Recommended: Calloway's "Champions of the Rosary"

Fr Donald Calloway in "Champions of the Rosary" gives a substantial account of the history of the Rosary, a collection of briefer chapters on champions of the Rosary, including various saints, blesseds and popes. The third part (which I have not yet read) is a guide to praying the Rosary.

Fr Calloway is a priest of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. His conversion story is action-packed, and he is a tireless promoter of devotion to Our Lady and especially the Rosary.

In the book, he takes some definite positions on controversial matters which was partly what influenced me to buy it when a brother priest recommended it to me. Fr Calloway defends the historical value of the tradition that the Rosary as we know it, with meditations on the mysteries, was revealed to St Dominic by Our Lady. He also defends the Luminous Mysteries. I am concerned that simply by writing that last sentence, I may have put some of you off buying the book - so let me add that Fr Calloway points to the example of Blessed George Preca who suggested almost the same set of meditations almost fifty years earlier; St Louis Grignon de Montfort also suggested that we might meditate on other themes than the fifteen traditional mysteries. At any rate, it is worth reading something thoughtful on the question.

In one of the sections dealing with the tradition of the origin of the Rosary with St Dominic, my curiosity was rewarded by finding a trenchant appraisal of the skeptical thesis of Fr Herbert Thurston SJ: in fact a trenchant appraisal of Thurston himself as well. This is of interest to me since Thurston's biographer, Fr Joseph Crehan SJ, used to teach at Wonersh when I was a student there in the first year. I had the consolation of serving his Latin Mass from time to time. In those days (the late 70s) it would have been impossible for him to celebrate the traditional form, so it was the then still quite Novus Ordo. Fr Crehan taught sacramental theology at the seminary and I eventually became his unworthy successor: he was an immensely erudite man. As students, one favourite piece of mimicry was to burble inaudibly for a bit, ending the "sentence" with an audible "Father Thuuurston."

Reading Fr Calloway's sections on Fr Thurston prompted me to search for a copy of Fr Crehan's "Father Thurston: A memoir with a bibliography of his writings" and I was fortunate enough to find a very cheaply priced copy on AbeBooks which should be on its way to me from the USA within a week or two. Thurston interests me as one of those learned, but also clever and dismissive scholars who were chastened by the crack-down on modernism and liked to poke at established positions. Not the most healthy way of "doing theology", but of significant interest in understanding where we are a century later.

But do not let my reminiscences distract you from considering this excellent book during the centenary of Fatima. "Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon." is available from Amazon UK and US in paperback and Kindle formats and is very reasonably priced. If you haven't yet decided to do what Our Lady asked, and say the Rosary every day, this book might help to convince you.

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