|Part of the call of the Year of Faith is to renew our knowledge of, and commitment to, the faith that was gifted to us at Baptism. Veritas therefore happy to offer a Year of Faith: Book of the Month. These books are intended to both form and inform readers on a wide variety of faith topics. As an initiative for the Year of Faith, you might like to start a Year of Faith Book Club in your work, school or parish community, where these publications can be discussed and shared..
Year of Faith Book of the Month for October:
Heaven Sent: My Life Through the Rosary by Fr Gabriel Harty
As October is the Month of the Rosary, we begin with Heaven Sent: My Life Through the Rosary by Fr Gabriel Harty.
Father Gabriel Harty OP has spent his life as a preacher of the Rosary. At ninety years of age, he has written Heaven Sent to show how the Rosary is not only a contemplative prayer but a means too of proclaiming Scripture – ‘the Gospel on its knees’, as Lacordaire said. Father Gabriel also shows how the term ‘Rosary’ is not confined to Roman Catholicism, and how its method of meditation has certain aspects common to many faiths. And unlike many other forms of meditation, the Rosary is not just self-centred or creation-orientated, but rather Christo-centric and heaven-orientated. The title Heaven Sent is meant to show that the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys that hold the Rosary in place are no man-made prayers but are sent from on high. Father Gabriel shares the story of his life in relation to the Rosary, the cultivation of his devotion to it, and the healing and grace it holds for all who partake in it.
An Excerpt from Heaven Sent: My Life Through the Rosary:
My earliest memory of the Rosary goes back to the nights when my two sisters, Kathleen and Betty, and myself would be busy jumping up and down on the beds as part of our pre-sleep ritual. Hearing some kind of rhythmic murmur from below, we discovered that this was our parents praying the Rosary. My mother appeared one night, and with the beads still in her hand announced: ‘Kathleen, Betty, Tom, it’s time you started to say your prayers. Pick up those beads that I brought you from Lourdes and come down to the kitchen to join your daddy and myself.’
Even Patsy the dog became part of the scene. He liked to settle in comfort on the back of our legs as we knelt on the kitchen floor. As for Beauty, the black cat, she purred along with what might be called a kind of singing in tongues, which was what the whole procedure seemed to be, even though we could not at that stage have put a name on it. It took a long time before we were able to get our fingers in touch with the round of the beads and our minds in tune with the rhythm of the words.
Daddy took command from then on and would ask every night if we had finished our home exercises, and then proclaim: ‘Put up the books. Time for the Rosary!’ Growing up, I was quite a rascal, up to all kinds of mischief and joining a few of my mates stealing doughnuts in Woolworths. Heaven and hell meant nothing and I often wondered if there was any such person as God. But this is where my dad came to the rescue. He had a small furniture shop along the Quays in Dublin, with a sign on the window: Furnish the Harty-Way. Three Years to Pay! He knew the difference between a penny and a pound and I knew in my heart that you couldn’t pull a fast one on John Joe Harty. He was an all-round man who knew how to live well in both worlds. While I was a budding thief and near atheist as a youngster, I saw my father each night go down on his knees and get in touch with an unseen presence and pray for each one of us. I can still hear his voice: ‘Jesus Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.’ Like all small boys, I considered my dad to be the greatest man in the world, and if he could reach out to an unseen world, then perhaps there might really be a Father in heaven who looked after everyone. My dad was a very ordinary man who loved his work and his sport and could be just one of us kids when it was time to play. But at Rosary time, he became a giant in our eyes.
Now as an old priest of ninety years, I look back on my family life, and it seems to me that as I remember watching and learning from my father and mother, it was much the same with the disciples of Jesus. They observed the Master at prayer and could see on his face that he was in touch with a significant Other whom he addressed as Abba, Father. They said: ‘Master teach us to pray.’
As I write these lines I’m thinking of fathers and mothers all over the world and of children who say with such pride: ‘My daddy is Superman. My mammy is Wonder Woman!’ Parents have so many family obligations, but the most important thing they can do in this valley below is let their own faces radiate the Unseen Presence, drawing their children to the high hills of heaven above. Were it not for my dad, who led us in prayer, and for my mum, who brought us bright glass beads from Lourdes, I would never have come to be called the Rosary Priest of Ireland.
About the Author:
Gabriel M. Harty OP was born in 1921 and ordained a secular priest for the Archdiocese of Dublin in 1945. Apart from his many preaching assignments, he has researched the subject of the Rosary in libraries and archives throughout Europe. He is especially interested in the healing power of the Rosary, and has established prayer groups and communities in every part of Ireland. He has produced hundreds of booklets, pamphlets and CDs on every aspect of the Rosary.