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How can the rosary bring us into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ? Also shows how to use rosary beads with a chart showing what prayer is to be prayed on each bead along with all the mysteries: joyful, sorrowful, glorious, and light.

Youth Update

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Praying the Rosary
With the New Mysteries of Light


While walking down the corridor in a multicultural, inner-city school for boys, I noticed several young men wearing rosary beads around their necks. Being of Puerto Rican heritage myself, I know the rosary is a significant religious symbol, especially within the Hispanic culture.

Curious, I stopped a few of the young men to ask about their beads. They mentioned that their beads were given to them by their grandmother or an aunt to help them remember always that God was with them.

After listening to their engaging stories, I asked what they knew about the rosary—which wasn't much. They were sketchy about both beads and mysteries, which now number 20. To help them—and you—I'm writing this Youth Update.

To their credit, the young men all knew that the rosary was used to pray. Two had prayed the rosary during a wake or in the days following the burial of a loved one. (It is an Hispanic tradition to say the rosary for the deceased person daily for 10 days after burial and every month on the anniversary of the death for the first year.)

I asked the young men about their prayer life and relationship with God. They shared their struggles and their beliefs about God and religion.

These young men had been given symbols and expected to join in religious traditions without fully understanding their meaning. I remember—as some of them remembered of their own families—that my grandmother, my aunts and other relatives would always carry rosary beads or hang them on statues in their rooms.

I wanted some answers: What was the significance of these mysterious beads? How did they connect my family to God? How did they connect me to the presence of God?

My aunt explained the significance of the rosary to me and why she always carried her beads with her. She told me that the rosary was a way of praying to Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, and reflecting on the life of Jesus. After that, I still wondered: How can these beads bring me to a closer relationship with Christ? Perhaps you wonder, too.

Why This Style?

Until I met the Marist Brothers in high school, I didn't really understand the significance of the rosary and the mysteries associated with it.

The Marist Brothers, a religious order of men founded by St. Marcellin Champagnat and dedicated to Mary, taught me how to pray the rosary to strengthen my faith and my relationship with Jesus. In giving us the name Marist, Father Champagnat was encouraging us to live in the spirit of Mary. He was convinced that it was Mary who has done everything for us, and he called her our Ordinary Resource and our First Superior.

Since God gave his son to the world through Mary, we Marists want to make her known and loved as one who will lead us to Jesus. In this way, we put into action our motto: "All to Jesus through Mary, all to Mary for Jesus."

That's why Marists love the rosary. We pray to Mary to help us understand the person of Jesus. She helps us to enter into a relationship with her son.

All About Jesus

Because you will want to know how to use your own beads, this Youth Update offers two helps: one, a chart showing what prayer is to be prayed on each bead; two, a list of all the mysteries, including the newest ones.

Why do we pray the mysteries of the rosary? Primarily, because each of the mysteries helps us to reflect on a particular chapter in the life and ministry of Jesus. This allows each of us, in a powerful and prayerful way, to experience the life of Christ and to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Christian mystery and of the gospel message.

Mysteries of Light

Toward the end of 2002, Pope John Paul II declared that October 2002 to October 2003 would be the Year of the Rosary. The pope also offered us another set of mysteries, in addition to the traditional Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries which have been part of our prayer since the 16th century.

The new mysteries, which focus on the public ministry of Jesus, are called the Mysteries of Light. These mysteries are significant, especially for young people, because they demonstrate the ability of one person to make a difference within the community. This new set of mysteries calls each of us, especially young people, to be a light for others to follow.

Called to be light for the world! What powerful and challenging words! Just the thought of it makes me nervous and uneasy. At the same time, this phrase, which I have heard many times, beckons me to respond to the needs of a constantly changing world.

How is God calling me to be light for the world? What can I do to make a difference?

Let's look at the newest mysteries with special care to see how they pertain to teens and challenge you in new and different ways.

