One of the oldest prayers in the Catholic Church is the rosary. It is a centuries-old devotion that has seen its popularity ebb and flow as time has passed. Most Catholics own one; some even collect them. Still, others might wear them. However, do we truly have a clear understanding of the power and benefits of the rosary? Gretchen Rowe has compiled a book that shines a spotlight on the rosary and makes it clear why this is THE weapon for the times we live in today.
Why the Rosary, Why Now? consists of the writing of 14 individuals who have experienced the wonder and grandeur of the rosary in their own lives. There is plenty to like about this book and even more to glean from its eight chapters. It draws the readers focus to the rosary and how it is indeed relative and how it can be used to effectively cut through the absurdity of our everyday lives.
In the chapter To Break Through the Noise Gretchen looks at the very real problem we have today of noise. We find ourselves connected to the outside world like never before. We are so connected in fact that it has become increasingly difficult to disconnect. Studies show that Americans spend ten hours per day in front of some type of screen with smartphone usage up 60 percent. Using this as the backdrop Gretchen look at the homily delivered in 1973 by Cardinal Albino Luciani titled Is the Rosary Outdated? In that homily, Luciani, who would later become Pope John Paul I, spoke of a crisis facing the church. That “people are completely caught up in material interests; they think little about their souls and noise has invaded our existence.” Remember this was in 1973. Imagine what he would have to say today.
As Gretchen points out, praying the rosary can help reverse this trend. “By their meditative nature, the prayers of the Rosary naturally enable one to break through the noise of everyday life and find silence.” The key to this is to first acknowledge that distractions exist in our life. This book helps lead readers into that realization gently coaxing then to a deeper understanding and love of the rosary.
The book goes even deeper by pulling in writings of various other devoted rosary practitioners. Father Patrick Peyton, the priest who coined the phrase “the family who prays together stays together”, plays an instrumental role in showing how the rosary strengthens the family. Fulton Sheen in his book The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, showed how the rosary can foster a deeper devotion to the church. Father Hubert F. Schiffer covers how the rosary is a tool for peace in the world in his writing The Rosary of Hiroshima. The book would have been incomplete without input from Pope Leo XIII who contributed an incredible eleven encyclicals on the Rosary. Lastly one cannot have a book on promoters of the Rosary without including the beloved Pope John Paul II.
Do we need the Rosary now? Most certainly, perhaps now more so than ever. That may seem like cliché statement, but it seems every week we are witness to extremism, violence, sexual deviation, and a society that in general is spiraling down the tubes. Yes, we need the rosary to clear away the noise and add a sense of quiet rhythm to our lives. Gretchen Crowe has compiled a wonderful guide that includes documents from some of the greatest proponents of the rosary in recent years. Rediscover the Rosary with their help perfectly woven together in the pages of Why the Rosary, Why Now?