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Archives for May 2013

Thoughts on the Visitation: Who Brings Jesus to You?

Thoughts on the Visitation: Who Brings Jesus to You?

The following is my column scheduled today at Patheos, so all the links bring you back there. I’m sharing it in entirety here because of its Marian subject matter for the last day of May.

Totus Tuus!

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During my stay-at-home years with our young family, my husband’s job kept him out of the house and away, often.

We spent six months praying for a new job.

While we did, his company asked him to facilitate an acquisition of a new start-up in Massachusetts, for his New York-based company. It was becoming clear that this might necessitate a move for our family. It was not the answer we were looking for — we were praying for a new job, not a new address!

So we both prayed some more.

About a week later, while waiting for Bob to come home from the airport from yet another trip to the Bay State, I was praying the rosary. I was meditating on the Joyful Mysteries — the Visitation — when “Mary set out and went with haste to… the hill country, where she… greeted Elizabeth.”

It was right there; I just knew we would move.

These things can be hard to explain, but there was a flood of peace that accompanied this prayer — this new job was the answer to six months of petitions raised heavenward. I was struck by how my usually stubborn and slow-to-accept-change heart was inexplicably opened by this simple contemplation of Mary on the move.

Mary’s swift yes to God’s will brought a move to Mary’s life. Her visitation with Elizabeth was on the heels of giving her yes, her fiat, to God’s invitation at the Annunciation to receive His Son into her womb, into her heart, and into her life. (See Lk 1:26-38)

Here is what I’ve learned, since then…

First, a move of the heart often yields a move to action.

When God invites us to do his will, changes occur in us and around us. God’s will is always for our good, because He loves us. Just like he loved Mary.

My saying yes to the invitation to move would change not only my locale and our family domicile, it would also change me. I would be saying yes to new people, places, and things. I would be moving way beyond my comfort zone. And the mother in me would be called upon to create a new home and comfort zone for my husband and small children. I took Mary and her example with me.

Second, wherever Mary goes, she brings Jesus.

Visitation-by-RembrandtMary’s visitation to Elizabeth is about so many things. (See Lk 1: 39-56, also the feast day on May 31). It is the first missionary journey of bringing Christ to the world. It is the powerful of revelation of Christ’s presence in our midst. It is the reunion of family, of sisterly kin separated by geography and age. It is the generosity of women coming together to support each other in their faith and in the mission they have in their families and in the world. It is a celebration of life in the womb, of maternity, and service both to mother and child and the rest of the family. It is the making of a home, a welcoming place not only for mothers and fathers and children, but decidedly, for others as well. It is about recognizing the good and mighty things that God has done for us.

And, yes, that Jesus is in the middle of it all. As Mary brings Jesus to all persons and places, we should too.

So we moved our family north, and I was determined to keep Mary’s sensibilities among mine — to keep Jesus present in each phase of our life, to make prayer a priority in our family rhythm, to have signs and symbols of our faith in our home.

More than that, I strove to make our faith conversations and actions relevant in our weekly activities. To share Jesus with others, both in our new home, and in our involvement to serve in our church, school, and town has not always been easy, but it has worth it. We’re not experts at living the Christian life, but we’re relying on grace to save and forgive us when we fail.

Now, the children are grown and I am looking back now at almost twenty years since I prayed The Visitation and suddenly knew that I would be on the move with Mary. I’ve prayed that mystery of the rosary hundreds of times since. Much to my surprise, even though I’ve tried to live its message, you might say the Visitation has been visited upon me, over and over again.

The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary this week, on May 31, is a good time to ask oneself: Who brings you Jesus? And, who do you bring Jesus to?

Who brings me Jesus?

My husband. I’m not ashamed to say that the single and solitary love of my husband has been God’s way of showing me His Face for over thirty years. In a world full of suffering, and we’ve had our share too, I see and know there is a greater grace that pervades it.

My children. Over the course of over 25 years of parenting, I’ve seen my children bring me Jesus through their smiles and little heartfelt prayers, to their helpful chores done in the name of the love, to their own adult professions of faith and service to others.

