St Clare of Assisi

Meditation on The Joyful Mysteries extracted from the writings of Pope Benedict XVI



01. Lk 1 : 26 – 38;  Daughter Zion pg. 37
02. Lk 3 : 39 – 45;  Daughter Zion pg. 177 ;
03. Jn 1 : 1 – 18; Lk 2 : 13 – 14; The Blessing Of Christmas pgs.124 – 131;
04. Lk 2 : 22 – 37; Simeon’s Prayer; Co-Workers.. Truth pg. 13; 33-38;
05. Lk 2 : 41 – 51; Zeph 3 : 14 – 17; Co-Workers..Truth pg.16 – 18

First Joyful Mystery :     The Annunciation of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary 

A reading from the Gospel of St. Luke (1:26-38). In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy God sent an angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. He had a message for a young woman promised in marriage to a man named Joseph who was a descendant of King David. Her name was Mary. The angel came to her and said: “ Peace be with you! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you”. Mary was deeply troubled by the angel’s message, and she wondered what his words meant. The angel said to her: “Don’t be afraid Mary: God has been gracious to you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the King of the descendants of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end”. Mary said to the angel: “ I am a virgin. How can this be?”. The angel answered: “ The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest on you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God. Remember your relative Elizabeth?. It is said that she cannot have children, but she herself is now six months pregnant, even though she is very old. For there is nothing that God cannot do”. “I am the Lord’s servant” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said”. And the angel left her.

Our Father; 10 Hail Mary; (Gloria)

Pope Benedict XVI:    God discloses new creation from within the old creation Jesus’ origin is from below, yet simultaneously from above – and this is no contradiction. He is entirely man precisely because he does not have his origin only in this earth. The annunciation to Mary happens to a woman, in an insignificant town in half-pagan Galilee ... The entire scene was unusual for Jewish sensibilities. God reveals himself, where and to whom he wishes. Thus begins a 30 new way, at whose centre stands no longer the temple but the simplicity of Jesus Christ. He is now the true temple, the tent of the meeting. The salutation of Mary is modelled closely on Zephaniah 3:14-17. Mary is daughter Zion addressed there, summoned to ‘rejoice’, informed that the Lord has come to her. Her fear is removed, since the Lord is in her midst to save her ... Her fear comes not from lack of understanding nor from the small-hearted anxiety to which some would like to reduce it. It comes from the trepidation of that encounter with God, that immeasurable joy which can make the most hardened natures quake. She is in person the true Zion, toward whom hopes have yearned throughout all the devastations of history. She is the true Israel in who Old and New Covenant, Israel and Church, are indivisibly one. She is the ‘people of God’ bearing fruit through God’s gracious power. Finally we must pay attention to the terms in which the mystery of the new conception and birth is deliberately stated: the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you ... The first alludes to the history of creation (Gen 1:2) and so characterizes the event as a new creation: the God who called being out of nothingness, whose Spirit hovered over the abyss, he who as ‘creator spirit’ is the ground of all beings – this God discloses new creation from within the old creation. In this way the radical incision which Christ’s coming signifies is most emphaically marked; its novelty is of such an order that it penetrates to the ground of being and can derive from nowhere if not from the creative power of God Himself. The second image – ‘the power of the Most High will overshadow you’ – belongs to the theology of Israel’s cult: it refers to the cloud which overshadows the temple and thereby indicates the presence of God. Mary appears as the sacred tent over whom God’s hidden presence becomes effective. 
(Daughter Zion, pg. 37) 

Second Joyful :    The Visitation of Mary ro Elizabeth A reading from the Gospel of St. Luke (1:39–45). 

Soon afterwards Mary got ready and hurried off to a town in the hill county of Judea. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and said in a loud voice “ You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear. Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me? For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true!”.

