Catholic Truth Society Postal Course #4: Life of Jesus, by Father Herbert C Fincham

Christ preaching from a shipThe Holy Rosary

The very ancient devotion of the Rosary recalls many of the events in Our Lord’s life and so we can learn to use the Rosary while studying His life. The Rosary consists of fifteen decades or mysteries, each decade (ten) being one Our Father and ten Hail Marys, ending with the prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” The beads are made to count five such decades. While saying the Rosary, we are not expected to pay meticulous attention to the words of these prayers, which are rather a background or accompaniment to our song, which would drown the voice of the singer if too loud and intrusive. It is like a lover’s formula of endearment and devotion, which he repeats over and over again without giving much thought to its meaning; and yet meaning every word of it all the time, while his thoughts dwell on his happiness in the love and beauty of his beloved, and all she means to him, and has done for him, and will do for him. So while we repeat our formulas to God the Father, Our Lady and the Holy Trinity, we let our minds dwell on the mysteries of Our Lord’s life and the glory of His Mother and His saints.

The Five Joyful Mysteries Of The Rosary

The First joyful mystery is the Annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel tells Mary that she is chosen by God to be the Mother of the Saviour, and salutes her with the first words of the Hail Mary. (Luke 1:26-38)

The Second joyful mystery is the Visitation. Mary visits Elizabeth, the expectant mother of Saint John the Baptist, and they rejoice together in the honour God has shown them. Elizabeth salutes Mary with the rest of the first part of the Hail Mary. (Luke 1:38-56)

The Third joyful mystery is the Birth of Christ on Christmas Day in the stable at Bethlehem. His Father was God; His Mother Mary; Saint Joseph was His Guardian or foster-father. He was welcomed into this world by the angels and shepherds, and later by the wise men or magi, which we celebrate by the feast of the Epiphany, January 6th. Herod’s plot forced the Holy Family to flee into Egypt (Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-18).

The Fourth joyful mystery is the Presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple, when holy Simeon proclaimed Him to be the promised Saviour (Luke 2:22-39).

The Fifth joyful mystery in the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple when he was twelve years old, after his loss for three days (Luke 2:41-52).

Christ’s Public Life

After the finding of Jesus in the Temple we know nothing of His life until He was about thirty years of age, when He started His public ministry. He passed those years at Nazareth with Mary and Joseph until the latter died. At the age of thirty Jesus went up to Judea where Saint John the Baptist was fore-telling the coming of the Christ, and there He was baptized by Saint John and God the Father declared from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). After this Jesus went out into the desert to prepare for His work by prayer and fasting for forty days (hence our Lent), and at the end of this period the devil came tempting Him. This, of course, was to give us an example of how to prepare for and resist temptations, for Jesus, being God, could not sin.

Christ’s First Miracles

Back in Galilee, Jesus began to gather round Him His apostles; and there He worked His first miracle at Cana, changing water into wine. Later in the sermon on the Mount He laid down the Magna Carta of His Church, especially in the Eight Beatitudes.

Among the many miracles of Our Lord in Galilee that of the healing of the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:2-10) is notable because the humble prayer of the Roman Centurion has been repeated millions upon millions of times before receiving Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, say but the word and my servant (soul) shall be healed.” Not only did Jesus heal the sick. He even raised the dead to life. At Naim he raised to life a young man who was the only son of his widowed mother (Luke 7:11-17). In Jerusalem, by the pool called Bethsaida, He cured the man who had been ill thirty-eight years.

Christ Forgives Sins

Nor did Christ only restore bodily health and life, but even more frequently He gave life to souls dead in sin. Mary of Magdala came to Him when He was in the house of a Pharisee and, weeping for her sins, washed His feet with her tears. He forgave her sins and declared: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much.” To impress on us this same lesson, that God longs to forgive us if only we will be truly sorry for our sins. He told the beautiful parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).

Another whom Jesus raised from the dead was the daughter of the Ruler Jairus (Luke 8:49-56). A great miracle of a different nature was the feeding of the multitude in the desert with only five loaves and a few fishes (John 6:1-15). This was followed by His walking on the sea to join the disciples in their boat (John 6:17-21).

Christ Loves Children

Our Lord’s love for children was shown when He forbade His apostles to send the little ones away but let them come to Him, “For of such,” He said “is the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 18:15-17). And again: “Unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

The Apostles’ Faith In Christ

These wonders had naturally given rise to much speculation as to who Jesus was and Our Lord asked His apostles: “Whom to men say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-20). They made various answers but in reply to His question, “Whom do you say that I am?” Peter made his great act of faith: “Thou art Christ the Son of the living God,” and Jesus commended Him for his faith and appointed him to be the Rock on which His Church should be built, of which we shall say more in a later leaflet.