My friends. Countless friends have gladdened my soul with their visits in my home and elsewhere. In recent weeks, they’ve been at bridal showers for my daughter. In days gone by they’ve stood by during my years of study for my Masters, or patiently sat beside me as I waited in cancer ward queues for check-ups and blood work. Others have filled my joy tank with weekend escapes to ski, camp, or explore new cities. A few have made religious pilgrimages with me.

My priests and my local Catholic church. Every week I am privileged to receive the Blessed Sacrament — Jesus! — or receive his mercy in reconciliation, thanks to the priest at our church. I’ve been anointed before surgeries and I’ve been consoled when grieving a loss. I’ve been part of a parish of neighbors and townsfolk who are growing in the Spirit together and where we can serve those in need of love and support in our region.

Mary. This spiritual mother has changed me for the good of all who know me, and I talk a lot about her in my book, and here and there. St Louis de Montfort once preached, “The salvation of the whole world began with the ‘Hail Mary.’ Hence the salvation of each person is also attached to this prayer.”

For these visitations and for so much more, I am truly grateful. They move my heart as I contemplate Mary’s feast day this week.

And you know what happens when a heart is moved — we are moved to action.

How about you? Who brings Jesus to you, and who will you bring Jesus to next?

 

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious Radio…?

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious Radio…?

Or, maybe it’s me talking about themes from my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, on Catholic Radio.

Gosh, I love Catholic Radio… wherever it is, whomever it reaches. When I was working in radio back in the early 80s, Catholic Radio was a rare animal. It was more like an hour here or there where local priests might offer messages on commercial radio stations somewhere on the Sunday schedule. There was Gospel radio, and many Christian radio stations, but few solely dedicated to the priorities of the Catholic Church, other than Vatican Radio. 

It’s a different story today, and aren’t we richer for it? I hope you’ll support your local Catholic broadcasters.

Here’s a few of places I’ve visited lately…

The Live Hour on WNGL/Archangel Radio, look for the episode dated May 30, 2013 with me.

Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor  – don’t miss exploring the Discerning Hearts website where this show is archived, it’s great!

EWTN’s “At Home with Jim and Joy” – look for the show dated May 20, 2013.

Register Radio – from the news and articles on National Catholic Register

 Oh, and if you are an SQPN podcast fan, you might enjoy this episode of Catholic Weekend, alongside Maria Johnson, Lisa Hendey, Steve Nelson and Billy Newton.

This makes me think… about why I have the luxury of a day off today…

This makes me think… about why I have the luxury of a day off today…

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This is the US flag that waves over the Mall near the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. Underneath is the flag that remembers POWs and MIAs.

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And this is one that flies just at the foot of the memorial, left by a passerby.

Memorial Day remembers the deaths of those serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Few people will challenge the significance of a Soldier’s ultimate sacrifice. All men die, but for the sake of a higher cause the fallen Soldier’s life is stripped away. Therefore it seems most people, and rightly so, consider fallen combatants worth honoring because of the untimely nature and violent condition of their deaths.

This kind of sacrifice is noble and praiseworthy, but it doesn’t completely capture the honor attributed to our fallen comrades. We see people in other professions give their lives in similar ways. We see this in firefighters and law enforcement, and we often see citizens give their lives in response to the duress of others. But there is something even more honorable in the death of a service member defending his country — something unique to combatants alone.

In order for a nation to achieve victory in combat, it requires something like a total surrender of its Soldiers. Every part of a combatant’s life, except that which belongs to God, must be consciously yielded over to the discretion of the state. Perhaps no one put it better than one soldier who fought in the trenches of the First World War:

“All that we fear from all kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active service. Like sickness, it threatens pain and death. Like poverty, it threatens ill lodging, cold, heat, thirst and hunger. Like slavery, it threatens toil, humiliation, injustice, and arbitrary rule. Like exile, it separates you from all you love. Like the gullies, it imprisons you at close quarters with uncongenial companions.” (C. S. Lewis: “Why I am not a Pacifist” 1949)

– by Col. Jeff Hall, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

Read the whole thing.

The stars at the top of this post are from the World War II Memorial.

Thank you to all veterans, and to those we’ve lost who made the ultimate sacrifice. Today we honor them and their families.

Photos by yours truly.

