Monday 3 June 2024

Mary's Life in the Spirit: Meditations on a Holy Duet - George T. Montague

Mary's Life in the Spirit: Meditations on a Holy Duet
George T. Montague
ISBN 9781593251925
eISBN 9781593254148
ASIN B0056IC590

I read this as part of Father Mark Goring’s Saint Mark’s School of Reading. I picked up the eBook to follow along, as a part time student. It was wonderful reading this with Father Mark’s weekly videos. The description of this book states:

“How did Mary, filled with grace since her conception, live her life in the Holy Spirit? How can she teach us to do the same? Popular author Fr. George Montague, a Marianist priest and a highly respected biblical scholar who has been involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal since 1970, is uniquely qualified to address this topic. In short meditations, Fr. Montague focuses on various aspects of Mary’s life and the Spirit’s involvement in each of them. He also reflects on her collaboration with the Spirit in building up the Church as well as her various apparitions. Stories and examples of modern-day believers show us concretely how Mary can influence our own spiritual lives and deepen our own experience of the Spirit.”

The copy from the back cover states:

“How did Mary live her life in the Spirit? What can she teach us about living Spirit-filled lives? Marianist priest and Bible scholar Fr. George Montague calls Mary and the Spirit a “holy duet” that sing the same song in perfect harmony. Short meditations, each featuring reflection questions and a closing prayer, help us to enter into that song.”

And about the author we are informed:

“Fr. George T. Montague, SM, is a Marianist priest known internationally for his numerous books on Scripture and spirituality, including the best-selling Holy Spirit: Make Your Home in Me (The Word Among Us Press, 2008). He is a former president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and has served as editor of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly. A popular speaker, he has been involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal since 1970, and is professor of biblical theology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Introduction: The Song of Mary and the Spirit
1. Perfect Pilgrim
2. Overshadowed
3. Sent
4. Praise
5. Pondering
6. Surrender
7. Receptivity
8. Flight
9. Journey
10. Ordinary Time
11. Questions
12. Letting Go
13. Intercessor
14. More Children
15. Outpouring
16. Glory
17. The Spirit and the Bride

I highlighted a numerous sections while reading this volume, some of them are:

“Would she hear its invitation to be its mouthpiece, its yes from the yes of the Trinity? “Fiat, let it be,” Mary said. And through the Holy Spirit, her life became the Trinitarian duet in human tones.”

“This is a book of meditative art. Those who know me for my biblical studies will be surprised, perhaps, by the approach of this book. I have spent much of my life in careful scientific study of the Scriptures, using the historical-critical method as a basis for what theological reflections it suggests or permits. However, this book is more a work of art than science, since in it I attempt to do in prose what painters and playwrights for two millennia have done with scenes from the Bible. Those scenes are skeletal texts that artists seek to bring to life by filling in the gaps.”

“Even the gospels themselves are works of art. This is not to say that they are not history; after all, a portrait of you will not look like someone else. But alternate portraits will differ in detail. Each Evangelist has put together his materials in an artistic way to help you identify with Jesus. The arrangement of the scenes, the plot, the characters, the settings, and other narrative tools tell us a lot about the theology of the Evangelist, that is, his particular take on the story of Jesus.”

“Thus, in Matthew, Jesus appears especially as teacher; in Mark, as the hero who gives himself up to a sacrificial death; in Luke, as healer; in John, as the revealer of the Father.”

“In studying individual gospels, biblical scholars tend to wear earphones so that they can listen to a particular gospel without hearing the accompaniment of the others. Well and good. But the Church listens to the symphony.”

“But we must keep in mind that the Church reads the Bible as one book, with an overarching theme that transcends the individual parts. When the Church put the parts together in the canon, she was saying that she is the ultimate and authoritative reader of the entire book. It is this ultimate level that is the finished work of the Holy Spirit.”

“God’s revelation comes to us in two ways. There is what we can call his objective revelation, that is, the events, facts, and historical circumstances God used to reveal himself and his plan for the world. We read those things in the Bible.”

“The Holy Spirit makes God’s external revelation happen within us.”

“First, although it is interior to the heart of every believer, it is common to the whole communion of believers. It is personal but not individualistic.”

“Similarly, there are countless others who have modeled for us how to follow Jesus, how to be conformed to him. From Francis I learn Jesus’ poverty; from Ignatius, Jesus’ obedience; from the great Teresa of Avila, Jesus’ prayer; from Thérèse of Lisieux, Jesus’ simplicity; from Augustine, Jesus’ wisdom; from Thomas Aquinas, Jesus’ love of the truth; from the martyrs, Jesus’ fidelity to death.”

“If Paul could say of every Christian, “Your body is a temple of the holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6: 19, NAB), then this is true of Mary in an eminent way. If we are to glorify God in our bodies (6: 20), then Mary certainly glorifies God in hers, making visible the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit. That is why the authentic apparitions of Mary are really apparitions of the Holy Spirit working through her, as we will consider in another chapter.”

“Mary teams up with the Holy Spirit to bring God to earth. Then the Spirit immediately sends her on a mission.”

“The Holy Spirit does more than excite mother and child. Elizabeth obviously receives a word of knowledge from the Spirit informing her that Mary, too, is pregnant. And more than that, she is “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1: 43).”

