To cite Bishop Fulton Sheen: the Glorious Mysteries are the mysteries of our Faith. They are the mysteries of where we are going as members of the Church, of what our purpose is in the universe.
On the morning of the Resurrection all seemed lost. This great Messiah who had come and who promised so much had now been taken from them and there seemed nothing left of Him. Early on that morning a group of women gathered while it was yet dark. They went to the tomb with all that was needed for a burial, to dress and properly anoint the body of one who had done so much for them and who they believed would bring the kingdom of God into the world. This is a place to start. These women went in faith. They did not even know quite what they had faith in, but they went anyways. They would not abandon their Lord even in death, so they went to Him to care for Him as best they could. And when they arrived He was not there and this sent them into a frightful panic. They went to fetch Peter; he came to the tomb and stooped down inside, astounded as he picked up the head covering which lay separate from the other wrappings. Mary of Magdala met Our Lord outside and at first thought he was merely the gardener. It was hard to recognize the Risen Christ. He visited the apostles in the Upper Room that night and breathed the Spirit on them, giving them the power through Him to forgive sins. The Apostle Thomas was not there and did not believe so Our Lord came to him, he fell down before Him, and acknowledged Him as divine. No matter how dead the world wishes to make Our Lord seem He is not. He is very much alive and we must believe. Beati qui non viderunt, et crediderunt (Io. xx, 29).
The Ascension. My personal meditation on the Mystery of the Ascension begins with Saint John’s account in the twenty first chapter of his Gospel of the second Miraculous Draught of Fishes after Our Lord’s Resurrection and the meeting between Jesus and Simon Peter on the seashore because it seems to have so much to do with the mission that He entrusts to his Church at the Ascension. Simon Peter tells the others that he is going fishing on the Lake of Galilee and only six go with him. In the boat there are then Simon Peter, the two sons of Zebedee (James and John), Thomas, Nathaniel, and two unnamed disciples. This number of seven in the boat is significant. The Fathers tell us that the number seven represents completeness and fulfillment. The fishermen in the boat once again have been fishing all through the night and caught nothing. They are now nearing the shore at first light and Our Lord who is waiting there for them commands them to cast their net over the right side which they proceed to do. The haul is so great that they cannot hold it. When the beloved disciple points out to Simon Peter that it is the Lord, Dominus est, he realizes that he is naked and jumps into the sea (a parallel to Adam and Eve I think). The Prince of the Apostles then proceeds to haul the net, full of 153 fish, to the shore as the day breaks. The foreshadowing here seems to be of the end of time, when the mission Our Lord entrusts to His Church at his Ascension is reaching its fulfillment. Christ and Simon Peter then meet by the shoreline and Jesus prepares him a meal, while giving both the Apostle who denied Him in the courtyard and the future Church a lesson about what love truly is and preparing them for martyrdom. Our Lord then brings the Apostles to the mount of his Ascension and utters this marvelous command and promise that it would do well for the Church of our day and time to remember: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt. 28: 18-20).”
The Holy Spirit then descends upon the apostles at Pentecost. They leave the Mount of Olives praising and thanking God but are drawn back into the Upper Room by their own timidity for they have not yet received the Spirit. The Mother of Our Lord, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of God waits with the apostles in that Upper Room and prays for them. Then, on the tenth day following the Ascension, a noise like a rushing wind rattles the shutters and doors of this locked Upper room. A noise like the rushing wind that was the Spirit of God who flowed over the dark waters at the dawn of Creation. The world is about to be recreated and the Age of the Church is born. Tongues of fire appear over the heads of the apostles and they are imbued with the Holy Spirit just as the world was imbued with Light at its beginning. Peter then goes forth from the Upper Room to preach a mighty sermon on the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Redemption of mankind to many of the same people who had mocked and ridiculed Our Lord at his Crucifixion. 3,000 are baptized that day the Church was born.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not spelled out specifically in Scripture. A way to meditate on this is to meditate on the fact that though the Virgin is present in the Upper Room at Pentecost she then disappears entirely from Scripture. What to make of this? Tradition tells us that the Assumption probably did not occur until about twenty years after Pentecost so what was she doing? She was praying for the early Church even when she remained on earth. I think that it is safe to assume that she was in the background all of the time making intercession for the Church during those first crucial two decades when it was expanding throughout the Mediterranean basin and beyond, a foreshadowing of what Our Lady, Our Mother, has done for the Church through all the long subsequent centuries down to our own day. Tradition also tells us that the Angel Gabriel, who had announced to her that she was to be the vehicle of the Incarnation, came to her and informed her that it would be time for her to leave this earth. Her task fulfilled she remained sinless and was assumed body and soul into the realm of Light: a foretaste of what awaits all of us who believe and die in a state of grace at the Last Judgement.
The Coronation of Our Lady and the Glory of the Saints. This can be a tough one I confess. It requires our minds to go into realms which, in truth, we cannot really yet approach. To contemplate Heaven and eternity is something that we can only do if God gifts us that gift. But the purpose of this final Mystery of the Rosary I think is to keep us focused on the ultimate goal. The victory of the Cross over the serpent. The Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven is a fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption offered after the Fall. The base of the Cross is planted on the head of the serpent and that one is no more. May the prayers of the Queen of Heaven guard us from the snares of the evil one.
Pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, for its liberty and its salvation and 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; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.
I hope that these meditations have been a help to anyone considering praying the Rosary. If you find them a hindrance then please ignore them as the thoughts are mostly my own mixed in with others gleaned from study of this subject and from praying the Rosary myself. Any errors, misprints, and typos are also mine.