Our Father; 10 Hail Mary; (Gloria)

Pope Benedict XVI :     The Ark of the Covenant is incorruptable The Church celebrates the feast of Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. St.Luke’s account of it is immersed in a restrained matutinal joy. Mary sets out in response to the promise made to both of them. She goes in haste, says the Evangelist because she wants to meet her to whom she is no longer related by consanguinity alone, but by the sharing of the same promise. When Mary goes into the hill county of Judea, the secret of the incarnate word has already begun in her. Elizabeth greets Mary with the words the Church still uses (Lk 1 : 42). In Luke’s gospel the ‘Hail Mary’ has already taken on the character of a prayer formula in which we hear not just the voice of Elizabeth but, united to it, the voice of the early Church, which continued to use the greeting as a prayer. In this scene, the living veneration of Mary by the Church of the New Testament is made tangible. The veneration of Mary is as old as the Church herself: Luke tells us that it was prompted by the Holy Spirit: for him the formula in which it is expressed is not the invention of a human being, but the inspiration of the Spirit of God. The veneration of Mary is a task imposed on the Church by Scripture itself, for the words of the Magnificat “surely from now on all generations will call me blessed” were directed to the Chrch of all times. Mary is, in person, the daughter Zion who is blessed and, at the end, saved in the midst of her trials. What that means becomes clearer when we observe that Luke draws a parallel between the Mother of the Lord and the ark of the covenant. She bears the living Word: in Agustine’s fine phrase, she was already the Mother of God spiritually before she became his Mother physically. In all other instances among the children of Adam and Eve, being born, the mystery of life, is at the same time, a mystery of death. New life presupposes the withdrawal of the old life into death. But the birth of him who is life is not an event of death. It is nothing but life. The ark of the covenant is incorruptable. Joy at the Incarnation of the Word is an intrinsic part of our Faith – the ‘dancing in the presence of the ark’; the happiness; Blesses art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.                                     
 (Co.Workers of the Truth, pg. 177)

Third Joyful : The Birth of Jesus 

A reading from the Gospel of St. John (1:1–18). 32 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'" From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him. 

Our Father; 10 Hail Mary; (Gloria)  

Pope Benedict XVI: His own people received him not This Gospel belongs from the earliest centuries to the Christmas Liturgy because it contains the sentence that expreses the very reason for our joy and the real contents of this feast: “ The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1 : 14). What we are celebrating at Christmas is not the birthday of some great man or other ... nor are we simply celebrating the mystery of what it is to be a child. It is of course true that the freshness, the purity, and the openness of a child give us hope. We find the courage to trust that new possibilities lie ahead of man. But if we cling too tightly to this aspect alone, seeing nothing more than a new beginning of life in a child – we risk ending up disillusioned and sad. For this newness, too, will be used up. The new born child will be entangled in the competitive clash of life, and he will not be spared the compromises and humiliations that are inseparable from this struggle. If all we had to celebrate was the idyll of a birth and childhood, we would, in the last analysis have no idyll at all. All that would remain would be the perennial cycle of death and birth, and one may ask whether in that case being born is not in fact rather a cause for sadness – since it leads only to death. This is why it is important to realize that something more has happened here: the Word has become flesh. God has become one of us – he has unite Himself to a human being so inseparably that this man is genuinely God from God and light from light, while remaining a true man. The eternal meaning of the World has come to us in so real a manner that we can touch him and see him. For what 33 John calls ‘the Word’ also means in Greek ‘the meaning’. But this meaning is not simply a general idea that is inherent in the world: this meaning addresses us; this meaning is a word spoken to us. This meaning knows us; it calls to us; it leads us. This meaning is not a universal law in which we play a some kind of role. It is meant personally for each individual. The meaning is itself a person: the son of the living God who was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Our invariable response is a doubt: can this be true? Is it really possible for God to be a child? We are reluctant to believe that the truth is beautiful for in our experience truth usually turns out to be cruel and dirty; and where this initially seems not to be the case, we dig and dig until our assumption turns out to be correct ... We must of course agree that if God does not exist, then there is no light. All that remains is dity earth. “His own people received him not”. This abyss goes far beyond the normal appeal to think about the homeless in today’s world and in our modern cities – important as this appeal undoubtedly is. These words of St.John touch something deeper in us: the real reason why so many people in the world are homeless: our arrogance closes the door on God and, therefore, on our fellow man. We are too proud to see God. He came as a child, in order to break down our pride. Perhaps we would have capitulated before power or wisdom but he does not want our capitulation: he wants our love. He wants to free us from or pride and, thus, to make us truly free. This Gospel closes with the words: “We have beheld his glory” (Jn 1 : 14). As Christians we ought really all to be able to say ‘we have beheld his glory’. Indeed, these words explain what believing means: it means seeing his glory in this world. One who believes sees. But have we seen? Is it not rather the case that we have remained blind? Do we ever see anything other than ourselves alone and our reflection? If we are to see something outside ourselves, it must find a correspondence within ourselves.  
(The Blessing of Christmas pgs. 124-131)

