29 March 2007

Mysteries of Light? Luminous what?

An expansion of thoughts I posted on Fr. Z's blog.

I am one who loves the content of the Luminous Mysteries, but I loathe the name for these and their all too sudden inclusion within the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Clearly, the title within a Catholic context should refer to the Light of World Jesus Christ. But the title does not make that link clear, and sadly this devotion comes off with a title that is decidedly more New Age sounding than Catholic.

This then is a missed opportunity for the New Evangelisation to which our late Sovereign Pontiff called us --a New Evangelisation in which, by way of example, we must specifically articulate the Christian Truth over and against the New Age counterfeits. In the larger world there are plenty of people who chase after "the Light" and claim to be "embraced by the Light" and absolutely none of that has anything at all to do with Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

What then should these Mysteries of Pope John Paul II be called? I offer that they should be called at the very least "The Evangelical Mysteries" because the content is centered on the three years of Our Lord Jesus Christ's preaching of His Evangelium. But more to the point, these mysteries should be a useful tool for the Church and not a point of needless contention. Rather these mysteries could form the heart of a specific devotion to compliment the New Evangelisation and to reach out to Evangelicals separated from us.

Far better for everyone if we called these Mysteries instead
"The Evangelical Chaplet of John Paul II"
and perhaps in time
"The Evangelical Chaplet of St. John Paul the Great"

I am not one who believes the Church is served well by Popes, Cardinals or Bishops changing devotions that have stood the test of time. If Pope John Paul II had said we would now say in place of the Hail Mary "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Amen." -- vast numbers of the faithful would have arisen to oppose it.

Oh yes, a few would have said that Pope John Paul II's every word was Gospel pure and heaven-sent. But this sort of pronouncement by our late Holy Father was not ex cathedra, and none are bound by it. Likewise, the offering of the Mysteries of Light by Pope John Paul II -- while an extraordinary gift for and counterpart to the New Evangelisation -- need not be driven into the time-honoured 15 decade Rosary of Our Lady's 150 Psalms of Angelic Salutations. Offerings and suggestions do not equal ex cathedra declarations or clearly stated articulations of the Magisterium.

I believe the Church should pray and meditate on the content of these mysteries because the content is from the very heart of the Church's own story, the very telling of the Evangelium of Jesus Christ. Yes, pray these mysteries on Thursday, or when travelling, or when especially interceding for the current Pontiff -- but please let us give them a strong and worthy name -- a solid title that both makes clear what these mysteries are all about and also gives credit to Pope John Paul II for his strong teaching of the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ:

The Evangelical Chaplet of Pope John Paul II