The Heavenwards Rosary: The Fourth Joyful Mystery

By Sr. María Palmer

Filled with longing for our salvation, you present in the Temple
the One you conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Your motherly gaze is turned to us
as you return him unconditionally and entirely to the Father.
Like you, the great servant (deaconess) of the sacrifice,
I give everything I hold most dear for the salvation of souls.

Father Joseph Kentenich, Heavenwards: Prayers for the Use of the Schoenstatt Family,
trans. Jonathan Niehaus (Waukesha, WI: Schoenstatt Fathers, 1992), 94.

The Mystery

A prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp, Father Joseph Kentenich meditated on the mysteries of the rosary and composed short poems about them in 1944. The lines quoted above reflect his thoughts about the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. When praying the rosary, we too seek a deeper understanding of the sacred mysteries of our salvation. If we meditate on the fourth joyful mystery of the rosary, we find a true source of confidence, faithfulness, and joy in the mysterious ways that God in his providence has brought about our salvation.

The Context

Sacred Scripture gives us the context of this joyful mystery in the Gospel According to Luke 2:21-24:

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception. And when the day came for them to be purified in keeping with the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what is written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

The Content

The ceremony had as a goal to fulfill what was prescribed by the Jewish Law. Thus, we see Joseph and Mary faithfully fulfilling the law by bringing the child to the Temple in order to give him a name, to offer him to God as a pleasing sacrifice of love, to ransom him back through the offering of a pair of two young pigeons and to purify Mary whose womb was opened for the first time after giving birth to a male child.

This Jewish custom, described in Leviticus 12:3, is explained to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.

CCC #527

The Covenant

All of the history of salvation can be understood in “Covenant-Code,” so to speak. This is the red thread that runs all throughout the Old and New Testament in witness to God’s faithfulness in carrying out his plan for his creation. And even though we have wandered far away from his will from the beginning—as in the case of Adam and Eve—God has remained faithful to his covenant, promising a Messiah who would come into the world to seal a new and eternal covenant for our salvation.

In Holy Scripture, every covenant is a form of consecration. Therefore, every covenant is a way to establish bonds in a natural-supernatural way.  Joseph and Mary, therefore, went to the temple to consecrate Jesus to God as a “sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant” (CCC #527).

Taking this concept of the covenant from Holy Scripture as the foundation for the Schoenstatt’s covenant spirituality, Father Kentenich promotes the sealing of a Covenant of Love with our Lady as a way of entering into a deeper covenant relationship with God and others, of establishing a natural and supernatural binding organism of attachments.  

Speaking about how to live concretely out of a binding organism of attachments in a natural-supernatural way, Father Kentenich said in the Shrine in Bellavista, Chile:

 We want to remain faithful to each other – in one another, with one another, and for one another in the heart of God.  If we would not find each other there, how terrible that would be!  Do not think that because we are going to God we are departing from each other.  I do not want to be just a signpost.  No, we are going this way together!  That will be true through all eternity!

Talk of the 31 of May 1949

In this meaning, we can understand well Father Kentenich’s meditation, quoted above, on the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. He pictures Mary, offering her child in the Temple, as someone who is

Filled with longing for our salvation.

Because the Blessed Mother is united to Christ and to his mission in a natural-supernatural way, as corresponds to a healthy organism of attachments, she is fully aware that she is bringing to the temple the One she conceived of the Holy Spirit—the Son of God, the promised Messiah—to consecrate him to the Father for our salvation.

For Father Kentenich, this awareness of our Blessed Mother is so deep that he pictures Mary turning to us as she offers her son:

Your motherly gaze is turned to us
as you return him unconditionally and entirely to the Father.

For Father Kentenich, the Blessed Mother brings Jesus to the temple full of confidence that her offering will bring about our salvation without knowing then, what we know now through the explanation of the Catechism: “This sign prefigures that ‘circumcision of Christ’ which is Baptism” (CCC #527).

For Father Kentenich, the Blessed Mother’s faithfulness in offering of the child Jesus in the temple, when his “incorporation into . . . the people of the covenant” (CCC #527) takes place in time, prefigures how the Blessed Mother is the great servant (deaconess) of the sacrifice that is reenacted in each Holy Mass.

The good news that brings us great joy is that—through our baptism—we are able to be incorporated into the new and eternal covenant that Jesus sealed with his blood for our salvation and that is renewed every day in each “temple” where Holy Mass is celebrated.

According to Schoenstatt’s covenant spirituality, by sealing the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother, the great servant (deaconess) of the sacrifice, we are confirming our incorporation into Christ and renewing our baptismal covenant.  Thus, our covenant of love with the Blessed Mother becomes means, expression and security of our incorporation to the natural-supernatural binding organism of attachments that is restored to its goodness and beauty in each Holy Mass as we partake in the new and eternal covenant sealed by Christ for our salvation.

Speaking about our incorporation into Christ in each Holy Mass, Father Kentenich said:

You must imagine, now the body of Christ is consecrated; now we are drawn into this mysterious body. Now no longer I live, but the body of Jesus Christ. I must live in such a way that Christ is taking on form in me. And my daily work must be penetrated by this recognition and carrying out what is mysteriously taking place in holy Consecration: I am incorporated into the mysterious body of Christ. The spirit of Christ must speak from my work, my actions, my willing and feeling. . . But what may make me happy is that I am again incorporated into him, that nothing can separate me from him.

Quoted from To Remain in His Love: Chosen Texts about the Eucharist from Joseph Kentenich, ed. Peter Wolf

The Ransom

Like you, the great servant (deaconess) of the sacrifice,
I give everything I hold most dear for the salvation of souls.

Undoubtedly, no one could be as close to Jesus in offering himself to the Father as a ransom for us, as the Blessed Mother was. Yet, Father Kentenich invites us in this joyful mystery of the Rosary to be like the Blessed Mother as deaconesses of the sacrifice by offering what we love most for the salvation of others, so that as alterae Mariae (other Marys), we may participate in leading souls through Christ, with Mary, in the Holy Spirit to the Father.