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Thursday, 10 November 2022

Icon of Trust Mary in the Gospels of Luke and John - Father Slawomir Szkredka S.S.D.

Icon of Trust: 
Mary in the Gospels of Luke and John
Fr. Slawomir Szkredka S.S.D.
ISBN 9781644136966
eISBN 9781644136973
ASIN B0B51SJ1P4


I have read this book as part of Father Mark Goring’s School of Reading, it is the sixth book that I have read that he has highlighted as his book of the month. I picked up the eBook edition because of my dyslexia and as a part time student did not receive this Volume. Father Mark recommended we read just a section at a time, and pray before and after reading. As such it took me the better part of the moth to work through the 66 pages of this volume. For a small volume it is dense with meaning and purpose. Father Slawomir is not superfluous in his writings. The writings are clear, crisp, and clean. The test is easily accessible and yet could be read several times and with each reading the reader would benefit more. The volume has along description but I believe it is worth sharing with readers here:

“Here is the singular book you need to grow in total abandonment to divine providence and deepen your trust in God — and to appreciate as your mother and model in faith Mary, whose loving obedience is central to the achievement of your salvation.

Icon of Trust juxtaposes the Blessed Mother’s trustful and unwavering yes to the archangel Gabriel with Zechariah’s doubt and hesitation. You will learn how Mary’s total surrender, as the tabernacle of the Lord, ushered in your redemption. Whether searching for the Child Jesus for three days or standing at the foot of the Cross, Our Lady remained a faithful witness to His love.

This small book will unveil for you the ways in which the Virgin Mary teaches us to trust in Jesus — such as in the episodes of the Wedding at Cana and the Upper Room. It will show you how Old Testament words and events are fulfilled in Our Lady’s mission and how, as the New Eve, Mary mediates for us at Calvary and Jesus entrusts us to her maternal, intercessory care. It also reveals how Mary’s self-emptying, or kenosis, aids in the salvation of the world.

You will learn the parallels between Our Lady and the Temple and will explore the meanings of the “Ark of the New Covenant” and “Daughter Zion.” And you will delight in how this essential feminine symbol of Israel elucidates the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the Bible.

Icon of Trust reflects upon the deep meaning of the words Totus Tuus. Through the lens of Scripture and Catholic authors, it explains how to place yourself in the hands of Mary and love Jesus with her heart. Best of all, Icon of Trust explains how Mary was created by God “full of grace” and sheds light on her key role in building up the early Church community. This book will help you realize your call to:

Imitate Our Lady’s fiat at the Annunciation and rejoice in her Magnificat
Accept that God first loved you and then respond to His overture with love
Foster docility by emulating Mary’s heart of openness and simplicity
Be attentive like the Blessed Mother and ponder God’s mysteries in your heart
Follow Our Lady’s childlike faith, even in dark and difficult times
Pray with Mary for the coming of the Holy Spirit and the salvation of souls”

The sections in the book are:

Why Mary and Why Trust?
Mary, the One Who Trusts God
     Luke 1:26–38
     Faith and Disbelief
     Zechariah’s Disbelief
     Mary, the New Temple
     The Daughter Zion
     Full of Grace
     Ready to Be Surprised
     She Remembers
     She Seeks to Understand
     She Trusts
     She Accompanies
Mary, the One Who Leads Us to Trust God
     John 2:1–11
     The Doer of God’s Word
     Confident about Her Son
     The Sign of Redemption
     The Anticipated Hour of the Passion
     The Revelation of Glory
     The Woman of the New Covenant
     Mary’s Docile Mediation
Mary Entrusted to Us
     John 19:25–27
     The Cross
     New Birth
     The Nascent Church
     Kenosis of Faith
     Totus Tuus
     Our Mother
About the Author

I highlighted a number of passages my first time through this volume. Some of those are:

“Whoever comes to know Jesus of Nazareth will sooner or later wish to know His Mother. This should not surprise us. All of us are known not just by what we do and what we say but also by the relationships we form. Our friendships shape us just as much as we shape them. It is in the bonds we form through time that something unique about us is being revealed — to our friends and to ourselves. Jesus’ relationship with His Mother is not an exception. There is something about Jesus that can be known only when we look at Mary, or to be more exact, when we look at how she related to her Son. One cannot comprehend who Jesus is and what He has come to accomplish without considering the person of Mary”

“How can we learn about Mary? There are many excellent writings about the Mother of God. Many popes, saints, theologians, and mystics have spoken about her. There is a wealth of reflections on the Blessed Mother contained in the Church’s liturgical texts. Then there are countless anonymous hymns and poems that describe the Mother of God, not to mention the works of Christian art. Still, it is the Sacred Scripture, the inspired Word of God, that deserves our primary and prayerful attention. Thus, in the pages to follow, we shall converse with biblical authors, particularly with the evangelists Luke and John.”

“Pope St. John Paul II’s Marian encyclical Redemptoris Mater serves here as an inspiration and model, because, in large part, it takes the form of a meditation on the Bible. John Paul II rediscovers for us the feminine line in the Bible that culminates in and receives its final meaning from the figure of Mary.”

