The following explanation of the Joyful Mysteries is taken from the October 16, 2002 apostolic letter The Rosary of the Virgin Mary (Rosarium Virginis Mariae) by Pope John Paul II.
THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES
The first five decades, the “joyful mysteries,” are marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation. This is clear from the very first mystery, the Annunciation, where Gabriel’s greeting to the Virgin of Nazareth is linked to an invitation to messianic joy: “Rejoice, Mary.” The whole of salvation history, in some sense the entire history of the world, has led up to this greeting. If it is the Father’s plan to unite all things in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10), then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favour with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of his Son. The whole of humanity, in turn, is embraced by the fiat with which she readily agrees to the will of God.
Exultation is the keynote of the encounter with Elizabeth, where the sound of Mary’s voice and the presence of Christ in her womb cause John to “leap for joy” (cf. Lk 1:44). Gladness also fills the scene in Bethlehem, when the birth of the divine Child, the Saviour of the world, is announced by the song of the angels and proclaimed to the shepherds as “news of great joy” (Lk 2:10).
The final two mysteries, while preserving this climate of joy, already point to the drama yet to come. The Presentation in the Temple not only expresses the joy of the Child’s consecration and the ecstasy of the aged Simeon; it also records the prophecy that Christ will be a “sign of contradiction” for Israel and that a sword will pierce his mother’s heart (cf. Lk 2:34–35). Joy mixed with drama marks the fifth mystery, the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. Here he appears in his divine wisdom as he listens and raises questions, already in effect one who “teaches.” The revelation of his mystery as the Son wholly dedicated to his Father’s affairs proclaims the radical nature of the Gospel, in which even the closest of human relationships are challenged by the absolute demands of the Kingdom. Mary and Joseph, fearful and anxious, “did not understand” his words (Lk 2:50).
To meditate on the “joyful” mysteries, then, is to enter into the ultimate causes and the deepest meaning of Christian joy. It is to focus on the realism of the mystery of the Incarnation and on the obscure foreshadowing of the mystery of the saving Passion. Mary leads us to discover the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is, first and foremost, euangelion, “good news,” which has as its heart and its whole content the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the one Saviour of the world.
Prayed on: Monday and Saturdays; optional on Sundays during Advent and the Christmas Season
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”
Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor
And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty
And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience
Finding the Child Jesus in the Temple
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
Fruit of the Mystery: Joy in Finding Jesus