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The Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The birth of a child has the capacity to bring out the best in humanity. On a human level, little is more impressive than the heroic love of a mother for her child, the self-sacrificing service of a father in support of his family and the way in which the wider family and human society rally round in support of the new parents. There’s something deep inside each of us that can’t resist delighting in children, that can’t hold back from celebrating their uniqueness: as soon as they’re born, we want to see a photo. Over the next few years we’ll enjoy endlessly sharing news of their first steps, their first words, their first smile, their first day at school, and so on until they themselves have children (or join a religious order, etc.). Yet despite this joyful excitement that accompanies children and the possibilities that accompany them, there’s also little that is more disruptive. With the birth of a child, life is radically changed, as the family unit has a new focus and centre of energy. As the sleepless nights drag on, and the piles of nappies grow, the celibate life probably looks more and more blessed, but nothing can extinguish the joy that the new child has brought into the world.

By meditating on the Joyful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary, we reflect—through the eyes of his mother—on this ‘disruptive joy’ that the infant Christ brought into the world. In the life of Christ, of course, the ordinary joys and disruptions of human life are matched by the possibility of supernatural joy and eternal life that Christ brings with him and the cosmic disruption that Christ’s overthrow of the regime of sin effects. These mysteries of our faith are, however, despite their extraordinary and miraculous character, nonetheless patterned by something ordinarily and authentically human (but nonetheless sanctified): conception, familial love, birth, a family celebration, the fear of loss, situations that we too face in different ways and at different times. Meditating on each of these mysteries in the light of our own daily experience of faith, then, the Joyful mysteries invite us to repeat Mary’s ‘yes’ to the incarnation in the concrete settings of our individual lives.

Oliver James Keenan OP


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