On writing, keeping God first, and Elizabeth Scalia’s new book: Strange Gods

On writing, keeping God first, and Elizabeth Scalia’s new book: Strange Gods

There’s a simple line from the Book of Wisdom, that comes from Solomon’s prayer for wisdom…

“For both we and our words are in his Hand.” (Wisdom 7:16 rsv)

One of the things I love about God is that He is a Creator, and very much, a writer. The Bible is his book. He wrote laws, prose, prophecy, and poetry. And He gets writers. And he is pleased when writers words inspire and point to him. He not only chose to use human writers to pass on his divine revelation when He breathed his life into the Scriptures, but he shares his divine life still today — in the Spirit — for “in him, we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This doesn’t mean that what we modern Catholic writers are writing is scripture, but if we are writing anything worthwhile, it had better be based on the truths of scripture.

As a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, and as a writer at many Catholic websites and periodicals, I’ve been blessed to meet several writers who strive to be agents of the new evangelization, to write, as it were, in a certain sense, for God, and for making his words and his ways better known throughout the earth in whatever genre or media we may be using. As a spiritual and writing practice  each day, as we take up our pens and keyboards, I suggest it would be good for us to recognize this simple truth from Solomon, one of the great biblical writers, that both we, and our words are in God’s hands. That God is, really, our all in all. And we should let nothing, nothing, get between God and us.

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Elizabeth Scalia is a writer I’ve long admired. Her posts at The Anchoress, Our Sunday Visitor, and her weekly column on Tuesdays at First Things, have been staples in my weekly reading for several years.

In recent years, when I’ve been asked to give talks to new media newbies for the Catholic Writers Guild, and elsewhere, The Anchoress’s blog would be one of the few that I would cite for new would-be bloggers as one of the premier blogs that we might all hope to emulate. Good writing. Crisp analysis. Witty. Engaging. And more good writing.Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 11.02.57 PM

One summer day in 2010, when I was giving that same new media talk to a gathering of Catholic writers in New York, much to my surprise, Elizabeth Scalia was in the audience. We had never met before, and we later struck up a little conversation after her very constructive comments were given from the floor to the group in an open Q&A. I believe the subject matter at that moment was that I was exhorting future and present writers to be of service to one another — to help form a community for the cause of Christ, and to view one another with charity, not as competition within the same media, but as potential allies and friends, where friendly “iron sharpening iron” could take place without tearing down the other, knowing that we are called to call each other forward in this great endeavor. In this way, we’d foster the new evangelization by first being evangelized ourselves by the law of love… remembering that we and our words are in His hand.

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Elizabeth Scalia and me, Catholic New Media Conference, 2012.

In the three years since that day, I can say that I truly have been a personal recipient of that kind of generosity of spirit in the blog space that is offered by The Anchoress. Plus, I’m privileged to serve as one of the column writers at Patheos and grateful for my piece of real estate over there that came after Elizabeth asked me to write a short piece for Patheos after our first meeting back in 2010. From there came Elizabeth’s first guest appearance on Among Women, and a whole lot more that I never really expected. Yet like her surprise appearance in my audience that summer afternoon, she has remained someone that has contributed a great deal to the conversation that is my life, both as a writer, and in person, including her kind endorsement and support of my book, and now it is my happy thrill to share a publisher with her in Ave Maria Press.

Elizabeth wrote one heck of book in Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life. There are amazing people who have endorsed it. Frankly, it would be easy for me to say, just go read it and be done. I’ve reviewed it over at the Patheos Book Club, let me tell you why you need to read this: This woman’s words are in God’s hands. This book is one very thought-provoking meditation on just one line from Sacred Scripture… the first commandment: “I am the LORD your God… You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20: 2-3 rsv) Yep, that’s it. That’s the text and thesis of the whole book. And its one we need to recall and bring to mind, and contemplate in a daily way, because for many of us the words in that commandment have grown dull. Or maybe, we’ve never really given them much thought at all.

