Pott’s disease is sickness that causes a degeneration of the vertebral tissues causing such immense pain that people with it used to have to be tied to their beds because otherwise they would attempt to commit suicide.
In 1945, Ramon Montero Navarro, a future saint from Spain, was diagnosed with Pott’s disease. His agony climaxed at the age of 13 as his tiny body had to sustain excruciatingly painful sores and internal torment. Even so, with closed eyes and muffled tongue, Ramon prayed the rosary daily. Strangely, as soon as he reached the third mystery, his symptoms would miraculously leave him for a time and he could complete his beads in peace.
I read Ramon’s story almost 15 years ago and every time I have prayed the rosary since then, I’ve experienced an atom’s worth of peaceful kindling every time I come to the third Mystery. It might not be much, but over the course of years, each drop in Christendom’s prayerful ocean certainly does add up.
The 3rd Joyful Mystery- The Birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem
For the first two Joyful Mysteries, Mary receives God into her body during the Annunciation and she shares her news with Elizabeth at the Visitation. In Emmanuel, “Christ is with us,” He overtakes Mary’s life (with her permission) so that our very souls would never be the same. He Who is Light could be seen and those who were looking could find Him.
The 3rd Luminous Mystery – The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven
Again, the first two Luminous Mysteries lead up to Christ’s first steps in mission. He was baptized, He completed His first miracle and now it was time for Him to go public. The Sermon on the Mount was spoken and the the Incarnate Word fell upon both opened and closed ears.
The 3rd Sorrowful Mystery – The Crowning of Thorns
The movie, The Passion of Christ makes one believe that Jesus’ flogging was a public event. I’m not a historian, so this very well could be true. But when I read the Gospels, I get the feeling that the Scourging at the Pillar was carried out behind closed doors. The fact that it is given so little description leads me to believe that in the same way only three of Jesus’ disciples were with Him (asleep) in the Garden of Gethsemane, so too there were only two or three at the pillar to inflict wounds with the cat of nine tails. It wasn’t until Pilate washed his hands and the people crowned Him with thorns that the Suffering Servant became known to all.
The 3rd Glorious Mystery – The Descent of the Holy Spirit Upon the Apostles
Very few witnessed the Resurrection. In fact, the vast majority of the Apostles were aloof and, when told by their friends, were a little freaked out. During these first moments of the Church only those who could testify that Christ had risen belonged to it. Sadly, during the first two Glorious mysteries, very few were given this grace.
Then Pentecost happened and the echoes of the Apostles continue to ring out until they have reached every ear and every heart. On this day, the Church, Christ’s missionary and mystical body, was breathed into like God giving Adam his first breath. He, Jesus, was thus made public in us for eternity.
In the third mysteries of the rosary, Christ makes Himself present in the world, through His teaching, by His example and within our hearts. I guess it just goes to show that in Him, there is no bell curve, only a constant uphill climb toward greatness.
I’m just happy He meets us halfway.
Photo by Thérèse Westby on Unsplash