The Importance of Chastisements

Many parents know that young kids aren’t always the most responsible or polite. We need to constantly remind them about things like showing proper manners, remembering to do their homework, and keeping their rooms clean. Sometimes we reward them with a treat when they remember to do something right and other times, if the lapse in judgment is severe enough, we punish them. The goal of the rewards and punishments is to instill in them a sense of how to live happily and peacefully.

Medjugorje’s Ten Secrets

God treats us much like how parents treat their children. Often, to get our attention and to show us the right way to live, God provides us signs in both miracles (rewards) and chastisements (punishments). But they have the same goal — to make us aware of our sinful ways and motivate us to convert. And in conversion, we ultimately find peace and happiness in God’s grace. In his book, Medjugorje’s Ten Secrets, author Dan Lynch talks about chastisements and how to prepare for them.

Even if you don’t believe in the authenticity of Mary’s appearances at Medjugorje, this book is still a good read. In fact, the Medjugorje aspects of the book are quite small and don’t provide any new information. This is because the visionaries are steadfast in not talking about the secrets they received from Mary.

The book could have been easily been titled something like “Chastisements Explained” or “101 Reasons to Convert Right Now.” Most of the book is spent explaining why God chastises us and what Mary’s messages in the past teach us about chastisements. It provides many resources on how to live a spiritually healthy lifestyle such as explaining the importance of:

  • Prayer
  • Conversion
  • Fasting
  • Penance
  • Receiving the Eucharist

The Importance of Chastisements

While it’s scary to think that there are some dark days ahead, the purpose of this book isn’t to scare and discourage you. There is a message of hope that no matter how bad things get in this life, the faithful will be comforted in Heaven for all eternity. But hopefully, there will be more souls enjoying Heaven because chastisements will bring forth conversion.

Chastisements and miracles are two sides of the same coin — they both get our attention and cause us to realize the awesome power and love of God. God is no dummy. He sees how easily people turn away from him to lives of sin and immorality when humanity gets a bit too comfortable. Sometimes, He needs to wake us up to the fact that there is more than what this world provides. God needs to get our attention, sometimes with miracles and sometimes with tragedy. But in the end, they bring more people into deeper communion with Him.

Abortion is just one of the many reasons why God needs to wake us up through chastisements

The Rosary Connection

The main idea behind the Medjugorje secrets and chastisements is to bring about conversion. Focus on your personal conversion when you meditate on the Third Luminous Mystery. After all, the word “conversion” is right there in the title — The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion. We all have some sort of converting to do because none of us are perfect. We all have obstacles to overcome that prevent us from living 100% for God. When you pray, ask God to help you identify your weaknesses and give you the will to change them.

One of the messages in Dan Lynch’s book is that we shouldn’t worry about the details of the 10 secrets from Medjugorje. We should already be living a life of prayer, fasting, and conversion. Worrying about the chastisements is like worrying over the end of the world. We shouldn’t wait for supernatural events to motivate us to convert because our personal end (aka death) may come before they take place. We need to act without our Mother Mary nagging or chastising humanity in a big way. If you wait too long because you’re waiting for a big sign, you may miss the opportunity to convert. The “big sign” might be you standing before God and it will be too late to convert.

Removing Distractions for Better Rosary Prayer

There are so many distractions in our world that it is becoming increasingly harder to carve out time for earnest prayer. Although I know the benefits of prayer, I often find ways to avoid it. It’s like knowing that exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet will lead to a good life but we don’t always want to put in the effort. So we instead pick up some fast food and binge watch something on Netflix.

Probably the single largest distraction and source of mental junk food is the smartphone. It has all sorts of apps trying to get our attention all day long. I get notified by Duolingo that I haven’t done my Polish language training for the day. My sudoku app reminds me that there is a new puzzle. My journaling app tells me it’s been a while since I’ve written something. It’s so easy to cram my day with all these little apps that it doesn’t leave room for prayer.

I recently finished reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. It is a great read for anyone needing to declutter their day from all the mindless distractions offered through our phones. Some of the better chapters talk about the value of solitude or finding ways to have higher quality interactions with family and friends. Even if you’re already pretty good about your phone usage, give this book a read as I’m sure you’ll learn even more ways to keep your phone usage in check.

