The Joyful Mysteries (pray these on Monday and Saturday [and Sunday during the Advent and Christmas seasons, and only on Monday during the Easter Season])
1) The Annunciation (Lk. 1: 27-38)
2) The Visitation (Lk. 1: 39-56)
3) The Birth of Our Lord (Mt. 2: 1-12, Lk. 2: 1-20)
4) The Presentation in the Temple (Lk. 2: 21–38, Mt. 2: 13-18)
5) The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Lk. 2: 42-51)
Some random musings of mine on praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. If these thoughts of mine can help anyone to meditate on the Mysteries then I am grateful, if you find them a hindrance then ignore this posting because it is strictly my way of thinking about these Mysteries. Again these are my thoughts, but if any have been expressed by others elsewhere without me giving proper credit I beg their forgiveness.
The Joyful Mysteries are the beginning. They are the beginning of the world recreated and the world reborn. In many ways each Hail Mary we pray is the Incarnation all over again. We start with the words of the Angel who announced to the Blessed Virgin Mother of God the turn of the age and the role she was to play in it, and then the words of her cousin Elizabeth who was the first human being besides the Virgin herself to acknowledge the Incarnation. So this theme of the Incarnation then weaves itself throughout all of the Mysteries of the Rosary, both in the praying of the Hail Mary itself and the meditating on the Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption of mankind by the Word made flesh.
The Joyful Mysteries make this theme of the Incarnation paramount. Think of the world as it appeared from that small village in the Galilee five minutes before the Annunciation. It was a dark place indeed. The people Israel had been without a prophet for the better part of half a millennium, the return from the Babylonian exile had not restore to them any form of their ancient glory. They were now a subject people, their one brief period of independence won by the Maccabees having been snuffed out now by the might of the seemingly all conquering might of Imperial Rome. Nor were they at peace among themselves. Some dove wholesale into the pagan, hedonistic culture that prevailed in the Mediterranean in those days, while others climbed back into the shelter of the old Law having long lost the sense of what that Law was really about or intended for, and others turned to politics thinking that the restoration of the political might of David and Solomon would bring about paradise. It must have seemed that God had forgotten them and that his promise had withered and failed. Then an Angel visited a young woman who lived in a region that would have seemed at the end of the world to anyone with power and influence in those days and announced these words: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus.
From that moment to this the world has never been the same. A Light came to be in the womb of Mary that day that will never go out through all the travails of humankind. She then carried that Light in her womb to visit her cousin Elizabeth a woman, who despite her old age and previous barrenness, now carried in her womb the greatest of all prophets: John the Forerunner who was to announce the coming of the Lord to his people Israel. This woman pronounced the words “benedictus fructus ventris tui.” Elizabeth then becomes the first faithful witness to the Gospel. The communion of faith between these two women in that house in the hill country of Judea is in many ways the start of the prehistory of the Church.
A decree then comes forth from Caesar Augustus. Joseph takes his wife Mary from Nazareth down to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census. After a difficult journey they arrive, only to be shut out from the inns, a woman on the verge of giving birth to a new world but there is no place to put her. Finally someone finds room for them in a nice out of the way place: a cave where animals are housed. The child is born and the world is changed. The angels of the celestial choir announce the birth of the Prince of Peace to the humble of the earth and they come to adore Him. There is a message here I think for all of us: God will not force his way into our lives. He will come in where we let Him, if we let Him, and from there He will begin his saving work. And once you let Him start to work within you there is nothing that will stop Him.
The child Jesus is then presented to the world in his own holy place, the Temple of Jerusalem. The priest Simeon pronounces his famous canticle and the glory of God that is in this child is first announced publicly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the world. Simeon then speaks his famous prophecy of trouble ahead for this child and his Mother and for the Israel that he had known. It is striking that this first public revelation of the Messiah, the Word made Flesh, takes place in a humble act of religious obedience undertaken by Mary and Joseph: the offering of two turtle doves as befit their station in society. Not long after Joseph takes Mary and Jesus and flees from Bethlehem to Egypt and Herod’s thugs raid the town, massacring its newborns, looking to exterminate this new Prince before He can begin his work. Another message here: the work of God in this world comes with pain and suffering. Jesus Christ was barely allowed to be born before the world sought to annihilate Him and it will always be so. But in the end the Triumph is his, and this we must not forget.
When the child Jesus was twelve years old his parents were travelling back north to the Galilee from Jerusalem and discovered that He was missing. They searched high and low among their relatives for Him, but did not find Him. Then they turned back to Jerusalem, to God’s Temple, and found Him. They asked Him why he had done this and his response to them was, essentially, that if they knew Who He was (which both of them did) then they should know where to find Him. Again a message: God does not abandon us. We sometimes lose sight of Him if we are looking in the wrong places but that He will always be there for us.
I hope this helps, the thoughts are strictly my own and I am no theologian but these do tend to help me ponder these Mysteries. Pray the Joyful Mysteries each Monday for the See of Constantinople, for its liberty and its salvation, and for the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome. And for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.