Thursday 30 January 2020

Lenten Journey with Mother Mary - Father Edward Looney

Lenten Journey with Mother Mary
Fr. Edward Looney

Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781622828487
eISBN 9781622828494

This is the third volume from Father Looney that I have read and maybe the best. It is designed as a Lenten devotional, but I have read through it in order to be able to write a review of the entire book. That being said I already plan to reread it this year over lent, a day at a time as it is intended. The five weeks of Lend can actually be read at any time of the year and used for personal retreat. It is only once we get to Holy Week and the Easter Octave ending on Divine Mercy Sunday that would not work as well at another point in the year.

The volume contains 46 devotions from Ash Wednesday through to Divine Mercy Sunday. Each of these days contains a quote or bible verse for the day, a prayer, and ends with a suggested action. A sample day is:

Ash Wednesday - Mary Prays for Us

“I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners.”
— Our Lady in Champion, Wisconsin

Today begins our Lenten journey. Even though it’s not a holy day of obligation, many people go to church to commence this yearly observance. We are marked with ashes, a reminder of our death. We are invited to pray more this Lent, perhaps with the Stations of the Cross. We decide to make small sacrifices, acts of denial, to suffer just a little as a reminder of the suffering of Christ. Some people hope for a life-altering season as they give up vices and bad habits, such as overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol, or sweets. For some, those little penances offered to God become the grace they receive on Easter Sunday, as they continue to deny themselves after the penitential season.

Lent is a time to take our spiritual lives more seriously — to read, pray, and meditate. I hope this book will help you to do just that.

Over the next several weeks, we will journey with the Blessed Virgin Mary and ponder the many messages she spoke to children and adults throughout the years. The Lenten themes of prayer, penance, and conversion are the same themes that the Mother of God addressed in her apparitions over the last several centuries. We will meet the visionaries and apply the messages of Mary to our daily lives and our Lenten observances.

There is one apparition that holds a special place in my heart. It took place in 1859 in the Diocese of Green Bay, the diocese where I was born, raised, and now serve as a Catholic priest. The Blessed Virgin appeared to Adele Brise, a twenty-eight-year-old Belgian immigrant. After seeing the silent, beautiful woman twice, Adele asked the local priest what she should do. He instructed her to ask the woman who she was and what she wanted. That’s what Adele did when she saw the Virgin for the third time. “In God’s name, who are you, and what do you want of me?” she asked. Mary responded, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners.” So Adele learned not only her identity, but, even more special, that the Queen of Heaven was praying for her. Adele was a sinner. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. The great news is that we have an intercessor in Heaven who is praying for us. We ask her so often to do that: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Yes, Mary prays for us sinners, but even more specifically, she is praying for our conversion.

As we begin this season of Lent, a season calling us to conversion of life, we know that Mary prays for us. Even as we begin our Lenten observance, as we hunger through fasting, as we struggle to find time to pray, we should be at peace, because Mary is praying for us. During the next several weeks, don’t forget that. Remind yourself often that Mary is praying for you. Even if we forget to ask, she prays for us; she will not forget her children.

Dear Blessed Mother, whisper my name in Jesus’ ear and ask Him to help me live this Lent to the fullest. Through your intercession, obtain for me the grace of conversion where I need it most.

Lenten Action
Spend a few moments in prayer today and consider what aspect of your life needs greatest conversion. In what area of your life have you not conformed to Christ or heeded His teaching? Make a resolution to strive to turn toward the Lord.”

Father Looney draws from his extensive knowledge and personal experiences in writing the reflections contained within. He also gives examples from people he has encountered. Some of the stories will seem miraculous, like the 2 encounters with a specific woman, Anna. And Some will leave you wondering, like the tale of the thief. But all will have an impact on your heart, your mind, your faith, and your life. 

The section on hos to use this book has some age advice. Specifically to keep going. If we end up falling behind, just pick up where you should be or read the extra days. He even goes so far as to state:

“If you miss an entire week, that’s okay. Begin again, starting with the week you are currently in. The devil wants to discourage us and does not want us to draw closer to God in prayer. The devil doesn’t want us to listen to Mary, because her foot is the one that will crush the serpent’s ugly head.”

I love picking books to work through for Advent and lent each year. Some I read once and am done, and others I read several years in a row or return to every few years. This volume is one I will likely use the next few years in a row. It is excellently written. It is engaging, encouraging and if read with an open heart will be a challenge. But it is good to be challenged during lent. 

If you are looking for something new for your Lenten journey this year I can highly recommend this book!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Fr. Edward Looney:
A Heart Like Mary's: 31 Daily Meditations to Help You Live and Love as She Does
Our Lady of Good Help Mary's Message and Mission for Adele Brise and the World
A Rosary Litany
Our Lady of Good Help Prayer Book For Pilgrims

Lenten Journey with Mother Mary
Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary
Praying with the Church Through Advent
Praying with the Church Through Lent

Children’s Books:
Little Chapels, Grateful Hearts
The Story of Sister Adele and Our Lady of Champion
Breakfast in Bethlehem
Fr. Looney's Christmas Stories

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