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When I was 20, I took a trip to Italy with a group of college students for the Jubilee. There was excitement and newness, wrapped in a trip centered on the oldness and familiarity of the Catholic faith.
I am a cradle Catholic, from cradle Catholics. Our lives have been punctuated by and woven through with markings of this faith. The smell of an old church at the end of winter, with the boilers keeping time with the falling thermometer, the feel of a wooden pew, aged by generations of hands before yours. These familiar sensations laced through my childhood.
Always, with these sights, sounds and smells, the rosary. The hard wooden beads or slippery plastic beads dotted the path of my childhood. At the start of a long road trip, at the end of a Sunday, always there.
As I stood in the beautiful gift shop at the feet of the Vatican, there were rosaries.
All different styles and materials. This one, though. This metal rosary with the cross of St JPII's papacy was the one I picked out especially for my someday husband.
And there, in Rome, as I stood in a crowd of hundreds, I held the rosary for a special blessing from St JPII as he called our group by name and prayed a blessing for our families.
This rosary, I presented to my husband on our wedding day four years ago. This rosary, he keeps with him 13 years later. This same rosary, touched to the relic of St JPII.
As Catholics, our rosaries can weave a story through our lives, touching our hearts, holding our stories just like the mysteries of the rosary walk us through the stories of Jesus' life.
Within the greater context of our universal Church, our stories are magnified and held within this simple strand of beads as well.
In The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare, Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan dive into the miracles attributed to the rosary, as well as saintly devotions and tools to get our own devotion on track.
They weave together a complete context and history of our Church's ties to the devotion of the rosary. The book paints such a full understanding of where we are rooted in the history of this tradition that once finished, it feels like you are seated within the stories of the past as you pick up your beads.
Just as I have the memory of my mother picking up her rosary, or the stories of my great-grandmother praying 15 decades every day, this book gives us all that rich heritage through the retelling of miracles and devotions.
Savor each piece of our history, and when you're done, share with me what most touched your heart. The stories of St JPII kneeling in prayer as he was in forced labor as a young adult struck me with a pang to deepen my own devotions.
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