Light That's New

The first Mystery of Light is the Lord's baptism in the Jordan. Jesus accepts his humanity and goes before John the Baptist to be baptized.

At that moment, the Scriptures tell us, the heavens opened and the spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove. A voice was heard to say, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).

Chances are that most of us do not remember our own Baptism. Yet I feel sure that your parents can relate to how God spoke to the crowd about his son, Jesus. Your parents also say, "This is my beloved son (or daughter), with whom we are well pleased."

Through Baptism, your parents and godparents urge you to follow Christ. They bring you to the baptismal font to begin the process of entering into a relationship with God that will grow and strengthen as you get older.

Each child is presented with a white candle representing the light of Christ. As you mature, your parents—and the Church—continue to remind you that Christ is the one who lights your path.

Pray that you may be open to the transforming power and spirit of God. May you always remember, in good times and in bad, that the light on your path is Christ.

Unexpected Light

The second Mystery of Light is the Lord's first miracle at the wedding at Cana. Here we see the first of the signs performed by Jesus. "His mother said to the servers, 'Do whatever he tells you'" (John 2:5).

You may remember the story of how Jesus and Mary are at a wedding celebration when the wine runs out. Mary tells Jesus about the problem and asks him to do something. Jesus tells his mother that his hour has not yet come. Mary still alerts the servants to listen to Jesus. At Jesus' command, the servants fill the jars with water and Jesus turns the water into wine.

You may sometimes lose sight of your gifts, talents and potential. You may have a tendency to think that you aren't ready to do certain things. You aren't always willing to risk and face challenges. Thankfully, you have family, friends and teachers who encourage you to use your gifts and talents and to believe in yourself.

Pray over the difficulties in your life and ask for Mary's help. She can bring your prayers to Jesus, who in turn will grace you with the ability to discover your own inner strength. He will help you use your gifts and talents to face life's challenges.

Light of Hope

The third Mystery of Light invites you to reflect on Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom of God: "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Jesus calls you to a life of conversion and repentance—just as he called people in his own day. During Jesus' public life, he went from town to town proclaiming the Good News, that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that we should repent. Knowing that we have missed the mark sometimes, Jesus assures us that God's love is unconditional and that all we have to do is turn away from the darkness and see the light.

You have probably argued with your family and friends. It's human, a part of life and part of growing in love and forgiveness. I know it can be difficult to forgive. Yet we all need to forgive one another in order to grow in love for one another.

This mystery challenges you to be like Christ, to forgive those who have hurt or offended you in any way. Remember, Jesus did not condemn people. He practiced love and forgiveness.

Pray for a spirit of repentance and deeper trust in God's mercy and love. Also, participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is a great way to feel better about yourself and to experience God's love for you.

Transforming Light

The fourth Mystery of Light is the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mt. Tabor. Several days after preaching about the Kingdom of God, Jesus, along with two followers, went to the top of a mountain to pray. Jesus was transfigured as he experienced the presence of God. "While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white" (Luke 9:29).

You may sometimes forget that God is constantly around you, with you and in you. You may get so caught up in the craziness of life that you lose sight of God's presence. Every now and again God reminds us of his presence. Sometimes this happens in big ways but mostly God acts quietly.

Several years ago, another Marist Brother and I took some students to work in a Massachusetts soup kitchen. We were preparing to close for the evening when an elderly woman came to ask for food. The students were more than happy to prepare her something and even filled a bag of groceries for her to bring home.

Later that evening during prayer, one of the students told us that he had seen God—in the form of that elderly woman. The student said there was something about the woman's face that radiated and burnt a sense of love in his heart. What a great experience of the presence of God!

Pray and pay attention as you reflect on the mystery of the Transfiguration. Pray for the grace to see the presence of God in the ordinariness of life, in the eyes and actions of other people. Pray for the transforming light of God's presence to touch your heart and soul and illuminate your vision to see God all around you.

