I must admit, I was intimidated by this book at first. After all, Mary in the Bible and in our Lives is the fruit of the contemplations of Father Wilfrid Stinissen, who has been a Carmelite since 1944 and co-founded a contemplative community in 1967. Thus, Father has had Mary on his mind longer than I have been alive! I was afraid this book would be over my head. Not so! Mary in the Bible and in our Lives provided me with lots of “oh!” “ah!” and “aww” moments, as well as a few challenges to deepen my relationship with Mary and with God.
Throughout the book, Father gives insights to all of our Lady’s major events in her life from the Immaculate Conception to the Assumption. He discusses her continuing role in the Church, as well as in our own personal lives, too.
There are so many gems in this book. For instance, Father shed some light on why God does not always answers our prayers as quickly as we would like. As he reflects on the time Jesus was “lost” for three days, the monk asks if we have ever wondered why the Father allowed Jesus to be hidden from Mary and Joseph for such a long period of time. If you have ever lost a child, say in a store or something, a half hour feels like a long time! I cannot imagine losing a child for three days. Of course the three days foreshadows the time Jesus would remain hidden from us in the tomb. God is preparing Mary.
But even more, Father asserts that “when God wants to give us something great, he first increases our capacity” (68). Through our longing and desire, God is preparing us to receive in even greater capacity the blessings He wishes to bestow on us. Oh! Now, knowing this, waiting may be a little bit easier – maybe.
An “Ah!” moment came while reading the chapter “Without Spot or Wrinkle.” Fr. Stinissen gave me a new perspective on the Immaculate Conception when he said that Mary “was a gift that the Father prepared for the Son beforehand” (16). He was not just talking about her spotless womb, but the example of her whole life. “Jesus had only to look at His Mother to be convinced that His sufferings would not be in vain” (16). Indeed, when we know our sufferings will be worth it in the end, our pain is much more bearable.
As a huge advocate of the preborn, I found myself sighing “aww” when Fr. Stinissen announces that the first one to recognize Jesus was a little unborn child. From the beginning of His human existence, Jesus truly “came for the little ones and that children are first in His kingdom” (36). What a comfort this is to parents whose children have preceded them to the Kingdom.
The last chapter, which encourages the recitation of the Rosary, is one of my favorites. Whether we concentrate on the vocal prayers, meditate on the mysteries, say it for our intention or others’, or just finger the beads and do our best to go through the prayers, the Rosary, as Father points out, is a prayer for the zealous and the tired, the beginner and the contemplative. It is a prayer for individuals and for families. After reading this chapter, if you do not already pray the Rosary daily, you will feel encouraged to do so.
Mary in the Bible and in our Lives is a real treasure. I suggest reading it with a highlighter. This book will give you a lot to reflect upon and treasure in your heart. It’s the perfect spiritual read for May.
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Copyright 2018 Kelly Guest