07 November 2015

The Luminous Mysteries: Introduction


To the standard 15 Decades of the Rosary, Pope John Paul II suggested another 5, the Mysteries of Light or the Luminous Mysteries. He did this in his letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae on 16 October 2002.  Whilst these have been accepted by Roman Catholics, they are not in very common use by other Christians who prefer to stick with the "traditional Rosary".   These five "new" mysteries are:
  1. The Baptism of Christ
  2. The Wedding of Cana
  3. The Preaching of the Kingdom of God
  4. The Transfiguration
  5. The Mystical Supper
It may surprise some Orthodox - even those Byzantine Rite folks generally supportive of the Western Rite and also Western Rite folks in general - to hear that I advocate the use of John Paul the Second's "innovation".  I do so for three reasons:
  1. It does (as the Pope said) expand this devotion to encompass the whole life of Christ.
  2. It expands the meditation to the Holy Sacraments.
  3. It makes (by both 1 & 2 together) the entire meditation more Orthodox.
1. The Whole Life of Christ
The existing 15 Mysteries focus our attention on the Birth and the Death and Resurrection of Christ, but it is the entire presence of God with us that is salvific.  These five new mysteries widen out the scope of the prayer to teach that every action of God from the Annunciation (and before) to the Glorification (and beyond) was part of our salvation.

2. The Holy Sacraments
Each one of the Luminous mysteries seems, to me, to point to one of five Sacraments:
  1. The Baptism of Christ - Our Baptism
  2. The Wedding of Cana - Holy Matrimony
  3. The Preaching of the Kingdom of God - Holy Orders
  4. The Transfiguration - Confirmation/Chrismation
  5. The Mystical Supper - The Holy Eucharist
I recognize that #4 is a stretch, but we're talking poetic meditation here, not doctrinal teaching. 

3. More Orthodox
If the main objection Orthodox have to the Rosary (as I have heard) is not "it's Roman Catholic" but rather "too Western" (whatever that means), I think the addition of the Mysteries of Light fixes that.  They remove the focus from all the "sad stuff", widening it out to "all the stuffs".  It makes it a more holistic discussion of the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of the God-Man, or, to use a mid-century modern phrase, the Christ Event.   

Those of you who didn't drop your reading device at the end of the last paragraph are begged to pray for me.  I will wrap up this intro now and on Wednesday begin the last five posts in this series.

Those of you who have asked for one of my hand-made Rosaries will get one when the series is done!