Luminous Thursday

When Pope John II introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the most holy Rosary in October of 2002, I actually felt a little annoyed. I thought: “Why update this treasure of the Church?” I deeply loved and trusted the Holy Father. But I was comfortable with the Scriptural Rosary I had been using for years. Maybe a little too comfortable. 

So, at first, I resisted the change. I put off learning the new mysteries, much less adding them to my Rosary regimen.

At some point, my mind changed. I think I realized that the addition to the Rosary might be new — but the five events it commemorates were anything but. Like God himself, they are, in the words of St. Augustine, “ever ancient yet ever new.”

So it was that I began to incorporate the Mysteries of Light — the five highest points of Jesus’ public life — into my Rosary. I’m now completely comfortable contemplating Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, his first public miracle during the wedding at Cana, his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, his transfiguration on Mount Tabor and his institution of the holy Eucharist.

I’m here this Holy Week to tell you that the result has been well worth the effort. This find has given me new insight not only into the Gospel but also into the wisdom of Pope John Paul the Great. Leave it to him to always be one step ahead of the rest of us.

I have even come to have a favorite Mystery of Light. It’s the last one, the Institution of the Eucharist.

Each time I meditate on this decade, I am taken to the upper room where Christ shared a last meal with his closest friends on that first Holy Thursday. By meditating on this mysterious event, I have gained a deeper understanding and love of the Blessed Sacrament.

Each time I meditate on the Last Supper, I make a spiritual communion. I think of the depth of Jesus’ love for me and for all of us. He said he would be with his Church always, until the end of time. Surely the apostles did not know what he really meant by that, but we do. He is with us, always and everywhere, in his divinity. And he is with us, in his full humanity, wherever the Eucharist is.

At that first Mass, he transformed bread and wine into his very body and his blood. He didn’t say “This represents my body.” He said “This is my body.”

Reflecting on the Fifth Luminous Mystery has been an ideal way for me to begin my time before the Blessed Sacrament each week. Adoration seems like the only adequate response to generosity so overwhelming.

This Holy Week, our first without Pope John Paul II, let us thank God once again for inspiring his servant to give us the Mysteries of Light. It’s easy to get a little too comfortable in our practice of the faith. It’s even easy to forget the power of Christ really present at each consecration.

“Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine,” John Paul wrote in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginus Mariae, “and testifies ‘to the end’ his love for humanity (John 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice.”

What could be more comforting — or illuminating — than that?

Bill Zalot writes from
Levittown, Pennsylvania.