An Advent Rosary for safety & peace in our Nation
The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary—a seemingly never-ending string of
Hail Marys, each set of ten followed by The Lord’s Prayer and a Gloria Patri. This venerable prayer might seem repetitive and monotonous to people outside of the Catholic tradition, but that is actually its saving grace. The mind and heart are left free to meditate on the central mysteries of our faith as the recitation provides a sacred space in which to apply the stories to our lives.
A full rosary would walk us through the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The Joyful Mysteries, first of the three sets, focuses on the events surrounding his conception, birth and early childhood—perfect for the Advent/Christmas Season. I offer here a meditation that resonates with our times. I pray it be a blessing to you and to our country.
The Joyful Mysteries
I. The Birth of Jesus is announced to Mary.
As we meditate on this first mystery, let us be mindful of the expectations that filled this annunciation. “You shall name him Jesus,” which means Yahweh saves. God would somehow act through this child to liberate humanity. How many times had the people’s expectations been dashed? Some of us know that frustration, that disillusionment, that fear. And yet, in the face of bigotry and oppression, we continue to stand on the side of the most vulnerable in our midst—for how shall Yahweh save, if not through our actions on behalf of justice? Let the intercessions of this night unite us with a powerless girl who stood in Palestine over 2000 years ago and said, “Use me to accomplish your will.”
II. Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth.
This mystery is a celebration of what “Yahweh saves” meant to these two women. Their lives embodied lowliness and vulnerability —a poor young girl facing the responsibilities of single parenthood; an aging woman with no children to care for her and her husband in their declining years. Each came to know the power of God’s liberating love in the other’s experience. Think of the losses experienced by those who have been disenfranchised in our society—those held back because of racial inequality, xenophobia, gender-bias, taboos against same-gender love and transgender experience, corporate greed, down-sizing, outsourcing, technical advancements, necessary environmental regulation, or even a simple lack of empathy and imagination. How can we minister to their needs if we don’t first visit them, hear their stories, learn of their struggles, their fears, their hopes?
III. The child is born.
Israel was under enemy occupation. This child was born into a world of violence, oppression, manipulation and fear. Think of this young couple’s anxiety about their baby’s future.
Now think of the world we have bequeathed to our children—a world where it’s dangerous to drive-while-Black or use a restroom someone thinks inappropriate; where concepts of freedom clash and basic human rights are considered arbitrary; where the rich get richer and the poor get forgotten; where even the water we drink and the air we breathe is threatened.
In hindsight we see salvation was to be accomplished through Mary’s child, who willingly took up the burden of healing our broken world. By neglecting to make his mission our own, we compound the burden that will fall on our children and our children’s children.
IV. The presentation in the temple.
The Law of Moses required that a first born son was to be consecrated to the Lord, for to be in right relationship with God is to prosper. By following this tradition Mary and Joseph helped to assure that the child’s relationship with God would be preserved and God’s promises would be fulfilled.
Building a nation on cherished values holds many challenges, particularly when the population is so diverse. O that those in positions of power would see their future prosperity in cultivated relationships with God and neighbor rather than in building walls of exclusion.
Pray for the parents suffering economic hardship who are struggling to provide for their children; for the families torn apart by unjust immigration laws; for those whose very lives are threatened by the cherished priorities of those in power.
V. The boy is found in the temple.
A twelve-year-old boy wandering alone in the streets of Jerusalem—imagine Mary and Joseph’s anxiety. The boy, however, felt that home was wherever God was. No doubt he had learned this from his parents. Imagine the hopes and fears minority populations have for their children’s present safety and future survival. Whether riding a bus to school or strolling in the marketplace, the danger is real. May the Lord protect them. Imagine also twelve-year-olds with stones and guns and words of hate, molded by the values and prejudices of their parents. Lift them up to the Lord as well.
Hail, Holy Queen
The meditation traditionally concludes by asking for the intercession of Christ’s mother.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning & weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray… God of the Promise, the Blessed Mother knew what it was to fear for the safety of her child and to hope for a better world for him. Through our meditations and prayers this night and throughout our Advent journey, may we gain her compassion, strength and resolve that we too may be used to accomplish your will: that the peace won for us through the life, death and resurrection of her Son may be a growing reality in our broken world. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our brother who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
An Advent Rosary for safety & peace in our Nation by Fr. Michael J. Nicosia © 2016, Pax Christi ECC Church, Denver CO.
Madonna of the Tear icon by Michael J. Nicosia © 1991.