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Book Review: RMPTR is an acronym worth remembering

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Many men shun self-help books. In the same way that we don’t like to stop and ask for directions, all the more we don’t like to admit when we need help in a spiritual sense.

That notion delayed my reading and reviewing of David N. Calvillo’s Real Men Pray the Rosary for longer than I’m proud to admit. It sounded like a self-help book, but in reality, it is much more than that. After finishing the book, I’m willing to take the challenge it offers to pray the rosary more often and I think after reading, you will too.

Real Men Pray the Rosary (RMPTR) is a book that can help men or women grow in spirituality by better understanding and praying the rosary, but not through self-help. Rather, the book encourages devotion to the Blessed Virgin and putting our faith in Jesus through her intercession.

Published by Ave Maria Press RMPTR runs 131 pages and its full title is Real Men Pray the Rosary: A Practical Guide to Powerful Prayer. The author, Calvillo and his wife Valerie, are the founders of a Texas-based organization also called Real Men Pray the Rosary. The apostolate’s goal is promote the rosary with conviction to all Christians but especially Catholic men and families.

One thing I’ve praised in previous books is the speed with which one can read them. RMPTR is not a fast read, but that works in the book’s favor. Instead of burning through the pages, one can stop periodically to reflect on the readings and come back to read more later.

Throughout the book, Calvillo, relates his personal experience with the rosary, and how after martial troubles and attending an ACTS retreat he came to see the transformative power of the rosary. He describes a “Saul conversion moment” at the retreat where praying the rosary with other men he realized that the ancient prayer was far more than what he thought.

“I slowly realized the wonder and beauty of what these men were doing before sunrise out here in the middle of nowhere. I began to weep…” he wrote. “I wept at the reality of 80 rough-looking men from all walks of life, humbly and sincerely raising their hearts and minds to God.

“I felt ashamed that I labeled this beautiful prayer the domain of ‘old ladies and funerals,'” he added. “I felt a prayerful happiness, a warm comforting presence.”

Calvillo recounts how he soon after found a copy of Saint Louis de Monfort’s book Secrets of the Rosary, and how that further emphasized his devotion.

RMPTR is a great introduction to the rosary from the male perspective and chapters on the history of the rosary, as well as its mechanics and how to mediate upon its mysteries it, make it practical as well.

RMPTR isn’t all about men however. Calvillo’s wife Valerie adds a chapter on the role of women in the organization and in the spiritual life of men. Valerie Calvillo extols women to help men take their spiritual place as leaders of the domestic church, the home.

Owing to it’s titular desire to be a practical guide, each chapter ends with a “toolbox,” or a list of ways to implement the knowledge or spiritual reflections it contains.

After expounding on his own story, the history of the rosary, the ways in which one can pray and the spiritual reflections of himself and Pope John XXIII, Calvillo’s book ends with a challenge. The “Real Men Pray the Rosary Challenge” is a call to pray the rosary (the mechanics of which are well detailed in chapters four and five) once a day for 33 days. The 33 days allude to Christ’s 33 years of life, and serves to separate this challenge from the typical 30-day trial concept seen in the secular world.

After reading the book, the challenge is hard to refuse. So many saints, so many popes and so many men and women have benefitted what Pope John Paul II once called a “marvelous prayer.” Will praying a daily rosary have a positive effect on your spiritual life?

Calvillo thinks so, and he makes a persuasive case. The epilogue ends, “Try it. Just pray it.” I think I will, and I suggest you read this book and see if you’re the kind of man (or woman) who can benefit from the rosary and entrusting themselves to Jesus through the intercession of His Blessed Mother Mary.


This review originally appeared in the February 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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