Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Media Watch
Spokane author’s ‘Rosary Handbook’ is ‘thorough and interesting,’ while Pope Francis’s book for children will appeal to adults, too

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the June 16, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Book Reviews

Local author Mitch Finley published his book on the rosary back in 2007 and it continues to be a best seller among Catholic books on various lists. The full title is The Rosary Handbook: A Guide for Newcomers, Old-Timers, and Those In Between. It is published in softcover by The Word Among Us Press.

The book is exactly what the title states. It is a thorough and interesting study of the rosary, from the history to in-depth explanation of its 20 mysteries. Early on the author goes into detail of how men and women may respond to the rosary differently and how they may be helped by it.

I found the history section especially interesting. The repetition of the Our Father or the Hail Mary, the use of beads, and existence in the Orthodox and Islam of similar traditions was long before St. Dominic, who often gets credit for being the founder of the rosary. And the mysteries of the rosary were introduced long after St Dominic. Yes, the Dominicans do get credit for popularizing the prayer.

Finley goes through a detailed explanation of all the prayers of the rosary. He explains the mantra effect of the repetition of the prayers and the merger with key sections of Christ’s and Mary’s lives. The original 15 mysteries – joyful, sorrowful, and glorious – became standard in 1569 under Pope Pius V. Pope St. John Paul II would later add the five Luminous Mysteries in 2002.

We also learn that with all its popularity and help for so many people, the rosary may not be for everyone. St. Therese of Lisieux once wrote: “What difficulties I have had throughout my life with saying the rosary. I am ashamed to say the recitation of the rosary was at times more painful than an instrument of torture.”

The section the author writes on the 20 mysteries could be used one a day for 20 days as an at-home retreat. He does a superb job on giving biblical background and making the mysteries come alive.

At the end of the book he gives detailed information on the practice of praying the rosary. He gives practical suggestions on how to make the rosary prayer your prayer. The essay by Lynn Morales on how she makes the rosary a prayer throughout the day is excellent.

Mitch Finley has given the Church a powerful and informative guide. It is a prayerful book for the beginner and for the person who has long felt at home with the rosary.


On a day in August, probably last summer, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica, met for an hour-and-a-half with Pope Francis. Father Spadaro shared with the pope drawings and questions from children all over the world. The result is a wonderful book for children titled Dear Pope Francis. The ages of the children whose letters and art are published in the book vary from 7 to 13. The reproduction of the children’s art work is first class. Pope Francis then responds to both the art and the questions.

The book is published in hardcover by Loyola Press of Chicago for a list price of $18.95. It would make a wonderful gift for any child. My guess is that adults are going to enjoy the book very much also.

My favorite question is from 13-year-old Ivan, in China. He asks the pope this question:

“Will my grandpa, a non-Catholic who is not a person willing to do something evil, go to heaven when he dies? In other words, if someone never makes any penances, how big a sin must he commit for him to go down to hell?”

Pope Francis’s response goes like this:

“Jesus loves us so very much and he wants all of us to go to heaven. God’s will is that everybody would be saved. Jesus walks with us until the very last moment of our lives, so that we can be with him always. Now appearances can certainly deceive us. For example, some people think that because you don’t follow every Church rule to the letter, you will automatically go to hell. But in fact, Jesus is beside us throughout our lives – to the very last moment! – to save us.

“Once a woman went to a holy priest whose name was John Maria Vianney. He was the pastor of the parish in Ars, in France. The woman began to cry, because her husband had committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. She was desperate because she thought that her husband had certainly ended up in hell. But Father John Maria, who was a saint, said to her, ‘Look between the bridge and the river, there is the mercy of God.’”


The musical Hamilton recently received a record-breaking 16 nominations for the Tony Awards that took place on June 12. The show was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also stars on Broadway in the role of Alexander Hamilton. The original cast recording has outsold all such CDs in recent history. It is virtually impossible to get a ticket to the play as new productions open in San Francisco and Chicago in the fall.

The multi-racial play on the founding of our country is based on the 2004 biography Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The 738-page book, available in softcover from Penguin for $20, reads like a novel, but I have to admit that I did not read every word and it still took me a couple of months to finish. Is it worth reading? It sure is.