Why do I bring up Digital Minimalism on my RosaryMeds site? I think many of us find our phones chewing into our prayer life. Because God isn’t pinging us on our phones telling us He hasn’t heard from us, we forget to pray. Or, prayer just becomes another todo item alongside our daily Elevate lesson. But prayer needs to be more than just something to cram into our day. Prayer needs to be the foundation for our day. Our relationship with God and having His grace is what will sustain us, not how many people liked our post on Facebook.

After finishing Digital Minimalism, I’m trying to be much more deliberate in what I do. I put my phone away when I’m eating with my family. I also put it away when I’m playing with my kids. I’m working on my phone not being filler to my day. Because once you pick it up to check an app or website quickly, you often find yourself wasting minutes or hours mindlessly clicking links and watching movies. I don’t want to be a slave to my phone.

If I do have a few minutes of downtime, I’m going to do what people did not too long ago — just be alone with my thoughts. It’s okay to not always be doing something. Our brains need that break from being constantly connected. I find that when I’m alone with my thoughts, prayer often follows. That turns low-quality swiping into high-quality communication with our #1 fan, God.

In short, whatever you do throughout the day, do it deliberately. Don’t sort of be present at the breakfast table, but fully present. Don’t sort of talk to people, but actually have a conversation. And don’t rush through prayers, but say them with focus. That is why I wake up at 6 am now, don’t touch my phone, and launch straight into Rosary prayer. Whatever messages and emails that came through the night can wait 30 minutes. If I want a good day, then I have to start it correctly.

What about you? Do you want your day to go well? If so, how are you starting it? Is it checking in with God through the Rosary or checking your Twitter feeds?

Holiness Is Possible

There’s a saying in the creative world that the artist is his own worst critic. Many people, when seeing the results of their efforts, focus on the flaws. A painter only sees a shade of color that is slightly off. An actor remembers that one line that didn’t quite deliver the emotional impact he wanted. A musician dwells on that missed note that no one else noticed. A software developer, see a working computer program, instead dwells on a few lines of code that feel hacked together. We all have our faults that gnaw away at us leading us to doubt our abilities.

What about our spirituality? How accurately do we see our ability to live in holiness? Do we think we have the ability to live holy lives? Or do we only see the challenges and limitations and think holiness isn’t possible? This is the exact question Matthew Kelly asks in his book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler since he clearly states it in the first chapter. The biggest lie in Christianity is that holiness isn’t something we can achieve. And that lie has had a negative cascading effect on the world.

Buy it now on Amazon

Buying into the lie that we cannot be holy has prevented many of us from even trying. We look at the lives of the saints and think, “I can’t be like that.” And so we skip Mass, skip prayers, and go along with the secular crowd. Why choose a challenge that can only end in failure? And that’s the type of thinking Satan wants us to fall in to. If we give up on holiness we become susceptible to his influence.

Now, of course, the book (which is an easy read by the way) goes into detail on exposing the lie that we cannot achieve holiness. Holiness is possible. Matthew Kelly explains that we need to practice what he calls holy moments — small instances when we act holy. We can start small with one or two holy moments per day — saying prayers, making a sacrifice, doing something nice, etc. We can then expand the number of holy moments. And guess what happens when you chain together enough holy moments? You have a holy day! Then a holy week, holy month, and guess what? You now have a holy life! And what happens when multiple people live in holiness? A holy world!

Holy Moments in the Rosary

When I think of holy moments when I pray the Rosary, I think of Veronica in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus carrying His cross. Veronica is the woman who wiped the face of Jesus during His passion. I consider it a pure holy moment. It was something small and mostly ineffective in relieving Jesus’ suffering. But she showed courage standing out from the crowd and possibly incurring the wrath of both the Roman soldiers and Jewish authorities to help someone in need the best she could. We may scoff and criticize the futility of Veronica’s actions. But who knows how many people she converted in that single action. Perhaps her example eased the fear others in the crowd may have been feeling at the time. And maybe many of those people went on to become one of the many of disciples that formed the early Church.

