Friday 8 October 2021

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord - Fr. Edward Looney - A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: 
A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary
Fr. Edward Looney
ISBN 9781646800940
eISBN 9781646800957

This is the fourth volume from Father Looney it is not my favorite but it is an excellent volume. It is designed as an introduction to the thoughts of St. Louis de Montfort and his classic True Devotion to Mary. It can be done as a personal 10 day exercise, or easily done in a group over 10 weeks. I myself have done some of Father Gaitley’s consecrations previously, including 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration as well as Consecration to St. Joseph by Donald H. Calloway. But St. Louis de Montfort’s take it to a whole other level. Even if you are working through one where the language has been updated. But Looney in this volume gives us an introduction and over view that will I am certain inspire many to take that next level leap. The beginning of the description of the volume is:

“Considered by many to be the greatest book of Marian spirituality in one volume, True Devotion to Mary is St. Louis de Montfort's classic statement on the spiritual way to Jesus Christ though the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, Marian theologian Fr. Edward Looney masterfully summarizes the central teachings of St. Louis in a ten-day personal retreat that will bless even those who have completed the full devotion.

During the course of ten days, you’ll explore ten different titles for Mary popularized by St. Louis. Each presents a distinct aspect of her motherhood and protection while illuminating the spiritual path to Jesus through Mary.”

The chapters in the book are:

Foreword by Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug 
Introduction: Mother of All Believers 
Day 1: Queen of All Saints 
Day 2: Our Lady of the Holy Trinity 
Day 3: The New Eve 
Day 4: Mother of the Interior Life 
Day 5: Mother of Disciples 
Day 6: Star of the Sea 
Day 7: Queen of All Hearts 
Day 8: Mediatrix of Grace 
Day 9: The Mold of God 
Day 10: My Mother and My Queen 
Conclusion: What Now? 
Appendix 1: Dates for Marian Consecration 
Appendix 2: External Practices of Marian
Devotion Described by St. Louis de Montfort 

I highlighted several passages while reading this book, some of them are:

“I don’t think many Catholics understand Mary’s role in Christianity or take it seriously enough. In fact, the foundation for Marian piety is Christology. There’s so much to learn about Mary that some may be intimidated to truly explore who Mary is in salvation history.”

“Thus, to understand Mariology and Marian piety, we have to look at how we pray, which establishes what we believe about the Blessed Mother. And then our beliefs about Mary should affect how we live as Christians.”

“Perhaps the lack of maternal affection I experienced as a child led me to Mary, a mother who would not fail me.”

“Over the next ten days, we will meet St. Louis de Montfort and learn much about Mary through exploring his thought and our Catholic intellectual tradition. Each day of our retreat is dedicated a title of Mary extracted from or inspired by True Devotion to Mary. We will use those titles to open up the wealth of knowledge St. Louis de Montfort presents and examine how it applies to us in our personal spiritual journey, life with Christ, and devotion to Mary.”

“A simple Twitter search for “St. Louis de Montfort” yields numerous tweets about his writings, including his most significant work on Marian devotion, True Devotion to Mary. These are powerful one-liners that can get people thinking and begin discussions about the Blessed Virgin.

“The writings, teachings, and sayings of the saints are powerful. But do you know who is more powerful? The Blessed Virgin Mary—the woman St. Louis de Montfort wants you to grow in love for and devotion to. Saintly men and women throughout time have known about Mary’s power. The devil does too (we will examine that further on Day 3).”

“St. Louis de Montfort hoped “for a great squadron of brave and valiant soldiers of Jesus and Mary, of both sexes, to combat the world, the devil and corrupted nature, in those morethan-ever perilous times which are about to come” (TD, 57). St. Louis de Montfort is drafting you into his spiritual army. As you read True Devotion and deepen your devotion to Mary, know that you are already a part of the army of the New Eve.”

“Catholics, though, find Mary to be a helpful companion in the spiritual life. In fact, we can call her the mother of our interior life.”

“We need Mary in our spiritual lives to be our intercessor and to bring our petitions to Jesus. Some who approach Our Lady do so on a daily basis. Others have been away from God and believe that they can approach Mary and ask her to bring their needs to Jesus. Mary’s importance in the spiritual life is to be our mediatrix of grace and, beyond that, to help us remain faithful to the graces that God has given us.”

“The first motive for Marian consecration, according to de Montfort, is to devote ourselves entirely to the service of God.
The second motive for Marian consecration is to imitate Jesus.
Once we allow ourselves to imitate Jesus in our relationship with Mary, we reach the third motive, which is to obtain the good offices of the Blessed Virgin. This means receiving a portion of Mary’s spirit and receiving grace through her intercession.”

“Once Mary has attained Jesus’ attention for us, she helps us to realize the fourth motive for Marian consecration: to obtain God’s greater glory.”

“We love Mary, we pray to her, and we have pictures of her in our homes. There are churches and monuments built in her honor. She is present in the Catholic Church, in other churches, and in the hearts of the faithful. But we do not usually think it is our duty to take Mary into our homes and live with her as John did. So great a mother can feed our undernourished Christianity and enlighten us with her advice. We could live in the presence of she who is so much the highest perfection of motherhood.”

The hardest part about reading this volume was stopping at the end of a day. This is an excellent little volume. It would serve great as an introduction to St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. To some of the titles of Mary and her role in Salivation History. I can only hope that Father Looney will expand upon this work and do a long work focusing on the titles and feats of Mary with as much devotion and attention to detail.

A fantastic volume that I can easily recommend! All Catholics would benefit from reading this book. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 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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