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Here’s part of my review of Strange Gods at Patheos…

The Ten Commandments first declare, “I am the LORD your God… You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20: 2-3 rsv). And yet, we do. This thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, exposes to our chagrin, yet ultimately to our benefit, that this premiere command of the Decalogue cannot be overlooked if we are to ever dare to live the other nine. Armed with faith in the graces that that sustain us in our failures, plus witty sensibilities regarding the nature of fortitude and wisdom, author and blogger extraordinaireElizabeth Scalia, offers us mortals in search of grace, a thorough reality check:

“We dismiss the golden calf story and its lessons at our peril. It’s true we are no longer literally flinging our precious metals into a crucible and buffing up stolid beasts of burden to worship. In some ways matters are worse, for we do not know the idols we bow down to. Our present-day idols are much less obvious, but they are also less distant and more ingrained within us. Idols begin with ideas. From there we shape them in the psyche, grow them in the ego, and then engage with them intimately, throughout our lives, in our families, our culture, our entertainments, and our political discourse. We create idols out of our norms of behavior, our material possessions, and social status. We even create them out of our faith.”

Who among us has not bowed down to something we have really wanted?  Or maybe we’ve used different language for it — we might be flinging ourselves toward someone or something, or actively achieving something that consumes us — even the seemingly good things in life? Or what about all the trophies we line up for ourselves — the way we make plans, use time, or even play or work with technology? Whatever captivates or demands our attention has the distinct potential to become an idol standing between the verity that is our true life with God — an encounter we may miss, delay, or betray in favor of our strange gods. Ouch! Do you really what to read this book? Yes and yes.

1-59471-342-1Yes, open this book, and prepare to feel, perhaps momentarily, panicked that all of your life is an unexposed idol minefield, fraught with spiritual missteps that you can never avoid. But, YES, take courage! Like an experienced special ops mission commander unlocking the mysteries of night vision goggles and other tactics to detect the presence of The Enemy at close range, Scalia teaches plebes and veterans alike how to see more clearly so they can wisely navigate the previously unseen dangers of modern idolatry.

A particular strength of this book, and why it will be successful in furthering the new evangelization, is that Scalia offers a self-effacing demeanor and candor in describing her own idol worship. But more than that, Scalia affirms, ultimately, that Christianity as a yes — at its heart is a benevolent and loving God Who really is worthy of all attempts at idol smashing.

The rest is here.

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Among Women listeners can look forward to a guest appearance from Elizabeth Scalia, coming in June.

 

Among Women 161: Catholic Pediatricians Make a Difference!

Among Women 161: Catholic Pediatricians Make a Difference!

imgtopJoin me for a great new Among Women podcast episode featuring the lives of Catholic pediatricians and the good they bring to the world around us. This time around we’ll profile the life of St. Gianna Molla, a wife, mother and pediatrician who, in 1962, died heroically in the days following the birth of her fourth child, the same child that her physician recommend that she abort.

6a26ddcf1453295881ca3dcd15ff22b8In our conversation segment, I’m pleased to bring you an informative discussion about teens and their sexual development with Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, founder of CatholicPediatrics.com, and one of the creators of the new Theology of the Body phone app Text4RealSex. She’s also writing over at CatholicMOM.com.

In this interview Dr. Berchelmann explains the benefits of finding a Catholic Pediatrician as she takes on the moral and medical questions regarding raising teenage girls with regard to the Gardisil vaccine, oral contraceptives for girls with difficult periods, and similar medical dilemmas facing teens and their parents. And if you haven’t discovered her Catholic Pediatrician directory or her Facebook group, visit today!

This episode of Among Women will also share some of the links for my recent interviews about Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious on radio and podcasts.

Listen to the podcast here, or on iTunes, episode 161.

 

 

Post Pentecost – Recalling the Effects of Confirmation

Post Pentecost – Recalling the Effects of Confirmation

There’s a timely reminder in the Catechism of the Catholic Church for this “time” in the liturgical calendar – smack dab between Pentecost and Ordinary Time. And it is this: Pentecost should remind us of our Confirmation!

CCC 1302 states:

It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.

I grew up in a Catholic home and went to a parochial grade school. It was taken for granted that I would be confirmed. But, despite its importance, Confirmation being a sacrament and all, I was slow to understand its significance in my life. Hindsight, so the saying goes, is 20/20.

If I am perfectly honest, as I look back on my Confirmation at the age of 12, I can say that that I was formed in one thing: being able to stand up for the faith. Not that I completely knew what my faith taught, mind you, but I knew I was responsible to stand up for it. I didn’t question it. I was immature, and I likened my ideas about Confirmation to a kind of “patriotism”… I was a Catholic and it was my honor to live by and defend the laws of the Church, just like I was an American pledging allegiance to the flag.

