During the month of October of 2002, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter entitled The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, in which he proclaimed the year from October 2002 to October 2003 to be "the Year of the Rosary." Among the highlights of the Apostolic Letter is the addition of five new mysteries to the recitation of the Rosary, referred to as the Mysteries of Light.
Since the commitment of members of the Rosary Confraternity is to recite the complete Rosary during the course of each week, this now includes the five new mysteries proposed by the Holy Father. However, for those who pray five decades of the Rosary each day, the new mysteries would not add to the number of rosaries they are asked to pray. It would simply involve a slight change in the days assigned for the various mysteries of the Rosary. The Holy Father has recommended the following:
While the traditional fifteen mysteries of the Rosary help us to meditate on the Infancy, Passion and Glorious mysteries of Christ, the Mysteries of Light bring before us the public life of our Savior. Although many incidents in the life of Christ could be fruitful food for reflection, the Holy Father has singled out the following: 1) the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan (2 Cor. 5:21); 2) The Marriage Feast at Cana (Jn. 2:1-12); 3) Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mk. 2:3-13; Lk. 7:47-48); 4) the Transfiguration (Lk. 9:35); 5) The Institution of the Eucharist (Jn. 13:1).
"To recite the Rosary," the Holy Father explains, "is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ. . . . The Rosary goes to the very heart of the Christian life; it offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization. . . . It represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery . . . as a genuine training in holiness."
As did many of his predecessors, Pope John Paul urged the recitation of the Rosary as a prayer for peace in the world, peace in families, and in individual souls. "The revival of the Rosary in Christian families," he said, "within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age." He speaks of the Rosary as the "school of Mary," in which she teaches "by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit," in order to form her children into the likeness of her divine Son.
This issue of "The Rosary, Light and Life" contains a few excerpts from this Apostolic Letter on the Rosary. The whole of this inspired letter may be obtained from the Rosary Center for $3.50 - which includes the cost of mailing.
The commitment of members of the Rosary Confraternity is to recite the complete Rosary once during the course of each week. Since the Holy Father has recently added the five luminous mysteries, it would seem that members of the Confraternity should strive to include that extra weekly Rosary. However, we have as yet received no official statement regarding this matter.
Those who recite only the fifteen traditional mysteries will continue to share in the benefits of the Confraternity until some official source declares the contrary.
We now have available a small four-fold leaflet with the five luminous mysteries. It contains a colorful picture and ten points of meditation for each of the five new mysteries. These leaflets can be otained from the Rosary Center order page.