Matthew Kelly wants us to understand that there is no act of holiness too small. They all can have an impact, especially when combined. And there is no challenge too great that we can’t overcome if we leave ourselves open to God’s influence. When you pray the Rosary and meditate on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, remember that we can all act like Veronica and stick out from the crowd. But first, we have to want to stick out from the crowd. It’s not easy to break out of our routines but that is exactly what God calls us to do. And that is why we pray the Rosary — asking Mary for her help to follow God’s plan. When we have as powerful of an intercessor as Mary, holiness is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

Saint Dominic: Model of Humility

I recently completed reading Saint Dominic and the Rosary by Catherine Beebe.  Saint Dominic’s life was a saintly one in every sense of the word.  He practiced the saintly virtues of humility and patience throughout his life.  We should also practice these virtues during Advent as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth and reflect on the life of the greatest saint, our Mother Mary, who is the paradigm of patience and humility.

Catherine Beebe’s book walks through Saint Dominic’s life from his early childhood through his holy death.  Keep in mind that this isn’t an academic or rigorously historical book.  It contains conversations and events that I’m sure came from second and third hand sources or were created in an attempt to better explain aspects of Saint Dominic’s personality.  But that in no way takes away from the motivational and inspiring power of this book.  Personally, I want to learn about Saint Dominic’s virtues, not a dry day-by-day historical account of his life.

According to the book, Saint Dominic strived for sainthood his entire life.  He always oriented himself towards bringing people closer to God.  When he was a young priest traveling through Spain, he was never too tired or busy to preach to the Albigensian heretics and try to convert them.  He lived humbly, never indulging in earthly delights.  In fact, he never ate more food than what he needed to stay healthy.  Even the order he founded put their faith in God to provide for them as they relied entirely on people’s donations of food, clothing, and other provisions.

It is this total giving of self that is the main theme throughout
Catherine Beebe’s book.  And I think this is also why our Mother Mary choose Saint Dominic to bring Her Rosary into the world.  She too, was a total servant of God; putting aside Her wants and expectations to completely accept God’s plan for Her.   That is what God wants out of a saint — a complete and willing submission to His Will.  When I say “submission” I’m not talking about it in that dominating sense of the word.  I mean that we willingly put our lives into God’s hands with faith that He will lead us to true happiness.

You have to be humble to be a servant to God.  Humility is the virtue which defeats pride.  And pride is the sin of centering your entire life around your wants and desires.  You can’t put yourself into God’s hands while centering your life around what you want at the same time.  You have to choose.  Likewise, saintly behavior requires patience.  It’s a lifelong journey of trusting in God when times are either good or bad.  You can’t say you’re devoted to God and then bail on Him at the first sign of hardship.  Is it easy?  Of course not.  But where do you think the phrases patience is a virtue and patience of a saint come from?  Being a saint isn’t easy but it’s the life God calls all of us to live.

The Rosary Connection

Look at Mary in the First Joyful Mystery.  She showed great humility placing Her life in God’s hands in the Annunciation.  Now move on to the Fifth Joyful Mystery.  Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus for several days “in sorrow.”  Imagine the patience Mary had to show and not give up hope of finding her lost son.  We can learn from Mary that even when times are difficult, we need to show patience for God to show us the way.  It is in that quiet patience that God will show us the way out of hardship.

PSA: archive.org

Lastly, I want to point our a really useful Rosary resource — www.archive.org.  I found that book about Saint Dominic on archive.org and, like a library, I was able to check it out as an ebook.  If you do a search for “rosary” on the site, you will find all sorts of books, newsletters, pamphlets, etc.  Many of those are out of print and you cannot find anywhere else (which is the whole point of why we have archive.org).  If you’re looking for some new Rosary material, give archive.org a look (and support it with a donation if you find anything of value).

Champions of the Rosary

Did you know that the second part of the Hail Mary wasn’t introduced until the 14th century?  Did you know that one of the most popular Rosary shrines was created by a former satanist who converted?  Did you know that an image of Mary handing the Rosary to Saint Dominic miraculously appeared in a cave in Colombia in 1754?  Did you know that in 1964, 2 million people gathered to pray the Rosary in Brazil?

How do I know all these little facts?  Simple.  I just finished reading Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon by Donald H. Calloway, MIC.  I discovered it after stumbling across an excerpt of it on Catholic Exchange.  I’m always on the lookout for books about the Rosary as they fuel my passion for both praying it and writing about it.  Bottom line, there is something of value in this book for everyone whether you’re a devoted follower of the Rosary or a skeptic.