Beacon of Light

The final Mystery of Light is the Institution of the Eucharist. "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins'" (Matthew 26:26-28).

What a tremendous gift! We all have friends but sometimes we find it difficult to be there for them. But Jesus not only gives himself to his friends, but also tries to be present to the entire human family.

What an unselfish act! How many of us would be that unselfish? Sometimes we forget about others, but Jesus remembers. He is always there for you. You just need to turn toward him.

We are asked to be light. How do you do that?

You begin by going to Mass and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The liturgy serves as a great support system because not only are you comforted by the Word of God, you are also supported by a community of believers.

If you look around the church, you will notice that you are not alone. There are many other people there, people who share your beliefs and values, people who understand your struggles and difficulties in faith.

They come to receive the strength and support of Christ found in the Eucharist, because it is in the Eucharist that Jesus shares the gift of himself. If we are open to that gift, our lives are transformed and nourished by the love and presence of God.

Pray for a deeper sense of faith in the presence of God and receive the gift of his presence in the Eucharist when you attend Mass.

Let Your Light Shine

I encourage each of you to pray the rosary because it is in such quiet times that you will hear the voice of God in your heart.

One of my favorite Scripture passages comes from the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy: "Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).

The rosary and its mysteries can help even the youngest person who prays to recall the speech, conduct, faith and love of Jesus as he walked on the same earth we now travel. We can be connected through the rosary.


Worth Pondering

Joyful Mysteries

— The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary.

— Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth.

— Jesus is born.

— Jesus is brought to the Temple.

— Young Jesus teaches in the Temple.

Sorrowful Mysteries

— Jesus prays in the garden.

— Jesus is beaten (scourged).

— Jesus is crowned with thorns.

— Jesus carries the cross.

— Jesus is crucified.

Glorious Mysteries

— Jesus rises from the dead.

— Jesus rises (ascends) into heaven.

— The apostles receive the Holy Spirit.

— Mary is taken up (assumed) into heaven.

— Mary is crowned queen of heaven.

Mysteries of Light

— Jesus is baptized.

— Jesus works his first miracle.

— Jesus preaches.

— Jesus is transfigured (his glory is seen).

— Jesus institutes the Eucharist.



I've been told that it's disrespectful to wear the rosary as jewelry. Is it?


Let me start by saying that disrespect comes out of intention. It is fine to wear rosary beads (much like wearing a cross) as jewelry, so long as you wear it with good intentions and reverence. Some people choose to wear the rosary as a religious symbol and an expression of faith. Others choose to wear it because of fashion, not really understanding its significance. Within the Hispanic culture, it is quite common for both young and old to wear the beads because the rosary reminds them that God is present.


Some friends who aren't Catholic say we should pray directly to Jesus—not through an intercessor like Mary or the saints. How can we explain the rosary to friends who don't share our belief?


When explaining the rosary, remember that prayer and worship can be distinguished from one another. Yes, we worship God, knowing that Jesus is God made man. We pray directly to God. When we ask for the help of the saints, we call this intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is nothing more than asking the saint or a deceased family member to assist you in your needs. It is similar to your asking a friend for help because your friend has "connections." The saints are connected to God.


With your motto, "All to Jesus through Mary," are you suggesting that Mary is the only way to Jesus?


No. There are many ways to discover the person of Jesus through prayer. Mary, as the mother of Jesus, was a central figure in his life. As his mother, she can take our needs to Jesus, just as she did in Cana. As Marist Brothers, however, we constantly ask for Mary's guidance, support and love through intercessory prayer, asking Mary to be present in our lives and in our ministry with young people. While it's good for us, it doesn't need to be your way of praying.


Albert M. Rivera is a Marist Brother in the Office of Marist Evangelization and Vocations. He presently works with young people who attend Marist schools around the country, helping them to grow in love and faith in God.

Brian Goessling (17) of St. Timothy Parish in Union, Kentucky, reviewed this issue via e-mail and posed the questions that are answered in this issue.

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