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The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of Mary

This guest post is by Isaiah Hoogendyk, Biblical Languages Engineer at Faithlife Corporation.

The Salve, Regina, or “Hail, Holy Queen!” is typically used as a concluding prayer to the five decades of the Rosary. Why do we do address the Blessed Virgin Mary this way? Let us first take a look back at the mysteries we have already written about.

If the Joyous Mysteries tell of the beginning of our salvation, the joy of knowing that Christ is coming to dwell among us and show the way to everlasting life; and the Sorrowful Mysteries tell of how He suffered for our sake and for our sin, in order that we may have life eternal; then the Glorious Mysteries tell of Christ’s triumph and its promise for the Church, Christ’s Body, victorious upon earth and in heaven.

The Glorious Mysteries begin with Christ’s promised Resurrection from the dead and His glorious Ascension, which together look forward to what awaits those who fall asleep in God’s grace. The third mystery, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, recalls the birth of the Church, and is a fulfillment of Christ’s promise that the Paraclete, the Comforter, would be sent after He Himself went to be with the Father. The fourth mystery parallels the first mystery: Mary’s Assumption into heaven proves Christ’s promise for His faithful Church.

What, then, is the parallel to the second mystery and what is the triumphant end of this progression of gloriously fulfilled promises? It is what is celebrated on the Octave of the Assumption, a feast established in 1954 by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (“To the Queen of Heaven”): the Coronation of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. If her Assumption marks the completion of her life on earth, then there must be something even greater awaiting her in the new creation. Indeed, it is the very same thing that awaits Christ’s chosen and faithful servants. For in the end, we too will receive our crown. Not only are we God’s handiwork and the pinnacle of His beautiful creation, but we are co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17) who will reign with Him in His everlasting kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12).

We can look to Ad Caeli Reginam for excellent support of Mary’s exalted status and title, wherein the Pope appeals to Holy Tradition and the Church Fathers:

So it is that St. Ephrem, burning with poetic inspiration, represents her as speaking in this way: “Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother.” … St. Gregory Nazianzen calls Mary “the Mother of the King of the universe,” and the “Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world,” while Prudentius asserts that the Mother marvels “that she has brought forth God as man, and even as Supreme King.” (Ad Caeli Reginam 10, 11)


The Coronation of the Virgin by El Greco, 1591.

Who is mother of the King of the Universe but a mother of royal lineage herself? Therefore we can rightly call her Queen. We can also look to Holy Scripture to find prophecy of Mary’s role as Queen; namely, the final book of the New Testament, St. John’s Apocalypse. In one of the readings used for Mass at the Solemnity of the Assumption, we read:

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Rev. 11:19-12:2, 10 RSV2CE)

Mary, who is called the First Apostle, the Mother of God, and the Star of the Sea, is also the Queen. But as queen, should we fear her as we would a great and powerful leader or monarch? In fact, we can take consolation, writes Alphonsus Liguori, Saint and Doctor of the Church. In his excellent devotional writing The Glories of Mary, he writes an extensive commentary on the Salve, Regina. In regards to Mary’s queenship, he states that “she is a mild and merciful queen, desiring the good of us poor sinners. Hence the holy Church bids us salute her in this prayer, and name her the Queen of Mercy. The very name of queen signifies, as blessed Albertus Magnus remarks, compassion, and provision for the poor.” (The Glories of Mary, 27-28)

In view of her compassion, let us fly to her aid and her comfort. In recognition of our being “poor, banished children of Eve,” let us ask humbly that she turn her eyes of mercy toward us and show unto us her Son, Our Lord Jesus, when we meet in Heaven on that Glorious Day, after a fight well fought, and a race well run.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of Mary

Excerpt from Scott Hahn’s Hail, Holy Queen.

Scientists formulate and test various theories, some of which are proven with enough certitude to be renamed laws, for instance, Newton’s law of gravity; others are discarded as unworkable hypotheses. Thus, laws become the markers of scientific progress. Similarly, the definition of dogma serves as the mark of theological progress.

Dogma is the perfection of doctrine, and doctrine is nothing other than the Church’s teaching and preaching the gospel truth, as Jesus commissioned and empowered her to do. When the pope chooses to define a Marian dogma, he does much more than teach the world a valuable lesson in theology. He uses his God-given charism to fulfill his apostolic mission to preach the gospel to all nations (see Mt 28:18–20).