Buy the book now on Amazon

The books itself is divided into three parts.  The first and largest part is the history of the Rosary.  Each chapter takes you through a century and highlights the places, people, and events that shaped the Rosary.  It can be a rather dense history lesson at times but stick with it because there are many gems to be found.

The second part takes you through the “Champions of the Rosary.”  Each chapter highlights someone’s biography, Marian connection, Rosary connection, and quotations about the Rosary.  While not as dense as the first part, again there are great pearls of wisdom and stories of dedication.  Just thumbing through a few of the quotations in Rosary Gems sections can provide a little motivation for praying the Rosary if you find yourself tired or not in the mood.

The last part of the book explores the technical details of praying the Rosary.  And while useful, the descriptions and meditations are rather shallow.  This is not a book of meditation ideas.  There are other books that provide much better Rosary meditation ideas (like these!).

I was captivated by the history and evolution of the Rosary explained in this book.  I cannot believe just how passionately people have prayed and endorsed this prayer.  The Rosary is so valuable that people have laid down their lives for it rather than give it up.  The miracles associated with it are amazing — battles won, regions transformed, and people converted.  It makes any of my excuses for not finding 20 minutes in a day to pray it seem so petty and selfish.  If you’re looking for motivation to pray the Rosary, whether it be getting started or just a boost of energy, please read this book.

While I’ve been praying the Rosary regularly for years, I do have a new appreciation for it thanks to this book.  I’m now trying to pray it more reverently — quietly, slowly, and kneeling when I can.  I’m really trying to appreciate just how special the Rosary is.  For example, the other day I was almost gitty over the idea of how proud and happy my Mother Mary must have felt that I was praying Her Rosary.  Knowing that our prayers are important to Her is something I’ve always known intellectually, but only recently have felt it on a deeper level.

I always knew that praying the Rosary is good for you.  But I was more like a child eating his vegetables because someone told me I should.  But Champions of the Rosary explains why the Rosary is such an important prayer and why everyone must make a habit of praying it.  It will help you internalize and understand its power.  Give it a read.  Hopefully, it will transform the way you approach the Rosary as it did for me.

Book Review: Be a Man

Are you a person who:

  1. reads the Bible?  Are you spending time reading Scripture every day?  Are you living with the mindset, “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed?”
  2. surrenders to the Holy Spirit?  Do you make a commitment to say a daily prayer of submission to the Holy Spirit?
  3. takes responsibility for your life and your past and not blame others?

Those are three of thirty tasks that Father Larry Richards asks of his readers in his book, Be a Man: Becoming the Man God Created you to be.  In this book, he explores how one grows strong in faith by imitating the manly example of Jesus Christ.  Through stories of his ministry and personal experiences, Fr. Larry breaks down the popular misconception that being deeply spiritual and close to God is something weak or passive.  His book reflects an attitude of a drill instructor or fitness coach telling people to “man up” and actively embrace their faith.

Despite its title, Be a Man is a great guide book for all Catholics, not just men.  Except for a few stories and maybe a few male-specific words of advice, this book will just as easily appeal to women as well as men.  To me, the title seems more like a marketing gimmick to separate itself from all the other “how to live a Catholic lifestyle” books that are available.

Father Larry Richards’ advice is not an easy one.  He is very up front that living a truly Catholic life is difficult.  But he stresses the importance of “manning up” and tackling those challenges because it will ultimately benefit you and the ones you love.  At its core, he lays down arguments on the importance of dedicating your life to God.  Contrary to popular belief, lay people are called to lead a fully spiritual life of prayer, fasting, chastity, charity, and dedication to following God’s will just like any ordained priest.  God does not let us off easy just because we happen to be on the other side of the alter during Mass.

Personally, my largest takeaway from the book is the need to go to church more than once a week on Sunday.  As Fr. Larry says, the Our Father says “give us our daily bread.”  It does not say “weekly bread.”  Even if you cannot attend daily Mass, it is important to try to go into a church, say a few prayers, and tell God that you are starting your day as his disciple.  While I have not been able to go to church every day, I do try to find times to squeeze it in when I can.  I hope, much like rosary prayer, it provides a sense of peace knowing that God is in control and is guiding me regardless of the chaos of our world.