Actually, my feelings about the sacrament were almost irrelevant. Yet, despite how I would “feel” about my Confirmation, the “effects” of the Sacrament are still the same… the Holy Spirit was poured out upon me. The Sacrament “took” as long as I was properly prepared for it, and the Bishop acted appropriately as to the Rite.

I just did not appreciate my Confirmation until later.

Two years following my Confirmation, the Lord led me to a youth prayer group. Actually, the Lord led my mother to lead me to a prayer group. It seems they needed a musician to help lead the worship, and I had just enough guitar ego in me to oblige. But despite my less-than-noble reasons for serving, that prayer group was where I really started to “live it” – meaning that my faith became “not for Sundays only.”
As I look back, I began a wonderful journey of faith in my teen years, thanks to the grace of God. The grace of Confirmation began to kick in. Little did I know that I was beginning to cooperate with that grace.

CCC 1303 states that our Confirmation brings about five effects, the first of which is that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit increases and deepens our baptismal grace. Confirmation “roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!””
When I was a teenager, I began to understand my identity as a baptized Catholic was that of a child of God. That’s what divine filiation is—to be made part of God’s family.

St. Paul writes in Romans 8:14-17:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Secondly, it follows that CCC 1303 states that Confirmation “unites us more firmly to Christ.” To my tender teenage heart, this was the idea of falling in love with Christ. As if I could really make a return to Christ for all he had done for me. But, truly, that unity with Christ was and is far more dependent on Christ’s gift to me, than my gift to him. And yet, he loves me all the same!

God is determined to give mere mortals the means to live for him. Therefore, we see the third effect of Confirmation being that it “increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.” The more open we are to the Holy Spirit, the more we can respond to Christ. In other words, our moral life is sustained by the Holy Spirit’s gifts that make us docile and teachable and obedient to God’s will. (Cf. CCC 1830.)

CCC 1303 teaches that Confirmation delivers a fourth effect: it “renders our bond with the Church more perfect”. The Bishop, who administers the Rite of Confirmation, shows us that bond. Where the Bishop is, there the Church is, to paraphrase St. Ignatius of Antioch in the second century. His holy office is our apostolic witness, our tie to the foundations of our faith dating back past Ignatius to the time of Christ and his apostles. As Jesus sent his apostles, so he sends us… and we are to be sent in unity with the Body of Christ, which is the Church.

Not only that, CCC 1303 continues, Confirmation gives us “a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross. This is the Truth that we are called to stand up for and defend, and we already have been given the grace to do it. This is the special charism of Confirmation.

And what is it that we have truly received? In CCC 1303, St. Ambrose, a Doctor of the Church from the fourth century, spells out the fifth and most challenging effect of our Confirmation:

Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence.

Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.

As confirmed Catholics, there is no shirking of the duties and responsibilities inherent in this calling. There may be ignoring of it, and, even a rejecting of it. But we cannot remove this Confirmation that is upon us, once it is imposed.

So much so, that that CCC 1304 reminds us:

Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.

Did that last line sound familiar? These were some of the parting words of Jesus to his disciples, just prior to his Ascension into heaven.

Luke 24:48-49:

You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.

And you remember what that Power was now, don’t you? The Holy Spirit at Pentecost!

©2009 Patricia W. Gohn

:: This post originally appeared at Catholic Exchange. 

Photo Credit: Pat Gohn, Rome, 2011.

A review of: Real Men Pray the Rosary — A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer

A review of: Real Men Pray the Rosary — A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer

1-59471-376-6Just as it is helpful for women to talk to women now and again regarding the spiritual life, the same holds true for men! David N. Calvillo’s book, Real Men Pray the Rosary: A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer, is a forthright conversation with men (and us women who sneak a peek) about his own surprise and subsequent delight in discovering the Rosary, otherwise known as a prayer he had almost mistakenly written off as “for old ladies and funerals.”

