When we pray the rosary, we meditate on the “mysteries of the rosary.” There are four sets of these mysteries: the joyful mysteries, the sorrowful mysteries, the glorious mysteries, and the mysteries of light. Protestants often criticize Catholics who pray the rosary because they say it is an example of “repetition” prayer. They point to the fact that we repeat the Hail Mary prayer fifty times in just one rosary. Even some Catholics will say that they don’t like the rosary because they get bored with the repetition and cannot keep their mind on the prayer, since we just say the same thing over and over.
I really like the rosary. I like it because I think of it as a meditation prayer and not a repetition prayer. And this is where the mysteries come in. During the recitation of each decade (ten) of Hail Mary’s, we meditate on a particular mystery. For example, for the glorious mysteries, we meditate on the Resurrection of Our Lord for the first ten, the Ascension Our Lord for the second ten, the Coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost for the next ten, the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into Heaven on the next ten, and finally, for the final ten, the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The vast majority of the twenty mysteries are Bible stories. One exception is the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into Heaven. It is easy to meditate on bible stories, but what about the Assumption? The doctrine of the Assumption has been handed on to us via Sacred Tradition, and not Sacred Scripture, i.e., the Bible. I would love to debate the validity of Sacred Tradition, but that is not my purpose today. What I would like to do is relate to you what it is that I meditate on when I am praying this mystery of fourth decade of the glorious mysteries. I love to “imagine” what exactly happened when this non-biblical story occurred.
I imagine Mary, being very ill and near death, lying on her death bed, surrounded by some of the apostles, like St. John (who was caring for her), St. Peter and Saint Paul (who arrived on the scene at some point), and possibly others as well. I imagine Mary breathing her last and then suddenly her body being taken up through the roof of her home and disappearing from sight in the same way Our Lord disappeared from sight when He ascended in heaven (Acts 1:9). By the time I complete this train of thought, I have prayed ten Hail Mary’s. By the way, we celebrate the feast of the Assumption on Saturday, August 15. I will be having these same thoughts when I attend Mass that day. The picture below is of the Assumption window in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lincoln.
My prayer for today: Blessed Mother, intercede for me today as I meditate on the mystery of your Assumption into heaven. Please ask God the Father, in Jesus’ name, to bless my family. Ask Him to please keep all family members on the straight and narrow so that we may all one day celebrate His glorious name in heaven. Amen.