The Light Shed by the Rosary's New Mysteries

A Theologian Views Pope's Contribution to a Perennial Marian Devotion

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ROME, AUG. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Year of the Rosary, which ends this October, has helped to highlight new vistas on the life of Christ, says a professor and Vatican consultor.



Discalced Carmelite Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told ZENIT that John Paul II's appeal in the apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" has made possible a rediscovery of the most profound aspects of the Marian prayer.

"In that letter, first of all, we are invited to contemplate Christ through Mary's eyes and to contemplate Mary in her journey with Christ," explained the professor of liturgy, spirituality and dogmatic theology at the Teresianum Faculty of Theology.

"Thus, through the indications of the Pope a prayer like the rosary, which we had considered as an oral prayer, becomes a contemplative prayer for a journey in holiness," he said. "The most important novelty introduced by the Holy Father is the contemplation of the mysteries of Jesus' public life, the luminous mysteries."

"No one had ever dared before to introduce these mysteries in the rosary," Father Castellano noted. "The Pope has broken the symbolic number of 150 Hail Marys, to increase it to 200. But it was necessary, as the Holy Father himself explains, to unite Jesus' childhood with his passion.

"The five new mysteries begin with Jesus' baptism, revelation of the Father and the Spirit on the banks of the Jordan. We call that moment a theophany, that is, a manifestation of the Trinity. It is a mystery of light, as it speaks of the heavens opening, of the preaching of the beloved Son, of the descent of the Holy Spirit."

He continued: "Then comes Jesus' self-revelation at the wedding of Cana, where the Virgin enables us to understand and contemplate Jesus' countenance as savior. Mystery of joy and luminous light, it is, in fact, Mary's intercession, who says to Jesus: 'They have no wine,' and to the servants: 'Do whatever he tells you.'"

Introduced after the "Proclamation of the Kingdom" -- the third mystery -- "the mystery of light par excellence is the Lord's transfiguration, a transfiguration which is celebrated by the Roman Church on two occasions during the year: the Second Sunday of Lent, and Aug. 6," Father Castellano said. It is "the most luminous mystery, both because of the light that shines from Jesus' countenance, from his garments, as well as the revelation of the Father who says: 'This is my beloved Son, listen to him.'"

"According to the mystical intuition of the Middle Ages, the Virgin was present at the Last Supper -- the last luminous mystery," the Carmelite said. "In fact, according to tradition, the paschal supper was prepared by women, therefore, the women were present and prepared the eucharistic meal. The luminous character of this supper is evident. In St. John's Gospel, five chapters are dedicated to the account of the supper, from the beginning, with the washing of the feet, to Chapter 17."

"In the last encyclical on the Eucharist, the Pope pointed out the relations of profound dependence between the Body of Christ and Mary," Father Castellano added. "Without Mary's maternity, the Eucharist of the Church would not exist. From the baptism to the Eucharist, these five luminous mysteries are essential -- five mysteries of Jesus' public life that before were missing."