Renowned author, speaker encourages local parish leaders to turn to the rosary, a 'battering ram' against the powers of evil
DETROIT — What’s tiny and delicate at first sight, yet packs a powerful punch in the battle against Satan? For Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, that’s easy: the rosary.
During a Nov. 10 talk at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Fr. Calloway, a Catholic convert, author of 15 books and renowned speaker, brought his love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy rosary to Detroit as part of the seminary's Lay Ecclesial Ministry speaker series, reminding hundreds in attendance that the rosary is a powerful weapon.
“It doesn't look like much,” Fr. Calloway said, holding up his rosary. “But what God sees and what Our Lady sees and what the angels see is that what I'm holding in my hands is a weapon. A powerful weapon.”
Such language might seem aggressive or militaristic to some, Fr. Calloway said, but the rosary isn’t a weapon the same way that a sword or gun might be.
“It’s a spiritual weapon because the powers that we're up against are not the powers of man," Fr. Calloway explained. "St. Paul says we're in a spiritual battle. So yes, this is a weapon, but a spiritual weapon. The origin of this is from heaven itself.”
In his talk, Fr. Calloway launched into the history of the rosary and the power it has wielded in times of distress throughout history, beginning with its origins as a weapon given to St. Dominic as he tried to evangelize heretics in France who were denying tenets of the Catholic faith.
Our Lady came to St. Dominic and gave him the rosary — a combination of prayers that had already existed in one form or another, Fr. Calloway explained, including prayer beads and the first half of the Hail Mary prayer, and Mary's Psalter.
“She gave him this prayer and told him that it would be used as a battering ram, a weapon against hereticism,” Fr. Calloway said. “She equipped him with mysteries, the exact things that the heretics were attacking: the incarnational mysteries that would become known as the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of Christianity.”
St. Dominic took the rosary to the streets and prayed and preached the mysteries of the faith using the rosary as his weapon, Fr. Calloway added.
Throughout history, Fr. Calloway said, the devil has tried to keep the rosary from the hands of the people of God, but it has persevered.
In a modern example, Fr. Calloway pointed to the events surrounding Boko Haram, the Islamic militant group that in 2014 captured more than 200 girls in Nigeria.
In desperation, the girls’ parents went to the local bishop and asked for his help, Fr. Calloway said. Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme has said he went before the Blessed Sacrament to pray a rosary, and Jesus appeared and offered him a sword.
“The bishop knew what that meant. He reached out to touch it, to take the sword, and as soon as he touched it, it was transformed into a rosary,” Fr. Calloway said. “And then Jesus spoke three times and said to the bishop, ‘Boko Haram is gone. Boko Haram is gone. Boko Haram is gone.’”
The bishop knew he had to start fervently praying the rosary in his diocese, Fr. Calloway said.
“He started rosary crusades, meaning he gathered people and invited them to pray the rosary, and, within a very short period of time, all of a sudden, out of the blue, these Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram, surrendered the girls back to the custody of their parents and surrender their weapons,” Fr. Calloway added.
While the rest of the world was stunned by this move, Fr. Calloway said the word of God always bears fruit.
Despite his devotion to the rosary, Fr. Calloway said he has never prayed the “perfect rosary,” and he is still often overcome by distractions. However, God always understands and is pleased when we persevere and at least try, he said.
“You gotta persevere; love perseveres,” Fr. Calloway said. “It hardly ever feels good for me, and most times, I'm distracted, and I'm thinking about an email and what's that smell and what's for dinner … but see, God is a father. He's a good, good father. He understands. He wants your butterfly kisses. That's what it is to God.”
Don’t give up on the rosary, Fr. Calloway instructed the crowd; start small and build up, one decade or feast day at a time. Furthermore, in His mercy, God even gave us a “rosary on training wheels," Fr. Calloway said, pointing to St. Faustina’s gift of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
“It really has the power to transform you and your marriage,” Fr. Calloway said. “I know what it's done for me, and it continues to do for me, and I'm going to be buried with it because it means so much to me, the sacred and saving mysteries that brought me away from vice toward virtue.”
Praying the rosary is a pilgrimage to sacred places, he added, free to attend in one's mind and heart.
“When you pray the rosary, you go into the sacred saving places associated with the life of our Lord and Our Lady and St. Joseph and the apostles,” Fr. Calloway said. “You go to Cana, you go to Calvary, you go to Bethlehem. You go to all those places, and you make a daily pilgrimage that takes 20 minutes to do. You can do it every day, driving to work, getting stuck on the highway, or walking your dog. You can do it. So let's learn to pray the rosary. Begin to pray to God and watch what will happen. You will be blessed.”
Prayer and spirituality