“In his first words directed to Zechariah, Gabriel calls him by his name: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard” (1:13). In the first words directed to Mary, Gabriel says: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). Gabriel does not greet Mary by her name. Rather, he greets her by a truly revealing title, “full of grace” — literally, the one who has been and remains graced (Greek kecharitomene). Thus, Mary’s true standing — her real name — is revealed. She is the one who has been graced by God. She is defined by what God has done for her.”

“For Paul, Christian identity consists in receiving one’s life from Christ. To be a Christian is to let our dependence on Christ become the core of our being. “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). When the angel calls Mary kecharitomene, he depicts her as one wholly dependent on God. She will later echo the same sentiment in her song of praise, describing God as the one who “has done great things for me,” who has “exalted those of low degree,” who has “filled the hungry with good things,” and who has “regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Luke 1:46–55).”

“Mary’s reaction, although also marked by fear, is directed to what is said, not to what is seen: “But she was greatly troubled at the saying” (1:29). Her fear also quickly moves from initial fear to an attitude of active inquiry: “and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (1:29). Unlike Zechariah, arrested in his fear over the supernatural vision, Mary focuses on the words, trying to penetrate their astounding meaning. Her question, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (1:34), further demonstrates her desire to comprehend God’s plan so as to give it her full collaboration.”

“When we recall that because of His Passion and death Jesus would again be “lost” in Jerusalem, and that for three days, from Good Friday until the Sunday of the Resurrection, His disciples would live through anguish and pain, we can slowly comprehend what kind of lesson the twelve-year-old Jesus was trying to convey to His Mother.”

“To understand what happened to Jesus we must remember what He has said. Like Mary, we must ponder it, treasure it, search for it to release its deepest meaning. We must converse with the scriptures, keep them in our hearts. Only then will the mystery of Jesus’s Passion and Resurrection reveal its meaning to us.”

“Mary is attentive, she is ready to say yes, and she is docile and humble in acknowledging the things she does not know and in trying to understand better the things she has already perceived and experienced; she is the perfect collaborator of God in the unfolding of His plan of salvation. For Mary, God is completely trustworthy, and so she follows Him in trust — even amid darkness, when God’s plans and designs remain hidden.”

“Mary is there, in Cana, entrusting our needs to Jesus: “They have no wine” (2:3). She then awakens our trust in Him, telling us, “Do whatever he tells you” (2:5). In a certain sense, she also opens the way for Jesus’ self-manifestation, for “this, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (2:11).”

“Thanks to Mary, the disciples in the Gospel, come to see His glory and believe in Him. And so do we.”

“The obedience of the servants is astounding. Not only do they do without questioning what seems to make little sense, but they also take orders from someone who is neither the chief steward nor the bridegroom. The only explanation we find is the words of Mary directed to them: “Do whatever he tells you.” She must have moved them to trustful obedience to Jesus.”

“If Mary can lead us to trust Jesus, it is because she herself possesses complete confidence in Jesus.”

“If, then, at the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus responds to Mary’s request, it is because His miracle inaugurates His hour even before it arrives; the miracle anticipates the hour. Pope Benedict XVI sees here an analogy between the anticipation of the hour of Jesus at the wedding feast in Cana and the anticipation of the final heavenly wedding feast in the Eucharist.”

“Just as on the third day, God revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, now Jesus reveals Himself at the wedding feast in Cana.”

“It is in Cana, through the first of Jesus’s signs, that the revelation of His glory begins. Mary sees that glory before anyone else. We need to look through her eyes to see “grace and truth” revealed in the event of Cana.”

“To capture the significance of Mary’s presence at the Crucifixion, we need to consider some of the principal images and ideas John uses to describe the event of the Cross. In fact, we need to let ourselves be guided by them as they converge and mutually enrich one another, pointing toward the Cross.”

“Mary has a vital role in this event. By making her the Mother of all His disciples (see 19:27), Jesus makes the disciples His brothers and sisters, and they are thus the children of God. To be born of God means to receive Mary as one’s Mother.”

“The hour of Jesus’ utter humiliation is the hour of His glorification. Yet only the eyes of faith can see it. Mary’s faith, emptied in order to see what to the human eye appears completely dark, is needed.”

“This is where the gift of Mary to us shines in all its splendor. When we accept her into our innermost realities (eis ta idia), we enter a communion of life with the one who is the model of faithful obedience to her Son.”

“This is where the gift of Mary to us shines in all its splendor. When we accept her into our inner most realities (eis ta idia) we enter a communion of life with the one who is the model of faithful obedience to her Son. We have all the right to ask her to form in us her heart, with its trust, docility, readiness to be surprised by God, ability to remember God’s acts, willingness to become collaborators in God’s plan of salvation, and finally with its faithfulness at the darkest hour.”

“In the darkness that we cannot comprehend or penetrate, when the most is demanded from our faith in God, Mary is there as our Mother.”

I hope and pray that those quotes will give you a feel for this excellent volume. It is wonderfully written. If like me, you read a section a day it will take you nearly the month to read the volume. I enjoyed it so much I have already placed it back in my to be read pile, probably for Advent this year. This is an excellent volume that I can easily recommend. It will benefit your spiritual life I am certain! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan


Books by Fr. Slawomir Szkredka:
Sinners and Sinfulness in Luke

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