Tuesday 15 May 2018

Mary and the Christian Life: Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple - Amy Welborn

Mary and the Christian Life: 
Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple
Amy Welborn 
Word Among Us Press
ISBN 9781593251130

This book is a magnificent read. Once I started reading I could not put it down. And I know that it is one of those books I will likely reread again and again. I have found that the older I get the deeper my devotion to Mary has grown. And I try to instill a devotion to Mary in my children. Amy in the introduction states:
"The devotion to Mary that is so important to Catholicism and Orthodoxy is rich and complex. It can be-and has been-explored in theological, spiritual, psychological, cultural, mythological, and literary terms. No woman has been written about more; no woman has been imagined or invoked more. 
That's astonishing when you remember who we are talking about: a Jewish woman who lived in the backwaters of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago. A nobody, it would seem, logically speaking. Humanly speaking."
And it is true. Welborn then indicates the purpose of the book:
"Mary and the Christian Life is simply an exploration of what the title implies. As disciples of Jesus, we all are committed to deepening that relationship every day we're on earth. We seek to open ourselves more completely to whatever it is Jesus would have us do here, to live so that it is no longer myself but Christ who lives in me for the sake of the world-the whole world. That's the Christian life (Galatians 2:19-20)."
And one of the ways we can achieve that is through Mary. 
"Mary can help us on that journey. Like all the saints, she can help us through her example and through her prayers. But of course she is not like any other saint in one important way: the way she is related to Jesus. She is his mother. She carried him in her womb, cared for him as her baby, child, and adult son, and as his mother, watched him die and cared for his dead body-the same body she had borne within her."
And because of that unique relationship she has with Jesus, we can have a unique relationship to Jesus through her. 
"It might be more helpful and more true to the reality of how the Christian faith came to us and developed over the millennia if we tried to shift our paradigms. Devotion to Mary in Christianity was not imposed from above by religious authorities. There were no commissions that planned out the structure of the rosary and then forced the unwilling to recite it. (Devotions to Mary that developed over the centuries are described at the end of each chapter.) This woman's presence as such a favorite companion on the Christian journey wasn't mandated or legislated."
Marian devotion was not forced through Church history and it is not forced today. My youngest two children love to go to the statue of Mary after mass and spend some time alone in prayer. When they noticed that some other people kiss their fingers and touch Mary, or kiss Mary they asked if they could do so. Their faith inspires me. Towards the end of the introduction Welborn challenges us with these words:
"Instead of seeing Mary, on the one hand, as a set of doctrines and on the other, as a set of interesting devotional practices, perhaps we could see her as she is: a gift from the God who knows our limitations, our dilemmas, and our fears. A God who chooses to be conceived within the womb of a woman whose presence, response, words, and actions can help us live out the concrete reality of faith in the One she so concretely bore within her womb, and followed with her eyes and heart the rest of his earthly life."
And that is what Amy shows us throughout the rest of the book. She shows us Mary, in the hopes that we will be drawn closer to Christ through knowing his Mother. The chapters in the book are:

The chapters are:
Who is Mary?
The Annunciation
Ave Maria
The Angelus
The Magnificat
The Rosary
Pregnancy and Birth
Mary's Garden
Salve Regina
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
The Memorare
The Miracle at Cana
Our Lady of …
Mary's Sorrow
A Woman Clothes with the Sun

Welborn draws from Church history, the writings of the saints and hew=r own research and experience to present to us Mary. The book is part history, it is also part prayer book. One of my favorite chapters is the 'Our lady of …' I loved it and would love to see Welborn wrote whole books on each of the examples presented. This book was an excellent read. It is one I will read again, and as my children get older share with them. No matter what your stance on Mary's role in history or devotional life this book will be a read that will open your eyes and stir your spirit. A wonderful read!

Books by Amy Welborn:
Reconciled to God Daily Lenten Devotions
Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope
A Catholic Woman's Book of Days
de-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code
Loyola Kids Book of Saints
Loyola Kids Book of Heroes: Stories of Catholic Heroes and Saints throughout History
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible
Here. Now. a Catholic Guide to the Good Life
The Words We Pray
Praying the Rosary: With the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries
Decoding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, and Lies
Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI
Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI

Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion
Mary and the Christian Life: Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple
Adventures in Assisi: On the Path with St. Francis: On the Path with St. Francis
Prepare Him Room: Advent Family Devotions
Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter 
Parables: Stories of the Kingdom
The Absence of War
Relatable and Authentic, Transparent, So Real
All Will Be Well
Nothing Else Occurs To Me
A Reason for Everything

Prove It Series:
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! Prayer
Prove It! You
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible

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