The Luminous Mysteries

(Click here for Spanish Version)

In Marialis Cultus (1974), Pope Paul VI proposed principles for the renewal of Marian devotion, speaking at length on the Rosary.  Since that time, practical suggestions have come from a number of groups.

The German Liturgical Institute was eventually asked its opinion about instituting a fourth series of Rosary mysteries, The Public Life of Jesus.  A Marian group in Leutsdorf, Germany then requested permission to officially institute a fourth series of mysteries that had been suggested by Rev. Benno Mikocki of Vienna, the head of the Rosary/Reparation Way of the Cross movement.

The letter of the Liturgical Institute noted that an attempt had been made to promote these mysteries over twenty years ago in the national German prayerbook, Gotteslob.  This attempt had found little echo from the people.  The letter indicated that such devotions have to come from among the people rather than "from the top down."  Dr. Elmar Nubold, director of the Liturgical Institute, commented that the three sets of mysteries, with their concise formulations, had proven effective over the years.  Nevertheless, new suggestions should be taken into account.  Rev. Josef Schultheiss concluded from the Liturgical Institute's response that it was now up to the individual communities and movements to do what they could to further this intention in order to achieve their aim over a longer period of time.

In Rosarium Virginis Mariae (2002), John Paul II proposed the Luminous mysteries below as an "addition to the traditional pattern." (RVM, 19)

The mysteries of light are placed between the Joyful and sorrowful mysteries.  Each one of the Luminous mysteries sheds light on an important aspect of Christ's mission: He is son of the Father, the miracle worker, announcer of the Kingdom, the transfigured Son of god, and living bread or Eucharistic presence.  He is God's light for this world.  These new mysteries are extensively treated in John Paul II's letter on the rosary.

The Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John   tried to refuse him with the protest, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me!" Jesus answered him, "Give in for now; we must do this if we are to fulfill all of God�s demands." So John gave in. After Jesus was baptized, he came directly out of the water. Suddenly, the sky opened and he saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove, and hover over him. With that, a voice from the heavens said, "This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on Him." The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light. Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became 'sin' for our sake (cf. 2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out.   (RVM, 21)

The Self-revelation of the Lord at the Wedding Feast of Cana

The second mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. Jn 2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers.   He reveals himself as Lord and miracle worker.  

In the mystery  of light,   apart  from the miracle at  Cana, the presence of Mary  remains in the background.  The Gospels make only the briefest  reference to her  occasional  presence at  one moment  or  other  during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-5; John 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's  lips  at  Cana, and it becomes the great  maternal  counsel which Mary  addresses to the Church of every age: "Do whatever he tells you." (Jn 2:5) This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the 'mysteries of light'. (RVM, 21)

The Lord Jesus Proclaims the Coming of the Kingdom

After John's arrest, Jesus appeared in Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel!" Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church. (cf. John 20:22-23) (RVM, 21)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

About eight days after saying this, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up onto a mountain to pray. While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory and spoke of his passage, which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him had fallen into a deep sleep; but awakening, they saw his glory and likewise saw the two men who were standing with him. When these were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, how good it is for us to be here.   Let us set up three booths, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." (He did not really know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and the disciples grew fearful as they entered it. Then from the cloud came a voice which said, "This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him." When the voice fell silent, Jesus was there alone. The disciples kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen at that time to anyone. The mystery of light par excellence is the Transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to 'listen to him' (cf. Lk 9:35 and parallels) and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit. (RVM, 21)

The Institution of the Eucharist

During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. "Take this and eat it," he said. "This is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. "All of you must drink from it," he said, "for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink this fruit of the vine from now until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father�s reign." Then, after singing songs of praise, they walked out to the Mount of Olives. A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies 'to the end' his love for humanity (Jn 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice. (RVM, 21)

Go to The Joyful Mysteries

Go to The Glorious Mysteries

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