Chernow has the ability to write so well that even though this is a well-researched historical work, it is very enjoyable to read. It is a history teacher’s dream book. And in the process of learning about the life of this West Indian man of dubious parentage we learn the history of our country from the Revolutionary War to the time of the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, when Vice President Aaron Burr kills Hamilton in a duel.

We learn of Hamilton’s favorite founder, George Washington, and his eventual enemies John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. We clearly are presented with their strengths and weakness.

Hamilton is able to come to this country as a virtual orphan and get a fine education and rise to the position of right-hand aide of Washington in the Revolutionary War. He becomes the Secretary of the Treasury in the Washington administration. He is in a real sense the founder of the American banking and free enterprise systems. As political parties develop toward the end of the Washington administration, Hamilton becomes a leader of the Federalists as Jefferson becomes the leader of the Republicans. The modern-day Democratic party would trace its beginnings to Jefferson’s party. The Federalists would tend to be big city, pro-business Northerners who oppose slavery, and the Republicans of Jefferson would tend to be Southerners who are pro-slavery and agricultural.

The key women in the account are the Schuyler sisters, Eliza and Angelica. From a prominent New York family Eliza becomes Hamilton’s wife, and Angelica, who marries Englishman John B. Church, always has a deep love for Hamilton.

The political writing in the newspapers of the time often brought a politician’s personal life out in the public eye. The mud-slinging was intense. Hamilton was a tough operator who was accused of being of dubious parentage, as well as pro-British and anti-French, while an affair became very public knowledge.

Hamilton accepts a duel in 1804 with Burr. Both men are near the ends of their political power. The duel was fought in New Jersey because the laws against it were weaker than in New York. Hamilton shoots wide of Burr and Burr shoots to kill. Such a death shocks New York City. Hamilton is buried at Trinity Church near Wall Street. Almost 50 years later his beloved Eliza is buried next to him. Together they had seven children.

Recently Hamilton was slated to be removed from the $10 bill, but there was such opposition based on response to this book and the musical that he will remain and the $20 bill will be changed.

Movie Review

The large corporation Sony, through its TriStar division, recently opened its big name cast version of corruption by a wealthy Wall Street financier. The story of Money Monster begins with George Clooney as Lee Gates, the star of a cable news financial network, who is a knockoff of Jim Cramer on CNBC’s Mad Money. As he is going through his Las Vegas-style antics on the air an angry investor, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), invades the set with a vest bomb for Lee to put on under the threat of death from a revolver.

Kyle had taken his $60,000 inheritance from his deceased mother and put it in a company that Lee had said was a sure thing to make a financial killing. All of a sudden $800 million disappeared from the company in one day, resulting in the crash of the stock price and Kyle’s intense anger against Lee.

The rest of the movie is the fast-moving conflict over the police trying to intervene in this dangerous event, and an attempt by the producer of the show, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), trying to go through the intricacies of Clear Capital, the company Kyle bought into.

So as the police close in on the studio, Patty is doing everything to find out what really happened to the money. As the movie progresses under lots of tension, the crescendo takes place in the Federal Building on Wall Street where Washington became our first president. There the president of Clear Capital (Dominic West) will be confronted by Lee and Kyle.

The plot has a few holes in it, but it does move very fast and in terms of entertainment really holds your attention. The star who shows her acting ability is Julia Roberts as the calming producer who can speak to Lee through an earphone. She really holds the movie together. George Clooney ranges from bombastic to everyman. Jack O’Connell does a serviceable job as the antagonist of the story.

Yes, there is a strong critique of business malpractices and a call for openness in the dealings of large hedge-funds and corporations. I wonder if the hacking of e-mails that became public at Sony studios somehow fits into the background of the production of this film.

This is a popular entertainment. For those who do not like bad language, be warned that this film has more than its share. There is a short gratuitous sex scene. The film is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America as R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). The Catholic News Service rates the film A-III – for adults.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist.)

(Editor's note: The article originally contained a misspelling of the author of the musical Hamilton. That was corrected June 16, 2016. The Inland Register apologizes for the error.)

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