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New book explores facets of Mass and rosary

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

By Mike Dyer

ST. MARGARET MARY DEANERY — Although Matt Swaim has only been Catholic for five years, the 30-year-old has a strong perspective on his faith and a unique foundation in catechesis.
That is evident in Swaim’s new book, The Eucharist and the Rosary, which was released Feb. 18 by Ligouri Publications. The book explores the many facets and mysteries of the rosary: There are meditations on Scripture through the joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous mysteries of the rosary with connections made to the Eucharist.


 Matt Swaim
Matt Swaim (Courtesy photo)

“The Mass and the rosary are such distinctively Catholic signs that I think, aside from their inherent worth, they are things that are valuable in drawing us deeper into all aspects of our faith, and in themselves, have extreme catechetical value,” said Swaim, a producer for “The Son Rise Morning Show,” a nationally-syndicated program on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. “To learn more about the Mass and the rosary is to learn more about the church.”
Swaim had a unique journey to the Catholic faith and in writing his first book. He was received into the church at the Easter Vigil 2005 at St. Clare Parish in College Hill. He said he had a very positive RCIA experience and his “zeal of conversion” has brought an added dimension to his faith and to the book.
Swaim was baptized as a Presbyterian and served in many Christian ministries while living most of his life in central Kentucky. He graduated from Asbury College in 2002 with an undergraduate degree in media production and was only a few credits shy of a minor in Bible studies. A Louisville native, Swaim said several factors encouraged him to convert to the Catholic faith, including literature and several authors who influenced him.
He initially had the idea for The Eucharist and the Rosary, Swaim said, when doing a regular radio segment on “The Son Rise Morning Show” that made connections between the Old Testament and New Testament and also made him think about how the church organizes prayer. Swaim, who said he always had about 15-20 book ideas in his mind, started to outline ideas for the book last spring.
“I do have to say that when I’ve started spiritual writing projects before, it’s typically been to flesh out some of the ideas I’ve been meditating on, and even struggling with,” Swaim said. “I hope that my honest exploration of those meditations and struggles connects with some of the things that have been in the back of the readers’ own minds regarding the rosary and the Mass.”
With the book, Swaim said he wanted to make a sincere connection with Catholic readers and also those who are considering a return to their faith.
“I tried to write something that was basic, but not insulting to their intelligence, and something that instructs in the faith without implying that the church discourages critical thought,” Swaim said. “Call it a devotional cate­chesis. Many who return to the faith express frustration that they feel like nobody ever really taught it to them before, and I wanted to create a resource that authentically communicates the faith from a very down-to-earth perspective.”

The Eucharist and the RosaryDuring his writing Swaim said he was struck by the fact that if we ever lost the Gospels, the core would be contained in the mystery of the rosary.

“It’s a common accusation that everything that we do in terms of ritual is arbitrary, and that people who want to preserve traditional aspects of the Mass are just grumpy and stuck in their ways,” Swaim said. “Looking at the complexity and beauty of the Mass and the rosary really helped me understand why they inspire such devotion. It’s hard to appreciate something if you don’t make an effort to understand it. I don’t have to be a Philistine when it comes to the liturgy.”
Swaim said he was delighted to hear from a friend who said the book could help readers who have experienced the rosary or the Mass a thousand times to view prayers as if they were seeing them for the first time.
“I wanted to write it in such a way that I could look at (the book) 20 years from now and it would still challenge me to deeper devotion to the Mass and the rosary,” Swaim said.

A member of St. James of the Valley Parish in Wyoming, Swaim said he hopes Catholics of every age can learn to more fully appreciate the rosary and its connection to the Mass.

“The structure of the rosary is simple enough that it can be learned by an elementary student, and yet the mysteries with which it connects us can outstretch the imaginational limits of the most theologically astute,” Swaim writes in his book.
The book is available at area Catholic bookstores and through www.amazon.com. More information can be found at www.liguori.org, or by calling 800-325-9521.

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