The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection of Christ
The risen Christ is alive and in our midst, where he promised to remain: “I am with you always, until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). His presence among us is intensified by the fact we are members of his body because of our baptism, when we are grafted onto the Body of Christ, the Church. Everything about our faith, therefore, is inherently communal in nature. Because of our relationship with Christ, we are all in relationship with one another.
This trying and unusual time of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed many difficulties for the Church. We have been faced with a scenario we might never have imagined. Suspension of public celebration of Masses has left the faithful without the ordinary means of worship. Anxiety and disruption can overwhelm us. But we must never forget the promise of the risen Christ, nor our obligation to persevere in obedience and foster the unity he wills for the Church.
Our most privileged task as baptized Christians is to give Christ glory in the Church. Christ’s resurrection enables us to define our lives by faith in Christ’s victory over sin and death, and compels us to define our thoughts, words and deeds by charity above all else. It also gives us hope. Because we know that, despite whatever suffering we might face, Christ’s victory has been won for us.
The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension of Christ
Christ’s call to take up our crosses and follow him certainly passes through Calvary, and many of us stay there longer than we might imagine. And even beyond the resurrection, the road on which we follow Christ leads to heaven itself — as long as we stay on that road. Christ’s ascension is our reminder to do just that.
It is important in the midst of the turmoil and distress of this crisis to keep before our eyes the call to holiness. We take up our crosses and follow him, held up by the hope of where we are headed. There will be darkness along the way, but we must remember that even in the darkest times, God is present and active.
With holy lives, as people of faith, our task is to remind the world of this reality. Like Christ, we conform our will to the Father’s, and thereby, as members of his body, the risen Lord is at work through us. St. Teresa of Avila summed this up best: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit — the advocate — to the Apostles as the animator of their mission to spread the good news of Christ to the ends of the earth. The descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was a moment of definitive change for the Apostles, shaping the rest of their lives and bringing about their deaths (except for St. John). We, too, receive this same Holy Spirit and are called to live this same mission. Our life of discipleship, enabled by our life in the Holy Spirit, is what defines us.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, has offered us a moment for serious reflection, and even questioning, about who we are, what defines us and what we are meant to do. It’s also an opportunity for real clarity. Nothing else matters as long as we are growing in our relationship with the Lord through prayer and worship, and leading others to him through holy living and apostolic action. That is what the world needs most during times of crisis.
Like the Apostles who were sent on mission at Pentecost, each of us has the same calling. This begins at baptism, is intensified at Confirmation, and is renewed each time we receive the Eucharist and are sent forth from Mass. The pandemic reminds us that we are called to be salt in a melancholy world, light amid its dimness and yeast when so many are feeling flat. As disciples of the Lord, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words and deeds to call the world to Christ’s truth and charity, no matter the cost.
The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In times such as these, we may be feeling downtrodden or even despairing. So how do we keep a perspective of hope during a time that feels largely devoid of hope? One way is by turning to our mother.
The life of the Blessed Virgin Mary uniquely illustrates how our lives are meant to mirror the Lord. We know that her “yes” to God meant acceptance of not only great joys, but of great difficulties and sufferings, too. Through her witness, Mary shows us how to transform our moments of pain into opportunities to receive God’s grace. She teaches us that life’s sufferings are a means rather than an end. With Mary, we can transform our sufferings by cooperating with God’s grace — and ultimately receive the disciple’s reward she has already been given.
Mary’s assumption into heaven gives us a reason to hope in the heart of Christian faith. Where Mary has gone, we hope to follow. Christ’s resurrection, and Mary’s privileged share in it, changes our perspective on life and death, gives both new meaning, and helps us to focus on what matters most.
The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen
Mary reigns as queen of heaven and earth not because of any greatness that the world would know. Her crowning is a recognition that her Son’s kingdom reigned completely in her heart. Like Mary’s, our hearts must be completely attuned to God’s voice. Mary is preeminent among “those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 11:28), and she is the image of the Church that awaits the “crown of righteousness,” as described by St. Paul (2 Tim 4:8).
The coronation of Mary speaks to her inestimable virtue. It is she who waited on God’s word and responded with love and generosity. It’s in Mary’s heart that we can find her Son. When we imitate Mary — in her humble holiness, charity and undying obedience to and faith in God’s will — Christ will reign in our own hearts. The difficulties we face due to this pandemic do not need to be occasions for strife and discord. Instead, even the most painful situations can be transformed by love when we allow Christ to reign in our hearts.
Mary’s privileged position in heaven also is a great spiritual aid for us. She is truly our mother — made so when we, her children, were baptized and incorporated into her Son’s body. Mary is the preeminent Christian disciple and model of holiness for the Church, and her intercession and protection can do wonders, if we simply ask.
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of Simply Catholic. Follow him on Twitter @HeinleinMichael. Read rosary series here.