Throughout the history of the Church, the definition of dogmas has stimulated the apostolic and theological energies of some of her best minds, especially when a definition became the occasion of controversy. In the 1940s, many Protestants, including the late Max Thurian of Taizé, France, objected strenuously after hearing rumors that Pope Pius XII was about to define the dogma of Mary’s assumption. “Where is that in the Bible?” they asked, as they made dire predictions about the death of Catholic ecumenism.

Yet the definition of the assumption coincided with the dawn of a golden age of Catholic ecumenism. Now, almost fifty years later, the Catholic Church can be described as the engine of the ecumenical movement, when many of the institutions of the old guard have lost their steam.

And incidentally, Max Thurian died a Catholic priest on the feast of the Assumption in 1996 (146).


The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

This post is by Juan Pablo Saju, Verbum’s Representative to the the Spanish-speaking world. He is based in Argentina.

Saint John Paul II describes the descent of the Holy Spirit this way:

“The Holy Spirit descends as love and gift, in a certain sense, into the very heart of the sacrifice which is offered on the cross. Referring to the Biblical tradition we can say: He consumes this sacrifice by the fire of the love which unites the Son to the Father in the Trinitarian communion. And since the sacrifice of the Cross is an act proper to Christ, in this sacrifice too He “receives” the Holy Spirit. He receives the Spirit in such a way that He – and He alone with the Father – can give the Spirit to the Apostles, to the Church, to humanity” (“Dominum et Vivificantem).

It is Jesus who sends the Fire of Love to us. This Fire of Love is the Holy Spirit, and because He is sent by Jesus is also a Gift, the most excellent Gift. In the Holy Spirit there is equality between being Love and being Gift. St Thomas explains it well: “Love is the reason for a free gift which is given to a person out of love. The first gift, therefore, is love (amor habet rationem primi don:) . . . Thus, if the Holy Spirit proceeds as Love, He proceeds also as First Gift” (Summa Theologiae, I, q.38, a.2). All the other gifts are distributed among Christ’s Body through the Gift which is the Holy Spirit, concludes the Angelic Doctor in harmony with St Augustine (De Trinitate, XV, 1,9: PL 42, 1084).


The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles by Mikhail Vrubel, 1885.

In communicating this vital energy to the soul, the Holy Spirit makes it capable, in virtue of supernatural charity, of observing the twofold commandment of love, given by Jesus Christ: love for God and for one’s neighbor. The Holy Spirit enables the soul to share in Jesus’ filial love for the Father, so that, as St. Paul says: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Rom 8:14). He enables the Father to be loved as the Son has loved him, i.e, with a filial love which is shown in the cry of “Abba” (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15).

The capacity to observe the other commandment, love of neighbor, comes from the Holy Spirit, too. “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus commands his apostles and all his followers. With these words: “As I have loved you,” the new value of supernatural love is present, which is a sharing in Christ’s love for human beings, and therefore, is a sharing in the eternal Charity . It is the Holy Spirit who thus makes us able to love not only God, but also our neighbor, as Jesus Christ loved him. Yes, even our neighbor because, given that the love of God has been poured into our hearts, with that love we can love other persons and even in some way,  as God loves them.

In another address, Saint John Paul II sums up the significance of the descent the Holy spirit came down, at the first moment of the Church:

“On the spiritual and ethical level, yet having profound repercussions on the psychological and social planes, the force which unites is most of all love which is shared and practiced according to Christ’s commandment: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34; 15:12). According to St. Paul, this love is the supreme gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 13:13)” (General audience December 5, 1990).

The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

This guest post is by Kathryn Heltsley, Product Marketing Copywriter for Verbum.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” (Acts 1:11)

God’s plan. God’s timing. God’s perfect will. These phrases are repeated over and over in the Christian life. Why do we hear them so often? Because we need to. We can’t help it—we want to know what’s coming, what we’re signing up for. Instead, we get a lot of opportunities to scratch our heads as we think, “Well that wasn’t what I was expecting!” It’s easy to get stuck “looking into heaven,” rather than to keep walking in the direction that Christ has pointed us.

The disciples are always an accurate reflection of our own humanity. The gospel narratives are full of examples where they unconsciously demonstrate their preconceptions of who Jesus was and their expectations of what that would look like (see Mt 16:22, for example).

