Intercessory Prayer with Particular Regard to Five Joyful Mysteries of The Holy Rosary
The meaning and force of personal prayer and dialogue with Heaven through Mary’s intercession.
1. Background and Mysteries
Like striding edge climbing Helvellyn in the Lake District Cumberland we must always watch our step. Life is one constant watch and watchfulness – unceasing prayer to the Mother of God – what the Roman Catholic Church calls piety in the five Joyful Mysteries - the finding of the boy Jesus (12 years) at religious observance in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. He had not told Joseph and Mary he would be in the Temple - a moral to our days when 12 year olds may hardly ever be out of sight. Such a different position in years gone by. Jesus’ parents were clearly concerned and prayed in their hearts for a safe finding. As in all these Joyful Mysteries Mary is the example of prayer to God the Father and she is inviting us now to pray to her for her intercession to the Father for his mercy and goodness for us as she demonstrates in this 5th Joyful Mystery in her experience. She remonstrates with her son on his Finding in the Temple. He replies “I was in my Father’s House” in a matter of fact way as Mary and Joseph accepted. His insight was remarkable at such a young age. His parents would have breathed a great sigh of relief – the real way to thank God through Mary’s intercession.
Next going back her courage to present baby Jesus in the Temple with so much insecurity surrounding the Holy Family at that time (4th Mystery Joyful) translates to us: pray to Mary for courage in adversity from God Himself. Her calmness and composure with her only child and He the son of God Himself as she well knew could only be born of her prayer to the Father Himself. She had the whole future of the world and eternity in her hands not just Christendom. She exhorts us now thereby to treat each moment as not just precious but crucial to our future and our prayers go to Mary to intercede/pray for the Father to give us the bravery and collectedness we so earnestly require on earth.
2. Mary and the Son of God
Mary rightly pleads for us and prays Her Son will hear and heed her prayer for us. Her only Son who has redeemed the world of mankind on the Cross and risen from the dead on the third day and ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father and to return to Judge the living and the dead will not neglect to answer His Mother’s prayer on our behalf – the ultimate intercessory prayer – Mother to Son. Christ no longer suffers on the cross. Jesus has “the power” in His hands. Mary His Mother knows this and how to approach Him the eternal Judge and Mediator with his Father. He will not refuse his Mother’s pleas. We would do well to follow her lead and that of the Catholic Church for centuries in the well-worn words of the Hail Mary and seek her prayerful assistance by the three sets of five single mysteries of the Holy Rosary (Sorrowful, Glorious, and Joyful). In the Catholic Church of Rome you properly approach the Son of God through the Mother – they were so close on earth and remain so in Heaven – she the Queen of Heaven. The Son is one and the same with the Father in the Trinity and the third person: the Holy Spirit. What intercessory prayer does Christ do himself for us? We are told His role is as Teacher and Mediator and to intercede at the right hand of the Father – for us. You will never breakdown or explain this Trinity – it is the greatest Mystery of all time and at the heart of the Mass. Mary prays for us – Christ “helps us” most tellingly with his Father who is the final Judge at the last Judgement following death whence to Heaven or Hell. Yet we are also told Christ will Judge the living and dead when he comes in glory (Nicene Creed). You will never resolve that juxtaposition – it is beyond our analysis and our comprehension almost as the Trinity defeats us even. The Holy Spirit also “helps us” by His guidance and impelling us on the right course in our daily lives. Mary works through her Son and the Mass and the Holy Spirit and the sacraments as well as the Hail Mary. At the end of the day our Christian life is worth very little without devotion to Mary and thereby daily homage to Her Son and thus the indivisible Trinity. It is a well-trodden path to Mary and of course Mary’s prayer for us does not stand idly by especially when she sees a woman or man in distress or jeopardy for whatever reason. She will always be the “Help of Christians” and let’s admit it we are all saved by Christ whether we aver it or not. At bottom we are all Christians – look at the world wide pastors: all the Popes since Pius XII in the 2nd World War. Do not cut off Mary from her children – her souls – rather pray with Mary for all in our human race. It can be done silently and tactfully and should be done so as Mary does it for us. Mary did not put up barriers but she gave life to the saviour of the world: the opposite. Such a woman by her very nature prays for the world in its entirety – without debate or doubt.
3. The first three Joyful Mysteries
My remark that Mary prays for the world springs from the Annunciation (1st Joyful Mystery). Once she accepted Angel Gabriel’s words in her heart she not only conceived the child Jesus but subconsciously she undertook to carry out her prayerful/ intercessory life to eternity. There could be no two ways about it: she was always to have the ear of her Son the Christ and that was because of her abiding love with Joseph her most chaste spouse for their only child – thus she readily agreed to pray for all the world since the birth of Christ to eternity. Yet there is always free will. She would never deny her calling – not a woman of her calibre. That is why she was called. The part human/ part divine nature of Jesus was realised later. She was well up to the task and always will be. She will always pray for us “orare pro nobis”. The Annunciation pronounces in part the Hail Mary, expressly in its opening words and Gabriel’s message to humanity is trust in Mary: Pray to Mary pray for us I say.
The second Mystery Joyful: The Visitation centres on the “éclat” of her kinswoman Elizabeth exclaiming: “Blessed art thou amoung women, blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”. A resounding call to arms and protestation of support for the Virgin Mother of Jesus- He as yet unborn. Mary was herself exclaiming “The Magnificat: my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” in response to this exclamation by Elizabeth. These two women were expressing the greatest dialogue woman to woman ever – namely that Mary would be followed by each one of us wherever she took us to the end of time. John the Baptist had leapt in Elizabeth’s womb in solidarity.
Lastly the Birth of Jesus the third Joyful Mystery. This is the greatest moment of joy ever in the history of time. The safe arrival of Jesus into the bosom of his family on Christmas day 2000 years ago. Mary’s cup overfloweth. Her theme later is ever recurring joy even through the passion tide which does not get the better of her. That is her strength her joyfulness despite every reason to be sorrowful. She is never the woman of sorrows herself. She transmits that message to us to encourage our Hail Marys. She causes sadness to become joy and thereby we joyfully leap into our prayers to Mary. Her intercession/prayers to her Son are answered by Him with redoubled joy for us mortals. Even sadness can be joyful with Mary. On Christmas day we sample Heaven more than any other day – pure undiluted happiness in the eyes of the little children. A Christ said to his disciples “ unless you are like one of these little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. A stern warning not to be brushed aside I say. Let all of us adults take note if we wish to follow Christ.