Thursday, May 01, 2014

'Tis the Month of Our Mother: Book Review of "Walking with Mary"

For Catholics of a certain age, May is simply “Mary's month.” We may have sweet memories of May
Image from The Catholic Anchor
Crownings (somehow I never was chosen to place the wreath of flowers on Our Lady's statue); the month even ends on a Marian feast: the Feast of the Visitation. But devotion to Mary is more than a pious add-on to faith, as Dr. Edward Sri demonstrates in
Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross (Image, New York, 2013). Mary's essential place in the story of salvation did not end at Bethlehem!

Addressing Catholics and non-Catholic Christians alike, Sri takes us through Mary's life as we find it in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Scriptural expressions that I had just taken for granted (“Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”) turn out, on Sri's reading, to be densely and surprisingly packed with meaning. Despite its wealth of content, the book is not heavy or overwhelming, but calmly contemplative. It could be an ideal companion to the Rosary.

And every step of the way, from the Angel Gabriel's unexpected news through the events at Bethelehem, the Temple, the Wedding at Cana, are shown in relation to the Cross. In fact, according to Sri, Mary walked the way of the Cross, in joys and in sorrows, her entire life. Our life is certainly not exempt from the shadow of the Cross, either. In each chapter, Sri offers an application of Mary's relationship with Jesus in the mystery of the Cross and our own experiences, including those hardest to bear: our partipation in the Cross of Jesus. Well-chosen insights from Saint John Paul II's series of Wednesday talks on Our Lady as well as his documents enhance the richness of the overall presentation.

For Catholics who feel a bit uneasy when questioned (or challenged) about devotion to Mary, Sri's book provides a solid, deeply biblical vision of the Woman who stands at the intersection of Old and New Testaments, who stood beneath the Cross and was then seen standing with the moon under her feet in that final and mysterious book of Revelation. For non-Catholics who are drawn to Mary as one who “heard the word of God and kept it” (cf. Luke 11:28) as no other, Sri demonstrates that Mary is a model disciple as well as a mother of disciples.

A worthwhile read for the Month of May!

You may also be interested in:

Mary: Help in Hard Times. Stories and Prayers by Sister Marianne Trouvé: Presentation of the Catholic understanding of Mary, along with personal examples of Mary's intercession and Marian devotions. Includes reflection questions.

For children: My First Book about Mary, written by Sister Christine Orfeo and illustrated by Sister Julia Mary Darrenkamp: Mary's life, apparitions and feast days; includes how to pray the Rosary.

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