Father Vincent Nagel, author of Life Promises Life—and a dear friend to all who have met him for more than a minute—once described the scene of the Ascension with his characteristic humor: “So the disciples crowd around him, asking, ‘So are you gonna save us from the Romans now?’ Oh boy! I mean, you can just about hear Jesus slapping his palm to his forehead as he ascends in the cloud!”


The Ascension by Gustave Dore.

We all do this. We are designed with expectations. The very fact of our design implies an answer. But the form our expectations take—and the reality of the answer—can be a constant challenge as we stumble along the path of faith. Here, Jesus tells the disciples “not to concern themselves with God’s timing in fulfilling His plan” (Acts 1:7 Faithlife Study Bible). Ouch.

It’s not as though the disciples had pulled this idea of rescue from Roman oppression out of a hat. They had good reason to hope for Jesus overturning Roman rule. But the actual event of Christ’s presence in the world revealed a different plan. The openness of the disciples to receive it, however confusedly, is the essential triumph of humanity. And what they received through their faith, God’s presence inside each of them in the person of the Holy Spirit, was truly above and beyond anything they could have thought to hope for. And so it is with us all.


The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection

This post is by Juan Pablo Saju, Verbum’s Representative to the the Spanish-speaking world. He is based in Argentina.

The Resurrection of Jesus Makes the New Covenant Possible 

In the first Glorious Mystery, I invite you to meditate on the Resurrection of Jesus and the fact that this amazing, real event made possible to set the New Covenant and the fruits of it which is the coming of the Holy Spirit and our redemption.

The history of the Old Covenant shows many instances of Israel’s infidelity to God. But the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah elaborate God’s beautiful plan, and it is to make a new covenant with His people Israel. The prophet Jeremiah says:

Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke” (Jer. 31:31-32).

The new and future covenant foretold by the Old Testament prophets will involve the human being much more intimately. Again, we read: “This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33).

This new initiative of God concerns especially the interior person. Jeremiah characterizes this interiority with a compelling and vivid image: “I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Rather than nation or race indicating god’s people, under the new Covenant, God’s law will be written on the hearts of his people. Only then is God truly “their” God.

According to the prophet Isaiah, the law constituting the New Covenant will be established by the Holy Spirit. In fact the Spirit of the Lord “shall rest on him” (Is 11:2); that is, on the Messiah. In him shall the words of the prophet be fulfilled: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me” (Is 61:1).”

This new covenant replaces the old one, and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.


Resurrection by Deborah Anderson.


Teaching and Learning with Verbum’s New High School Curriculum

This guest post is by Robert Klesko, Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager at Verbum.

“You are all missionary disciples of Christ. With your help, students will love and serve Jesus Christ in the world.”

Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, Bishop of Camden

I heard the above words during an in-service for Theology teachers in the Diocese of Camden that I was blessed to attend earlier this month. While I was in New Jersey to present the new Verbum High School Curriculum to high school teachers, and the Bishop’s words resonated with my teacher’s heart. Indeed, his words provide a point of reflection for us all.

Anyone involved in teaching the faith is a missionary and our missionary work extends to classrooms, RCIA programs, Bible studies, weekend homilies, and prison ministry. Jesus commands us to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). One of our special tasks, of course, is to pass on the faith to our young people, and we at Verbum take this divine duty very seriously. As a high school theology teacher, I used to strive every day spark my students’ interest and desire for meaning. There are so many competing voices in the world vying for our attention, and this is especially true for adolescents. My goal was to make the faith relevant, exciting, and engaging on a daily basis, and I did this by integrating technology into the classroom. Technology is the currency of the modern student. At Verbum, we have embraced the great gifts of technology and used it to form a compelling, dynamic, and Spirit-charged tool for the proclamation of the kerygma.

When I was invited to join Verbum and work on our digital high school theology curriculum, I was opened up to the great possibilities that this technology has in store with all levels of theological instruction. Verbum allows you to engage the vast Catholic tradition directly while simultaneously being part of a wider network of learners. As a teacher, I always wondered how to make complicated group work and collaboration more effective, and Verbum provides an excellent answer by gathering people of common interest and mission into a community. Perfect for face-to-face instruction with its various interactive tools, wonderful for facilitating learning beyond the borders of the traditional classroom, Verbum makes education possible where you are.

