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Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads Paperback – June 13, 1997
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"A great book on the Rosary by that great writer on Catholic mysticism, Kevin Orlin Johnson . . . " -- Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal
"The Rosary saved the West once and can do so again, if people are faithful to it. Read this book!" -- Rod Dreher, New York Post
"The best book I have yet seen on this subject." -- Michael Potemra, Literary Editor, National Review
Very informative, very interesting! A wonderful array of theology on prayer, grace, spirituality, to name only a few fields. Rosary is a book filled with knowledge ... reading it was indeed an intellectual and spiritual delight to my soul. A beautiful work, and a true work of love for Our Lady. -- Deacon Harry Prestwood, S.F.O., President, Our Lady's Rosary Makers
From the Publisher
By the author of the best-selling Why Do Catholics Do That?, this book presents an encyclopedic range of answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Rosary and the other devotional practices to which it is related, such as: Exactly what is prayer, and how does it work? How does Judeo-Christian meditation differ from Oriental practices? Why are the beads so important? How does the Rosary relate to the Bible? Doesn't Mt 6:7 prohibit repetition of prayers? Why pray to Mary in the first place? What part does Mary play in Christian concepts of salvation? Why do modern apparitions of Mary always urge people to pray the Rosary? And many, many more. In addition, the book offers powerful examinations of those episodes in Christ's life-the "Mysteries"-that the Rosary targets as the subjects of meditation, including the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Resurrection, and twelve others. Having read Johnson's compelling account of the Crucifixion-the most intense to appear in living memory-you'll never see a crucifix in the same way again.
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In trepidation, I turned to the Crucifixion mystery, to see if the author stains this mystery too. He does, in the most peculiar way. He horrifically describes Third Reich torture in great detail, sagging skin and all, never mentioning that Jews were the victims involved. A person of real faith does not need to dwell on gore to meditate on the depth of this mystery.
As many fine theologians point out, Judaism the root of Christian faith. But Johnson completely gets Jewish history wrong, dismissing two thousand years of Judaism after the final destruction of the Temple. It's a miracle that the Jews, the people of the First Covenant, the brethren of Jesus, have miraculously survived. In the history of the world, no other people kept their language, religion, and heritage alive, while suffering over two thousand years of exile and persecution. Johnson completely misrepresents the truth when he declares that the Sadducees were the seeds for modern Judaism; they did not follow the Talmud as well as the Torah, modern Judaism does both. The Sadducees were lost in history. Unbelievable misinformation; it's incomprehensible that Johnson could write beautifully about some aspects of prayer, yet hatefully in other regards, even lambasting sports.
On page 305, Johnson wrote that the Jewish Apostles saw "the whole nation of Israel turn into a mob that compelled the Roman governor to crucify Christ." This kind of generalization caused Christian mob violence against Jews over the centuries; only a raving anti-Semite would write such bile. Devout Catholics avoid this kind of thinking, it would be like shooting yourself in the proverbial foot, or root. For the mystery of Pentecost, Johnson makes the common mistake of assuming Jews called this holiday Pentecost too. They never did in Israel, and they don't two thousand years later. This Jewish feast of first-harvest is Shavout, celebrated fifty days after the festival of Passover. It is utter nonsense to state that, "because this holiday didn't have a descriptive name rooted in Hebrew like the others, and because by the time of Christ so many people spoke Greek, the holiday came to be called simply the Fiftieth Day - Pentecost" (326). Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek, and in referring to this feast, he would have used the normative Hebrew term - Shavout.
There are better resources out there. This travesty will be discarded. Try this fine book: The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries, which contains Pope John Paul II's "The Rosarium Virginis Mariae: Apostolic Letter on the Most Holy Rosary."
Although the author seems initially quite successful at building credibility with his reader - the tone is quite authoritative - not popular piety -- and the content at first glance seems well researched. But when the author mentioned that marriage is the main reason the Roman Empire fell - I started to get nervous. Marriage at best may have been one of several factors, and thats perhaps a stretch - but to assert it is the primary reason for the fall of the Roman Empire is outrageous. And worse in that it calls into question the other facts that the author presents in this work.
The meditations are also very wanting. They seem devoid of any personal touch and they are hardly suited to meditation or even a 'science of the saints' type of consideration of related virtues. The author throughout the book is long winded and seems to enjoy relaying facts irregardless of if they have any relevance to the content. For example, I'm not sure how or why a reflection on the 'agony of the garden' somehow launches into a discussion of how all competitive sports are evil.
Finally, although the list of resources seems extensive, I was disappointed overall with the selections of saints quotations used throughout the book.
Overall, I know that rosary books of any meaningful size are hard to come by (hopefully this 'year of the rosary' will change that), I'd start with 'The Rosary, The Little Summa' or 'Mystery Stories: A Journey Through the Rosary'