"new" mysteries of the rosary


the peace & social justice group in my parish has begun praying the rosary but they arent’ using the joyful, sorrowful, glorious or luminous mysteries. Instead, they are using “subversive mysteries” somebody developed recently that are geared toward social action rather than heavenly aspiration.

The developer of the “subversive mysteries” reasons that JP2 introduced the luminous mysteries in order to encourage others to create a set of mysteries relevant to their lives.

The whole approach makes me uneasy, at best. I don’t know how to respond to having these new “mysteries” introduced in my parish. My pastor is pretty social-justice-oriented, so I’m not sure he’d see it as an issue. … Or is it even an issue?


“Subversive” mysteries? That just sounds…wrong. :confused:


As much as I loved JPII, and as much as I see the value of reflection on the mysteries found in the Luminous decades, and as much as the value of the rosary is so evident… I prefer the “original” 15.

But the inventions of the laity… well… that is just wrong:eek:.

They must be members of the “American Catholic Church”:frowning:


I love the Luminous Mysteries, How do you “leave out” the Eucharist for 700 years?

The subversive mysteries are exactly that,


I am not so sure there is a real problem. The Mysteries are to my understanding subject based and not under canon or catechism so from Wikipedia

Joyful Mysteries
The Annunciation. Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
The Visitation. Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor
The Nativity. Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty (poor in spirit), Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: Purity
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: True Wisdom and True Conversion.

Luminous Mysteries
The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit-the Healer.
The Wedding at Cana. Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary. The understanding of the ability to manifest-through faith.
Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in God
The Transfiguration. Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness
The Institution of the Eucharist. Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration

Sorrowful Mysteries
The Agony in the Garden. Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin, Uniformity with the will of God
The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit of the Mystery: Mortification
The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit of the Mystery: Contempt of the world
The Carrying of the Cross. Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
The Crucifixion. Fruit of the Mystery: Salvation

Glorious Mysteries
The Resurrection. Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
The Ascension. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope and desire for ascension to Heaven
The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Mystery: Holy Wisdom to know the truth and share with everyone
The Assumption of Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death and True Devotion towards Mary
The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance and Crown of Glory [/list]

So it seems the rosary is a form of prayer and thus can be used in any manner. Now it would be important in any group session to restrict opinions to those which comply with Church teachings, as to not have heresy issues

btw - as far as I know no assigned bible readings exist for the comon mysteries, thus two places can use different readings within the same mystery


And what exactly are these “subversive mysteries”?


I’m interested in what these “mysteries” are too…

Instead, they are using “subversive mysteries” somebody developed recently that are geared toward social action rather than heavenly aspiration.

I think that’s a problem right here… the Rosary is* meant *to help us meditate on heavenly things and events in Christ’s life… that is it’s purpose. Not social action. Social action is something we do after prayer… I think prayer really has a different purpose though :shrug:



by Br. Vito Martinez, Capuchin

  1. The Magnificat
    Fruit: Service/Model of Liberation

Challenge: Am I a humble servant, or do I try to make myself important?

  1. The Gathering of the Disciples
    Fruit: (Grass Roots Organization)

Challenge: Can I work with people of different beliefs, gender, or culture towards the reign of God?

  1. The Cleansing of the Temple
    Fruit: (Protest of Exploitation)

Challenge: Does my work reflect the Gospel, or are my acts full of empty anger and destruction?

  1. Jesus Is Tried As A Criminal
    Fruit: (Passive Resistance, Defiant Truth)

Challenge: Will I speak the truth when confronted with fear, personal injury, or the lure of money/power?

  1. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
    Fruit: (Empowerment)

Challenge: Do I share my gifts with others so they may have a voice?


This is in direct contradiction to the teachings and purpose of Vatican II. Reference John XXIII’s Opening Speech:

The Lord has said: “Seek first the kingdom of Cod and his justice” (Mt. 6:33). The word “first” expresses the direction in which our thoughts and energies must move. We must not, however, neglect the other words of this exhortation of our Lord, namely: “And all these things shall be given you besides” (Ibid. ). In reality, there always have been in the Church, and there are still today, those who, while seeking the practice of evangelical perfection with all their might, do not fail to make themselves useful to society. Indeed, it from their constant example of life and their charitable undertakings that all that is highest and noblest in human society takes its strength and growth.

Heavenly aspirations first, social action will follow as a result.


Well, they are at least all meditations on Scriptural events. Nothing wrong with that.

I hate the name (“subversive mysteries”), and I’m generally skiddish towards those enamored with “social justice” (who tend to downplay the most egregious offense against social justice: abortion), but I don’t think there’s anything technically wrong with coming up with other mysteries. The rosary is a prayer aid. There are other prayers that can be prayed on a rosary that are of relatively recent invention (the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, for example). Ten or so years ago (before the Luminous Mysteries), I recall praying a set of “pro-life” mysteries that someone in the rosary group had found somewhere.

