Extent: Paperback

Pages: 64

Publisher: Veritas

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As appeared in Intercom, May 2019, 29th Apr 2019

Reviewer: Fr Paul Clayton-Lea, Intercom, May 2019

In a recent survey, the Hail Mary was selected by most Irish people who were polled, as their favourite prayer. Even those who now rarely attend religious services seem able to recall and recite the familiar words when the occasion demands it – at a wake or other gathering. The traditional mysteries of the Rosary, with their focus on sorrow, joy and wonder (and, thanks to St Pope John Paul II, the more recent addition of the Mysteries of Light, centred on Christ’s ministry), all continue to give expression to, and offer inspiration for, the journey through life’s vale of tears.
Countless guides and commentaries have been launched by saints and scholars across the centuries, to accompany this ancient, prayerful devotion. Nigel Woolen’s recent publication, Learning to Love: Journeys Through Life with the Rosary, provides an illuminating and accessible contemporary resource to add to that treasury. His earlier acclaimed book of reflections on the Knock apparition, The Lamb Will Conquer (2017), gave an indication of the profound spirituality and biblical expertise which he brings to bear upon his writings, as well as his ministry in retreat centres such as Knock and other European venues. His gift for translating profound thoughts into plain language is evident in this slim volume. Four chapters, each dedicated to one of the sets of mysteries, illustrate in a reader-friendly way what the author describes as the ‘Road Map’ Rosary which, if followed, will lead us on our life-long journey of learning to love. Fr Woolen’s stated intention in writing this book was to help foster meditation for those who already recite the Rosary, and also to reach out to those who are less familiar with its power, yet want to learn to love. Our failure to know how to love is remedied, he asserts, by the growth in practice and understanding of this extraordinary prayer, with the companionship and encouragement of Mary.
For the author, the strength and beauty of the Rosary is reflected in

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Rosary Essentials

Learning to Love

by Fr Nigel Woollen


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If we consider our experience here on this earth as a journey on which we are learning to love, then the Rosary is one way of illuminating our spiritual path. Taking this timeless prayer as his starting point, Nigel Woollen sees each of the Mysteries of the Rosary as the embodiment of various stages of our earthly journeying and encourages the reader to share in its wisdom and consolation.
In this eminently approachable book, written with a welcome lightness of touch, Scripture passages, personal reflections and surprising anecdotes combine as we are encouraged to re-examine our lives in the light of God’s loving care, with Mary at our side to help us grow in love.

Father Nigel Woollen, originally from London, studied biblical theology in Rome and worked for some years in retreat centres in France and Italy, and at Knock Shrine in Ireland. He is currently assistant priest of Kingsland parish in north London (Westminster diocese). He is the author of the bestselling The Lamb Will Conquer: Reflections on the Knock Apparition (Veritas, 2017).

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