Mystery of the Divine Journey
The memorial of Our Lady of the Flight Into Egypt, patronal feast of the archdiocese of Cape Town and diocese of Port Elizabeth is celebrated on February 7 this year.
There are four official mysteries of the rosary, but we are unlimited in our prayerful meditation. LUCY RUBIN suggests a Mystery of the Divine Journey.
We may pray the four mysteries of the rosary — Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous — which highlight episodes in the life and death of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the Ascension and beyond. We might pray them every day, and that is indeed a fruitful spiritual exercise.
Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mystery, or the “Mysteries of Light”, to the previous three in 2002. This suggests that the scope for mysteries is not exhausted. In my own prayer life, I like to also meditate on what I call “The Divine Journey”, based around the events of the Flight into Egypt. This journey began when the Saviour was born and divine assistance was needed to escape Herod’s murderous plot. Many artists have tried to capture it, from Giotto di Bondone to Fra Bartolomeo.
The five reflections on the Mysteries of the Divine Journey follow, and leave much freedom for further meditation.
1. St Joseph, pray for us
Always informed by angels, grant assistance to those whose lives are in danger! (Say ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be, and one Our Father.)
As King Herod plotted the Massacre of the Innocents, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned: “Get up, take the child and flee into Egypt.”
2. The Holy Family flees into Egypt, pursued by the soldiers of Herod
Mary, Mother of Divine Journeys, pray for us!
Imagine the terror and exhaustion of that journey. Herod, upon hearing that a “King of the Jews” had been born in Bethlehem, ordered the slaughter of all male children in and around the town in order to protect his claim to the throne. Joseph, Mary and Jesus escaped to Egypt.
According to a tradition, Herod’s soldiers interrogated farmers in their fields to find the Holy Family. The farmers truthfully answered that the family had passed when the wheat seed was being sown into the ground. Through divine intervention, the wheat grew to its full height overnight, suggesting that the family had passed several months earlier, thus saving them from certain death.
3. The Holy Family arrives in Egypt
In 1968, tens of thousands of Cairo residents of different faiths, including President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a Muslim, witnessed a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary above the Coptic church of St Mary’s in the city’s suburb of Zeitoun. Because of President Nasser’s policy towards Christians, predominantly Muslim Egypt entered a period of internal peace and bon accord.
Contemplate the photo above, taken by a photographer who reported that his injured arm was healed the instant he clicked the shutter.
4. The Holy Family remains in Egypt
Mother of safe journeys, pray for us! We can acknowledge the terror that many migrants and refugees must feel as they flee the threat of harmful government policies, racism or political terror. The Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt is relevant even today.
Throughout Egypt are sacred sites where tradition says the Holy Family passed through or remained for a while. In all of these places they found water. Wells are an essential commodity in the desert, and water is life (cf Isaiah 12:3 or John 4:13-14).
5. The Holy Family is called out of Egypt
Have you ever wondered about the origins of the prayer, “…and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus”? The angel of the Lord has reappeared and says: “Out of Egypt I called my Son” (Matthew 2:15; also see Hosea 11:1). Imagine the joy of the reunions Joseph and Mary had after years of separation from loved ones in a foreign land!
Hail Mary, full of Grace…
The meditations and thanksgivings and petitions in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary are endless and bear so much goodwill and peace. When you feel like, “I’ve heard it all before”, remember there is so much more.
Lucy Rubin writes from Pretoria.
This article was published in the January issue of The Southern Cross magazine
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