Reviewed by Darrell Wright
This is probably the finest book ever written about the Rosary. It shows the great spiritual power of the Rosary, and has an appeal to both younger as well as adult readers. It explains why the Rosary is the most important private prayer. As one ecclesiastic has said of De Montfort’s book, “It goes far beyond mere research. We might say that it contains everything that can be said about the Rosary – its content and form, its real worth, about the instruction necessary for its appreciation and use.”
About the Author
The author of The Secret of the Rosary and the originator of total consecration to Mary, St. Louis Marie Grignion De Montfort (1673–1716) remains one of the greatest apostles of Marian devotion the world has ever known. As a young priest, De Montfort dedicated himself to preaching to the people. This highly gifted orator’s language was simple but full of divine wisdom. De Montfort’s whole life was marked by constant prayer, love for the poor and holy joy in humiliations and persecutions. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947.
This small book is an absolute gem. A gem for those who want to learn about the Rosary prayer as well as for those who pray it already.
St Louis describes the Rosary as a “Crown of Roses” and as “The mystical rose tree of Jesus and Mary in life, death and eternity.”
In simple language, this book is presented in the form of the prayer itself, with 53 short chapters which include stories from history, spiritual advice and preaching.
St Louis writes with zeal about the Rosary: that which is not only important for increasing our love and devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady – but also, as given for our salvation, the combination of Our Lord’s Prayer and The Angelic Salutation (Hail Mary).
He states that, “through the Holy Rosary:
1. Sinners are forgiven;
2. Souls that thirst are refreshed;
3. Those who are fettered have their bonds broken;
4. Those who weep find happiness;
5. Those who are tempted find peace;
6. The poor find help;
7. Religious are reformed;
8. Those who are ignorant are instructed;
9. The living learn to overcome pride;
10. The dead [the souls in purgatory] have their pains eased.”
He claims that the Holy Rosary has “chased away devils, destroyed sin and renewed the world.”
On reading this book, one will gain knowledge of the origins of the Rosary in the appearances of Our Lady to Saint Dominic and his subsequent passion for preaching the Rosary.
It also contains history of the passing of the legacy from Saint Dominic to Blessed Alan de la Roche and in turn to Saint Louis himself. The first two belonged to the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans who have a profound connexion to the history of the prayer. De Montfort himself was a Third Order Dominican.
The holy Rosary was brought to the world, first by Saint Dominic himself, whom on retreating to a forest to pray continuously for three days and nights for the conversion of the Albigensian heretics and sinners, fell into a coma. Our Lady appeared to him and said:
“Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world … the Angelic Psalter [the first half of the Hail Mary (Lk 1: 28, 42)] which is the foundation stone of the New Testament.”
Saint Louis gives insight into the very real dangers of evil, unfortunately taken far more seriously in his time than in our own. This loss of such seriousness is a sad thing indeed! The images Saint Louis colorfully depicts bring to life these dangers, now so invisible to our sensibilities. He states that the Rosary is a necessary prayer to combat the evil one.
Saint Louis’ writing is also very colorful regarding the many beautiful accounts of visionary experiences by people over the centuries through devotion to the Rosary, as well as of confrontations with demons.
For example, Saint Louis tells of St Dominic forcing demons during an exorcism to state the truth about the Rosary. After much crying out in protest, they were forced to say, at the insistence of Our Lady, whose help Dominic had invoked:
“Oh, you who are enemy, our downfall and our destruction, why have you come from heaven to torture us so grievously? O advocate of sinners, you who snatch them from the very jaws of hell, you who are a most
sure path to heaven, must we, in spite of ourselves, tell the whole truth and confess before everyone who it is who is the cause of our shame and our ruin? Oh, woe to us, princes of darkness.
“Then listen, you Christians. This Mother of Jesus is most powerful in saving her servants from falling into hell. She is like the sun which destroys the darkness of our wiles and subtlety. It is she who uncovers our hidden plots, breaks our snares, and makes our temptations useless and ineffective.
“We have to say, however, reluctantly, that no soul who has really persevered in her service has ever been damned with us; one single sigh that she offers to the Blessed Trinity is worth far more than all the prayers, desires, and aspirations of all the saints. We fear her more than all the other saints in heaven together, and we have no success with her faithful servants.
“Many Christians who call on her at the hour of death and who really ought to be damned according to our ordinary standards are saved by her intercession. And if that Marietta (it is thus in their fury they called her) did not counter our plans and our efforts, we should have overcome the Church and destroyed it long before this, and caused all the Orders in the Church to fall into error and infidelity.
“Now that we are forced to speak, we must also tell you that nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins by which they obtain pardon and mercy.”
There is an attitude amongst Catholics of today, that the Rosary is for the simple, even superstitious type of person. St Louis strongly warns against this attitude.
He writes of a learned Bishop who on expressing his pride in wearing a Rosary, said, “My dear brethren in Jesus Christ, I am a Doctor of Theology and a Doctor of Canon as well as Civil law, but I say to you, as your Bishop, that I take more pride in wearing Our Lady’s Rosary than in any of my episcopal regalia or academic robes.”
St Louis quotes another priest as saying, “How true it is that this God-given prayer has divine power – the power to touch our hearts and to fill them with horror of sin and the love of virtue.” De Montfort himself states: “I, who write this, have learned from my own experience that the Rosary has the power to convert even the most hardened hearts.”
I highly recommend this book to those who know nothing of the Holy Rosary and to those who know much. Simply put, the words of this saint bring with them grace from heaven. That of which he speaks, the true stories he recounts, and his zeal for this sublime prayer cannot but help one to reach for their beads and pray the Rosary, a most powerful spiritual weapon given to us from heaven.
126 pgs, PB
This masterpiece on the Rosary can be purchased at http://www.knightsoftheholyrosary.com/Rosary