What would the Virgin Mary say about the Mysteries?

Light and Life – Mar-April 2019, Vol 72, No 2 – A Publication of the Western Dominican Province

What would the Blessed Virgin say about the Mysteries?

by Fr. Bryan Kromholz, O.P.

[Fr. Bryan Kromholtz, O.P., entered the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Western U.S.A.) in 1992 and was ordained in 2000. In 2008, he earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is Associate Professor of Theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, Berkeley, and is a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He is the author of “On the Last Day: The Time of the Resurrection of the Dead according to Thomas Aquinas” (Fribourg, Switzerland: Academic Press Fribourg, 2010).]

When we pray the Rosary, we meditate on significant events or “mysteries” in the life of Jesus Christ, and in the life of his mother, Mary – focusing on one mystery at a time. Each mystery contains within it an inexhaustible superabundance of meaning. This is why it is fruitful for us to ponder the same mysteries over and over, in prayer.

But how should we ponder them? If we could ask Mary directly, she could enlighten us about any mystery, because she could see it in light of her vision of the eternal Word, in Whom is all wisdom and insight. This is not a privilege that is available to us yet. However, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we, too, have some grasp of the Word, through faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Thus, the Church teaches that we are to interpret the Scriptures – and, by extension, any aspect of our faith – in the light of the content and unity of Scripture, the living Tradition of the whole Church, and the “analogy of faith,” which is “the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation” (CCC 112-114). That is, we are to try to see how the mysteries of faith all “cohere” with one another, fitting together consistently. For example, in considering the mystery of the twelve-year-old Jesus teaching in the Temple, we are not to consider the incident in isolation, drawing whatever conclusions we can concoct. So, we are obviously not to draw the lesson that just any boy should keep his parents uninformed of his whereabouts – because this would contradict the commandment, taught elsewhere in Scripture and by the Tradition, to “honor your father and mother.” Still less are we to conclude that our Lord himself was careless – for this would not be in harmony with his status as Son of God, Who, even in his humanity, was like us in all things but sin (e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22). Neither of these conclusions would accord with our faith as a whole.

Instead, let us consider how it may indeed be consistent with Scripture and Tradition that Jesus “had to be in his Father’s house.” Jesus’ behavior may remind us of the first commandment: to love God above all else. Given Jesus’ status as the only begotten Son of God, his actions show us clearly that his relation to his Father surpasses in importance any earthly relation – including his relation with his earthly father, St. Joseph. Thus, we see the connections among many mysteries of faith: Jesus’ divinity, the commandments, the events of the Gospel, etc. For when we ponder what Christ has done for us in the light of the whole of our faith, we are approaching what Mary does: pondering all these things in our heart – a heart enlightened by the whole Word of God.

Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love (Joel 2:13)

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