What comes across in Calvillo’s writing is a likeable, honest, work-in-progress kind of guy who admits his former bias, and now moves ahead with Spirit-filled enthusiasm for the power –capable of doing some heavy lifting when it comes to life’s problems — that comes from prayer, especially the Rosary. Admittedly transformed by his faith, this husband, father, and lawyer by trade, offers deep reverence and appreciation for what he was missing… a real life-changing encounter with Christ. He found it, of all places, sitting in the early morning mist, surrounded by 80 men praying a Rosary outside a Benedictine retreat house…

I wept at the reality of eighty rough-looking men from all walks of life, humbly and sincerely raising their hearts and minds to God… I felt a prayerful happiness, a warm comforting presence.

As weird as it sounds… I felt as though I was praying with everyone who had ever prayed the Rosary. I felt my grandmother Vera praying with me. I felt my mom. I felt the hearts of those eighty men. I felt like I was praying with and to Jesus himself…”

After a healing encounter with Christ on retreat, Calvillo confesses, “The Rosary was the path vividly open for me… and my mom’s previous lessons that I had previously ignored were now front and center.”

The rest of the book is an accessible how-to for Rosary beginners and novices alike, with an unpacking of Rosary’s wisdom gleaned from the Scriptures, the many popes and saints who’ve written extensively about the Rosary through history, and real-life stories of contemporary men who’ve inspired Calvillo’s on-going conversion and his subsequent apostolate from which the book draws its name, Real Men Pray the Rosary (RMPTR).

I enjoyed Calvillo’s personal narration of what’s inspired him as he encountered these truths about the Rosary, especially the idea that prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue, or a “saying” of prayers, but a true entering into them. He captures, also, what has been my longtime experience of the Rosary, that within that prayer is a Mother who wishes to draw us closer to Jesus, like a personal spiritual director or mentor.

The Rosary has a body and a soul. The body of the Rosary is composed of the prayers. Some of those prayers are prayed in groups of ten, called a “decade”. The Rosary invites us to contemplate twenty important points in the life and teachings of Jesus and his mother, Mary. These points make up the Rosary’s soul and are referred to as the Rosary Mysteries. As we pray the Mysteries, we contemplate how the biblical messages apply to our daily lives — therein lies the Rosary’s transformative power…

Pope Leo XIII had described the familiarity of those prayers… over a hundred years ago: “The Rosary… floods the should of those who recite it devoutly with an ever new sweetness of piety, giving them the impression and emotion as if they were hearing the very voice of their most merciful Mother explaining these mysteries to them, and conversing with them at length for their salvation…”

The familiarity evolves into an intimate dialogue with our Blessed Mother. Thus, when one is in the midst of deep prayer in the Rosary, Mary becomes spiritually present to meet us and lead us by the hand through each of those important points of meditation know as the Mysteries. When we pray the Rosary, we are permitted to live those mysteries through her eyes, through her perspective. That is the beauty of the Rosary: to understand and live those twenty salient points in the life and teachings of Jesus and Mary, with Mary’s familiar voice narrating the way.

Besides chapters covering the basics for learning the Rosary, and how a man might meditate on its Mysteries, at the end of each chapter the book offers a  “Tool Box” with practical suggestions for making it all real.

Calvillo offers this advice: “Real men pray for women” and he even hands a chapter over to his wife, Valerie, for insights from a feminine perspective on the being married to a man who prays the Rosary, and ways to encourage other husbands to take up this practice. Valerie Calvillo’s advice is for women to embrace the Rosary, too, and develop Mary’s virtues in their lives.

I have seen firsthand that when women live Mary’s virtues, real men respond. Women can live Mary’s virtues by meeting chauvinism with ardent charity and by meeting intransigence with heroic patience. We can do it by meeting materialism with unceasing prayer and by meeting selfishness with constant self-denial. In short, when we meet our own shortcomings and those of the men in our lives by being a living Mary to them, they will respond, “Ave Maria.”

Like an encouraging personal trainer who wants to pump up one’s spiritual muscles, David Calvillo issues men a challenge to take the Rosary on for 33 days. If after 33 days a man still remains unconvinced of the Rosary’s efficacy and power, David extends a personal offer for a man to get in touch with him through his ministry, Real Men Pray the Rosary.

This is a book I can highly recommend. Give it as a gift for the men in your life, or buy some copies for your parish priests to share with the men in the parish.