Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Applying the Joyful Mysteries

The Joyful Mysteries

1. The Annunciation

2. The Visitation

3. The Nativity

4. The Presentation

5. Finding Jesus in the Temple

How can I apply the Joyful Mysteries to my daily problems? To the current big issues in my life as well as the little trials that happen every day? Here's what I found. 

The Annunciation

God sent the angel, Gabriel, to Mary to ask her to become pregnant with and give birth to the Salvation of the World. Well, of course she'd say yes, right? Not so fast. 

He was asking her to understand that she would become pregnant by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit at a time when the world didn't really understand the Trinity, even though it was right there in Genesis. And speaking of not understanding the Trinity, she was the first person to be told that God had a Son who would become a man! What a shock!

That doesn't take into account the very real fear that she would be rejected by Joseph. Though they weren't yet living together, she was his wife. I have a hard enough time telling my husband that I forgot to take care of one of the few errands he asks me to do for him. I can't imagine telling him, "By the way? I know we haven't had sex, but I'm pregnant. And I'm still a virgin. Promise." Especially since Joseph would have been within his rights to have her stoned to death. 

But Mary submitted to God's will. She trusted. And she trusted with joy. She didn't run and hide for the next 9 months. She trusted and accepted and continued to move forward in her life. 

Hiding from my troubles, pretending they don't exist or putting off dealing with them is a bad plan. 

The mystery behind this Mystery is that, even in the scariest events in our lives, God has a plan to bring about great joy. There isn't any reason to be afraid. Just hand it over to Him and rejoice. 

The Visitation

Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, was pregnant at a late age, because "with God, all things are possible." The Bible says she flew to Elizabeth's side. She saw a person in need, knew that was God's next mission for her, and she rushed to get it done. 

I think we, as humans, would have understood if she had dawdled. That's a five day journey, and I'm pregnant. I'm responsible for the Son of God. I can't go traipsing off on a hard and dangerous journey. I've got responsibilities! 

Again, I sound like a broken record, but she trusted in God. And then she did His will. 

I read an article about the problem with discernment as it relates to the religious life (and probably to every other issue that people are discerning.) There are too many folks who discern, discern, discern, and they never take any action. Entering the seminary is how you discern if you want to be a religious. They don't lock the doors when you enter and say, "We've got you now. You can never leave."  You enter, and you try it, and you pray to find out if it is truly God's will. 

I tend to act too fast, without enough prayer and consideration. That often gets me in trouble. I should take more time with important decisions. And it's good to get the advice of wise people, especially my elders, but it's not good to sit on the situation (unless that's what God's asking me to do) and wait for magic fairies to come take my troubles away. 

But make sure the person you speak to is living a holy life and is a good example. For instance, it's not a good idea to ask for marital advice from a group of divorced women who are card-carrying man-haters. And don't laugh. I know people who have done this. They are now divorced. Surprise. 

The mystery behind this Mystery is that, when God gives us a mission, we should act, and we should trust that He knows the way it will be fulfilled and trust in Him. 

The Nativity

Mary had a tiny baby in the poorest of conditions. Herod was mighty and rich. Jesus was tiny and poor. But looky who's King of Kings? 

The smallest acts, the humblest people, the poorest souls hold great possibility. The tiniest things can bring about the greatest joys. We're too focused on accomplishing great things. God accomplishes great things through our small efforts. 

The Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, gave us The Story of a Soul, in which she explains how we are so little, but God loves to lift us up. 

Maybe that one kind word that you give will change a person's attitude for the entire day. Maybe your smile will raise the spirits of a person with a broken heart. Maybe picking up the paperwork on the dining room table will give your husband order in his mind when he walks in the door after a hectic day. It's all important. 

The mystery behind this Mystery is to look for the possibilities and the joy in the details, in the small acts. I don't have to solve my problems with a huge ta-da. There is probably some small thing I could change that would bring results. I don't know what promise each move holds in God's plan, so give each one 100% and do it with joy. 

The Presentation

Jews would take their firstborn son to the temple and offer him up to God. Then they would ransom him back with an offering--two turtledoves if you were poor, like Mary and Joseph. 

They were following the rules set down by their religion. The Catholic Church has rules. Go to Mass on Sunday. Go to confession once per year, minimum. 

These rules are for our benefit and protection. They teach us humility. And maybe your following of the rules will aid someone else. 

Mary and Joseph didn't have to submit to the rules. If anyone should have been exempt,it should have been the mother and step-father of Jesus. But they had humility, and by going to the temple with Jesus, they fulfilled God's promise to Simeon that he would see the Christ child before he died. They also gave joy to Anna, the prophet. 

Maybe my problem is a tough financial situation. I look to the Bible and see the passage on tithing, and I decide to follow the rules. I help someone with my offering. My actions are witnessed by somebody who sees that, even in difficulties, I still help the poor, and it converts him. I just don't know. 

The mystery behind this Mystery is that it's not all about me. Following the rules of the Church are for my benefit, but they may also be used for someone else's benefit. And following the rules might help me out with my problem. 

Finding Jesus in the Temple

If you look for Jesus, you will find Him. And notice how He was found in a house of God? And who was there with him?  God the Father. The Holy Spirit, spouse of Mary. Mary, mother of God, and her earthly spouse, Joseph. Talk about the A-Team. 

If we look for Jesus, we will find Him. He's there, even in our troubled times. And His posse is with him, too!

The mystery behind this Mystery is that Jesus is with me, even in my troubles. I can talk to Him, ask His advice, look for solutions in His Word, the Bible, and look to the examples of Mary, Joseph, and the Saints. 

Next up, the Luminous Mysteries. 

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