What are Rosary Mysteries?
The word “mystery” means, in Greek, a secret thing, something that keeps a secret, and is related to the action of being in silence. Rosary mysteries are called such because they refer to the mysteries in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Here the word mystery denotes a sacred event that is difficult to understand using logic. All the works of Jesus are mysteries because He is God.
As they are recounted in the Sacred Scriptures, the Lord reveals to us many things: what we are to do, what we are to say to Him in worship, what He has done for us, and, above all, Who He is. He has spoken to us most clearly and completely by sending his Son, Jesus Christ. “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, He spoke to us through a Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2). (Fr. Bryan Kromholtz, O.P.)
The life of Jesus and Mary are divided into mysteries presenting their virtues and their most important acts as in a picture whose line and color should be a model and rule for us in our own lives. The mysteries of the rosary are like torchlights guiding our steps here below as we walk the way of Christ’s holiness. They are like the shinning mirrors in which we learn to see and know Jesus and Mary and ourselves, and by which the fire of their love is enkindled in our hearts. They are like ardent furnaces consuming us in their heavenly fire. (“Franz Michel William p.117)
The mysteries of the Rosary are the sublime and exalted means by which the Holy Spirit instructs the humble and simple souls on how to attain the science of the saints. The science of the saints consists of knowing Jesus as truth, and conforming ourselves to His life. As scripture reminds us, “this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17. 3). And we cannot doubt that the knowledge of which our Lord speaks is not merely a knowledge of or about God, but such a knowledge as will produce a right attitude toward God - that is, a knowledge of God and Divine things which will awaken, develop and perfect a life of love for God. (Rev. Bede Frost, p. 29)
This is what makes the Rosary the favorite prayer of Our Blessed Mother. It was the way she prayed while here on earth. “Mary’s prayer life was nourished by the mysteries of her Son’s life. Her way of prayer was going over the mysteries in her memory and searching them in her mind. Again, the New Testament writers assure us of this twice, saying “But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart,” and elsewhere—“His Mother kept all these words in her heart.” In Hebrew “word” means “event” or “happening” usually of a striking or mysterious nature. She often pondered, adored in silence, and guarded mysteries that were greater than her and all of us. In that early Church community Mary carried out the role of being the guardian of the memories of the Son. As long as she was there, no one could say that Christ was an imaginative divine character of only apparently human.”
For she did not “think it up’ or “dream it”; she touched Him, cared for Him, nurtured Him, observed His growth and His becoming man. She remembers what happened from the beginning and she knows, better than the apostles, that the true Life was made visible, that He moved in her womb. Finally at the cross she saw His agony and death—for his people. In the community of Jerusalem, Mary was witness to the flesh of Christ, to the experiential reality that, with its power, heals and restores all it encounters (Lk 6:19). …(Giuseppe Forlai, p. 53)
Fr. Giuseppe in his book “How to Live Marian Devotion to Proclaim Christ”, mentions “while in the community of Jerusalem the Mother of the Lord didn’t perform any “ecclesiastical” function, her assigned task was even greater. She was the minister of the memory of the incarnation and passion of her Son, of that blessed flesh that grew and suffered under her eyes. Perhaps the beloved disciple’s gesture in taking Mary into his own house symbolizes the need for the baptized to take courage of that same memory of the flesh. That memory makes Christianity not a philosophy but a way of life. It involves the exciting yet challenging reality of following Jesus. In the end Mary tells us just this: one loves the Lord in the whole reality of his body or one does not love him at all! …(Giuseppe Forlai, p. 53)
Is this not the purpose of the Rosary? It is the key to unlock the memory of Mother Mary, to ponder, internalize, and contemplate Truth, who is Jesus Himself. This is why the Holy Rosary is very powerful and has been encouraged by the popes, saints, and theologians to make use of it to follow and imitate the ways of Christ and His Mother Mary.