For Love of the Rosary
Father Donald Calloway, MIC, will release his latest book, Rosary Gems, on April 6, a collection of quotes from popes, saints, blesseds, and other great Catholic sources on the power and blessing of the Holy Rosary. Here, Fr. Calloway explains why he wanted to write this book and how the Rosary remains relevant today:
Why write Rosary Gems now? Why did you make this your priority?
Every time I go on the internet to find quotes on the Rosary, there's always the same 15 quotes by the same people. I'm like, "You've got to be kidding me! There's got to be more that has been said on the Rosary by saints and popes!" I was puzzled that I wasn't able to find more than these 15 quotes, and they never had the sources so it would just say, "So-and-so said it," and I'm like, "Really? Did they say it? How do I know somebody isn't just saying this and now it's circulated all over the Internet?"
I knew about books like The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort — that's the best book ever written on the Rosary — and John Paul II's Letter on the Rosary, but I was like, "Man, there's got to be a ton more quotes. It'd be great if I just took the time to scour through documents and writings, ask around for these quotes, and put them in a book where people could have a resource that was just more than these 15 quotes that you find on the Internet."
That's when I started the project and that's the reason why I did it. Obviously I didn't want to just throw them on the pages and say, "Here, publish this," so I said, "Well, I'll gather 365 of them and make it like Marian Gems so it's one for every day of the year," because a lot of people pray a daily Rosary (I do), and so I thought, "That's a nice little daily reminder, a little inspiration for your daily Rosary."
The Church has promoted the Rosary for around 800 years. Why keep talking about it?
Well, it's like "Why keep talking about the Bible?" Because it's a biblical prayer; basically the Rosary is just praying the Bible. The reason we keep praying the Rosary is because we keep reading the Bible.
What's your favorite quote from the collection?
Oh, gosh. I haven't really thought about having a favorite one. I think a lot of people are going to get a lot from the quotes — in particular, from Venerable Fulton Sheen, because a lot of people don't know how devoted he was to the Rosary. I have a ton of quotes from him in there that are just unique because he had a way of saying things that was just amazing. That's probably one of my favorite groups of sayings in the book.
I would have to also say that there are so many popes and saints who've constantly referred to the Rosary as a weapon. I just love that terminology because it really is a weapon in the spiritual life because it's based off of the Word of God. The majority of the prayers in the Rosary are right from the Scriptures, and it can be used as a weapon against evil. As Our Lady said at Fatima, "Pray the Rosary to end war," specifically meaning at that time World War I.
Also, it's a weapon against vices, a weapon against sin. It brings about personal conversion as you meditate upon the mysteries of the life of our Lord and Our Lady, but it can also bring about family conversion. It can bring about societal conversion. There's a whole history that goes with that — the very introduction of the Rosary into the life of the Church by St. Dominic occurred in response to error.
What is the connection between praying the Rosary and sanctification? Why is that so strongly linked?
Because of the meditation. It's not some magical thing that you just keep repeating. It's because the soul of the Rosary is the meditation on the mysteries, and those mysteries are saving mysteries. They're the saving mysteries of the life of Christ, and so when you meditate upon them, it has power. It has meaning. Just like when our Lord told St. Faustina, "There is more merit to one hour of meditation on My sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of My painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings Me great joy" (Diary, 369). This is what our Lord has told saints for 2,000 years: Meditation upon the saving mysteries of His life is a book in itself. It's the best book. It can be basically given to us in 20 simple little mysteries in the Rosary. You can memorize those; that's why we don't have 500 mysteries, we only have 20 — very, very easy.
Why does Our Lady love the Rosary so much?
There are a lot of reasons, but maybe two main ones: she wants to bring everyone to her Son, and that's the point of the Rosary, even though it's a Marian prayer, a Marian devotion. It's a Christ-centered devotion, and so, of course, it's very pleasing to her.
