Like most Catholic mothers, I derive great strength from the Blessed Mother. She is everything I aspire to be as a mother, as a woman, and as a human being. What greater role model is there to look up to and emulate? When I pray the Rosary, I tend to personalize it and it holds greater meaning for me. The Joyful Mysteries, in particular, are so profound in my own life, I thought I would share them.
The first Joyful Mystery: THE ANNUNCIATION
Mary is told she would bear a child and without a blink of her eye, she says, “YES!” The most important “yes” anyone has ever uttered. Upon learning of each of my three pregnancies, especially the first one, it was hard to reply to God, “Thy will be done.” I had questions, fears, and apprehensions. Was this the right time in my life for a child? What if I am not a good mother? Do I trust God enough to provide for whatever it is I am lacking? Every time, I thought of the Blessed Mother and how much faith she had in God’s will, how much trust she had in Him. Her situation was much more precarious than any of mine have been and she was so confident in her ability to do God’s will. If Mary could do it, certainly I could. And look just how well it worked out for her: she received graces such as no other human being has ever experienced. She also received eventual heartbreak like no mother should ever experience. If she is willing with all of her heart, I too am willing to receive the gift of life God has blessed me with threefold.
The second Joyful Mystery: THE VISITATION
Announcing a child’s impending arrival can be an experience of joy, but as we are often so worried about what others think, it can be nerve-wracking! Once I have accepted this gift (see above,) am I confident enough in my blessing to share this with others? Elizabeth was the ultimate in sharing in Mary’s joy. Her own child “leaped in her womb” upon Mary’s arrival. Elizabeth also was experiencing pregnancy at not a quite opportune moment, but she was joyous and excited at Mary’s news as well as her own. We should all be willing to be joyful and excited when an expectant mother reveals this news—no matter what her circumstances. Elizabeth was well aware that children are gifts from the Lord. She was also able to recognize the “blessed fruit” of Mary’s womb. How affirming when family and friends shared in our joy when we told them of our good news.
The third Joyful Mystery: THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD
When I anticipated the birth of my children, who were all past their due dates, I wallowed in physical discomfort and dreaded the pain I would inevitably go through. However, when I pondered on the birth of the Lord, and thought of Mary’s discomfort, I realized that the joy would far surpass the pain. Angels danced the day Jesus was born, noblemen came from miles away, a star shone as a beacon, and shepherds came to celebrate this special baby. The joy and elation I felt at the birth of my children was far more significant than anything I had ever experienced. I think about the Blessed Mother and how she must have been beaming with love and the fulfillment that she had done God’s will. I wrapped my babies up gently in their own “swaddling clothes” and laid them in a “manger” – er, “incubator”. I had fulfilled God’s will in my own way and was now entrusted to the great duty of bringing up my children to know and love Him.
The fourth Joyful Mystery: THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in accordance with Tradition. My husband and I too brought our children to the Church to be baptized and presented to the community. What an exciting moment for Mary when her child, her very special child, would be acknowledged as one of God’s people. I asked myself if Mary and Joseph celebrated as we did on the days of our children’s baptism. Simeon saw the Lord that day, and in his heart, he rejoiced. Commemoration is part of our human experience and we see Christ as human, always recognizing His divinity. The Word was made flesh. In this episode, I see Jesus as part of a community, the same kind of community I try to create for my children, the same kind of community that Mary recognized as important for her own child.
The fifth Joyful Mystery: THE FINDING IN THE TEMPLE
When my second son was three years old, he was lost at the local zoo. Not knowing where my child was wrenched my heart and caused me the most unbearable pain; I felt a piece of me was missing. It was the longest three minutes of my entire life. I remember invoking Mary to pray for me, for my lost son, that I would find him unharmed. I knew she had experienced the same loss when Jesus was a child, but she also experienced the same joy when He was found. In this, I found great comfort. My son too was completely calm and looked at me like I was crazy for worrying. To His own understanding, Jesus was never lost; it was his mother who was lost without him. What a poignant metaphor for us—we are lost without HIM. I was lost without that little piece of me, though for such a short time, I knew our Blessed Mother’s angst and worry, and upon reuniting, I knew her ecstasy and joy when she found her precious son.
The Joyful Mysteries unfold Mary’s role in Jesus’ life and show just how very important she should be to us as well. My oldest son once told me as I scolded him, “I’ll bet Mary never yelled at Jesus.” To which I replied, “Well, she is a much better mother than me!” I sincerely meant that. Mary is the mother I strive to be: patient, protecting, kind, affirming, accepting, and loving. Jesus has given us His mother as our own, not only to pray for us and take care of us, but to show us what he envisioned for us as mothers, women, and as human beings. With all my heart, I want to be like her and when I ponder upon the Joyful Mysteries, in some small, very minute, way, I am like her—well, kind of.
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Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.