The Hidden Mysteries of the Rosary

Previously posted in December of 2012

The Rosary is a mediation on the mysteries of Christ’s life. But the Virgin Mary is the most perfect disciple and the most perfect imitator of Christ, and her life, from its very beginning, was a reflection of the mystery of Christ. Therefore, in meditating also on the life of the Virgin Mary, we learn about Christ ever more deeply. For Mary is nothing without Christ. Her whole life and her whole self is patterned after Christ. Because of this, and in order to draw out the full Christological depth of the Rosary, I suggest that it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which would include significant events in salvation history prior to the Incarnation of Christ, especially those related to the early life of the Virgin Mary.

The events described within the traditional mysteries of the Rosary each include some participation by the Virgin Mary, whether explicitly, as in the mystery of the Incarnation, or implicitly, as in the mystery of the Resurrection. Mary’s essential role in our salvation is also apparent in the prayers of the Rosary, which in the traditional pattern include 153 Hail Marys. Therefore, it is entirely fitting for these additional mysteries to include a meditation on the deeds of God in salvation history prior to the Incarnation, beginning with the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I suggest to the faithful the following 5 mysteries of the Rosary, to be prayed in the usual way, as frequently or infrequently as the faithful see fit, and according to the Providence and Grace of God. These 5 mysteries are called the Hidden Mysteries because they meditate upon events that were mostly hidden from the world, events prior to the arrival of the Messiah.

1. The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

This mystery is well-known to all the Roman Catholic faithful. After the faithful had believed this doctrine for many centuries, it was finally taught infallibly by Pope Pius IX in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, when he defined: “that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

Mary was preserved from original sin at her conception so that Christ, the Savior of all, would be fittingly born of a sinless virgin. Mary was kept free from original sin for the sake of Christ. Mary was kept free from original sin, so that the human nature of Christ would begin from a pure source. The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is therefore a mystery about Christ, and it is a mystery worthy of continued meditation by all the faithful through the holy rosary.

In my speculative theology about the Virgin Mary, I firmly believe and clearly understand that Mary’s Immaculate Conception was also an entirely miraculous and entirely virginal conception. For God desired that the Virginity of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, be so perfect, complete, and all-encompassing that even the manner of her Immaculate Conception and her holy birth were required by God to be entirely virginal, occurring solely and entirely by a miracle of God, and not in the usual way. It is a part of the total and constant Virginity of Mary, the Mother of God, that even the manner of her Immaculate Conception was completely virginal, occurring solely and entirely by means of a miracle from the Mercy of God, and not by means of human will or action.

2. The Birth of the Virgin Mary

Mary’s birth is like Christ’s birth because Mary’s life is a perfect imitation of Christ’s life. Her birth from the womb of St. Ann foreshadowed Christ’s birth from her own womb. And although Mary’s life began before Christ’s human life, it is only by the life of Christ and by the graces that flow from His suffering and death that Mary was able to be conceived and born, and later become the Mother of Christ.

In my speculative theology about the Virgin Mary, I firmly believe and clearly understand that the birth of the Virgin Mary occurred in a manner which was entirely miraculous and entirely virginal, not in the usual manner. The Virgin Mary went directly from her mother’s womb to the outside world solely by a miracle of God and without any part of the usual process of delivery. The Virgin Mother of God was born solely by a miracle of God, in a true perfect Virgin Birth, like the true perfect Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.

The holy birth of the Virgin Mary foreshadowed the holy birth of Jesus Christ. Her birth was miraculous, as a sign that the work of God for our salvation had begun in a new way, in order to form a new covenant, more excellent than the old covenant. The birth of Mary is worthy of meditation by all the faithful, through the holy rosary, because her life was a perfect imitation of Christ’s life, even from the time of her conception and birth.

3. The Service of the Virgin Mary in the Temple

The Gospel of Matthew calls Mary a virgin, not only because she was a true and perfect Virgin, but also because she was one of the virgins dedicated to the service of the Temple of Jerusalem. According to the private revelations to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, this service in the Temple began at a very young age and continued until shortly before her virginal marriage to Saint Joseph.

Mary’s service as a Temple Virgin was a foreshadowing of that later time when she would serve God and all humanity by allowing God Incarnate to dwell within her womb, from the time of the Incarnation to the time of the Birth of our Savior. In her early days as a child, Mary served God in the Temple of Jerusalem because that Temple itself was a figure and symbol of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Mary’s complete dedication to God drew her to the service of God in the Temple, to that same Temple which itself was a foreshadowing of her Son Jesus Christ. The service of Mary as a virgin in the Temple of Jerusalem is worthy of meditation by all the faithful, through the holy rosary, because her service in the Temple anticipated the arrival of the Messiah into that same Temple, into the temple of her womb, and into the temples of our hearts.

4. The Virginal Marriage of Joseph and Mary

God so values perfect virginity, even above perfect marriage, that He willed his handmaid Mary to remain a virgin, even though she was called by God to be married and to bear a son. The marriage of Joseph and Mary shows us that the teachings of Christ on purity, and the graces that come from chastity and virginity, are greater than all that a natural marriage has to offer.

