Teens pray the Joyful Mysteries through the perspective of St. Joseph during the Mission: Jersey retreat in St. Gabriel Parish, Marlboro. Marianne Hartman photo
Teens pray the Joyful Mysteries through the perspective of St. Joseph during the Mission: Jersey retreat in St. Gabriel Parish, Marlboro. Marianne Hartman photo
" Since it’s the Year of St. Joseph, we are going to follow the Joyful Mysteries and reflect on the role that St. Joseph played in the life of Jesus – the role of father figure and caretaker. How did Joseph feel at the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus, and during Jesus’s early years? It’s a different perspective for the teens to think about and pray about. "

It feels odd to say I have a preferred set of Mysteries of the Rosary to pray. Each of the four Mysteries are important as they beautifully Illustrate and highlight the significant events in the lives of Jesus and our Blessed Mother, Mary.

But when Monday and Saturday roll around and I hit the play button on the “Holy Rosary” app and the narrator announces, “The Joyful Mysteries,” I always smile and whisper to myself, “my favorites.”

My fondness for the Joyful Mysteries originated in graduate school in Georgian Court University, when asked to reflect on one line from Luke’s Infancy Narrative, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”


In this reflection, I really began to see Mary as a mother. I reflected on her Fiat, her saying yes to God, her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, the joy and fear she may have felt at the Nativity, the continued amazement at the Presentation where Simeon recognized the Messiah in the child Jesus, but also shared the heartbreak she would endure over time. As a Catholic school kindergarten teacher for many years, my class often talked about the Finding of Jesus in the Temple and how scared Jesus’ mother must have felt when she lost him and the subsequent feeling of relief when she finally found him in the Temple (which then led to another important discussion – always let your parents or guardians know where you are going and never wander off by yourself!)

That vision of the Blessed Mother and her cousin embracing with such love and joy in their faces prompted me to decide that if I was ever blessed with daughters, I would name them Mary and Elizabeth. Mission accomplished. Although, I have yet to see them joyfully embrace one another, but a mother can dream.

When speaking to Dan Waddington, director of the diocesan Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries about Mission: Jersey, a service-based retreat held this past summer for teens, he shared how he planned to include praying the Rosary following the completion of a service project.

“Since it’s the Year of St. Joseph, we are going to follow the Joyful Mysteries and reflect on the role that St. Joseph played in the life of Jesus – the role of father figure and caretaker. How did Joseph feel at the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus, and during Jesus’s early years? It’s a different perspective for the teens to think about and pray about.”

While I had always contemplated the Joyful Mysteries from the perspective of a mother, it was eye-opening to witness the teens focusing on those same five events from the point of view of Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. This simple perspective switch, thinking about the same circumstances as Joseph may have had, created a different and meaningful prayer experience in a way I had not considered.

That’s the beauty of prayer life. It constantly changes and evolves as God calls us to a deeper relationship with him. As I pray the Joyful Mysteries now, I will challenge myself to think about it from this different perspective. One thing will remain the same, however. On Mondays and Saturdays, when I pray the Joyful Mysteries, I know I will always smile and whisper to myself, “my favorites.”