Life is never a tragedy, although we see tragedies happening in life. Behind the dark clouds of life’s tragedies is always the sun of hope shining so brightly. This conviction is no mere romanticism for this is the truth that lies behind the meditation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
These mysteries remind us that the darkness and evil do not have the last word and that if only we fight, we will truly triumph for God is with us and God never loses battles. Jesus’ triumph over death is our life; His ascension into heaven is our hope; and Mary’s assumption and coronation as Queen of Heaven is our joy. The glorious mysteries, then, are telling us that “Only when life is full of hope can we find immense joy in living”.
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FIRST GLORIOUS MYSTERY: The Resurrection of Jesus. Presiding over the Holy Eucharist in one of the chapels of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem last March this year, I cannot resist the temptation of asking how was it that the women and other disciples of Jesus were able to give testimony to the truth of His rising from the dead and how has this truth survived for more than two thousand years now. For even now, still thousands of believers visit the empty tomb and return home with renewed faith. Jesus’ resurrection still has the power to transform lives in the same way it transformed the lives of His first disciples who came to His tomb and found it empty that dawn of Sunday.
It is not that easy to be transformed only by glorious news of Christ’s resurrection – an account that happened 2,000 years ago. But what really transforms our lives is not the resurrection account: it is the encounter of the Risen Lord Himself.
Two events, the exegetes say, proved Jesus’ resurrection: the empty tomb and the appearance of Jesus to His disciples during forty days. How do we encounter the Risen Lord? In faith, we meet Him in the Holy Eucharist, in the Confession, in our daily prayer, in our every day ordinary work. Only when we find Jesus in the most ordinary event of our lives can we really experience an authentic transformation of our existence.
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SECOND GLORIOUS MYSTERY: Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. On the Mount of the Ascension, a dome was constructed to mark the spot where our Lord stood – according to tradition – giving His last instructions to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. Our guide showed a pair of footprints preserved on the ground that some people believed to be those of Jesus. Personally I find it hard to believe as I admit I don’t need physical proof to accept the claim that the spot was where Jesus really ascended into heaven.
Yet, there is one lesson this hard-to-believe story of Jesus’ footprints on the Mount of the Ascension could give us: though Jesus has gone back into heaven, He left us with an indelible mark of His presence in our soul – the indelible character that we received in our baptism. How we wish Christ’s presence in our soul would always manifest itself in our daily lives!
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THIRD GLORIOUS MYSTERY: The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles. The Upper Room where the Last Supper took place is believed to be the same place where the Apostles had their reunion with the Mother of Jesus fifty days after His resurrection. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with diverse tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak” (Acts 2: 2-4).
Today, the Upper Room belongs to the Jewish religion and authorities do not allow Catholic rites there, though tourist visits are admitted. It is bare and has no artistic attraction. The only appeal it has is the fact that it was the Upper Room. Our life too could become a barren room without the grace of the Holy Spirit who inhabits our soul as in a temple. Our body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Whenever we dishonor our body with sinful acts, we dishonor our Holy Guest and our temple becomes desolate.
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FOURTH GLORIOUS MYSTERY: The Assumption of Mary into Heaven. In Jerusalem, a Catholic Basilica dedicated to Mary’s “dormición” (literally means, sleep) complements another Orthodox church in which Mary’s tomb is venerated, just like that of Jesus in the Holy Sepulcher. These correspond to two different traditions regarding Mary’s assumption into heaven. One tradition says that Mary did not die – nor She needed to – because She is the Immaculate Conception (conceived without original sin) and the wage of sin is death. Another says Mary died to share in the death of Her Son. Both traditions accept the dogma of Mary’s Assumption into heaven.
Perhaps, it is not for us to know with certitude which of these two traditions is true. But the truth of Mary’s assumption into heaven is for us to hope for our own entrance into heaven. It reminds us that our only aim in this life is heaven. And if in the end, we don’t enter heaven as Mary did, then we are just wasting our time here. It also teaches us that heaven is already open for us. And Mary has preceded us there.
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FIFTH GLORIOUS MYSTERY: The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. The Queen of England is often called “The Queen Mother”. But the ultimate Queen Mother is Mary: She is Queen and Mother by God’s decree. We can imagine the Holy Trinity – the Three Divine Persons – coming their way to greet the Blessed Virgin as She was assumed into Heaven. And the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit crowned Her Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Truly, Jesus’ words were fulfilled: “More blessed are they who listen to God’s will and fulfill it”. Mary’s coronation is a living proof that God really rewards His faithful servants. But it also shows that God crowns with glory – brings into full completion – the work that He has commenced with His chosen children. What God has started doing in your life He will really bring that into completion only if you’ll cooperate with His will.