth of a child. It is true there is more dialogue and discussion
at present in the Church, but there is less of the beauty of simple faith,
which we see in Mary and Joseph at the time of the Presentation, when,
along with many other couples, they came to fulfill the law and receive
The Fifth Joyful Mystery
The Finding of Christ in the Temple
In so many depictions of the Holy Family there is an unrealistic idealization
that can become almost repulsive: beautiful carpenter shops, sunny windows,
and the Christ Child dressed in a gold apron helping Joseph at the workbench.
While all of this may have an appeal for children, it is not realistic.
In the last of the joyful mysteries we confront the incomprehensibility
of suffering and the difficulties of human life. Although the finding
of the Christ Child is a cause of great joy, the mystery also reflects
deep sorrow, fear, and parental concern on the part of Joseph and Mary.
It has often been said that God writes straight with crooked lines. This
is true even in the life of Jesus Christ. The parents could have been
spared the pain of this situation by Gods Providence, even by the
thoughtfulness of Christ, but they were not. As we meditate on the desperate
anxiety of the couple looking for their child, we are reminded that for
all of us life has its own mysterious failures, catastrophes, and sorrows.
When we are forlorn and anxious, or perhaps deeply grieved, we need to
remember that such experiences come not only to us, but they also came
to the Messiah and His family.
Anxiety is a familiar component of human life, and perhaps it is more
common now in more affluent times. Material comforts and anxiety inexplicably
go together. One often encounters in the poor a certain acceptance of
life, with its pain and fear. The poor live with inexplicable hope, born
of pain and suffering, that permits them to go on even when disaster has
occurred and threatens to strike again.
We all live through anxious moments, and even very dark moments, when
our worst fears are realized. Mary and Joseph were relieved to find the
Christ Child in the temple. In less than half a lifetime Mary would lose
her son at Calvary in sight of this same temple. This reminds us that
Christianity is very much the religion of the God who suffers.
Hope and Joy
As the joyful mysteries come to an end, they present us with hope unboundedthe
hope of the Redeemer, the hope of divine adoption, the hope of salvation.
They also present us with poignantly human events: Marys visit to
her cousin, the Presentation in the temple, and the finding of the Child.
Already the burden of human lifepoverty, misunderstandings, human
limitationsis obvious in the life of the Messiah. He is the Son
of God; He is not a superman. The Bible is the way of truth, not a series
of stories like Pollyanna or a set of myths. These events really took
place, and they took place in the lives of real people. Our great hope
is founded on the fact that one of these very real people was also truly
the Son of God and a Divine Person. The message of hope given by the angelGod
is with us, Emmanuelmust reach down to all human beings in their
own personal lives. In the midst of their greatest difficulties and sorrows,
or in the inevitability of age and sickness, they will also have hope
because the Son of God has gone before us on the difficult road of humanity,
and His Mother has led the way for us.
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Mary | Dr. James Hitchcock
Mary in Feminist
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Assumed Into Mother's
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Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.,
is loved around the world for his bold and powerful witness to the Gospel.
For many years Fr. Groeschel has tirelessly worked with the poor and needy,
spoken to tens of thousands of Catholics, and written numerous articles
In May 1987 he founded, with eight other friars, the community of the
Friars of the Renewal. The Community, which follows the Capuchian
Tradition, now has over eighty friars and sisters. It is dedicated to
preaching reform within the Church and caring for the homeless in the
South Bronx and Harlem sections of New York City, as well as in London
Fr. Groeschel is Director for the Office for Spiritual Development for
the Archdiocese of New York. He founded and is on the staff of Trinity
Centera center for prayer and study for the clergy. John Cardinal
OConnor appointed him promoter of the cause of Canonization of the
Servant of God, Terence Cardinal Cooke, in 1984.
Fr. Groeschel earned his doctorate in psychology from Columbia University
in 1971 and is professor of pastoral psychology at St. Josephs Seminary
of the Archdiocese of New York. He has taught at Fordham University, Iona
College, and Maryknoll Seminary.
He is also chairman of the Good Counsel Homes and the St. Francis House,
which provides residence and programs for homeless young mothers and homeless
youth. For fourteen years, Fr. Groeschel served as chaplain of the Childrens
Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
Fr. Groeschel has appeared on EWTN numerous times and has written many
books, including -
Arise From Darkness: What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense,
The Reform of Renewal,
Rosary: The Chain of Hope, Still
Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations, and, most recently,
The Drama of Reform, all published by Ignatius Press.
When Fr. Groeschel was nearly killed in a traffic accident in early 2004, tens of thousands prayed for his life. Miraculously, he
lived. IgnatiusInsight.com interviewed him and asked him about his recovery, what he
has gone through since the accident, and his book,
Praying To Our Lord Jesus Christ: Prayers and Meditations Through the Centuries.
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