THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY
WITH REFLECTIONS ON MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
By meditating on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, we accompany Mary and Joseph as they learn that Mary will bring the Son of God into the world, and we journey with them through Christ’s birth and childhood. These reflections on the Joyful Mysteries include stories of people who have been forced to leave their homes or who face the threat of displacement—just as the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape death from Herod.
Today, millions of our sisters and brothers around the world have migrated or been displaced due to violence and conflict, lack of job opportunities and poverty, and climate change. Climate change is becoming one of the biggest drivers of forced migration. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 90% of refugees and 70% of people who have been displaced within their own countries are from countries experiencing the worst effects of the climate crisis.
Along with your personal intentions, please offer the Rosary for the safety of displaced families around the world and for solutions to climate change and other root causes of forced migration. Click on each of the audio files below to listen to and pray along with each decade of the Rosary.
FIRST JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26–33, 38)
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Humility
We can only imagine how overwhelmed and scared Mary must have been when she learned she would welcome a child into a situation she never would have planned. Mary was betrothed to Joseph but knowing the child wasn’t his put them both in a difficult spot. He was asked to humbly support her despite his own uncertainty. Today, parents who are vulnerable to the impact of climate change face uncertainty, too. While doing their best to care for their children, they may wonder if they will lose their livelihood, their home and more, and how they will support their family when that happens.
“We don’t have enough,” Sabira admitted, her eyes filling with tears. “It was always peaceful here. But it’s always been hunger,” she said. “This year is the worst we’ve ever seen. I have six children and all of them are crying for food.”
Mahdi’s father Hussain is a farmer. With their water sources drying up, he doesn’t know how he will provide food for his family. CRS is helping their village with cash assistance, seeds, fertilizer and a new irrigation canal, but the effects of climate change—including decreased snow and rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures—will likely produce widespread hunger and malnutrition and displace more families as they seek work or assistance.
PRAY: Mary and Joseph, we ask for your intercession for all parents experiencing uncertainty, especially those struggling to provide enough nutritious food for their families due to forces beyond their control.
SECOND JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE VISITATION
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:39-45)
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Love of neighbor
Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth after learning Elizabeth, thought to be past childbearing age, was pregnant. Even though Mary was pregnant herself, she made the trip to spend time with her cousin and share Elizabeth’s joy. It can be difficult for us to voluntarily go outside of ourselves and be present to the needs of our neighbors, especially given all we carry in our own lives. But Mary models this for us.
Halima, shown in the image, is a modern-day example of someone going beyond her own needs to support her neighbors. Halima lives in Manpura Island off the southern coast of Bangladesh. Typhoons that come off the Bay of Bengal hit Manpura first and hardest before moving inland. The island is eroding significantly each year, and climate scientists predict that rising sea levels will increase the salinity of the soil, limiting the crops that can be grown there. With access to food, livelihoods and the very land their communities are built on being threatened, it is estimated that 1 in 7 Bangladeshis will be displaced by 2051 because of climate change.
Despite facing her own risks and challenges from the storms, Halima wants to ensure her neighbors can survive and thrive in the face of the climate crisis. Using disaster-resilient farming techniques learned from a CRS program, she grew a garden that can withstand the impact of storms, providing a reliable source of food year-round. Halima built her garden as a demonstration plot so her neighbors can see the effectiveness of the techniques, and she built trust with them so they would be more open to trying this new way of farming.
PRAY: We pray that even when our hearts are filled with our own joys and hardships, we will remember to reach out to and love our neighbors.
THIRD JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE NATIVITY OF JESUS
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." (Luke 2: 6-12)
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Poverty of Spirit
Mary gave birth to Jesus not only without modern-day comforts, but without even the limited comforts of her own day. She gave birth outside in a barn. She laid her newborn in straw. They had their baby in a manger because, like many people who are displaced today, they had to make do with what they could find.
Aiza and Elmer worked hard to recover. Elmer does farming work and construction, and Aiza is a laundress. With additional support, they were able to move out of the shelter.
"We are grateful for all those who help us. With assistance from CRS and our neighbors, we were able to rebuild our home," Aiza said.
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and millions of people remain at risk of losing their homes, livelihoods and more as storms become more frequent and destructive.
PRAY: We ask for the Holy Family’s intercession for all parents who are raising their families without a home or the basic necessities and comforts they once had.
FOURTH JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." (Luke 2:25-32)
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Purity of Mind and Body
When Simeon saw the child Jesus, he immediately recognized he was God. Sometimes we hope for this in our own faith lives: that Christ will appear before us and we will have no doubt it’s him. Though we may not see Jesus in this life in the way that Simeon did, his story reminds us that children can lead us to Christ. As Jesus says later in his public ministry, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:5)
We think especially of the little ones who, like the child Jesus, have had to leave their homes. This includes Hawa’s seven children. Hawa and her family now live in an internally displaced persons settlement in Somalia after four consecutive failed rainy seasons left them without food and other necessities to live.
“We travelled using a donkey cart, walking two days and two nights before arriving at the IDP camp. We were thirsty and hungry and the donkey carrying our belongings died of starvation. We were forced to borrow another donkey to carry our luggage and that is how we made it here,” Hawa shares.
Sadly, Hawa’s family’s experience isn’t unique. In Somalia, nearly 3 million people have been displaced due to chronic drought, conflict and political instability. An estimated 1.4 million children under age 5 face severe malnutrition, which can cause health problems for their entire lives. CRS is providing emergency assistance to families experiencing the worst effects of this crisis, including health care, nutrition services, cash assistance, and clean water and hygiene supplies.
PRAY: Children are our hope for the future. We pray that we may recognize Christ in these little ones and work to ensure that all children can grow and develop to reach their God-given potential.
FIFTH JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE FINDING IN THE TEMPLE
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was 12 years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. (Luke 2:41-50)
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Obedience
During the three days Joseph and Mary looked for Jesus, they must have felt worry, fear and sadness. Being separated from your children, or from any loved one, is difficult. But it is something so many migrants and refugees experience.
Raúl* and Mariana* are two Honduran refugees currently at a shelter in Mexico. They fled their home after a local gang threatened to kill them for refusing to allow the gang to sell drugs at their business. The decision wasn’t easy because they couldn’t take their children with them on such a dangerous journey.
“Gone are our 9- and 3-year-old children. We miss them and are worried. We know that they are safe with our relatives, but we hope that one day we will be together,” Mariana says.
Across Honduras, gang violence and climate change are forcing thousands of people to migrate in search of safety and opportunities to support their families. In 2020, natural disasters—including hurricanes Eta and Iota—displaced nearly a million people. These unpredictable storms and flooding, coupled with longer periods of drought, are also destroying agricultural land, leading many farmers to migrate to the city in search of work, only to be forced to flee the country because of violence.
*Name has been changed.
PRAY: We pray for all parents who are separated from their children, especially for those who are doing everything they can to keep their children safe and provide them a better life.
Thank you for praying with us! Your prayers are a powerful way to support our sisters and brothers around the world. Continue to lift up the needs of our global family by joining our prayer chain.