Fourth Joyful : The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple 

A reading from the Gospel of St. Luke (2:22–27;33–38) When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord," and to offer the sacrifice of "a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons," in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce your heart) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming 34 forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Our Father; 10 Hail Mary; (Gloria)

Pope Benedict XVI: God has been admitted into our world and has received a name In the Church’s liturgy, New Year’s Day is simply the eight day after Christmas after the birth of the Lord. But in the liturgy and law of Israel the eight day after birth has a special significance: it is the day of cicumcision and of the bestowal of a name: that is, the day of legal admission into the community of Israel, into the promise and the burden of its law. For biological birth is not the only birth. Man is more than just a biological entity: he is composed also of intellect, language, history, community. But for this he has need of something else, of the world he shares with his contemporaries, the world that gives him life, language, community, history and law. In the life of Jesus, the eight day is the day of his legal admission into his people. God has been admitted into our world and has received a name that identifies him as a participant in our history and makes him nameable as a human being. On the other hand, it is only by his incorporation into our history that the dark mystery of our own birth is consummated. Our human beginning, which in itself stands uncertainly between blessing and curse, has entered into the sign of blessing. He – the child born and circumcised into the people of Israel, the child who offers our human history to God – is henceforth our guiding star. In conclusion, this too must be said: the eight day is both the day of his Resurrection and, at the same time, the day of creation: creation is not destroyed, it is absorbed into resurrection. Thus the eight day becomes a symbol of Baptism, a symbol of Christian hope par excellence: the Resurrection, the life of the child, is stronger than death. Our way is hope. Amid the passing of time, there is a new beginning that dawns with the entrance of eternal love. 
(Co. Workers of the Truth pg. 13)

Fifth Joyful – Finding Jesus in the Temple 

A reading from the Gospel of St. Luke (2:41–51). Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 35 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man. 

Our Father; 10 Hail Mary; (Gloria)

Pope Benedict XVI: To set free; to let go … At about twelve years of age, the young boys of Israel are brought to the wall of the Temple in order to take a kind of catechetical examination in front of the Torah wall. No one knows when the rite originated by which twelve year olds pass from the security of their families into the great society and public life of Israel. Be that as it may, the custom can be of immense help to us in understanding the Gospel story of the twelve year old Jesus. For something similar is obviously taking place in his life. We see how Joseph and Mary have schooled Jesus in the law of Israel and how they introduce him now for the first time into the public life of the people; but we see at the same time how the Lord changes the nature of this examination: instead of being questioned, he himself becomes the questioner, subjecting the learned doctors of Israel to an examination about the law and seeking by his questions to lead them to a deeper understanding of the law that they will later fail to comprehend, and to open the gates of the law in order to make visible the one to whom it points – himself. From being the one questioned, he becomes the questioner. He mounts the cathedra of Moses, the Temple, as something properly his. He remains a child; he asks questions; yet he reveals himself as Lord by the very fact that he tests them. But let us keep our attention on the Holy Family. We can see clearly in this event the atmosphere of piety, of law, of faith, of love that reigns in that home. We can see also that Mary not only bestowed on her child his biological life, but also shares with him her heart, her life of faith: that she gives him the words of faith and the thoughts of faith and thus brings him with her into the community of his people. We can see the catechesis of the Holy Family, in which the 36 foundation is first laid for prayer in common, for turning to the living God: and we can see how this family opens itself to its responsibility for the whole. We see more here than just the family community of Jesus Christ: we see how he transcends this community: how at this festival for twelve-year olds, he begins to break away from his family and enter into the public life of Israel and of the world. We see more than just the obedience of Jesus: we see also his freedom. When his mother says to him in the dialect of the region: “Your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety” he corrects her: “I have only one father – him to whom this house belongs; and I am his son in a different and more sublime way – a way that can severe family ties”. To set free, to let go, this applies to us too. It is our task to accept God who makes himself known to us in ever greater ways. To endure this ‘otherness’ of God – and not just to endure but to say yes to him, to let ourselves be led by him whither we will not – that is the real, and often hardly endurable way of the cross in our lives. When we let ourselves be led whither we will not and where we at first see no meaning, it is then that he leads us out of our own ways and our own thoughts into his thoughts and ways and so into truth, into genuine fullness. 
(Co.Workers of the Truth pgs. 16 – 18)

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