CBB Interview with David Calvillo

david_calvilloPETE: For those unfamiliar, can you take a moment to explain your apostolate Real Men Pray the Rosary and your influences in starting it? 

DAVID CALVILLO: Real Men Pray The Rosary, Inc. is an apostolate formed to “promote the Rosary with conviction… in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the liturgy, and in the context of our daily lives.” That mission statement is derived directly from the 2002 Apostolic Letter issued by Pope John Paul II on the Rosary.

The apostolate was formed in the wake of my own rebirth in the faith or reversion that occurred as a result of an ACTS retreat in the Summer of 2008. ACTS is an acronym for Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service. ACTS retreats are directed by ACTS Missions headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, USA. www.actsmissions.org. ACTS changed my life. ACTS saved my life.

PETE: A short but meaningful question next. Why the Rosary?

DAVID CALVILLO: Growing up as a cradle Catholic, I was blessed with a beautiful saintly Mom who always promoted the Rosary and a devotion to our Blessed Mother but I felt that I was way too cool for that. In my testosterone – fueled silliness and ignorance, I felt the Rosary was for “old ladies and funerals.” I know that is why the Holy Spirit took this tool and used it as lifeline to bring me back to life, to save my life.

PETE: This book is many things. A personal testimony to the power of the Rosary, a meditative guide, a guide to historical documents on the Rosary. All of that comes in at 134 pages. How were you able to squeeze all that info into this book and what do you feel is the most useful aspect of the book?

DAVID CALVILLO: The book very much wrote itself in many respects. For example, I remember vividly that I was not happy with the original draft of the chapter on the History of the Rosary. It was too much like every book on the Rosary and it didn’t express what I wanted to express so I woke up as usual on a Saturday morning- 5:30 am or so and went to my office and hammered out the final version in about two-three hours. I wrote exactly what I wanted from scratch, discarding the earlier version in its entirety. I suppose that the book contained exactly what the Holy Spirit wanted it to contain despite the vessel selected to write that message.

I pray that the most useful aspect of the book is a reminder or a nudge into how we all can indeed pray the Rosary as we weave it into our daily lives. We can pray it by ourselves at a specific time and place, we can pray it with others as a community, we can pray in our car, we can pray while we run, we can pray it on our iPods or our smartphones, we can pray a little bit at a time. Those little reminders I think will give people license to find ways to pray throughout their day enabling us to answer St. Paul’s call to “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thess. 5: 16-18. To live in a state of prayer should be our goal as Christians and the Rosary can help us journey there.

I have also been told by readers that the glimpse into my own prayer life- in the section dealing with meditating on the Rosary- helps  one to understand that the Rosary is primarily about nourishing our faith and contemplating how the Gospel message(s) weave into our daily lives is the ultimate lesson of any catechesis.

PETE: What other resources on the Rosary do you recommend?

DAVID CALVILLO: The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort and all Montfort spirituality occupy a special place in my own faith journey- almost the point of origin for my rebirth. That wondrous book introduced me to the power of the Rosary. Pope John Paul II’s 2002 Apostolic Letter introduced me to the beauty of the Rosary. I still marvel at how emotionally evocative it is for me when I read and re-read and re-read it. It brought to life for me the beauty of prayer generally. Those two works thus serve as the book ends for my spiritual library on the Rosary. Others have helped me learn to dive into the mysteries and contemplate them within the context of my daily journey. Works such as Rosary by Gary Wills, The Rosary: Papal Writings are among those that I love to read and re-read.

My current favorite is Living the Mysteries by Fr. John Phalan, CSC. Fr. Phalan’s loving voice narrates stories from his priesthood that make it a wonderful companion to visit and revisit. I love Fr. Phalan and that beautiful book. He is priest with the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the religious order that gave our church Fr. Patrick Peyton and “The family that prayers together stays together” ministry known as “Holy Cross Family Ministries.” Those guys are wonderful.

PETE: Time for my signature ending question. This is a blog about books. What is currently on your bookshelf to read?

DAVID CALVILLO: I am in love with our church and, for a while, I found myself hungrily devouring any and all books I could find- lurching happily from Scott Hahn to St. Augustine and back to St. Louis de Montfort. I decided to feed that hunger in a more structured way so I am now reading Splendor of the Church by Henri de Lubac as part of a more structured study of Theology. I am trying to be disciplined about it though. Once I finish that book, I’ve promised myself that my next book outside that curriculum though will definitely be Navigating the Interior Life by Dan Burke, Executive Director of EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Dan is a great guy and through the interviews he’s done on the book and his own personal conversations with me, I can hardly wait!


David N. Calvillo, a former adjunct law and university professor, is now a practicing civil trial lawyer and bilingual mediator with the Calvillo Law Firm. After a profound spiritual experience praying the rosary while on retreat, Calvillo and his wife Valerie founded Real Men Pray the Rosary, launching a global movement of prayer and devotion. You can visit their website at www.realmenpraytherosary.org.

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