Personally, I would stick to the mysteries set out in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, and if I came up with some other prayers or meditations using rosary beads, I probably would call them something else besides “mysteries of the rosary”. But I don’t think doing otherwise is an excommunicateable offense. :wink:


thank you to all responders. Your insights were very helpful.


let us leave the late pope out of the discussion. He is the pope, a lay leader in your parish is not #1. If someone has a problem because the pope suggests scripture verses that are helful for rosary meditations, that person does not understand the rosary, scripture meditation, or the authority of the pope and should remain silent on the topic of the luminous mysteries until they improve their understanding.

Nowhere does OP offer the actual scripture which her self-appointed lay leadership has proposed for a rosary meditation. Any Catholic is free to meditate on any gospel passage whatever while praying the rosary, the traditional mysteries are not a dictate but a suggestion. However, it is poor practice in a public recitation of the rosary to change the manner of praying–unless you are the pope.

Yes someone engaged in a social justice ministry might very well benefit from private meditation on the such passages as the beatitudes while praying the rosary. There are many groups–pro-life organizations being among the most prominent–who have suggested meditations based on scripture for their members to use when praying the rosary together, but no lay person has the right to propagate a so-called “pro-life rosary” for use in public prayer with other Catholics without approval of the pastor or bishop. Most such offerings out there have an imprimatur, if not, I would be very leery of using them, no matter how laudable they appear to be.

There are many Catholic writers who have books containing rosary meditations–Caryll Houselander, Fr. Peyton, Fr Hardon come to mind–but again to propagate them and label them as Catholic spiritual writing for all Catholics an imprimatur would ordinarily be required.

If a local group finds it beneficial to pray with certain scriptures when they pray the rosary together–not when they are praying with the rest of the parish who is not “in the loop”–that is fine, but what they cannot do is compose some personal reflection or instruction that goes beyond or distorts Church teaching, and promote it as “Catholic”.

thanks for the link, it was not available when I started my answer, that answers one question, where did they come from. The article states the kind brother formed these out his own personal experience in meditating on the gospel–something many saints and spiritual writers have done–but not that he has Church approval in propagating them as helpful to Catholics in general. Until that is evident I would be very circumspect about promoting them in the parish. The scriptures are worthy for meditation, and even the reflection questions could be helpful in personal reflection and prayer for someone engaged in this ministry, but he has no right to dictate what the fruits of this prayer will be, nor does he have the right to politicize what is a prayer, not a political act.

even spiritual writers who have shared their own reflections and meditations on the rosary have not felt free to introduce their own mysteries, that takes a lot of chutzpah–unless you are the pope.


I have to admit, much as I loved JPII, it took me quite a few years to warm up to the Luminous Mysteries. Now, of course, I completely understand how they are all scriptural events that fill a “hole” in the mysteries (events/life of Christ) – we had such a gaping hole for years, and the Luminous Mysteries are the perfect, succinct way to bridge that gap.

Of course, I needed to go back and understand to begin with why we even have “mysteries” that we are supposed to meditate upon – Hundreds of years ago, most Christians were not literate so could not read the Bible themselves. That is, if they even had access to a Bible to read!! (We so often forget how blessed most of us are to have ready access to Bibles, and have the know-how to read them ourselves!!)

Anyhow - the whole reason why the mysteries were designated was so that the “common” Christian could remember and meditate upon some of the crucial events in the life of Christ and Salvation History. By remembering and meditating upon just a handful of crucial events, earlier Christians were better able to keep track of and contemplate the life of our Saviour - even without the ability to just readily pick up a Bible and read about it.

In light of the historical perspective of why the mysteries were originally designated, it is easy to understand why those first 15 were “picked”. And also, to understand why JPII saw the need to add in 5 (additional but optional) mysteries to fill in the hole…without the Luminous Mysteries, we are missing all of the years of Christ’s ministry on earth.

I would suggest that the developer of these mysteries is in error with his reasoning. JPII did not introduce new mysteries to invite us to each invent mysteries relevant to our lives. He added mysteries to allow us to **meditate on a more complete life of Christ **without the 18 year gap between the finding of the child in the temple (5th Joyful), and the agony in the garden (1st Sorrowful).

I love :heart: the rosary, but would not love :nope: any new mysteries that were “invented” to try to increase our social consciousness. Other posters were correct. If we aspire to be good and true Christians, then moral actions and social consciousness should necessarily follow. But to divert our attention away from what I see as being pivotal, critical and miraculous events, and the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf…to take our meditations away from these and divert them towards social attitudes instead…well, these do not sit well with me.

I would guess that there is nothing to stop anyone from suggesting extra meditations to reflect on while praying the rosary. But “meditations” is not the same thing as “Mysteries”. And I would definitely take exception with any one with less authority than the Pope, who tries to introduce their own set of “Mysteries.”

Just my 2 cents.

Peace and God Bless,


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