The Luminous Mysteries and Why You Should Dump Them
On October 16, 2002, Pope St. John Paul II issued his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, that is “The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. In it, he proposed a recommended new set of mysteries to be meditated on when praying the Rosary.
Those mysteries were the Luminous Mysteries. Composed of The Baptism in the Jordan, the Wedding of Canaa, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist.
The problem with the Luminous mysteries is simply that they aren’t a requirement, but a recommendation. However, if you look at just about any Catholic pamphlet on the Rosary, they automatically include the Luminous mysteries, as if it was a new Dogma.
Upon issuing the document Pope St. John Paul II states:
Of the many mysteries of Christ’s life, only a few are indicated by the Rosary in the form that has become generally established with the seal of the Church’s approval. The selection was determined by the origin of the prayer, which was based on the number 150, the number of the Psalms in the Psalter.
I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry thatthe mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).
Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a “compendium of the Gospel”, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer’s traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary’s place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory. – Rosarium Virginis Mariae 19
Pope St. John Paul II rightly gives some history on the Rosary, but not quite enough. It is true that it was based off of the 150 Psalms, but when you pray a “full” Rosary, you pray a total of 150 Hail Mary’s. Hence the name “Mary’s Psalter”.
What Pope St. John Paul II doesn’t mention is how the Rosary was given to Blessed Alan and St. Dominic. It was given by Mary herself. Why would he want to change it? Is Our Mother’s judgment not good enough? If these mysteries were to be included, wouldn’t Our Heavenly Mother have given them to Blessed Alan and St. Dominic?
I will admit, I once prayed them every Thursday. But after realizing that in the hierarchy of the spiritual life, we have the Trinitarian God first, the Blessed Mother second and finally all other holy individuals third.
God let his (daughter/mother/wife) give the Rosary to these holy men. Had this gone against His wishes, He would have prevented it, and in her humility would have obeyed.
There are also 15 graces tied with a daily recitation of 5 decades of the Rosary. These 15 graces were given to us by Mary herself. Seeing as she only gave us the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries, it would make logical sense that the 15 graces are only tied with those mysteries. One grace for each mystery.
The other issue is that Pope St. John Paul II alludes that the Rosary is stale. He hints at this by his assessment that adding these decades would breathe “fresh life” into the practice.
A better way to breathe “fresh life” is to emphasize how wonderful the Rosary is and how much better your faith will be for it. Get people to pray the Rosary out of love for Jesus, Mary and the Church. Its a very modernist tactic to suggest that what Mary gave us is no longer good.
If you like the Luminous mysteries, go a head and pray them, but I suggest you pray the other three sets of mysteries prior to doing so.
Pray the Rosary daily. Satan hates it and he loses when you do.