It was these capabilities that I was pleased to share with my fellow teachers in Camden and in my meetings with educators across the country. The response has been overwhelmingly positive:

  • Father Allain Caparas, Director of Catholic Identity at Gloucester Catholic, noted the “need to use technology to reach our students,” and concluded that Verbum would be a great benefit to help students become active learners, and defenders, of the faith. “[Verbum is] worth our time and worth our investment (Catholic Star Herald).[1]
  • “Every Catholic high school that is serious about providing a passionate, compelling evangelization and catechesis to students should investigate the Verbum curriculum” says Marie Pitt-Payne, Theology teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, the first Verbum-equipped school.

Again and again, I have encountered administrators and educators who have had epiphanies about ways that Verbum can transform high school religious education. Part of this epiphany is Verbum’s ability to put the great sources of the faith at the fingertips of students in an accessible and searchable way:

“Students crave depth and answers; they need hard information,” said Janice Schumann, a Senior Religion teacher from Wildwood Catholic.

The knowledge that Verbum provides, with its “documents that demonstrate that scholars and saints have studied and researched the faith,” will inspire students to do the same, Schumann believes (Catholic Star Herald).

Combining the vast Catholic tradition and cutting-edge software tools in a compelling curriculum for high school students, Verbum is opening minds and hearts to the possibility of teaching the faith in a new and engaging way. Verbum is pushing the paradigm to new heights and changing the way teaching and learning are taking place. We do this because we believe that we are all missionaries—“laborers in the vineyard” (Mt. 20:8)— of the Lord, and our goal is to create inspired believers for the future.

If you’re reading this blog, please take some time to think about anyone you know who has an active role in ministry in the Church. Tell them about Verbum and invite them to invest in our powerful software. Consider adopting Verbum for your school, or visit to see how it can help you improve your own personal ministry.

For more information about the Verbum High School Curriculum—including a visit to your Catholic high school!— please contact Robert at

[1] Original article can be found at:

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion of Our Lord

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

When I meditate upon Jesus’ crucifixion, I can’t help but think about Palm Sunday. Why is that?

Palm Sunday should be a celebration of Christ’s victorious entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:7-9); the fulfillment of messianic prophesies (Zec. 9:9); and the royal procession for the King of All Creation (Lk. 19:39-40).

But during the Palm Sunday liturgy, these triumphant events are juxtaposed with a memorial of Christ’s crucifixion.

If you’re a contemporary American Catholic (like myself), you’ve probably celebrated a Palm Sunday Mass in which the Gospel is read more like a play than a pericope. The priest takes the role of Jesus, the lector narrates, and the people in the pews speak for the angry mob. As the narrative progresses, we inevitably come to the scene of Christ’s condemnation:

 Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted again, “Crucify him.” Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:12-15, NABRE, emphasis added)

Crucifixion, Seen from the Cross

Crucifixion, Seen from the Cross, by Jacques Tissot, 1890.

We, as hapless members of the congregation, are compelled to chant: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

It’s very uncomfortable. It ought to be.

It’s easy for us to picture the pristine, glorified Christ hanging on a cross. It’s far more difficult to picture the blood, the pain, and the death—in short, the penalty for our sins.

The truth of the matter is that we are responsible for Christ’s death. Every time we lie, cheat, or steal; every time we gossip, slander, or boast; every time we lust, lash out, or refuse to forgive—we may as well be shouting, “Crucify him!

When I meditate upon the crucifixion, I can’t help but think about my own part in Christ’s passion and death. It’s sobering, but it’s also illuminating. It transforms the Sunday-school platitude into a life-giving reality:

“While we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NABRE).

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus Carries the Cross

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

In classical art, we’re often presented with a familiar scene: Jesus, cross on his back, valiantly marches towards Calvary. Less commonly, we’ll see depictions of Simon the Cyrenian helping Jesus carry his cross. Only in a select few paintings will we see Simon carrying the cross for Jesus.

Has this confused anyone else?


When we read the Gospel accounts of “The Way of the Cross,” we find that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention Simon the Cyrenian carrying Christ’s cross. It’s only in the gospel of John that Jesus reportedly carried the cross on his own.

On the surface this seems confusing. But looking deeper, it’s not difficult to see that both reports are part of the larger narrative. Christ carries his cross until he can go no further, at which point Simon the Cyrnenian is pressed into service. Chronologically, these events are reflected in St. John Paul II’s Scriptural Way of the Cross.

