The Gift Of The Rosary: How to make and How and Why to Pray by Brian Peachey (Cypress Press, Perth, 2001, $3.00. Available from Catholic Bookshops and 48 Carrick St, Woodlands, WA 6018, tel (08) 9446 3266, fax (08) 9446 3260)
Of all the religious books written, those on our Blessed Mother and the Rosary would have to be among the most numerous. Secular critics would no doubt query what else there is to say about her?
Throughout history, the mysterious reality of the Blessed Virgin whose submission to the demands of incarnate love brought the God man into the world has captured the imagination and loyalty of legions of Catholics and other Christians.
A central expression of this affection has been the recitation of the simple string of prayers called the Rosary. Numerous tracts have been produced to help people focus on the central events in Christ's life as they "tell the beads".
The Gift of the Rosary, while also containing excellent guides to help us meditate on each of the mysteries, has a number of additional features that greatly increases its appeal.
It not only has a brief history of the Rosary itself but also provides step-by-step instructions with accompanying photographs how, with a few basic tools, to make your own Rosary. The author readily solves the problem of where to get the beads by using olive seeds, and in Chapter 5, under the sub-heading, "His branches shall spread, and his glory shall be as the olive tree" (Hosea 14-16), he not only elaborates on this but also provides a recipe for preserving olives.
Throughout the centuries Mary has continuously displayed maternal care for her vain and rebellious children. In recent times, such as at Fatima, she has urged prayer and penance to avert suffering and regain the peace that can only come from God. The Popes have consistently repeated this message, particularly John Paul II, who says it was her intervention that saved him from assassination in 1981. As much as any other pope, he has promoted devotion to Our Blessed Mother.
This little booklet, which was given an imprimatur by Archbishop Hickey of Perth on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, continues the tradition of fostering our love for the mother of our Saviour.
It has a beguiling Chestertonian ring about it, with many of the elements of the balance and harmony of Christian life. The ancient biblical fruit of the olive; its links with wine and the bonhomie of fellowship; the simple pleasure of working and creating something with one's own hands; and balancing it all the constant reminder of the need for prayer and mortification.
There are chapters on why we should carry the Rosary, why we should pray it and how we should pray it. Also included is some delightfully appropriate poetry, including "The Trimmin's on the Rosary" from John O'Brien's Around the Boree Log.
It would make an ideal gift for any number of occasions or just simply for the joy of spreading the love of Christ and his mother - something the world today needs more than ever.
Barry Morgan is a Perth Catholic writer.