Monday, May 11, 2015

Origin of the Luminous Mysteries

St George Preca (1880-1962)
On 16th October of 2002, His Holiness John Paul II began the 25th Anniversary of his Pontificate by publishing an Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae in which he inaugurated the Year of the Rosary, to last from October 2002 till October 2003. In this Letter the Pope also introduced five new mysteries of the rosary to be included with the traditional ones. These new mysteries, which he called The Mysteries of Light, or Luminous Mysteries, refer to the public life of Our Lord.

This addition to the decades of the rosary - which had been left untouched for over 400 years - has aroused a great deal of interest. The idea of the Pope could have come from the writings of a Maltese priest whom the Pope declared Blessed in 2001, Blessed George Preca, and eventually canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on June 3, 2007, the first Maltese Saint.

The five Luminous Mysteries are identical to those proposed by Fr Preca. Interesting as well is the fact that the Pope has called these mysteries from Christ's public life “the Mysteries of Light”, the same title given originally by Fr Preca when he first proposed them in 1957. How did the Pope get to know about them? It all started way back in 1957. Saint George Preca (1880-1962) founded a society of lay people to study the Christian doctrine and teach it to children and adults. He called it the Society of Christian Doctrine. In 1957 the Society celebrated the 50th anniversary of its birth, and Fr Preca was against any external celebrations. Instead, he wanted that year to be an occasion of a deeper intimacy with God, and so he published his well-known “Colloquies with God” - sixty short but penetrating invocations which give us a good insight into Fr Preca's interior life. During that same year he came up with the idea of these additional mysteries to the Rosary, taken from the public life of Our Lord. Originally Fr Preca had them published in a small leaflet for the private use of the Members of his Society.
The Mysteries of Light became “public property” in Malta after two publications in 1973 and 1987. They were later also put on the internet on websites regarding the Rosary. The Mysteries of Light according to Saint Preca and the Pope were designated as follows:
1. Jesus' Baptism in the river Jordan; 2.  His self-manifsestation at the wedding at Cana; 3. His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion; 4.  His transfiguration before the Apostles on Mount Tabor; 5.  His institution of the Eucharist, at the Last Supper.

Besides the new Mysteries of Light, in the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae there are other points which remind us of Fr Preca's teaching on the rosary. For instance, the Pope suggests a moment of silent reflection after the mystery is mentioned. Fr Preca not only practiced this himself, but he recommended it to others as well. Fr Preca used to call the rosary “A school of learning”, especially because of the meditation on the mysteries of the life of our Lord. The liturgical feast day of St George Preca is celebrated in Malta on May 9th.

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