In preserving both halves of the narrative, Holy Mother Church offers us two spiritual lessons:

1. Jesus carries his cross, and calls us to imitate him.

As God of the universe, Jesus could have abandoned his salvific mission. Instead, he submitted himself to torture and death. Jesus never took the easy way out. In carrying his own cross, he models for us the perfect response to our own trials and temptations. He even goes so far as to tell us that “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27, NABRE). We can courageously carry our own crosses with the knowledge that the God-who-became-man carried his first.

Simon the Cyrenian Compelled to Carry the Cross with Jesus

Simon the Cyrenian Compelled to Carry the Cross with Jesus by Jacques Tissot, 1894

2. God is merciful, and sends us help in our distress

To quote the Psalmist, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress” (Psalm 46:2). During Christ’s distresses, God did not spare his son this help: in the wilderness, angels were sent to minister to him (Mt 4:11); in the garden , an angel was sent to strengthen him (Lk. 22:43); and on the road to Calvary, Simon the Cyrenian was called to carry the cross for him (Mt. 27:32). If God offered this help to Jesus, how much more will he offer it to us—for whose sake Jesus came to save?

Just as Christ was helped by Simon the Cyrenian,  God uses his people to help us carry our crosses. Rather than relying on our own strength in times of trial, we can trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

For today’s reflection, I’d like to share an excerpt from one of St. John Chrysostom’s homilies. These words of the famed “golden-mouthed” orator are sure to be more moving than my own.

crowning with thorns

Crowning with Thorns by Caravaggio, 1604.

Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him  (Matthew 27:29, NABRE).

What plea shall we have after this for being moved by injuries, after Christ suffered these things? For what was done was the utmost limit of insolence. For not one member, but the whole entire body throughout was made an object of insolence; the head through the crown, and the reed, and the buffeting; the face, being spit upon; the cheeks, being smitten with the palms of the hands; the whole body by the stripes, by being wrapped in the robe, and by the pretended worship; the hand by the reed, which they gave him to hold instead of a sceptre; the mouth again by the offering of the vinegar. What could be more grievous than these things? What more insulting?

For the things that were done go beyond all language. For as though they were afraid lest they should seem to fall short at all in the crime, having killed the prophets with their own hands, but this man with the sentence of a judge, so they do in every deed; and make it the work of their own hands, and condemn and sentence both among themselves and before Pilate, saying, “His blood be on us and on our children,” and insult Him, and do despite unto Him themselves, binding Him, leading Him away, and render themselves authors of the spiteful acts done by the soldiers, and nail Him to the cross, and revile Him, and spit at Him, and deride Him. For Pilate contributed nothing in this matter, but they themselves did every thing, becoming accusers, and judges, and executioners, and all.

And these things are read amongst us, when all meet together. For that the heathens may not say, that ye display to people and nations the things that are glorious and illustrious, such as the signs and the miracles, but that ye hide these which are matters of reproach; the grace of the Spirit hath brought it to pass, that in the full festival, when men in multitude and women are present, and all, as one may say, at the great eve of the passover, then all these things should be read; when the whole world is present, then are all these acts proclaimed with a clear voice. And these being read, and made known to all, Christ is believed to be God and, besides all the rest, is worshipped, even because of this, that He vouchsafed to stoop so much for us as actually to suffer these things, and to teach us all virtue.

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 87.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged” (John 19:1, NABRE).

This event takes up all of nine words in Scripture. It’s easy to skim over if you’re not reading closely. And getting whipped doesn’t seem all that bad in comparison with being crucified. This one verse almost seems like an afterthought.

But it wasn’t an afterthought for Jesus.

Scourging at the Pillar

The Scourging at the Pillar by Jason Jenicke.

In ancient Rome, a “scourge” was a very different thing than your father’s belt. This instrument of torture consisted of multiple leather thongs, each woven with shards of metal or stone. With every lash of the whip, the flesh of a criminal would be ripped from his back.

Scourging was so severe a punishment that Jewish law imposed restrictions on its use:

Forty stripes may be given him, but not more; lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight. (Deuteronomy 25:3, RSVCE).

In essence, scourging was an excruciating form of punishment.

When we meditate upon the Scourging at the Pillar, we remember what Christ had to endure. But more importantly, we remember why he endured it:

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, RSVCE).

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