Tuesday 8 November 2016

The Maiden of Nazareth - Javier Suarez-Guanes - A Story of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Maiden of Nazareth:
A Story of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Javier Suarez-Guanes
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594172410

This book is not written as theology, nor is it written as revelation, instead it is written as 'what might have been'. The author states even before the introduction "If there is anything worthy in this book, I owe it to St. Josemaría Escrivá from whom I learned to love my Mother the Virgin, whom he now contemplates in heaven after having loved her so much here on earth." And to be honest anyone who feels a close affinity for the Holy Mary will find themselves transported while reading this book. Written by a priest who has spent year's meditation on Mary our Mother this book is offered as a work of love.

In the introduction Javier gives us the background for this book he states: "I HAD THE IDEA OF WRITING THESE pages while meditating on the words of St. Josemaría Escrivá: "When you love someone, you want to know all about his life and character, so as to become like him. That is why we have to meditate on the life of Jesus, from his birth in a stable right up to his death and resurrection … for we do need to know it well, to have it in our hearts and minds, so that at any time, without any book, we can close our eyes and contemplate his life, watching it like a movie" (Christ Is Passing By, n. 107)." He also says "I have tried to write as their contemporary, narrating what he saw and meditated upon in those days, not as one analyzing events in the light of historical perspective, tradition, or contemporary Christian asceticism.
It is hoped that these thoughts will serve to introduce the reader anew into those familiar scenes, inspiring prayer and increasing love for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph." And having read this book through I know that it does that. To be honest even reading this in translation I was transported while reading. I could envision the scenes from the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The relationships between The holy family and Jesus's cousin John and his parents. Jesus working, growing, beginning his ministry; these are powerfully portrayed through what the life and times then would have been like. What the travel would have entailed. How moving and starting over again would impact a young family. And the return journey. Jazier draws extensively from The Life of the Virgin Mary by Gabriel M. Roschini, O.S.M., which I cannot track down in English. Thus bringing to the English world extensive study.

Part of this story is told from the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem, and in this story was with the family for many journeys and many years. This book will help to flesh out the life of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, it will move the heart, inspire prayer and instil even greater gratitude for the holy family and the roles each of them played in God the Father's plan of redemption. While reading this book I was brought to tears a few times. And I was inspired to pray a number of times. Twice while reading I needed to pause and just reflect upon what had just been read. Go away and think upon it and come back and reread those sections before moving on.

This was a deeply moving read and I believe that every Christian who reads it will be moved by the Holy Spirit and grow in love for Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

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