The Rosary,” wrote Blessed Pope John Paul II, “precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning.”
Pope Paul VI wrote that “without [this contemplation,] the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas and of going counter to the warning of Christ: ‘And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt 6:7).’”
Because of this, it is vital that Christians familiarize themselves with the Scriptures in order to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ.
Below is the fourth sorrowful mystery. To see other mysteries, click here.
The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:31-34)
Having been arrested, scourged, and crowned with thorns, Christ is now stripped of the purple robe the soldiers used to mock him and is dressed once more with his own clothes. The soldiers then lead him out to be crucified, “bearing his own cross.” (Jn 19:17). St. Matthew tells us that as they were making their way to the place where Christ was to be crucified “they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross” (Mt 27:32). It is reasonable to assume that, due to the brutal scourging Christ endured, Jesus was physically unable to carry the cross any longer.
In Genesis 22 we read of God commanding Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, to the land of Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice on one of the mountains there. We read that Abraham “took the wood…and laid it on Isaac his son” (Gen 22:6). Even as they neared the place of sacrifice, Abraham trusted in God, telling Isaac, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8). Right before Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was commanded by God not to do it. Abraham offers a ram in Isaac’s place.
This story prefigures the carrying of the cross and the sacrifice of the only Son of God.
The heavenly Father asked his only son, the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29), to carry the wood of the cross upon his back. Through this sacrifice Jesus has “reconcile[d] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).
This mystery reminds Christians that suffering is part of life and that if we want to be a disciple of Jesus, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ (Lk 9:23).