BOOKS: ‘R is for Rosary: A Catholic family alphabet’

Rosary book evangelizes, builds faith

I received this book, R is for Rosary, by Barbara Gowan and immediately thought – as a Lay Dominican – a book about St. Dominic and the story of how the Virgin Mary gave him the rosary. Then, I discovered it was a children’s book. In one respect, that is OK because I had a review of a theology book two months ago and we are all still trying to recover.

Robert Curtis, a life-professed Lay Dominican, is the author of 17 books, holds a master’s degree in creative writing, teaches composition at the University of Phoenix and creative writing at Rio Salado College.
Robert Curtis, a life-professed Lay Dominican, is the author of 17 books, holds a master’s degree in creative writing, teaches composition at the University of Phoenix and creative writing at Rio Salado College.

The plain fact is, R is for Rosary: A Catholic Family Alphabet, is not the typical children’s book; it is a very upscale children’s book filled with beautiful photography, prayers written by children all over the world and is dedicated to the students of Ss. Simon and Jude School in Phoenix.

The book begins with the Letter “A”, which I personally think is a good place to start, and proceeds through the entire Catholic faith letter by letter, like a parade of color and meaning. The book lacks the cartoon of many children’s books and any purely childish explanations. Instead, as I mentioned, the book is filled with beautiful photographic images and explanations that are solid, readable by everyone, and are beautifully written.

Let’s look at this first entry: “A is for Altar, the table where the priest consecrates the bread and wine for our Eucharistic feast.” The emphasis is on “priest” and “feast” as a rhyme. Not exactly Thomist theology but not language for toddlers either. Poetry is the only language we have that is capable of piercing the shallows of our great mysteries.

The explanation likens the altar to the table where the family shares its meals; most apt as it reflects the deep Jewish origins of the Eucharist and the reality that the family is our basic social unit, something nearly lost in today’s postmodern society.

The entry contains a photograph of a hand-crafted altar located at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The entry ends with a prayer written by the 4th class, St. Anne’s National School, Bailieborough Co., Cavan, Ireland.

This format extends through the letter “Z,” drawing the very local Church together with the very worldwide Church. Many of the prayers are written by students at Catholic schools throughout the Valley of the Sun.

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R is for Rosary: A Catholic family rosary

Publisher: Amor Deus Publishing Length: 38 pages, hardcover	 Release Date:  9/24/2014 ISBN: 978-1-61956-246-246-2 Order: amordeus.com

Publisher: Amor Deus Publishing
Length: 38 pages, hardcover
Release Date: 9/24/2014
ISBN: 978-1-61956-246-246-2
Order: amordeus.com

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If I were to have any issue with the book, it is with the letter “D”, for as a Lay Dominican, I would expect to see a beautiful photographic image of the founder of the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic de Guzman, one of three Dominicans blessed with the title, “Doctors of the Church”. Instead, they have a stained-glass image of Dominic Savio. My first question is “who”? And then I realize that the author has a special connection with Dominic Savio and that he is the saint who was a boy, which makes the choice applicable to children, even though I am certain that St. Dominic liked children.

“B is for Baptism”, “C is for Crucifix”, “E is for Easter”, “F is for Francis of Assisi (Francis but no Dominic, is there any real justice?), “M is for Mass, and “Q is for Queen of Peace” complete with the prayer written by a fifth grader at – you guessed it – Queen of Peace Catholic School in Mesa. We even find a place for a child’s photograph to be attached under “Y is for You.”

The amazing thing about this book is that life does not end at “Z”.

Chapters flow with Our Church Family covered along with Family Faith Formation, Family Traditions, Patron saints, and Sacred Art, a magnificent cornucopia of Catholic faith. This book gives young people, and anyone else who can read, the tools to build a full appreciation of what we believe. I imagine if any Protestant picks up this book, their sadness would abound at NOT being Catholic. Use it for the New Evangelization!

So, though I thought that kids don’t really read the book reviews, Catholic dads and moms do. I can only say that this is a truly terrific book to give to your children, at birthdays, at Christmas, or Easter, and just for the heck of it…because it is a heck of book. It even surprised me!