The Rosary: How Our Trials Unite Us to God

At the root of all our desires is a yearning for oneness with God. In our fallen state, we are prone to respond to that yearning with things infinitely inferior to God. We face hardship, trial, humiliation, and pain. Knowing well that these harsh experiences are not what we were made for, we strive to avoid them by any means possible, even sinful means. Our once-good desires get twisted and gnarled by our world, our flesh, and our Enemy, and we get derailed from the true end of our desires.

In these moments the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary reaches out her hand to help untwist our desires and restore their goodness. The Rosary is truly a school of contemplation that lifts our hearts from the misfortune we endure in our exile to the Blessed Fruit of Mary’s womb. To see this more fully, let’s turn to our Blessed Mother’s own life. Let’s briefly contemplate what her desires might have been in the moments we now remember in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Still young and unwed, Mary is told by an angel that she will conceive. Her desire to do God’s will could have been twisted by choosing to protect her reputation and to avoid the difficulty of pregnancy. Instead she endured that trial, choosing to do the will of God with joy. “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

Then Mary makes haste to the hill country of Judah and visits her much older cousin Elizabeth. She is facing her own anxiety, conceiving not in her youth but at an old age. She could have let her desire for God be twisted by the anxiety of her physical limitations. Instead of brooding over these limitations, Elizabeth joined Mary in celebrating the gifts of their sons joyfully.

At the Nativity, Mary and Joseph faced repeated rejection from the innkeepers in Bethlehem. Their desire to bring Jesus into the world could have been twisted by wrathful anger at those rejections. Instead they chose to bring Jesus into the world peacefully in a stable.

At the Presentation, Simeon predicted that Mary’s own soul would be pierced by a sword on account of her child. The desire to love Jesus could have been twisted by an understandable aversion to pain and suffering. But Mary chose to love her Son even if it meant her agony along with his at Golgotha.

Finally, facing the thought of despair after losing her only son for three days in Jerusalem, Mary finds hope and eventually joy in being reunited with him in the temple, prefiguring his three days in the tomb.

As we can see, the Joyful Mysteries don’t get their name because they are free from the trials of this world. Quite the opposite: in the face of these trials, our Blessed Mother refuses to have her God-given desire for goodness twisted by the Enemy. The Good Lord permits these trials to visit us for the very purpose of “filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions” (Col 1:24) and uniting us with him in eternity, according to our deepest desires.

Br. John Vianney Russell, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE