a joyous mystery


My flight time has become prime time for spiritual reading. Most recently, I read “Interior Freedom,” by Fr. Jacques Philippe. The thin spine of the text is no indication of its punch. It has one heck of a punch.

Philippe describes how the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the rosary, which walk us through the life of Christ, describe the different kinds of “outpourings” of the Holy Spirit in our life.

Philippe writes, “Some outpourings of the Holy Spirit illuminate and reveal, some strip and impoverish, and some confirm and fortify. All three kinds are necessary: the first to give birth to faith, the second to teach us hope, and the third to give us the courage to love.”

The Holy Spirit gives birth to faith through the illumination and revelation of the joyful mysteries (The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Presentation, and Finding Jesus in the Temple).

The Holy Spirit teaches us hope through being stripped and impoverished in the sorrowful mysteries (The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crown of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, and The Crucifixion).

The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to love through the confirmation and fortification of the glorious mysteries (The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption, and The Coronation).

Faith, hope, and love are the Holy Spirit’s outpourings of the mysteries.

I have to be honest, my mind was absolutely blown at this connection. Simple, yet profound, and so needed. I started to ask myself, “What am I in need of?”

As we journeyed with our Blessed Mother to meet our beloved Jesus as a babe in a manger this Christmas, it’s nearly impossible to fathom the extent of her faith. Mary’s faith at the Annunciation welcomed the Holy Spirit into her womb, where heaven touched earth.

Elizabeth, a woman who waited for decades yearning for motherhood, is described in the Gospel of Luke as “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” Following Gabriel’s appearance to Zechariah, the stark contrast of faith and lack thereof are clear. Elizabeth’s faith illuminates us. She proclaims, “The Lord has done this for me.”

Through Advent and the Christmas season, we journey through the joyful mysteries, and we are given the opportunity to be illuminated by the awe-inspiring faith of those who walked these mysteries first.

What do they reveal?

They reveal the power of a soul aware of her own spiritual poverty, who thrusts herself into the hands of her God. Her faith illuminates the world. She is the vessel through which Light enters the world. She reveals the difference that prayer and a sacrifice of praise make against all odds.

She leads us to fall prostrate at the throne of our King, a pile of hay upheld by the remnants of a tree, foreshadowing the throne upon which he lay for our victory.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” Luke 1:45

Faith births joy in our soul as it envelopes us in the Light that casts out darkness. By our very act of faith in God, we encounter a sweetness and warmth in his presence. We profess once again that he is indeed with us. We are not alone. We are in the very midst of our loving God who comes to earth to rescue us from the darkness.

Just like Mary and Joseph, and Elizabeth and Zechariah, we are given the chance to believe in the greatness of our God. Sometimes we will doubt, and other times we will let ourselves be humbled by the illumination of the Holy Spirit within us.

Even in the midst of my imperfect faith, I can choose to walk in surrender to my King proclaiming his greatness, while resting in my littleness – what a joyful mystery.

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