Tuesday 27 June 2017

Champions of the Rosary - Donald H. Calloway - The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon

Champions of the Rosary:
The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon
Donald H. Calloway, MIC
Marian Press
ISBN 9781596143432
eISBN 9781596143937

I had a physical copy of this book for almost a year. And every time I tried to pick it up and just never got very far, because of the font and color. With my dual form of dyslexia I just could not get far and kept starting back at the beginning. Then the eBook was released, and even though I had bought the physical, I bought the eBook and read it in 2 days. I could not put it down. That was a few months ago, I have just gone back and reread it in order to write this review. This book is not a small volume at just under 550 pages it is to date the most comprehensive work on the Rosary available in English.

This book begins with a quote from St. Louis de Montfort:

"Dear reader, I promise you that if you practice this devotion [the rosary] and help to spread it you will learn more from the rosary than from any spiritual book. And what is more, you will have the happiness of being rewarded by Our Lady in accordance with the promises that she made to Saint Dominic, to Blessed Alan de la Roche and to all those who practice and encourage this devotion which is so dear to her. For the holy rosary teaches people about the virtues of Jesus and Mary, and leads them to mental prayer and to imitate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It teaches them to approach the Sacraments often, to genuinely strive after Christian virtues and to do all kinds of good works, as well as interesting them in the many wonderful indulgences which can be gained through the rosary."
So you might ask why another book on the rosary. Fr. Calloway wrote to book after years of research, and years of prayer. The book is divided into three sections. The first is a deep history of the rosary; it is the culmination of 10 years of research and historical study. The second part of the book is profiles of 26 champions of the rosary. These 26 people, from all walks of life wrote about, or contributed to the promotion or defence of this prayer practice. And finally the third section of the book is information on praying the rosary.

Father Calloway concludes the introduction with these words:

"My greatest desire is that those who read this book will be inspired to want to pray the rosary daily and further the cause of Jesus Christ and his saving mysteries. Our world needs the rosary today more than ever. Every person who reads this book is capable of wielding this sword and becoming a champion of the rosary."
And I pray that for those who read this book because of my review. This book is an incredible read. 

The chapters in the first part of the book, the history of the rosary are:

From the Angelic Salutation to the 12th Century: The Antecedents of the Rosary
The 13th Century: St. Dominic and the Birth of the Rosary
The 14th Century: Plagues and Schism: The Rosary is (Almost) Forgotten
The 15th Century: Blessed Alan de la Roche and the Revival of the Confraternity of the Rosary
The 16th Century: The Rosary in Battle: Lepanto and Our Lady of Victory
The 18th Century: St. Louis de Montfort and The Secret of the Rosary
The 20th Century: Marian Apparitions and Apostles of the Rosary
The 21st Century: Luminous Mysteries in Dark Days

Part II of the book is the profiles of the 26 champions. Of the 26 champions of the rosary profiled 2 are venerable, 4 are blessed, 5 are classed as 'Servant of God', 7 are popes, and 11 are saints. And yes there are some overlaps in categories. On the list there are only two women St. Teresa of Calcutta and Lúcia Dos Santos. And of the 26 only Pope Benedict XVI is still alive. The full list of the 26 is:

St. Dominic (1170-1221)
Blessed Alan de la Roche (1428-1475)
St. Pope Pius V (1504-1572)
St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)
St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)
St. Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870)
Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903)
Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926)
Servant of God Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968)
Servant of God Lúcia Dos Santos (1907-2005)
St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)
Servant of God Frank Duff (1889-1980)
Pope Pius XI (1857-1939)
Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971)
Venerable Pope Pius XII (1876-1958)
Servant of God Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970)
St. Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968)
St. Josemaria Escrivá (1902-1975)
St. Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
Servant of God Patrick Peyton (1909-1992)
Blessed Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979)
St. Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)
St. John Paul II (1920-2005)
Pope Benedict XVI (1927-present)

For each of the 26 champions there is a Photo with key dates, and the photo is representative of the person's role or relationship to the rosary. This is followed by a very brief biography. An outline of their Marian devotion is the next section and then a section on why they are a champion. This is followed by Rosary Gem's or quotes from the person's works, writings or attributed to them about the rosary.

For example:

Rosary Gems Saint Pope John XXIII

This prayer - the holy rosary - is the simplest and easiest one of all for the Christian people.
- St. Pope John XXIII

When parents and children gather together at the end of the day in the recitation of the rosary, together they meditate on the example of work, obedience, and charity which shone in the house of Nazareth; together they learn from the Mother of God to suffer serenely; to accept with dignity and courage the difficulties of life and to acquire the proper attitude to the daily events of life. It is certain that they will meet with greater facility the problems of family life. Homes will thereby be converted into sanctuaries of peace. Torrents of divine favors will come to them, even the inestimable favor of a priestly or religious vocation.
- St. Pope John XXIII

Individuals, whatever their spiritual status may be, will undoubtedly find in the fervent recitation of the holy rosary, an invitation to regulate their lives in conformity with Christian principles. They will, in truth, find in the rosary a spring of most abundant graces to help them in fulfilling faithfully their duties in life.
- St. Pope John XXIII

The well-meditated rosary consists in a threefold element. For each decade there is a picture, and for each picture a threefold emphasis, which is simultaneously: mystical contemplation, intimate reflection, and pious intention.
- St. Pope John XXIII

The rosary is a very commendable form of prayer and meditation. In saying it we weave a mystic garland of Ave Marias, Pater Nosters, and Gloria Patris.
- St. Pope John XXIII

As an exercise of Christian devotion among the faithful of the Latin Rite who constitute a notable portion of the Catholic family, the rosary ranks after Holy Mass and the Breviary for ecclesiastics [priests], and for the laity after participation in the sacraments. It is a devout form of union with God and lifts souls to a high supernatural plane.
- St. Pope John XXIII

May the rosary never fall from your hands.
- St. Pope John XXIII

The rosary is the glory of the Roman Church.
- St. Pope John XXIII

Oh, what a delight this blessed rosary is! Oh, what assurance it brings of being heard here on earth and in the eternal heavens!
- St. Pope John XXIII

I knew Pope John. His love for Our Lady and his devotion to her rosary contributed an essential element to his spiritual growth and stature.
- Servant of God Patrick Peyton

And the final section in the book Praying the Rosary:

Why Pray the Rosary?
How to Pray the Rosary
How to Become a Champion of the Rosary
The 15 Promises of Our Lady to Those Who Pray the Rosary
Indulgences of the Rosary

Appendix A: The Rosary in Art
Appendix B: Our Lady's Words to Blessed Alan de la Roche
Appendix C: Endorsements from Cardinals and Bishops

This book is an incredible read. If you already have a strong Marian devotion this book will help you to grow it. If it could use some improvement I cannot think of a better book to encourage, challenge and inspire you. A wonderful book and one that is needed in this day and age!

As a side note I passed on my physical copy to my church Library and always have my eBook with me.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Donald H. Calloway:
No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy
Extreme Mercy II
Under the Mantle: Marians Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest
Purest of All Lilies: The Virgin Mary in the Spirituality of St. Faustina
Mary of Nazareth: The Life of Our Lady in Pictures
Champions of the Rosary
How to Pray the Rosary

Consecration to St. Joseph

Edited by:
The Virgin Mary and Theology of the Body
The Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church
Rosary Gems: Daily Wisdom on the Holy Rosary
Marian Gems: Daily Wisdom on Our Lady

Contributed to:
Beautiful Mercy

Note some books are published as Donald H. Calloway and some as Donald Calloway.

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