The Mysteries—Praying Life’s Wholeness

Today, the Rev. Judith Liro, explains, “The Mysteries,” and St Hildegard’s member Gracie Lightfoot Chairez shares her beautiful version of the mysteries that she created to resonate with her life and faith. Maybe it will resonate with you too. 

Stories from the lives of Mary and Jesus are held by the beads of the circle.  In this way the rosary is very similar to the liturgical year from Advent, through Jesus’s life, ministry and passion, and concluding with stories of resurrection and the life of the Spirit.  Praying the mysteries is a way to experience a sampling of the same circle of Gospel stories in a daily rhythm rather than an annual one. The rosary invites us to experience Mary’s perspective on all these moments as they unfold and that’s an important addition.  The last two mysteries are Mary’s and are not found in scripture but in tradition. Liturgy and praying/ reflecting with beads or through the tradition of the rosary are windows for our own human lives, windows opening us to the Divine.  

Praying your mysteries happens when these stories resonate with your life and you receive comfort and wisdom. 

The traditional rosary includes fifteen stories that are prayed in three rounds. (Joyous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries) my husband Joe told me about a fourth round (Luminous Mysteries) that had been proposed by Pope John Paul in 2002; I don’t know if they are widely accepted but I think not.  I tried them for myself and then added those five mysteries to give a fuller sampling of the stories I love.  

  • The Five Joyful Mysteries
    The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Presentation, The Finding at the Temple

  • The Five Luminous Mysteries
    The Baptism of Jesus, The Wedding at Cana, The Kin-dom of God, The Transfiguration, The Eucharist

  • The Five Sorrowful Mysteries
    The Betrayal and Agony in the Garden, The Scourging, The Crown of Thorns, The Via Dolorosa, The Crucifixion

  • The Glorious Mysteries
    The Resurrection, The Ascension, Pentecost, The Assumption of Mary, The Coronation of Mary

The norm to pray five mysteries in one session works for me, so it takes me four days to pray twenty stories.  Since these stories are already very familiar and meaningful to me, it’s been a wonderful gift to pray them in this cycle that repeats every four days.  The Joyful Mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries—these are the four rounds with five stories in each. 

Remember, we don’t have to be the pope to add or exchange stories.  You can make it your own as I’ve mentioned before. Sharing core stories in common deepens community while the variation gives room to be ourselves.

I never know how my imagination will be inspired on the daily round yet I experience the Spirit moving in this meditation in a very lively way.   One day I may be praying in gratitude; another day it is more intercession and longing for change; still another may be feeling the sadness and suffering of these days.  
The circle of beads holds my own feelings and thoughts as I listen to the Spirit.  This is what it means to say Scripture is sacred and inspired.  It’s not that every word is a law that must be followed or that every word was dictated from above.  It simply means that the Holy Spirit speaks to us in and through these stories.  It’s not the only way the Holy Spirit draws near but it is a tried and true way—a thin place. 

In future posts I’ll write in more depth about my own experiences with the four Mysteries. For today, I’d like to share how one of our members, Gracie, has made Praying the Mysteries her own. I hope it will inspire you. Thank you, Gracie, for sharing your prayers and practice with us, and with anyone who finds their way here. 

May you know you are beloved,


Gracie’s adaptation for Praying the Mysteries
using prayer beads that some refer to as the rosary

The prayers are said while reflecting on the mysteries.
The joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries are rooted in stories from the New Testament of the Bible.
The mysteries about sufferings we cause and new world/new humanity draw from the failings of humanity to care for each other and the potential for a world where humans do take care of each other.

  • Five Joyful Mysteries  
    The Annunciation.  Mary Visits Elizabeth.  The Nativity.  The Presentation.  Jesus found in the Temple.
  • Five Sorrowful Mysteries  
    The Agony in Garden of Gethsemane.  The Scourging at the Pillar.   The Crowning with Thorns.  Carrying the Cross.   The Crucifixion.
  • Five Glorious Mysteries   
    The Resurrection.  The Ascension.   The Descent of the Holy Spirit.   The Assumption.   The Coronation of Mary.
  • Sufferings We Bring on Ourselves   
    Social injustices.  Ravaging Mother Earth.  Extreme poverty & the Wealth Gap.  Promotion of Violence.  Greed and materialism
  • A New Community, New World, New Humanity  
    Nurture all children. Health care for everyone. Educate all people from birth to death. Honor Mother Nature/planet Earth/our home.  Share all resources for food and shelter.

The Prayers  
Pray the Creed on the crucifix (or other beginning bead or symbol you may have) . 
Next 5 beads are 1
Father/Mother, 3 Hail Marys, 1 Father/Mother. 
On the medallion (or centerpiece) pray Glory Be
Then begins the decades where we pray 10
Hail Marys while reflecting on one mystery. 
1 Our Father/Mother is prayed between each of the decades.
Glory Be again at the end.

I believe in the Divine Creator who made the universe from the earth to the farthest reaches of existence. I believe in Christ-Sophia born of the Virgin Mary, who died and was buried. On the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven and joined with the Divine Creator. I believe in the Holy Spirit that breathes life and comes and goes at will. I believe in forgiveness, resurrection, and life everlasting.

Our Mother Our Father
Our Mother Our Father who live in heaven holy be your name. Your justice come. Your will be done. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Protect us. Guide us. For the power and glory and honor are yours. Now and forever.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary full of grace, Spirit is with you. Blessed are you among women. Blessed is the fruit of your womb. Holy Mary, mother of Christ-Sophia, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Glory Be
Glory be to the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier – As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be. World without end.