My favorite mysteries of the rosary were always the sorrowful ones. I think the drama of Christ’s passion lends itself well to meditation, and those mysteries are also such a powerful depiction of his love for us.
Lately, though, I’ve had some beautiful moments meditating on the joyful mysteries. Becoming a mother brings them to life in a way they never have before; I can relate my own experiences of motherhood to the awe-inspiring experiences of the Blessed Mother as she and St. Joseph raised the Son of God.
The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).
The moment I first knew I was a mother—when I saw that second line appear on the pregnancy test—full of joy, full of wonder. Sharing it with my husband, feeling grateful and humbled and, yes, a bit intimidated. Imagine Mary’s joy, her wonder, at becoming the Mother of God.
The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb …” (Luke 1:39-41).
Was Mary nauseous as she traveled to Judah? What a sacrifice to make to care for her cousin! But what joy when the two could celebrate together. Every mother needs other mothers for advice, support, and the shared experience of joy.
The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
The anticipation of seeing my daughter’s face for the first time and then that moment when they laid her on my chest. My husband and I, not able to get enough of her as she cried. That feeling … is this real? … how much more must Mary and Joseph have felt, gazing at the infant Lord they had promised to raise.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation
“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,’ and to offer the sacrifice of ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,’ in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:22-24).
Getting my daughter baptized in the haze of postpartum fog, just under four weeks after she was born. There with our close family, watching the priest pray as she receives the Holy Spirit. What must Mary have thought, upon presenting her Son to His Father, hearing the words of Simeon and Anna? Awe, joy, yes … but also trepidation. I will experience sorrow as a mother but never like the sword that pierced Mary’s heart (Luke 2:35). The fact that one of the joyful mysteries is also one of the seven sorrows of Mary …! May I suffer as well as she did.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?'” (Luke 2:48-49).
Did Mary feel pride in Jesus’ wisdom? Or simply confusion? Was this experience, for her, a preview of what was to come? Did she know that later, his preaching would get him killed? It is frightening to raise your child knowing that she will be hated by many for what you are teaching her to believe and hope she will accept. How much more frightening was it for Mary, despite her perfect faith and trust?