13 April 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 97
(NOTE: This post has been "updated" with some additional thoughts and a new question.)

By this point in the readalong, you're either sold on the rosary or not. And if you're in the former group, then this is the post you've been waiting for. Heretofore, we've been discussing what the rosary is and why we should care; from this point on, we'll get to talk about how we should say it.

. . . One single Hail Mary that is said properly is worth more than one hundred and fifty that are badly said. Most Catholics say the Rosary, the whole fifteen mysteries, or five of them anyway, or at least a few decades. So why is it then that so few of them give up their sins and go forward in the spiritual life? Surely it must be because they are not saying them as they should. It is a good thing to think over how we should pray if we really want to please God and become more holy.

Now, I'm firmly in the Chestertonian "It's worth doing badly" camp, in the sense that I don't think we should let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But the Montofortian "It's worth doing well" camp are now reminding us that we shouldn't let anything be the enemy of the good. In one of the roses we're looking at here, St. Louis de Montfort quotes what seems to be an older proverb: "A corruption of what is best is worst."

12 April 2014


Reading Diary: Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

You've heard of Daddy-Long-Legs (and read my Reading Diary entry on it), but what about its "sequel" Dear Enemy? And did you know that Jean Webster, whose most famous novel has stayed in print for over 100 years and inspired several stage and film productions, wrote other books that have since been forgotten? In the spirit of last year's Frances Hodgson Burnett reading project, I have decided to give Webster's lesser-known novels a try, starting with the only other one I had heard of before this idea took root.

Dear Judy:

Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement. Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money? Me--I, Sallie McBride, the head of an orphan asylum! My poor people, have you lost your senses, or have you become addicted to the use of opium, and is this the raving of two fevered imaginations? I am exactly as well fitted to take care of one hundred children as to become the curator of a zoo.

And you offer as bait an interesting Scotch doctor? My dear Judy,—likewise my dear Jervis,--I see through you!

This time, Judy Abbot is not writing the letters, but receiving them. Well, some of them. And our faithful, chatty correspondent is her friend and former roommate Sallie McBride, who gets her own fish-out-of-water story when she leaves her rich family to be the administrator of Judy's old orphanage. And you know what? It's a really fun read!

So the question is begging to be asked . . . Why is it, in a world where girls have continued to fall in love with Judy Abbot, Modern American Cinderella, and where their older versions have turned the Working Girl into a uniquely American archetype, hardly anyone remembers one of the original Working Girls in American literature, Sallie McBride?

07 April 2014


Early Edition: Special Delivery

It was actually not the arrival of "tomorrow's newspaper" that turned our hero Gary Hobson's life upside-down. If you insist on a spatial metaphor, it arguably threw him for a loop; but the real big change of his life came a bit earlier, when his wife threw him out.

This episode opens with the troubled couple sitting in the waiting room of a divorce attorney, reading different newspapers. She's stuck with today's news, which means all the stuff that happened yesterday. He's busy looking over the future so that he knows what to do today. This doesn't prove that they're a poor match, but it does highlight the disconnect between them.

05 April 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 96

So far in this readalong of The Secret of the Rosary, we've discussed the main reasons for praying the rosary, reviewed the formula prayers which make up its "body," and the imitation of Jesus and Mary which are its very "soul." And amazingly, St. Louis de Montfort isn't finished yet!

Dear reader, I promise you that if you practise this devotion and help to spread it you will learn more from the Rosary than from any spiritual book. And what is more, you will have the happiness of being rewarded by Our Lady in accordance with the promises that she made to Saint Dominic, to Blessed Alan de la Roche and to all those who practise and encourage this devotion which is so dear to her. For the Holy Rosary teaches people about the virtues of Jesus and Mary, and leads them to mental prayer and to imitate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It teaches them to approach the Sacraments often, to genuinely strive after Christian virtues and to do all kinds of good works, as well as interesting them in the many wonderful indulgences which can be gained through the Rosary.

In the next "decade," he writes about some truly remarkable miracles granted through praying the rosary, so it's worth looking back at the Tenth Rose of this book, in which he anticipates the reactions of the "freethinkers and ultra-critical people of today" (who exist in ours, too!). St. Louis clarifies that there are three kinds of faith with which we believe different stories: divine faith for the Scriptures; human faith for ordinary stories that are backed up by common sense and the trustworthiness of their authors; and pious faith for stories about holy subjects that do not contradict faith, reason or morals. I hope you have your pious faith ready!

03 April 2014


Character Connection 43

Remember when Thursday was "Character Connection Day" around here? The Introverted Reader hasn't revived this meme, but I feel like reliving the good old days with a post about one of the most wonderful characters I've ever encountered. It helps that she also carries the potential for great controversy. ;-)

02 April 2014


Early Edition: Traffic Jam

If I were big on Twitter, I'd get my followers to tweet pictures of their newspapers
and then retweet a selection of headlines from all over the world

I grew up around so many TV sets that I must have caught a couple of Early Edition episodes back in the 90s. But before I started seriously watching the show, my clearest memory of it was that it got a special mention in a Sunday Mass homily--which pleased many members of the congregation. But it wasn't my family's usual church, so I guess I wasn't in the demographic. A pity.

30 March 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 95

When looking for images for the readalong, I was surprised to find audiobook "cover art" among the top images. Not being a big audiobook "reader" (though I love having an audience for "read aloud" =P), I'm a little surprised. Is anyone here using an audio copy of The Secret of the Rosary--and if so, do you think it affects how you receive St. Louis de Montfort's preaching?

I should like to give you even more reason for embracing this devotion which so many great souls have practised; the Rosary recited with meditation on the mysteries brings about the following marvelous results:

1. it gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ;
2. it purifies our souls, washing away sin;
3. it gives us victory over all our enemies;
4. it makes it easy for us to practise virtue;
5. it sets us on fire with love of Our Blessed Lord;
6. it enriches us with graces and merits;
7. it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.

There are probably a million reasons to pray the rosary, but I'm starting to think they shouldn't be presented in a list. What we should be aiming for is more of a unified field theory. For every possible benefit of the rosary is related to all the others. Taken together, they give us a much bigger picture than that of the rosary as just one of many beneficial devotions.