Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekly Bookworm: The Rosary

In his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, John Paul II writes:

“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness....The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayerof Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer. ”

While this quote in itself offers sufficient reasons for all Catholics to increase their devotion to the Rosary, many Catholics either don't know how to begin or can't seem to deepen their experience of this fundamental, Scriptural, Catholic prayer. What follows is a list of books that I've found helpful through my years of daily Rosary.

1. The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort – This is a classic work that offers a history of the Rosary, a catalog of its benefits and wonders, and a introduction to its methods. While this is a beautiful book, it might see a little strange to the modern sensibility, so reader will need to let go of some of their presuppositions and let St. Louis speak for himself as he describes the intricacies of the prayer he so loves.

2. The Rosary: The Life of Jesus and Mary by Bob and Penny Lord – EWTN hosts Bob and Penny Lord offer meditations on the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries of the Rosary in this book, which also features photographs of the Rosary-themed altar paintings at the Basilica of the Rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. There are a few theological inaccuracies in this book, and the faulty grammar and punctuation drive me crazy, but overall the book provides some lovely reflections on the Rosary.

3. Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads by Kevin Orlin Johnson – Dr. Johnson carefully analyzes every aspect of the Rosary in this scholarly book, which goes into depth on its history, prayers, and meditations. This isn't an easy read, but it is well worth the effort and will enhance the reader's experience of the Rosary.

4. 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC – This book contains just what its title says, 101 inspirational stories submitted by people from around the world who have experienced the Rosary in deep and sometimes miraculous ways. Appendices contain instructions on how to pray the Rosary, meditations on the mysteries, and the full text of John Paul II's Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

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