Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
10 WONDERS OF THE ROSARY
By Donald Calloway, MIC
Marian Press, 2019
164 pages, $9.95
To order: ShopMercy.org or (800) 462 7426
Fresh off the presses is yet another major book by Marian Father Donald Calloway. This latest — 10 Wonders of the Rosary — should soar to the top of the charts.
Surely Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan would like it so. In the foreword he writes: “We possess the most powerful spiritual weapon in heaven’s arsenal…With this in mind, Father Calloway’s title has been written to help you rediscover the spiritual power and theological richness of the rosary…I pray that this book is widely distributed and has long-lasting effects.”
With his easy to follow style, Father Calloway focuses in a simple conversational way on 10 of the most significant and important wonders of the Rosary that are “everlasting and indestructible.” Right there we know this is a book with great depth, yet done in a way that makes every reader’s perk right up. And quickly find the story and facts are being told as if the author was sitting there having a conversation with them personally.
Father Calloway never ceases to amaze with his writings. He’s an enthralling storyteller, only one who makes stories and facts of the Rosary so fascinating and inspiring that we want to hear — in this case read —more and then go and put the stories into practice ourselves because we’ll be thinking: how have I been missing these wonders of the Rosary before?
Father Calloway’s style also helps in the way he arranges each of the 10 chapters (and there is a bonus chapter too). All follow the same pattern. They present a short story about the particular wonder; an explanation of it; an example of the wonder in action; and “Words of Wonder” about that particular aspect of the Rosary from saints and popes.
One fascinating story follows another. But the result is not only do they enlighten us, but they really and truly challenge us to pick up the rosary and use it daily. And keep it in our pockets or purses, handy for whenever and wherever.
Father Calloway has a knack of using the right analogies too, or explaining the reason for perennial ones. Take the example of the “Polish Pope and a Lightsaber” — a subtitle with a contemporary analogy to something visual but without making the thought about the Rosary watered down. That connects to the centuries-old image where “the rosary has been understood as a weapon because it was given to the world during the time of knights, chivalry, and swords.”
We learn fascinating facts, such as why religious orders wear their rosary on the left side of their belt. It’s in imitation of knights carrying their swords “to signify that it is a spiritual weapon.”
And how about this? You slay dragons, the devil, with a sword. “For 1,200 years, the Catholic Church had been preaching and teaching the sacred mysteries of Jesus Christ to the faithful on Sundays and Solemnities. With the advent of the rosary, however, an entirely new way of praying was given to the world. It would turn every Christian home into a domestic church and catechetical school. The rosary would give all people, clergy and laity, the ability to wield the sword and slay the dragon on a daily basis.”
The Rosary is the weapon — as Padre Pio called it — that everyone can yield, even children who should love to imagine being heroes slaying dragons. At the same time Father Calloway takes this analogy to the heights for all ages, young and old alike, through fascinating stories of heroes, prompting readers to want to be ones themselves. Once they know these facts and stories they’ll want to join up, following the “knights” in the spiritual fray.
Then Father Calloway presents many examples of saints and their relationship to the Rosary, from St. Dominic for the origin of the Rosary to contemporary ones like Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who “once when asked if he read the Bible, he quickly responded by stating that he carried his New Testament — his rosary — in his pocket!” writes Father Calloway. “The rosary is, indeed, a portable Bible. The rosary is the New Testament on a set of beads.”
He gives stirring accounts of the battles won through the Rosary, communists defeated, a girl saved from a serial killer, hardened sinners converted, saints growing in courage and holiness. All through the Rosary. We learn the story of how it became called the Rosary. And what happens with “roses” when we pray the Rosary. And what part the Rosary played in 2010 in saving those 33 Chilean miners trapped underground 69 days.
“The prayer of the Rosary, in particular, is grounded in the transforming power of God’s holy Word,” enlightens Father Calloway. “Remember: God’s Word does not return to him void. When he sends out his Word, it always bears fruit. The rosary is composed of the Word of God. The rosary is the ultimate game-changer!”
Then there’s the Polish pope who used the Rosary to answer today’s threats. Writes Father Calloway, “Modern falsehoods require ancient truths to answer them, and this holy pontiff re-sharpened, renewed, and reloaded the ancient weapon!”
Father Calloway has a fantastic, long segment on the Luminous mysteries and sets the record straight, historically, which hardly anyone knows about, and at the same time answers those critics who say the Luminous mysteries are post-Vatican II. He overturns the misconception by describing how years before Vatican II a priest who was canonized in 2007 was already promoting the Luminous mysteries. Reading the book answers who it was.
This book also contains one of the best, easy-to-understand explanations of the “why” of indulgences because after the Holy Mass, “the holy rosary is one of the most heavily indulgenced prayers of the Church,” adds the author. Several times we also understand why Our Lady explained that after the Mass the Rosary was the greatest prayer.
“Our spiritual mother knows that prayerful meditation on the sacred mysteries of Jesus Christ moves hearts toward her Son,” Father Calloway tells us in another section. “In response to such prayer, Jesus gives unimaginable graces to the world. These graces bring peace…The rosary is divine therapy for the wounded heart, mind, and soul…The rosary is a remedy for the ills of society.
This is one of the most powerful, inspiring, books you’ll ever find on the Rosary. One that amazes with every new page and which will have us reading it over and over and recommending it to others. In a word, this book is inspired and surely has Our Lady’s mantle over it.