The Early Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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For some years now, from the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on November 21st until that of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, I have prayed my rosary while dwelling on five mysteries of the first part of Our Lady's life. These five mysteries of the Blessed Virgin are:

-- the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne;
-- the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
-- the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple;
-- the Betrothal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph;
-- the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

There is a particular sweetness in dwelling on these mysteries of Maria Bambina, the Infant Mary, the Child Mary. They distill graces of purity, of childlike simplicity, and of littleness.

All five mysteries are commemorated in the Sacred Liturgy. The liturgical books are rich in texts to nourish the meditation of each one. It is enough to take an antiphon, a verse, a single phrase, and to hold it in the heart while telling one's beads.

The Rosary corresponds to the meditatio and the oratio of monastic prayer; it begins necessarily in lectio divina, the hearing of the Word and then, gently, almost imperceptibly, draws the soul into contemplatio.

The Rosary is, I am convinced, the surest and easiest school of contemplative prayer. The Rosary decapitates pride, the single greatest obstacle to union with God. The repetition of the Aves, like a stream of pure water, cleanses the heart.


Dear D. Kirby, after these 4 years of praying the rosary, I'm still not sure at what point one is supposed to meditate on the mysteries. Is it during the Aves? Or is it just a matter of personal praxis?

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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