The Rosary consists of both vocal and mental prayer. We pray the various prayers represented by the Rosary beads aloud (or silently). Yet the “soul” of the Rosary is mental prayer, or meditation on each of the 20 mysteries (important events in the lives of Jesus and Mary in the gospels). The repeated Hail Marys of each decade help lull the mind into a peaceful state and facilitate meditation. It takes time, patience and practice to learn to meditate. Sometimes it’s helpful to read a few brief reflections before praying the Rosary.
In part two of this series, I will focus on reflections for the five Sorrowful Mysteries. (Link to Part 1: The Joyful Mysteries)
The Agony in the Garden
Jesus very much reveals his humanity when he asks his Father to take away the ordeal he is about to face (Luke 22:42), yet he ultimately submits to God’s plan. In difficult situations, we can find comfort in the fact that our Savior understands our dread and unwillingness to move forward. We can follow his example by spending time in prayer and humbly submitting to God’s will for our lives.
The Scourging at the Pillar
Jesus suffered tremendous pain to atone for our sins. The soldiers beat him mercilessly, yet he did not resist. When I think of how much Jesus suffered during the scourging, I resolve to go to Confession as soon as possible. In fact, I add it to the calendar on my smartphone. This important sacrament makes us face our sins and own up to them by saying them aloud. We also receive grace to help us turn away from sin in the future.
The Crowning with Thorns
In this mystery, Jesus continues to suffer at the hands of the Roman soldiers. They mock him, beat him and humiliate him. Jesus returns their hate with love. How often we do the same? When we are humiliated or embarrassed, do we lash out in anger or do we endure the shame with quiet dignity? Do we love our enemies and pray for them? Do we let others see the presence of Christ within us? Our words and actions, while following the example of Jesus, can change hearts and minds.
The Carrying of the Cross
When I ponder this mystery, I often think of the Stations of the Cross. Since they are present in every Catholic church, they can provide a good visual tool for meditation. In fact, you might want to take your rosary to church and pray the Sorrowful Mysteries as you walk by the stations posted on the wall. Or perhaps you can kneel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and reflect on that long walk to Calvary. Another idea is to search for artwork of the stations online to view as you pray this decade.
While you meditate on this mystery, think of the Seven Last Words of Christ:
1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do! (Luke 24:34)
2. This day thou shall be with me in Paradise. (Luke 24:43)
3. Woman, behold thy son.... Behold thy mother. (John 19:26, 27)
4. My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me? (Matt 27:26; Mark 15:34)
5. I thirst! (John 19:28)
6. It is finished. (John 19:30)
7. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 24:46)
Peggy Bowes is a former Air Force pilot and the author of The Rosary Workout and Tending the Temple. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.