The Holy Rosary: A Compendium of the Gospel
At the center of history, at the center of time, stands Jesus Christ, the pre-determined point of the Heavenly Father's eternal plan. It is his coming among us, all that preceded his coming, all that followed it, that gives human history a meaning.
St. John, the evangelist, peering into the depths of that mystery with an eagle's eye, records the event in the prologue in these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... The Word was made flesh. He lived among us and we saw his glory.
History is an unfolding time of this central mystery. It has many phases: Creation, Incarnation, Redemption, Glorification. They are not different mysteries. They form one with Christ as center. It is a descent in humiliation and an ascent to glory, beautifully described by St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
It is this central mystery, the substance of the Gospel in its different aspects, that is the object of our contemplation in this devotion of the Holy Rosary.
Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation "Marialis Cultus" describes the Rosary in these words: "As a Gospel prayer centered on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clear Christological orientation. Its characteristic element, the litany-like succession of Hail Mary's, becomes in itself an increasing prayer to Christ who is the ultimate object both of the Angels' announcement, and the greeting by Elizabeth, the Mother of the Baptist - "the blessed fruit of your womb."
The succession of the Mysteries recalls the same Jesus, Son of God, Son of Mary. So the Rosary is one of the most traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ's face. The Hail Mary's are a continuous praise to Christ, our Redeemer.
The mysteries have been established with the seal of the Church. They contain the whole Gospel, from the annunciation of the birth of Christ to His death on the Cross and glorification. They are generally referred to as the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.
The Holy Father in his Apostolic Letter has added five other mysteries - the Mysteries of Light. "I believe," says the Pope, "that to bring out fully the christological depth of the Rosary, it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern, including the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his baptism and his passion. In the course of these mysteries, we contemplate important aspects of the Person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. These new Mysteries, called the Mysteries of Light are without prejudice to any essential aspect of the traditional format of the Rosary. Consequently they become fully a compendium of the Gospel. They are meant to give our prayers fresh life, to kindle renewed interest in the Rosary's place in Christian Spirituality. They can serve as doorways to the depths of the heart of Christ - the ocean of joy and light, of suffering and glory" (RVM 19).
E-mail this page to a friend