Lightly edited on Sept. 20, 2020, for clarity. Thanks for reading!
The famous (or infamous) Mysteries of Light, the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Love them? Hate them? Never heard of them? They’re at the center of many heated arguments, both on the web and other places. In this brief post we’ll look at the arguments I’ve personally heard most often for not praying them, and then the argument I find most convincing for praying them. Near the end of this post, the video of an episode of EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, with guest Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, discussing his book, 10 Wonders of the Rosary. (See note 1 below at the end of this post).
The four most common reasons I hear from friends who refuse to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary:
- They weren’t in the original Rosary.
- If Mary had wanted us to have them, she would have given them to us then.
- I don’t want anything to do with Vatican II and its errors.
- I’m used to praying the traditional three sets of mysteries and four would disturb my rhythm. I don’t like this change.
They weren’t in the original Rosary.
Now, I did some research on the Rosary when I first became interested in the Church, and I discovered that the Rosary had been through quite a bit of development over the centuries. But the original Rosary is not the Rosary we have now. The standard fifteen mysteries, in three sets of five, were not established by Pope Pius V until the sixteenth century. So apparently that change and development was acceptable, but other ones are not or, at least, this one isn’t. I find the argument “not in the orginal Rosary” to be not very convincing.
If Mary had wanted us to have them, she would have given them to us then.
The Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared in many places and times to many different people, and her messages are meant for the people of those places and times. This is not to say that her messages do not have continuing relevance. They certainly do! Think of Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, and more. That would seem obvious. But it seems equally obvious to me that the Blessed Mother comes to give a message that has special importance to the place and time in which she appears, perhaps even more importance to the time than the place. Otherwise she could simply have appeared one time, relayed her message and that could have been that. All done.
But that isn’t what happened. She has appeared and appeared, with messages that are similar but not exactly the same. In his discussion with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Fr. Donald tells us that in the time of St. Dominic the Albigensians were attacking certain teachings and truths of the faith, and the Blessed Mother gave the saint a way to reach their misguided hearts and minds to bring them back to the Church. More on this at the end of the post. (Tracing the history of the development of the Rosary is far beyond the scope of this simple blog post, but there are books out there, and probably web articles, too, that do cover it. Perhaps I’ll write more about that another time.)
By the way, the Luminous Mysteries were not invented by Pope St. John Paul II, either before or after Vatican II. They were proposed in 1957 by Fr. George Preca (now St. George Preca) and shared with his Society of Christian Doctrine. Later they became known outside the Society and spread further on the internet. What Pope St. John Paul II did was to propose these same mysteries to the universal Church. I remember reading the Pope’s letter on the Rosary when it was released in English as soon as I could get hold of a copy. The idea of meditating on the public life of Jesus—which is what the Luminous Mysteries present to us—was one I found to be inspiring and inspired.
I’m used to praying the traditional three sets of mysteries and four would disturb my rhythm. I don’t like this change.
This seems to me to be the most convincingly honest argument for not accepting the Luminous Mysteries. Put simply, it amounts to: “It messes up my rhythm” and “I don’t wanna.” Fine. They’re not mandatory.
EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, guest Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, discussing Fr Calloway’s book, 10 Wonders of the Rosary. At 22:39 Fr Mitch asks Fr Donald about the Luminous Mysteries and why they matter, and why he included them. He says that the Luminous Mysteries have particular significance for our day and time when certain teachings and truths of the faith are under attack, but not the same ones that were attacked by the Albigensians. This is not to say that there are no attacks today on the same teachings as back then, but there is a very significant attack today on these particular ones.
These are the proposed Luminous Mysteries because these are the Catholic truths of the faith that are being denied at this time.
- 1st Luminous Mystery: the Baptism,
- 2nd Luminous Mystery: the Wedding at Cana,
- 3rd Luminous Mystery: the Proclamation of the Gospel,
- 4th Luminous Mystery: the Transfiguration, and
- 5th Luminous Mystery: the Institution of the Eucharist.
What is being attacked?
- Baptism: People are not baptizing their children today. Also, there are those (mostly non-Catholics) who deny not only that baptism is necessary but that it is also truly regenerative. (I don’t mean that God can’t work without baptism, I mean that baptism is necessary in the ordinary way of salvation. It’s the way things normally work.)
- Wedding at Cana: Marriage, between one man and one woman. And so many children are born to parents who are not married to each other (or to anyone). This is an attack on the family. Praying this Mystery makes reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
- Proclaiming the Gospel: Evangelization and the call to conversion, and the universal call to holiness. People are either afraid to talk about the Gospel or don’t see any need to. Religious indifferentism is a big problem now. “All religions are the same” nonsense. Study religions more than superficially and you cannot help but see how different they are. “All you need to do is to be good.” No, that isn’t all you need to do. Not by a long shot. (See note 2 below.)
- Transfiguration: Jesus is God (God the Son) and not just another ascended master. He’s not a mere man or a man like the Buddha or Mohammed or any other prophet or teacher. He is Divine, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity.
- The Eucharist: How many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? According to recent polls, for what they’re worth, a staggering number, as many as two thirds do not believe that Jesus is really present under the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist. And as many as twenty-five percent do not attend Mass on Sundays. Further, and this is probably related, most Catholics do not even know what the Church teahces about the Eucharist. (Or, I’d go so far as to say, about anything else!) This was discussed in the video, but I also found a relevant Pew Research poll that came out just a few days ago. (See note 3 below.)
Much more can be said about all of this, but these are the main points I felt it important to present right now. I’ll write more about it as my thinking on it develops. Thank you for reading. God bless you, whoever and wherever you are. And may His peace be always with you.
St. Dominic, champion of the Rosary, pray for us and for our world, so much in need of Catholic truth, so much in need of His grace.
St. Dominic’s Feast day: August 8.
- 10 Wonders of the Rosary, by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC: Paperback. Kindle. (Amazon affiliate links. See Full Disclosure below.)
- Don’t get me started, I have written about that before and will be writing more as I continue my study on the new-age-theosophical-secularist movement that has swept through the modern word, primarily in the West and, primarily, in the Anglosphere, the English-speaking, Protestantized West.
- Pew Research poll about Catholics and the Real Presence in the Eucharist. How Protestantized and secularized even Catholics in the U.S. have become. Dear Lord, forgive us, many do not know what they are doing and surely do not know what the Church teaches and has always taught.
Image: The Baptism of Christ, by Antoine Coypel. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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