Winnie the Pooh and the Joyful Mysteries
Confession: I really struggle to understand the 4th and 5th Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Before I get too carried away, let me address that I already know what you're thinking, "This reflection is supposed to be about mourning so why are you talking about joy?!" You tell that to the 4th and 5th mysteries! These events are considered two of the seven swords that pierced Mary's heart, but they are also meditated upon during the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. Joyful! Two swords of sorrow that are somehow linked to joy? This must be a mistake.
Today, a Saturday on which the Church traditionally prays the Joyful Mysteries, I had a moment of reconciliation with these two sorrow-filled Joyful Mysteries. I saw them in light of an episode of the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast and quote that was brought up in the podcast attributed to (you'll never guess) Winnie the Pooh, which helped me tremendously.
Let's think for a moment about the 4th Joyful Mystery.
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Mary and Joseph take Jesus into the Temple to be consecrated to the Lord under the Mosaic Law (remember, Jesus was a Jew!), and there they meet this guy, Simeon, who had his day made because he has been waiting for this tremendous consolation from God - to see the Messiah who will bring salvation to the world. Pretty good day for Simeon, but what about Mary? Well, after he rejoices in holding the Child Jesus in his arms, he says to Mary, "And a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:35). Tough hit!
So what does Winnie the Pooh have to do with all of this? Well, I think Winnie was wise beyond his years in terms of how he understood sorrow and mourning in light of its relation to true joy. In this act of presenting Jesus, Mary gets some tough news, but the joy for he comes from knowing how blessed the world is to have a Divine Savior. She, better than anyone, knows how perfect God's plans are even in the midst of her own sorrow. Winnie brings light to her joy in this moment, as he says, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
Have you ever thanked God for having something such a gracious gift that when it's gone, you notice its absence? The joy in this moment is not Mary's smile that puts up a facade over her sadness; rather, she smiles genuinely because God is showing her just how good He is as she offers the greatest Good she has ever encountered.
As for the 5th Joyful Mystery, I'm going to piggy-back off of what the Catholic Stuff You Should Know guys stated.
Finding of the Child Jesus
First, let's refresh: the 5th Joyful Mystery is a time for us to meditate on another painstaking event. may and Joseph travel 3 days back looking for their son before they finally find him back at the Temple. I don't know how many of . you have babysat before, but if I don't know where akid is for 3 minutes, I panic, let alone 3 days! In the podcast, the hosts discuss how sorrow is kind of like the hand that carves a clay vessel - it opens it up so that it can hold more wine, more goodness. If we do not have sorrow to carve an opening in our heart, how are we supposed to experience the immense joy that comes when the hallowed vessel is filled? Mourning is what helps us realize, experience, accept and appreciate joy. I bet you can figure out where this is going... Mary finds her joy in finding Jesus only insomuch as she sought after him tirelessly and sorrowfully. This makes me think, do I struggle to find Jesus when I have lost him? Do I use those moments when i feel far from god to mourn his absence and carve out a greater space for him in the future?
We would do well to accept and love the moments of mourning that God allows us to go through. "Blessed are those who mourn" not because we have a revengeful God who wants to see us sad, but because he knows that in mourning we are close to Him and realize, better than ever before how much we need Him to fill our hearts, which are restless until they rest in him.