To confirm the faith of the three principal apostles during the trial that was to come in His Passion, Christ granted them a vision of His heavenly glory in the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). Perhaps it was this vision which filled the apostles with greater longing to know God in prayer, so they begged Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray” and He taught them the “Our Father”. This most perfect of all prayers sums up all that we ought to pray for and all the acts that we should make in our prayers. Sometimes we should say it very slowly, dwelling on each verse, with the Catechism questions 147-157 to guide our thoughts. As an example of the right and wrong way to pray Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the Temple (Luke 18:9-14).

The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus the beggar shows the need for mercy. Our Lord gave sight to many blind men. Other well-known parables were those of the Good Samaritan, to show that we must have mercy even for people we do not like; the Good Shepherd; and the Wise and Foolish Virgins, to show that we must always be ready for death by living a good and holy life (Luke 10:30-37; Matthew 25:1-13).

Christ Raises The Dead

A short distance from Jerusalem there was a village named Bethany where there lived Lazarus with his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Lazarus died and was buried four days when Jesus came to them and called him back to life out of the tomb. It seems to have been this miracle more than any others that frightened His enemies into hurrying on their plots to kill Him as it roused such enthusiasm among the people that they welcomed His arrival in the Holy City with almost Royal honours on Palm Sunday.

The Last Supper

A few days later, Maundy Thursday we now call it, Jesus at the Last Supper gave His apostles a lesson in the vanity of all such human honours and the beauty of true humility by washing their feet. Then He crowned all His demonstrations of love and union with His followers by giving them His Own Body and Blood, under the form of bread and wine, to be the food of their souls and the Love Feast of His Church in all the ages to come. In spite of so great a proof of love, Judas went out from the supper room to complete his betrayal of his Divine Master!

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries Of The Rosary

We have seen how the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary remind us of Our Lord’s infancy, and now we can take the five Sorrowful Mysteries when considering His Passion.

Ecce HomoThe first is the Agony in the Garden. Immediately after the Last Supper Jesus went up to a Garden called Gethsemani to pray and He was so overwhelmed with the burden of our sins and all that He was to suffer for them that He begged relief: “Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from Me: but yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:40-46). And “His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground.” After three hours Judas came with Christ’s enemies to arrest Him (Luke 22:47-51). Our Lord was dragged bound before the Jewish Court, and it was there that Peter denied his beloved Master three times as Jesus had foretold he would do (Luke 22:31-34 and 54-62). Then they blindfolded Him and mocked Him (Luke 22:63-65). The next morning the Jews led Him to the Roman Governor Pilate, who tried in vain to pass responsibility on to Herod (Luke 23:6-12).

The second Sorrowful Mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar (Luke 23:14-16). But not even this brutality could satisfy His enemies, who cried the louder for His life. The soldiers made a mockery of Him because He was accused of claiming to be a king, which is the third Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thoms (John 19:1-5), and Pilate led Jesus out before the people, crowned with thorns and covered with the purple garment.

The fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the carrying of the Cross, which is also commemorated by the Stations of the Cross in our churches (Luke 23:24-32).

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery Is The Crucifixion

On Calvary Jesus was stripped and nailed to the Cross (Luke 23:33-34). For three hours Jesus hung from His Cross in agony and desolation. There He forgave His enemies and the repentant thief (Luke 23:39-43). He entrusted Mary to John and John to Mary and, with John, all of us to our Blessed Mother (John 19:25-27). In the darkness and storm that shrouded the earth. He died- the fifth Sorrowful Mystery – at 3 p.m. on Good Friday. His sacred Body was lowered from the cross by His disciples and laid in His Mother’s arms, and then buried in a cave tomb (Luke 23:50-56).

The Five Glorious Mysteries Of The Rosary

The first Glorious Mystery is the Resurrection (Luke 24). On the third day, Easter Sunday, when the Holy women came to complete the burial rites, they found the Body of Jesus gone, and an angel told them that He had risen. The soldiers set to guard the tomb had fainted away in terror. Mary Magdalene did not see the angel but Jesus came to her; though at first she knew Him not, she recognized Him when He called her “Mary” (John 20:1-16). On the road to Emmaus Jesus joined two disciples walking, without their knowing Him, and He opened their eyes to recognize Him only in the inn at the end of their journey (Luke 24:13-34). He appeared to all the apostles, except Thomas, that Easter evening (John 20:19-30). Thomas would not believe until a week later Jesus again appeared and told him to touch the wounds in His hands and side, and be not doubting but believing. And Thomas answered: “My Lord and My God.”

The second Glorious Mystery is the Ascension (Luke 24:51). Forty days after the Resurrection Jesus went up to heaven, body and soul, before the eyes of His apostles, and there He is enthroned in glory at the right hand of His Father.

The third Glorious Mystery, the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles, which we shall consider in due course, and the fourth and fifth mysteries, the Assumption of Our Lady and The Glory of Our Lady and of all the Saints, do not come within the scope of this leaflet on the life of Jesus Christ.

MLA Citation

  • Father Herbert C Fincham. “”. The Catholic Postal Course, 1951. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 April 2016. Web. 22 October 2016. <>