During the “Season of Creation,” we offer the following meditations on the rosary written by the Franciscan Action Network. They are primarily to help us realize that Christ came into this world and that, like Christ, we are called to shape the world around us in a way that reflects our inherent dignity and worth as well as the dignity and worth of God’s creation that surrounds us. This week we use the Glorious Mysteries.
1. Resurrection: The most glorious of all miracles! Christ Our Lord is risen from the dead!
a. Acquiescing to the fears of Jesus’ enemies, Pilate agrees to place guards outside of the tomb to ensure that no one can steal the body and then claim that Jesus had risen. However, an angel from heaven comes down, there is an earthquake and the stone rolls away; the guards flee in fear. Once again, we see that Earth testifies to the mighty power of God in the single most significant event in our salvation history.
b. Mary Magdalene, in John’s Gospel, at first mistakes the risen Jesus with a gardener. Are we able to see the face of Jesus in all of those around us? Are we able to appreciate the vocational calling of those who work the land, especially since we so heavily benefit from it?
2. Ascension: Jesus leaves his disciples and is taken by a cloud into heaven. Before He leaves, though, He promises that the Holy Spirit will guide them to the end and that He will never be truly absent.
a. Imagine what it must have been like for the disciples when Jesus was taken from Earth; how they must have felt, how lost they might have been, how shocked they were. After a while,
two angels appeared and said to them: “Men of Galilee, why are you looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen Him going into heaven.” (Act 1:11). Though Christ has left them (at least in person), they still have work to do!
b. Are we active in trying to bring about the Kingdom of God in our own world? Do we accept the responsibilities given to us by Jesus? Relating to our call to be stewards of creation, do we embrace the call to take care of the world around us? Or do we simply stare at the sky hoping that change will happen around us by someone else and not through us?
3. Descent of the Holy Spirit: The “birthday” of the Church, this is when we celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus who were gathered together. A rushing sound like that of mighty wind blew suddenly through the sky and tongues of fire rested on each of them (Acts 2:1-4).
a. Despite being from different places from all over the world, after the Holy Spirit filled everyone gathered together they were all able to understand each other without the previous language barrier. We’re part of a universal church (that’s what the Greek word “catholic” means), and have been since the time of the early apostles. Meditating on Pentecost is also a reminder that we are all called to a universal mission, and that is to spread the Gospel and embrace the responsibilities we’ve been given, including that of care for creation.
b. After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples are able to proclaim the Gospel and openly evangelize, whereas before they had folded under the pressure of the systems they had lived in. St. Peter, who had denied even knowing Jesus, shortly after Pentecost preached to those who had gathered and baptized 3,000 individuals in one day (Acts 2:41). People were healed, trepidations overcome and the fire that would consume the entire world to this day, begun by a single spark on Calvary, began to take off. Remember that we are called to action and that everything that might hold us back can be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit that we have already received.
c. The Holy Spirit manifests itself in the sounds of a gust of wind and in the appearance of fire, two simple yet powerful elements. Like St. Francis, who gave praise to these beautiful manifestations of God’s glory in his Canticle of Creation, we too should realize that the power of God is present in “Brother Fire” and “Brother Air.”
4. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: This tenet is not found in scripture but instead has been passed down in our tradition. Our Blessed Mother, at the end of her life here on Earth, is assumed bodily into heaven.
a. “Laudato Si” includes some reflections on Marian thought as relating to the environment: “Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness.” (“Laudato Si,” 241.) Though she is no longer physically present in the world, just like her son Jesus she continues to care for and weep for the world she left and the destruction being wrought.
b. Some traditions tell that in absence of her body, Mary left behind the smell of flowers and the sound of birds singing. Mary, model of purity and grace, left behind depictions of nature attesting to her admirable virtues.
5. Crowning of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven: Mary, taken bodily into heaven, is crowned by the Blessed Trinity as Queen. Mother of the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings, Mary continues to advocate for us, her children.
a. Mary, in saying yes, agreed to be the mother of all humankind through the glory of Christ, and in this mystery is given her rightful title as Queen of All People. In the words of St. Francis, we are to praise “Sister Mother Earth” who “feeds us and rules us.” Mary, on a spiritual level, also does these things through the grace of God. Are we able to respect and honor that reality? We are children of both Mary and the Earth, and hopefully live, love and honor both.