John Paul II and the Rosary

Personal reflection about the new saint


On April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, John Paul II will be elevated to sainthood. He is a role model for all of us who have dealt with suffering. He has also been a role model for writers and those involved in the arts. His play The Jeweler’s Shop speaks to the heart of Christian marriage.

Through a study of his life and his writings, we can learn how to cope with the splinters of our own crosses. With the many laymen and laywomen he canonized during his papacy, he gave us many role models, while urging us to strive for sainthood.

Both John Paul II and John XXIII, personal heroes of mine, will soon have their lives of heroic sanctity officially recognized by the Church with their canonization. They have been part of of the communion of saints since their deaths. Despite their suffering — indeed, partly because of it — these holy men provide a legacy for the Church that will benefit us forever.

John Paul II had a great devotion to Our Blessed Mother. In October 2002, he introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

A few months before his passing, as the Church was completing the celebration of its Year of the Eucharist, it was an ideal time to get acquainted with the Mysteries of Light.

I asked myself, "Why update this wonderful treasure of the Church?"

I had been reintroduced to this treasured prayer form shortly after college. In fact, at that point, I had become quite comfortable meditating on the 15 mysteries of the Rosary with a scriptural Rosary book I had used for several years. In the end, this little book had brought the prayer form back to life for me after college.

With the new mysteries, I was driven to begin a personal search for a suitable replacement for my trusted Rosary book, a volume that included meditations on the new Mysteries of Light: the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist.

The end result was well worth the effort.

I have even come to have a favorite Mystery of Light: Institution of the Eucharist. Each time I meditate on this mystery, the source and summit of our faith, I am transported to the Upper Room, where Christ shared that last meal with his friends.

And as a fruit of this meditation, I have gained a deeper understanding and love of the Blessed Sacrament — and I have also come to realize the wisdom of John Paul II in creating the Mysteries of Light.

This mystery of the holy Rosary is like a spiritual communion for me. Each time I meditate on its meaning, I think of the depth of Christ’s love for us. Just think about it: At that last meal, Christ instituted a way he could be with us always. Yes — until the end of time.

At that first Mass, in the last meal Christ shared with his disciples, he transformed bread and wine into his Body and Blood.

Reflecting on the Fifth Luminous Mystery has been an ideal way for me to begin my time before the Blessed Sacrament each week. During adoration, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me as I reflect on each of them, including my favorite, the Institution of the Eucharist.

As we reflect on the amazing and life-giving miracle, I pray it gives all of us a greater love and reverence for the Mass and the Eucharist — and prompts us to thank God for St. John Paul II.

Bill Zalot writes from

Levittown, Pennsylvania.