It isn’t unique that author Meggie K. Daly prays her Rosary every day using Scripture to assist in meditating on the Mysteries as she recites the Our Fathers and Hail Marys. It isn’t unique that she decided to produce a book to help others pray their Rosary using specific scripture verses with special meaning for her. Yet Daly’s book Bead by Bead: The Scriptural Rosary is highly recommended by me for two reasons.
First of all, I find the sincerity in her writing to be authentic and even brave. She uses situations from her life to identify with readers. Secondly, I find myself truly involved in seeking to understand the power of the Rosary and why Catholics are so strongly devoted to its recitation because of her ability to establish an inviting relationship with readers.
Daly reveals herself from the beginning even as she acknowledges those who helped her produce the book. She describes her life as “governed by anxiety and driven by the desire for the approval of others…” In the Introduction, she explains how the idea for the scripture meditations came about through her struggle to focus while praying the Rosary and how she realized a book might be of value to other Catholics or even non-Catholics. Her background is in education, and ever the teacher, she describes her fantasy of the fulfillment of her final request at her funeral. She imagines her husband passing out a copy of the book so everyone, whether Catholic or not, can pray at least one Rosary using her private tutorial. She writes, “I must say that I like the idea of giving a reading assignment and homework at my funeral!”
The first four chapters are informational with what I call “Daly touches,” or those asides where she reveals a little bit of her own personality. As a gardener of roses, her chapters are named for the steps to the successful cultivation of her favorite flowers. Those chapters explain the history of the Rosary, the format and prayers, and her observations of how it is perceived in the current culture. Finally, the fifth chapter describes Daly’s personal journey to discover the Rosary’s significance in her life.
Although a cradle Catholic through her adoptive parents, Daly recounts how she became “one of the many ex-Catholics that swell the ranks of Evangelical Protestants.” She had cast aside the Rosary and other things Catholic; however, she found her mother’s rosary following her death. At that time, Daly was in her thirties, and the witness of her mother’s faith stayed with her through the next ten years in her spiritual journey to truly understand the teachings of the Catholic Church.
I relate to Daly’s statement, “Eventually, my hunger for the truth, obedience to an insistent prompting, and a desire for deeper intimacy with God lead me back to the Catholic Church.” I am not a cradle Catholic, but I know what she means in searching for the truth. By the end of the first five chapters, she presents valuable resources that a person can reference to discover why the Rosary is so powerful.
One of the resources she cites is a book she read that explains how Mary leads people to her Son, Jesus Christ. Daly decided to pray the Rosary every Friday as a penance or obligation. Though difficult at times, this brought her to a deeper understanding of the eternal presence of God that she describes in intimate detail in Chapter 5 titled “My Journey to the Rosary.”
The rest of the book is a bead by bead recitation of the Mysteries and Hail Marys accompanied by Scripture chosen by Daly. She uses St. Louis Mary de Montfort’s Introductory and Concluding prayers for each decade of the four Mysteries except for The Luminous Mysteries. She wrote those prayers herself keeping with de Montfort’s style.
I read the paperback version and at first, wondered how I could meditate with any spiritual gain while holding my Rosary and the book at the same time. The true test came following a weekday Mass when I prayed the Rosary with the congregation. Having read through the Joyful Mysteries in Daly’s book, I easily visualized the Scripture story, if not each verse word for word, and found the prayers more meaningful for me. It also helped that Daly’s book includes, in her full-color version, some of the most beautiful images of Christ’s life created by master artists through the ages.
I recommend this book to active Catholics and fallen away Catholics. I see it as a strong evangelizing tool for Protestants and non-Christians who find it difficult to understand why the Mother of Jesus is so special and why her intercessory prayers to her Son are so vital to peace in the world.
As a former educator and administrator, I suggest principals in Catholic schools gift each staff member with Bead by Bead: The Scriptural Rosary. What a great opportunity for meaningful group prayer in faculty meetings or during Professional Learning Community collaborations!
Themes: Rosary, Catholic History, Reversion, Mary Mother of God, Scripture, Marian Devotion, Saints Devoted to Mary
Year Published: 2017
Audience: Teens to Adults, Catholics, non-Catholics, Christians, non-Christians
Author’s worldview: Catholic Christian