“Jesus is not just a savior suddenly sent to rescue a world gone amok; he is the fulfillment of a promise. This is a major theme of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. God has fulfilled his promise—has shown himself righteous to his covenant promise—by sending Jesus.”

“If the Holy Spirit was with Mary and Joseph, I’m sure their joy that night was not only in the birth of Jesus but also in knowing that there, among the straw and the animals, was exactly where God wanted them to be. Did they fret because they didn’t have better quarters? I think, rather, that they were beginning to understand what this God was about. He was a God who turns things upside down, a God who so loves the poor that he wanted to be born among them—or better yet, maybe even to take the place of a service animal for the night. After all, that’s why he had come, to be a servant, like his mother.”

“I need to remind myself repeatedly that a true gift has no strings attached, whether I give it or receive it. The Magi expected nothing in return. In the story they disappeared just as freely as they came. Nor did Mary feel obligated by their gifts. If she gave them anything, it was not “in return.” It was with full freedom and love and not to reduce the exchange to barter.”

“As we travel with Mary in this scene, we are invited to let the Holy Spirit hover over our unanswered questions. The Spirit can show us that far from diverting us from our journey, such questions are really signposts of the authentic route, since they prod us to trust—and “trust” is the name of the road. The Lord doesn’t give us a road map of the journey ahead. He says only, “Follow me.” Mary is learning this as each page of her life is turned.”

“The Holy Spirit comes to us not to disable our cares but to enable us to cope.”

“God gives wine to gladden our hearts (Psalm 104: 15), but the Beloved’s love is better than wine (Song of Songs 1: 2, 4; 4: 10). When that love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 5), we taste what the Fathers of the Church called the “sober intoxication of God.””

“Lord Jesus, how deep is the mystery of your love! With your mother and your Beloved Disciple, I stand at the foot of the cross, where I hear your voice proclaiming Mary as my mother too. And as the Holy Spirit made your words real, made them create the reality they signified, I ask that you breathe that same Holy Spirit upon me and flood me with the river of life-giving water that flows from your side. May I, too, experience Mary as my mother, letting her faith and love transform me, and may I see and love your Church as her family, yours, and mine. Amen.”

“This community is first of all a community of prayer. The phrase “All these devoted themselves” tells us that they did more than say a few occasional prayers; they dropped everything and gave themselves to prayer with intensity and perseverance. We can imagine that many fasted, and it is likely that prayer continued through the night watches, with people taking shifts to pray while others broke to eat or sleep. And they did this “with one accord,” all united, the apostles and Mary, in this urgent preparation for the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“But in God’s scheme of things, Mary is more than an intercessor in heaven. She is a messenger on earth as well. Granted that all God wanted to say is contained in the Bible and in the revelation given to the apostles, yet the voice of prophecy continues in the Church, bringing the word of God to life with a here-and-now urgency—and Mary leads the charge. I refer to the apparitions in which Mary is the chosen spokesperson of the Holy Spirit. I mean, of course, those apparitions judged by the Church to be authentic, such as Lourdes and Fatima, and those elsewhere approved by the local bishops, such as Kibeho in Rwanda and Betania in Venezuela. In these apparitions the Virgin Mary is simply but powerfully proclaiming the gospel call to conversion, prayer, penance, and holiness. She continues to lead to Jesus.”

“Mary, I turn to you, my mother wrapped in the sun of glory, and beg your intercession for my needs and the needs of your struggling children on earth. Though you are in heaven, walk with us on earth through the indwelling Holy Spirit to light our path and bring us safely home. Amen.”

“Such is the fitting climax of what we have contemplated all along. Mary, on earth singing with the Holy Spirit the duet of invitation and response, now in glory joins the Holy Spirit in inviting the earthly Church to respond as she did during her night of faith. Short of the vision of glory, the Church now drinks of the life-giving water of the Spirit, who offers provisional relief to her thirst for the kingdom.”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this excellent little volume. This is one of those little gems you could return to time and time again, for inspiration and encouragement. It is amazingly written. It will draw readers in and inspire their faith.  

While researching this volume I discovered the author has numerous titles available on different aspects of the faith. After reading this I will be digging into her works further. I can easily recommend it to all Catholics. It was another great selection for the Father Mark Goring for his Saint Mark’s School of Reading It was wonderful to work through this book and follow along with the weekly videos. I can easily recommend this book. It is an excellent read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by George T. Montague:
Books of Judith & Esther
Building Christ's Body
Companion God
Holy Spirit, Make Your Home in Me
How to Interpret the Bible
Living in the Father's Embrace
Mark a Popular Commentary on the Earliest Gospel
Mark, Good News for Hard Times
Maturing in Christ
Maturing in Christ: St. Paul's Program for Christian Growth
Mystery of God's Mercy
Our Father Our Mother Mary and the Faces of God
Riding the Wind
Still Riding the Wind
The Apocalypse
The Apocalypse and the Third Millennium
The Gift Of The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit
The Living Thought of Saint Paul
The Living Thought of St. Paul
The Vision of the Beloved Disciple
The Woman and the Way
Understanding the Bible

Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series:
First Corinthians
First and Second Timothy, Titus
Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture

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