The Blessed Virgin is full of surprises. After almost twenty years as a Catholic, I thought I knew the mysteries of the rosary. Beads or book in hand, I would walk the familiar path from the annunciation of the angel Gabriel, through the hill country to Bethlehem and on to Jerusalem. It turns out I only knew the timeline of the mystery.
One of the fruits of the joyful mysteries is discovering the relationship of the spouse the Spirit to the mystery. Each of the five decades, we find St Joseph and the Holy Spirit moving, too, supporting and consoling the Virgin as she begins her journey from the hills of Judea to her throne in heaven.
Its tempting to think of the annunciation as something that simply happened to Mary, but for St Joseph, the implications are life changing. This upright man learns that his betrothed is pregnant. The emotions that he must have experienced as she recounted the angel’s visit and her fiat. The patience and gentleness of St. Joseph is revealed in that he didn’t quietly divorce her. He yielded to the message of the angel and Mary wasn’t sent away. There was time for a dream to carry a message of hope. And while he almost certainly felt the sting of betrayal and incredulousness at her story of God’s plan coming to fruition through her, Joseph waited.
In her visitation with St Elizabeth, the Holy Spirit led the Ark back into the hill country. The ark in the temple had on top of it the seat of wisdom from which God led his chosen people from the wilderness to the Holy city. It is from this seat, from within the soul of the virgin that The Holy Spirit leads and guides his people again. And at the forefront, again, is His ark.
In a cave in Bethlehem the virgin is fruitful. She bears the Son, her God who will give her into the care of his beloved disciple to take into his house. In Bethlehem, Joseph has taken Mary into his own house. One of the charisms of a wife is that she can make a house into a home and as soon as St. Joseph brings her to the town to which he belongs she immediately bears fruit and makes it the home of the King.
In the hour of the Presentation the Holy Spirit moves the heart of Mary. He communicates her trials to her and brings her into the mystery of the suffering of God. He shares with her the first realities of Christ’s passion and is with her as her passion truly begins in earnest. Because of her espousal to the Holy Spirit, Mary embodies that monastic adage, “never less alone than alone”.
Finding Jesus in the temple
In twelve years time the blessed Virgin and St. Joseph find themselves returning to Jerusalem. Her Son is at least a days journey away. At least. St Joseph has to set aside his panic and search the streets for his missing Son. But he isn’t alone, in his search he must also lead the virgin. He must bear his own anxieties as well as help her carry hers. He must have offered her support in their time of rest and led her in their prayers, beseeching the very One for whom they were searching. In this time of a mother’s need St Joseph was a pillar of strength for the blessed Virgin.
The deeper we venture into this mystery of the holy rosary, the more evident we find the role of spouse expressing itself. The rosary, like the virgin herself proves time and again to be a garden hidden within a flower.