The Rosary (Johnnette Benkovic)

The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare
Servant Books, 2017
$16.99
234 pages

Recently, I was introduced to a beautiful prayer called the Prayer to Take Authority that a local religious order has been given permission to use. If you’ve never heard of it, here it is:

In the name of Jesus, I take authority
and I bind all the powers and forces in the air,
in the ground, in the water, in the underground,
in the netherworld, in nature and in fire.
You are the Lord over the entire universe
and I give you the glory for your creation.
In your name, I bind all demonic forces
that have come against us and our families
and I seal all of us in the protection of your precious blood
that was shed for us on the cross.
Mary Our Mother, we seek your protection and intercession,
with the Sacred heart of Jesus, for us and our families
and surround us with your mantle of love to discourage the enemy.
St. Michael and our Guardian Angels,
come and defend us and our families in battle
against all the evil ones that roam the earth.
In the name of Jesus,
I bind and command all the powers and forces of evil
to depart right now
away from us, our families, our homes, and our lands.
And I thank you Lord Jesus
for you are a faithful and compassionate God, Amen.

The prayer ends, importantly I think, with a Hail Mary. It’s important, I think, to know that Mary is fighting for us, interceding for us, with her Son. She is always there as the path to Jesus. For just as He chose Mary to be the vehicle by which He would come into the world, we choose her to be the way back to Him.

Mary’s protection has historically been linked to the praying of the rosary. The battle of Lepanto, the requests of our Lady at Fatima, and many other graces can be traced back to or are connected with the praying of the rosary.

And that is why Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan’s recent contribution, The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare, is so powerful. And so timely. We live in a time when we need to gather spiritual weapons to fight the spiritual battle we face. And this book explains why the rosary is so important, but does so in an approachable and personal way; each chapter contains a story from a different person reflecting on their own experience with the rosary and sharing the graces they have received.

For a long time, I found the rosary boring and difficult to include as a regular part of my prayer life. Often times, I still do. And it seems that others have had similar problems. To break through this, we need to reframe how we think about praying the rosary. We also can be inspired by the stories of many who witness to the power of the prayer even beyond those told in the book.

But there are many wonderful stories of the power of the rosary in the book. For what at first seemed like a strange interlude, Benkovic spends about 75 pages recounting the lives of various saints and the influence the rosary had on their lives and their own spirituality. From these stories, you quickly see the power of the rosary and the many ways it has been used by saints and others as a spiritual weapon. Those pages turn out not to be a diversion, but a powerful meditation on how the rosary has been useful to many throughout history. And if it has worked in the past, it can surely serve us today in this time of increased spiritual warfare.

The rosary is not, ultimately, a prayer about Mary. It’s a meditation on Christ with Mary as our companion. The “‘incomparable model’ of the contemplation of Christ is Mary.” (98) She experienced these mysteries in her own life and “lived with her eyes fixed on Christ.” (98). Benkovic quotes Anthony Lilles: “When we gaze into the eyes of Christ with the eyes of our heart, we begin to see things as they truly are. Under His gaze of love our prayer begins to resonate with the will of the Father.” (103) Mary was the first to experience this gaze of Christ–indeed, she helped bring Him into being through her fiat. Mary’s original “yes” opened up the possibility of holiness for all of us. She conformed herself to the will of God so perfectly, and the fruits of it–the Incarnation–were so wonderful, that we now have access to this grace as well.

Benkovic provides a “call to action,” which she calls a “Warrior’s Rosary Crusade.” She and Thomas Sullivan, her co-author, offer poignant meditations on each of the mysteries that focus on engaging in the spiritual battle in our age. We should take up the challenge and be willing participants in the ultimate struggle of our time. The rosary has proven to be a worthy weapon in past ages, and Mary’s promises are good for all ages. Her “yes” resounds unto eternity and we can follow her example to conform ourselves more completely to Christ. That was the point of her life, and it is the point of the rosary. This book can help anyone achieve that conformity by practicing the wise advice it offers.

This review reflects only the views of its author. For an honest review, I received a complimentary review copy of the book. 

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