This book has been out for seven years and has a 5-star rating on Amazon.  It is that good and is something you will want to give away to your friends and family after you read it.  Buy a copy and be the one who starts a new chain of lending of this powerful book.

Pope Pius XII: Hitler’s Pope Debunked

Pope Pius XII is often regarded as “Hitler’s pope” because of his silence on the autocracies committed by the Nazis in WWII, particularly the Holocaust. However, the book Church of Spies presents a different side of the story where the Vatican’s silence was not born out of indifference or antisemitism, but one of strategy. In fact, letters and other documents cited in the book reveal that the Catholic Church was working covertly to protect not only Jewish people but anyone who found themselves in the cross-hairs of the Nazis.

To understand Pope Pius’ situation, you have to think like someone living in Hitler’s occupied Europe, not someone looking at the events 60 years after the fact. Imagine living in a world where international law was virtually non-existent and one of the world’s most powerful armies was controlled by a mad man.  Hitler needed very little motivation to destroy any institution that even hinted at challenging him. Would you, as the head of the Catholic Church, deliberately put all Catholics living in Germany and occupied Europe under the scrutiny of the Gestapo by delivering grand speeches denouncing the Nazis? Pius understood that the Church could best help people everywhere through covert action, not blustery speeches.

And so Church of Spies talks about the Church’s role mostly from the point of view of individuals within Germany — priests and lay people alike. It follows the Church’s role in coordinating some of the famous attempts to assassinate Hitler such as Operation Valkyrie. Yes, you heard correctly. The Vatican was aware and helped orchestrate some of the attempts to assassinate Hitler and broker a peaceful transition of power in Germany. The fact that Pope Pius’ involvement in subverting the Nazi regime was not well known and he is known more as a Nazi appeaser goes to show just how well the Vatican spy network was able to keep its cover in a time of intense scrutiny where anyone could be hauled away, tortured, and killed for the slightest hint of plotting against the Nazis.

As much as we love the idea of heroes publicly denouncing and actively fighting the bad guys, Church of Spies shows a Church that needed to be much more nuanced in an atmosphere of utter chaos. Remember, because the Catholic Church had dioceses throughout the world including within Nazi-controlled areas, it was best positioned to act as a spy network during WWII. They could provide intelligence on the Nazis within occupied countries that no other organization could.  The Church and the allies did not want to jeopardize this advantage by needlessly antagonizing Hitler.  This meant utilizing deception and secrecy, not brashness.

I highly suggest Church of Spies, especially if you are interested in WWII history. It will present to you a view of the war from a different, not very well known perspective. The book is well researched using letters, jounal entries, Vatican documents, and other historical documents. It’s not a dry retelling of facts but has a narrative worthy of any Hollywood screenplay. It’s engaging, suspenseful, and informative.  But don’t just take my word for it, check out the numerous awards and 5 star reviews this book has received on Amazon.

 

Rome Sweet Home

There is a saying that to truly understand a city you have to have lived in it for twenty years or two weeks. The two weeks part of that saying means that someone with a fresh set of eyes sees aspects of a city that locals have overlooked or just grown used to. I think the same idea applies to Catholicism. To truly understand the Catholic faith you have to have faithfully studied and practiced it for decades or be a recent convert. Recent converts usually see the beauty and understand the theological framework of the Church that cradle Catholics may overlook or take for granted.  For this article, I am going to write about a book I just finished which focuses on Catholicism through the eyes of recent converts.

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I just finished reading Rome Sweet Home which is the story of Scott and Kimberly Hahn.  Many of you may recognize those names because Scott often speaks on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) about he and his wife’s conversion to Catholicism.  The book is a good read that takes you through their lives at devout and well educated Presbyterians to Scott’s conversion (to Kimberly’s anguish), and then Kimberly’s conversion.  It’s a fascinating read where each chapter first tells Scott’s story and ends with Kimberly’s take on the same events.  It almost reads like a mystery where Scott’s story often ends with some sort of cliffhanger which is later filled in by Kimberly’s story.

There are two aspects of the book that I’m going to touch on briefly.  First, I was amazed by the intellectual honesty Scott and Kimberly showed in their conversion process.  When confronted with information about the Catholic Church’s teaching on various subjects, Scott couldn’t escape how well reasoned they were and how much he agreed with them.  It would have been very easy for Scott to turn a blind eye to the Church’s teachings and return to the comfort of his protestant lifestyle.  But instead he kept digging; wanting to find the truth regardless of where it led him.  The more he read and discussed Catholicism to find that large logic gap to disprove it, the more he fell in love with it.

