The holy Rosary is a very adaptable prayer, a prayer suitable for every need and occasion, as the Saints and the Popes tell us over and over. And they are right, as I was reminded this evening.
This has been a difficult day for all of us here in Scotland and in the United Kingdom, with a further national lockdown being announced; and as part of the restrictions this will impose upon us, our Churches will close once more, so that there will be no public celebration of the Mass for the foreseeable future. I suspect the entire country shares the impending sense of gloom which has descended upon us all this evening.
All of this was in my heart a little while ago as I prayed my nightly Rosary – needless to say, our nation was one of the intentions foremost in my mind as I offered my prayers, thinking of all the people who will be greatly affected by what was announced in Edinburgh this afternoon and then in London this evening.
Praying the Joyful Mysteries, I was reminded that these are Mysteries of hope – hope that the Lord will come as He promised so long ago. And beginning with the Annunciation, with it’s first glimmer of divine light, that promise is indeed beginning to be fulfilled; it is spoken of in the Visitation and it finds it’s fruition in the Nativity.
But it was the final two Mysteries which really caught my attention this evening.
The Mystery of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is one of surrender – of placing everything in the hands of the Lord, with complete trust that His will shall be fulfilled, one way or another. The Lord has given the Christ Child to the Blessed Virgin; She immediately places Him in the hands of the Father, as She will do again much later on. She does this with perfect trust in the will of God, even as Simeon reminds Her that this will involve sorrow and suffering for Her. Our Faith does not preclude the experience of human suffering- rather, it transforms it entirely, grounding it in hope and giving it meaning. Simeon, in this particular Mystery, has his hope in the Lord crystallised and fulfilled – finally, He has seen the “Light to enlight the nations” (Lk.2:32), as the Lord promised him. And all the while, the prophetess Anna gives praise to the Lord, filled with faith and trust in Him.
The final Mystery, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, is also a Mystery of hope fulfilled – the Blessed Virgin finds her Son, lost now for three days; this image of His loss for three days is one we will encounter again, just before Easter. For now, the moment is one of joy – what was lost is found and all is well. But notice, too, the astonishment of those teachers in the Temple – they are thrilled at the wisdom of this Boy who can explain the Scriptures, who speaks with such authority. All of this takes place within the Temple – and, like those teachers, this is where we, too, will find the Lord; in His Church. His Mystical Body speaks with the same authority, the same wisdom, as the Lord Himself.
Our lesson here comes from the Mother of God – She “treasured all these things and pondered them in her Heart” (Lk.2:51).
So must we treasure these lessons and ponder them in our hearts, so that we can learn from them and be changed by them – and in praying the Rosary, is this not precisely what we are doing?
Perhaps in those moments where the events of life or the world weigh heavily upon us, these two Mysteries can be our ‘Mysteries of Hope’ – reminding us that the Lord will surprise us when we least expect it, and He will always keep His promises, even when to do so might seem impossible to us. But we need to trust in Him.
Like the Mother of God, let our faith in the Lord never dim and never waiver, no matter what.