Then I think the second reason is because she's a mom. The very word "rosary" tells us that basically what we're doing is we're giving this spiritual bouquet of roses to Our Mother. What mother would ever refuse roses from her child? That makes her happy; that makes her smile, so to speak. She's pleased with that. And what child would not want to give roses to his mom? It's a beautiful way of honoring her, of loving her.
What fruits have you seen from praying the Rosary either in your own life or in your ministry?
It takes me about 20 minutes to pray the Rosary. I can pray it anywhere, so if I'm stressed out, if I'm having a bad day, whether I'm driving, on a plane, wherever, I can pray it. It's portable prayer; it goes anywhere. It's soothing, it's calming, and it helps me at times when I'm struggling or when I'm having temptations or when an issue has come up or there's some kind of stress. Just taking 20 minutes to pray the Rosary gives me peace.
Also in my ministry, a lot of times somebody asks for prayers and you say to them, "You'll be in my prayers." Using the Rosary, we can say, "I offer up this Rosary for all the intentions of those who have asked for my prayers, or for my intercession, or shared their intentions with me," and so I bring it into my ministry to intercede for people, laying all of this at the feet of Our Lady.
Some people believe Vatican II did away with devotions outside of the liturgy. What does the Church teach about devotions like the Rosary?
The Second Vatican Council never mentioned anything about the Rosary, but it never mentioned anything about tons of other stuff, either. It actually did promote the Rosary, but not by name. It encouraged "those forms of devotion to Mary that have been in the Church" (see Lumen Gentium 66), and obviously the Rosary is one of them.
The Rosary basically comes from the liturgy and leads back to the liturgy. The Rosary can be understood as preparing for Mass and a thanksgiving for Mass. That's why in a lot of parishes, people pray the Rosary either before or after Mass, because it's all about the Mass and the Eucharist, the Source and Summit. So oh yeah, Vatican II didn't do away with anything.
As a matter of fact, there have been a lot of misinterpretations of Vatican II. People thought, "Well, we don't have to do that anymore." Every pope after Vatican II basically said, "No, it's a wrong interpretation," and they promote the Rosary big time. The popes after Vatican II were big time players in the Rosary.
Mention a few of the approved Marian apparitions recently where Mary has asked for it.
Obviously, at Lourdes, Mary herself prayed the Rosary, in the sense that she prayed the Glory Bes with St. Bernadette. Mary actually let her fingers pass along the rosary beads as St. Bernadette was praying the Rosary, and when St. Bernadette got to the Glory Bes, Mary would then join in and say the Glory Be. That started a big Rosary movement around the world of people wanting to pray the Rosary.
Also, obviously you have Fatima, where Our Lady said "Pray the Rosary every day for peace and for an end to war." So that's a huge one. Then also you've got Our Lady of Banneux and Our Lady of Beauraing in Belgium in the 1930s, both approved, where Our Lady came holding a rosary.
To be honest with you, in almost every single apparition since the 17th century, Mary has a rosary.
Obviously you've also got Kibeho where Our Lady tells the children to pray the Rosary, meaning the Dominican Rosary, but then she also tells them about the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, which is a very ancient Rosary. Basically, they didn't know what she was talking about, so she had to teach it to them, but it actually was introduced by the Servites in the 13th or 14th centuries, so it's very old.
There's another famous one that our brothers in Argentina told me about: Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas in Argentina, an approved apparition. Mary appeared and encouraged everyone to pray the Rosary, and the statue associated with that apparition is specifically Our Lady of the Rosary.
What fruits do you hope to see from Rosary Gems?
Well, I hope that people fall in love with the Rosary and that they have a renewed interest in praying it or persevering in praying it. I know a lot of people who used to pray it, and they kinda put it down, and they're not as fervent with it as they once were. These little gems of wisdom from the popes and saints will hopefully light a fire in people to want to take up the Rosary again.
To order Rosary Gems (Product Code RGEM), visit shopmercy.org or call 1-800-462-7426.