You have to admire that dedication to the finding truth.  Scott and Kimberly’s story should serve as an inspiration to us all in this season of Lent as we fast, pray, and meditate on finding truth in our lives.  Are you dedicated to finding and then living the truth?  Or will you turn a blind eye to the Church’s teaching when it throws up challenges or conflicts with societal norms?  When you pray the rosary, meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries and think about the giant price Jesus paid by not bending to the expectations of others.  Ask yourself whether you have truly dedicated yourself to the truth and the way Jesus is asking you to live.  That’s okay if you do not meet that high bar.  It is why we pray in the first place — to ask God for the strength to seek out and live according to His Will, not ours.

The second aspect of the book which touched me was how deeply the Hahn’s longed for Eucharist after their conversation.  They appreciate the power of this great gift from God.  They were dismayed about how casually many Catholics receive Communion.  They reasoned that many people truly do not understand who they are receiving in the Eucharist.  Otherwise they would approach it with far more reverence and also a profound joy.  I guess it takes a lifetime as a protestant with the host being just a wafer to truly stand in awe of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Girl receiving first Holy Communion, Sicily
Girl receiving first Holy Communion, Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we continue our Lenten prayers and fasting, meditate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery, The Institution of the Eucharist.  Ask God for the faith to see the Eucharist like someone receiving Him for the first time.  Imagine being a recent convert where you have gone your entire life denying your soul of that spiritual banquet of the Eucharist and now you are finally able to celebrate.  So deep should our joy of the Eucharist be whether we have received it a few times or thousands of times.  We pray for those going through RCIA as we lead up to their full membership in the Catholic Church this Easter.  And finally, pray for those who receive communion without truly understanding what it is, especially if they receive it with mortal sins on their souls.

Book Review: Part One of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

This year my New Year’s resolution was to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I’m happy to report that I finished part one which explains Church doctrine by walking through the Creed.  It looks like reading the Catechism is going to be a two year project given that it’s already June and I’ve only finished the first part.  I thought I would write about the Catechism as I finish each part instead of waiting until I was completely done reading it.  Here are my thoughts about part one of the CCC.

I always thought that Catechism was the 10 (thousand) Commandments of the Catholic Church.  I was expecting a “do and don’t” list of sorts.  But providing a list of rules without any context doesn’t make much sense so naturally our church fathers laid down a spiritual foundation to start the CCC.  Part one is a well crafted narrative that walks through each phrase in the Creed and uses it to explain some aspect of the Catholic faith.  And boy does it go into detail at some points where a simple phrase in the Creed referencing the Holy Spirit or the Communion of Saints expands to multiple chapters of theology.  It does get a bit dry and heavy at times but it does provide a solid foundation for the “rules” that come later on.

You have to excuse the nerd speak for a second, but part one of the CCC is like unzipping a compressed digital file.  The Catholic faith compresses nicely in the Creed but like a compressed file on a computer, it’s hard to get anything useful out of it when you only see it in its compressed state.  It’s doubly difficult when the only time you think about the Creed is for those three minutes you utter them in a half comatose state after the homily during Mass.  The CCC is the spiritual “unzip” that takes all that compressed data and makes it something more useful.  Note that it doesn’t introduce anything new that isn’t implied in the Creed but it does clarify the pillars of the Catholic faith.

Another way to think of part one of the CCC is like walking through an art gallery.  If you don’t know anything about art then you would look at a Monet painting and wonder what’s so special about some blurry landscapes.  But if you’ve studied art history and understand the ideas behind Impressionism then the paintings take on a different character.  You can understand the richness and the story behind each work.  Likewise, the Creed may just seem like a bunch of simple statements but part one of the CCC helps you discover the richness and history behind those phrases.  And while someone may not understand every details of the Catechism, that level of understanding isn’t necessary to appreciate it and gain some insight into the Catholic faith.

