On May 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the first time to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. She shone radiantly before those whom the world initially took no notice – as the Mother of God tends to do – during a year that also saw the rise of Soviet communism and the horrors of World War I. Brutalities inflicted by Russian Bolsheviks and trench warfare, however, only further underscored the Fatima message – the need to pray the Rosary daily and for the conversion of Russia.
The Marian summons to pray the Rosary daily still resonates almost a century later. An apostolate based in southern Texas called Real Men Pray the Rosary (RMPTR) promotes praying the Rosary “in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives” (cf. Blessed John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 43). Founded in March 2009 by David Calvillo, a lawyer in McAllen, and his wife Valerie, RMPTR has flourished online – over 27,000 “likes” for its Facebook page to date – and continues as a vibrant movement with the recent publication of Real Men Pray the Rosary: A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer (Ave Maria Press, 2013).
In just 134 pages, David Calvillo combines personal accounts, a historical primer of the Rosary, examinations of its prayers and mysteries that are rich with Scripture passages as well as magisterial teachings, and a “pray it forward” challenge to reveal some of the many fruits of praying the Rosary. He begins by sharing how praying the Rosary helped him avoid a future seemingly headed toward a failed marriage, a shattered family, and decisions steeped in a shallow spirituality. Where most men today take any hardships as tickets to quit, Calvillo proposes that a Rosary prayed with a friend, with music, in parts, or while exercising brings a person closer to Jesus through Mary and all other Christians suffering in daily life. A link to a community of prayer that transcends place and time, the Rosary frames earthly tragedies within heavenly triumphs. An entire chapter, in fact, shows how saints and popes have taught such a lesson.
What also makes the book worth reading is a chapter by David’s wife. Valerie explores a theme worthy of its own book, but one that fits very effectively into a practical prayer guide for men – a man of faith has a strong (if not occasionally stronger) woman of faith in his life. She writes about how women, as friends, wives, or mothers, can engender greater faith in men through encouragement, inspiration, and devotion to a life fueled by the sacraments. She reminds readers of worthy objectives in a world that objectifies women.
As the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima today, it is a good time to read Real Men Pray the Rosary. It directs readers during this month of May – this month of Mary – toward deeper devotion and discipline in prayer. Its pages alert our senses to the great piety offered by the Fatima message, to rediscover peace and purpose, to live fearlessly and full of hope, and to begin doing so on our knees and with Rosary beads in our hands.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. You can find him on Facebook here.