The marriage of Joseph and Mary preceded the Incarnation, so that Christ could truly be the Son of David, not only according to the flesh, through Mary, who was of the house of David, but also according to the Law, through Joseph, who was the lawful husband of Mary, his betrothed virgin, and who was also of the house of David.

The virginal marriage of Joseph and Mary is worthy of meditation by all the faithful, through the holy rosary, because the purity of this singular marriage offers graces and instruction for all marriages, and for all husbands and mothers and children. The life of the Holy Family is based on the purity and simplicity and holiness found within the marriage of Joseph and Mary. Their virginal marriage was sanctified by Jesus Christ before His Incarnation, for the sake of His Incarnation, and for the sake of our salvation.

5. The Annunciation to Zechariah

The Annunciation to Zechariah foreshadowed the Annunciation to Mary, just as the preaching of John the Baptist foreshadowed the preaching of Jesus the Christ. At the time of the Annunciation to Zechariah, he and his wife Elizabeth were miraculously made able to conceive a child, despite their advanced age. The Annunciation to Zechariah is worthy of meditation by all the faithful, through the holy rosary, because the mystery of this event contains, prepares for, and points to several other important events in salvation history: the conception of John the Baptist, the Annunciation to Mary, the Visitation of Mary with Elizabeth, and the Ministries of John and of Jesus Christ.

A Method for Praying these Mysteries

Inspired by the example of Saint Louis of Montfort, I have adopted a method of praying the Rosary which incorporates each mystery into each Hail Mary prayer. In the middle of the Hail Mary, after saying, ‘Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus,’ a brief saying is added describing the mystery as it relates to acts of Jesus Christ in salvation history. Every mystery of the Rosary, in truth, concerns some act, by Jesus Christ, which pertains to our salvation. For example, in the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, prepared for His own entrance into the world, for the salvation of the world. Similarly, in another mystery of the rosary, it is Jesus Christ who assumes Mary into Heaven; she does not cause herself to ascend to Heaven, but rather she is assumed by Christ to Heaven.

So, for the Hidden Mysteries, each of the ten Hail Marys in each decade would be prayed in the following manner:

1. The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Jesus, bestowing your Immaculate Virgin Conception.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

2. The Birth of the Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Jesus, granting your miraculous virgin birth.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

3. The Service of Mary in the Temple

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Jesus, consecrating your service in the Temple.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

4. The Virginal Marriage of Joseph and Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Jesus, sanctifying your marriage to Joseph.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

5. The Annunciation to Zechariah

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Jesus, blessing Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

For the other mysteries of the rosary, for the sake of brevity, I will list only the line of the Hail Mary which changes:

The Joyful Mysteries:

1. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit.
2. The Visitation to Elizabeth
Jesus, sanctifying from the womb.
3. The Birth of Jesus
Jesus, born miraculously of a Virgin.
4. The Presentation in the Temple
Jesus, consecrated to God.
5. The Finding in the Temple
Jesus, found in the Temple.

The Luminous Mysteries:

1. The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus, baptized in the Jordan.
2. The Wedding at Cana
Jesus, turning water into wine.
3. The Call to Conversion
Jesus, calling us to repentance.
4. The Transfiguration
Jesus, transfigured.
5. The Consecration of the Eucharist
Jesus, consecrating the Eucharist.

The Sorrowful Mysteries:

1. The Agony in the Garden
Jesus, in agony in the garden.
2. The Scourging
Jesus, scourged.
3. The Crowning with Thorns
Jesus, crowned with thorns.
4. The Carrying of the Cross
Jesus, carrying His cross.
5. The Crucifixion
Jesus, crucified.

The Glorious Mysteries:

1. The Resurrection
Jesus, risen from the dead.
2. The Ascension
Jesus, ascending to Heaven.
3. Pentecost
Jesus, filling us with the Holy Spirit.
4. The Assumption of Mary
Jesus, raising you up to Heaven.
5. The Coronation of Mary
Jesus, crowning you Queen of Heaven.

Conclusion

The holy rosary is not set in stone; it can grow and change, like the mustard seed, like the Church herself. For the rosary, as a reflection of the Virgin Mary, is certainly also a figure of the Church, just as Mary herself is a figure of the Church. The growth and change of the rosary foreshadows, and assists in, the growth and change of the Church and of all her members.

Let any of the faithful who find it edifying to meditate through the rosary on these mysteries do so with true devotion and sincerity. For the events of these five mysteries have an important place in salvation history. And their frequent consideration will provide profound insight into the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and into the mysteries of salvation history. But if anyone is determined to be contentious, complaining that this new pattern of the holy rosary is not given or approved by proper authority, may God rebuke them. For they live by rules and authority and contention, not by faith and grace and mercy.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Advertisements
Gallery | This entry was posted in commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Hidden Mysteries of the Rosary

  1. Tom Mazanec says:

    First, Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary tells that there have been many different Mysteries of the Rosary over nearly a millennium.
    Second, I once read that one can say, for example “Blessed is the Fruit of Thy womb, Jesus, who rose from the dead”, or whatever. Is this an acceptable practice?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Adding a phrase to the Rosary at that point was suggested by St. Louis of Montfort. I think it is a good practice, and as you can see from my post, I recommend a particular phrase to be added to each Hail Mary at that point.

Comments are closed.