I recommend part one of the CCC to anyone truly interested on learning more about the foundations of the Catholic faith.  As I’ve said before, part of being a faithful Catholic is also being an informed Catholic.  We need to make learning about our faith as much of a priority as we make learning basic life skills.  Because I can’t think of a more useful tool for Satan to spread his lies than an uninformed Catholic (just look at Nancy Pelosi).  Don’t unknowingly be one of Satan’s minions.  Become informed and put part one of the CCC on your reading list.

Book Review: The Secret of the Rosary

I recently finished reading The Secret of the Rosary by Saint Louis de Montfort.  In short, I think this is a terrific book that anyone who regularly prays the rosary should read and share with others.  First, who was Saint Louis de Montfort?  The wikipedia summary is:

Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (31 January 1673 – 28 April 1716) was a FrenchRoman Catholic priest and Confessor. He was known in his time as a preacher and was made a missionary apostolic by Pope Clement XI.[1]

As well as preaching, Montfort found time to write a number of books which went on to become classic Catholic titles and influenced several popes. Montfort is known for his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the practice of consistently praying the Rosary.

Keep in mind that the average Catholic in the 17th century didn’t have EWTN media, the internet, and RosaryMeds to help them learn about the beauty and power of rosary prayer.  Saint Louis de Montfort basically wrote one of the first howto guides to praying the rosary and spelled out its benefits by telling stories of miraculous events people experienced when they devoted themselves to rosary prayer.

Not to be overly self-promoting, but I was amazed by the similarities between my book, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, and The Secret of the Rosary.  Both books touch on recommended ways of praying the rosary, the benefits Mary promised those who pray it, and even some of the challenges you might face trying to form a rosary praying routine.  Of course, Saint Louis de Montfort had years of theological study in a seminary and was a librarian so he had a lot more spiritual and historical knowledge to draw from for The Secret of the Rosary than I have for RosaryMeds.  Still, I am proud that The Rosary for the Rest of Us overlaps in subject matter with a book written by a saint!  Also, you won’t find commentary on each rosary mystery (not to mention that the Luminous Mysteries didn’t even exist in de Montfort’s time) in The Secret of the Rosary like you find in The Rosary for the Rest of Us.

Buy “The Secret of the Rosary from Amazon.com
Buy “The Rosary for the Rest of Us” from Amazon

The Secret of the Rosary provides a nice little kick of motivation to those who may feel a bit weary after praying the rosary day after day, week after week, and year after year.  Saint Louis de Montfort acknowledges many of the challenges associated with praying the rosary such as finding the time, finding it tedious, mindlessly going through the prayers, wanting to give it up, etc.  Evidently, a 17th century Catholic faced nearly all the same challenges a 21st century Catholic faces about achieving fruitful prayer.  But he offers a sense of hope and infuses a sense of pride for keeping up with rosary prayer even when it is hard.  In the book, he writes:

Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary be sure to fight well, arms in hand: that is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is hard to say and you have absolutely no sensible devotion. It is a terrible battle, I know, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul. If you put down your arms, that is, if you give up the Rosary, you will be admitting defeat and then, having won, the devil will leave you alone.

He often talks about the struggle of good vs. evil, God’s final judgement, and other personal encounters people had with Mary about rosary prayer.  Unlike today’s white-washed view of evil, 17th century Catholics weren’t afraid to acknowledge the terrible reality of Satan and Hell.  When de Montfort writes about the dire consequences of falling into sin and the rewards for remaining in God’s grace, you can’t help but see the rosary in a new light.  No one who reads The Secret of the Rosary can possibly think of the rosary as a silly little necklace or just mindless repetition of prayers when you know all the good it has produced and how many souls it has saved.

I think everyone will take away at least one action item from this book.  For example, I realized that I need to slow down and take my time praying the rosary.  Often, I try to “beat the clock” and get through all five mysteries and additional prayers before arriving at work on my morning commute.  When I know I’m getting close to my office complex, I tend to speed up the prayers in a mad dash.  After reading The Secret of the Rosary, I now realize that there isn’t really no point in racing through Hail Marys so I can check off praying the rosary on my daily todo list.  Essentially, Mary cares more about the quality of your prayers, not the quantity.

Oh, one last point about The Secret of the Rosary.  It’s a fast read.  Each chapter (or Rose as de Monfort calls them) is only a few paragraphs.  So you really don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to the book.  You can read a few chapters a day almost like a daily prayer book.

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