I really don't like change, so I wasn't surprised when some people were unhappy when it was announced that Pope John Paul II was adding the Luminous Mysteries to the Rosary. A good friend of mine, a religious sister, said that at first all she could think was something like, "Oh, now the Rosary too? Can't they leave anything alone?" They did seem to disturb a pattern that made sense and that we were comfortable with. Gone is the analogy of the Rosary as the lay person's breviary with the 150 Hail Marys echoing the 150 Psalms. Gone is the familiar rhythm of Joyous on Mondays and Thursdays. But then she came to see what a gift the new mysteries were.
Despite my aversion to change, I never had any resistance to the Luminous Mysteries because they seemed to fill an empty space that needed to be filled between the Joyous and Sorrowful Mysteries. They give us a chance to meditate on many of the Sacraments, and they include some of the more public events in the life of Jesus. Then the other day while I was praying the rosary on my way to work, I realized that all of the Luminous Mysteries are about change.
Jesus did not need to be changed by Baptism, but His Baptism effected a change. The Fathers tell us that when he stepped into the Jordan to be Baptized, He sanctified the waters of the whole world.
And what brings about a bigger change in a person's life than Marriage? Two become one, and then maybe three and four and on and on. This, of course, brings another kind of change to the whole world.
The third mystery is the great change of conversion. Jesus asks us to become poor in spirit, meek, merciful. He expects that should hunger and thirst for righteousness, and that this will result in persecution. For most of us it takes a lot of long, slow change to get ready for that.
In the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John see Jesus change, not into who He will become but who He really is. They see for a moment all the shadows of this world stripped away.
And finally, there is the institution of the Eucharist. The change that makes our life of faith possible. The only change that can sustain us. I was troubled at Mass this Sunday because I had been thinking about some horrible things. They weren't things that had anything to do with me, really, except in that sense that everyone's sin weighs on us all, and I was feeling that weight. But when the priest consecrated the Precious Blood, it really came home to me that this really is the remedy, that all of those things that were worrying me could be drowned in that ocean of mercy. It's so hard to convey to anyone else what one learns at moments like this, but after that, I was peaceful.
It is fitting that the Luminous Mysteries are the mysteries of change because light is always the agent of change. Everything we see is changed by way the light strikes a wall in the morning, or plays across the grass in the late afternoon, or reveals everything at midday. Everyday we can see something that we've never seen before when the light reaches some heretofore hidden corner.