Pope John Paul II was a devotee of the Rosary, creating the Luminous Mysteries in 2002 with the goal of returning Catholics to the contemplative element at the heart of this prayer.
“If this repetition is considered superficially, there could be a temptation to see the Rosary as a dry and boring exercise,” Pope John Paul II wrote in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae in October 2002. “It is quite another thing, however, when the Rosary is thought of as an outpouring of that love which tirelessly returns to the person loved with expressions similar in their content but ever fresh in terms of the feeling pervading them.”
The Rosary uses a tried-and-true technique: repeating familiar prayers while focusing on a profound truth—in this case, one of the spiritually significant moments in the life of Jesus or his mother, Mary. These moments, known as mysteries, are gathered into four sets: the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous mysteries. Each set of mysteries includes five moments. When you begin each decade (ten Hail Marys) of the Rosary, you imagine and contemplate one of the mysteries.
Bring the Rosary to life for your children—as you pray each mystery, ask your children to act out the scene being described. Don’t worry if their attention spans wane before you finish; go as far as you can, then pick up where you left off next time.
Mysteries of Light
In 2002, Pope John Paul II instituted the first changes to the Rosary in nearly 500 years. John Paul added a fourth set of mysteries to the Rosary, which traditionally include the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. The new Mysteries of Light, or the Luminous Mysteries, focus on the public life of Jesus. They include his baptism, his first miracle, his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, his transfiguration, and the institution of the Eucharist.