On my Bookshelf: How They Love Mary

There are as many ways to show your love for the Blessed Mother as there are depictions of Mary in art. In his new book, How They Love Mary: 28 Life-Changing Stories of Devotion to Our Lady (Sophia Institute Press), Fr. Edward Looney explains how 28 saints and saints-in-progress express their love for the Mother of God.

Fr. Looney, host of the How They Love Mary podcast, begins by sharing the story of his own devotion to Mary, which was fostered by his grandmother and later grew into a passion for visiting Marian shrines, reading about Our Lady, and writing devotional books. In the Introduction, he observes, “I always ask Mary to help me love Jesus.”

If you would like to learn to love Jesus more, start by reaching out to Mary—after all, no one on earth loved Jesus more than she did! In How They Love Mary, Fr. Looney details concrete ways you (and your family) can do this, and all of these ways are inspired by the 28 holy men and women whose stories he highlights. Well-known saints such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha are featured, along with Venerable Patrick Peyton, Blessed Solanus Casey, Servant of God Chiara Lubich, and Sr. Clare Crockett.

Each chapter concludes with two or more things you can do to deepen your relationship with Our Lady. Here are a few, along with the saint or holy person whose devotion inspires them:

  • Learn more about Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. Pray a novena asking Mary to untie whatever knots you face in your life. You may even ask her to untie the knots of which you are unaware! (Pope Francis, p. 115)
  • Whatever request or petition you have, don’t be afraid simply to say, “Mary, please pray for this need of mine.” (Mother Mary Francis, p. 66)
  • Make a daily visit to a statue of Our Lady and pray the Memorare. Is there an outdoor statue nearby your home or do you have one in your yard or home? (St. Francis de Sales, p. 152)
  • When you next attend Mass, ask for her help in remaining attentive throughout. (Bl. Columna Marmion, p. 97)

Chapters in How They Love Mary are brief—only a few pages each—which makes this book an excellent choice for daily spiritual reading. Consider reading a chapter each day during May (Mary’s month), and try some of the many saint-inspired suggestions for growing closer to the Blessed Mother—and through her, to Jesus.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Our Lady of Fatima statue

At Simply Catholic: Prayer to Mary and the Saints

My latest article on prayer, Prayer to Mary and the Saints, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

The saints and Mary cannot answer our prayers; only God can do that. But they can, and we believe they do, hear our prayers and pray for us, acting as intercessors on our behalf with God.

Our holy helpers, the saints, are the “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews who surround us, helping us “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2).

By uniting our prayers with those of Mary and the saints and learning more about their lives and their example, we can draw closer to God.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com.

This is the sixth in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

Our Lady of Fatima

statue of Blessed Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus

A Simpler Approach to Marian Consecration

Do you want to grow closer to the Blessed Mother, but find yourself intimidated by the lengthy devotions and lofty language of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary?  Fr. Edward Looney, a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay and vice president of the Mariological Society of America, has put together a new book to help you prepare for a 33-day consecration to Jesus through Mary.

 

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord

 

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary simplifies de Montfort’s approach without watering down its wisdom. The book, new from Ave Maria Press, is a do-it-yourself retreat that helps readers learn more about Marian consecration.

God is at work through Marian consecration; it is powerful, and it changes lives. (xv)

Fr. Edward dedicates each of the ten days of the retreat to a different title of Mary, consolidating teachings from True Devotion to Mary to clarify the rich writings and deepen devotion to the Blessed Mother. His writing style is clear and approachable, and both his scholarship and dedication to Mary are evident throughout the book.

Each day’s chapter is 10 pages or less (in a small-format book; it measures just under 5×7 inches) and begins with a teaching on that day’s title of Mary, a prayer for the day, and a traditional Marian prayer or hymn. I was surprised to find that Serdeczna Matko (“Stainless the Maiden”), a traditional Polish Marian hymn I recently sang at a funeral at my parish, was one of the hymns included in the book. Its English translation, which I had never read, is beautiful. Other prayers and hymns include the Memorare, Regina Caeli, and “Ave Maris Stella.”

During this retreat, readers will learn about these Marian titles and devotions:

  • Queen of All Saints
  • Our Lady of the Holy Trinity
  • The New Eve
  • Mother of the Interior Life
  • Mother of Disciples
  • Star of the Sea
  • Queen of All Hearts
  • Mediatrix of Grace
  • The Mold of God
  • My Mother and My Queen

I recommend that you keep a pen and journal close at hand as you read Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. I was highlighting this book all over the place as I read!

Bonus material in this book includes a chart of dates to begin Marian consecrations to end on feasts of Mary. The next three start dates are November 5, November 9, and November 29. Another very useful section is a list of 17 devotional practices found in the writings of St. Louis de Montfort. Many of these are practices you can begin with your family, such as praying the Rosary, carrying a Rosary in your pocket, praying or singing prayers and hymns in Mary’s honor, and placing an image of Mary in a place of honor in your home.

Fr. Edward Looney has written several books about Mary and frequently posts on social media about his visits to Marian shrines throughout the United States. Listen to his How They Love Mary podcast on Spotify or your favorite podcast app.


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil
This article contains Amazon affiliate links, which provide a small compensation to the author of this piece when purchases are made through the links, at no cost to you.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

On Barb’s Bookshelf: “Our Lady of Charity”

Maria Morera Johnson’s new memoir, Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban devotion to Mary helped me grow in faith and love (Ave Maria Press), is a beautiful testament to the ways the patroness of Johnson’s native Cuba helped her grow in faith even after she moved with her family to the US.

This quick read introduces la virgencita — Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba. Johnson traces the history of devotion among Cubans to this depiction of Our Lady, a devotion that has continued within the Cuban-American community to this day.

Johnson found in devotion to la virgencita a connection with her ethnic and spiritual heritage. I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Ermita de la caridad” (Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, in Miami), not because of the description of the shrine itself, but because of the discussion of Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, and the ways in which immersing herself in her ethnic traditions has enriched her.

our lady of charity

I have to admit, this left me more than a little envious of the rich traditions Johnson observed with her family. As an Irish cradle Catholic from the Northeast, I didn’t experience much in the way of that kind of tradition. There was plenty of Marian devotion (my grandmothers had the well-worn rosaries to prove it, and one grandmother prominently displayed a picture of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon in her home) but there really was no food, music, particular devotion, or patron saint we could call our own. I don’t know if that’s an ethnic or geographical phenomenon, or if it’s because the most recent immigrant in my immediate family tree arrived in New York in the 1930s.

But — and this is the point of Johnson’s book, I think — the kind of devotional tradition she describes here nurtures faith. When you look beyond the externals of statues, paintings, rosaries, hymns, and food, there’s a deep tradition of faith that underpins all of it. As Johnson notes in the final chapter, devotion to Mary can lead us to Jesus:

Mary is the first disciple. She brought the Good News of salvation to Elizabeth and then the world! If I’m going to learn all I can about Jesus and how to be a disciple, what better teacher is there than Mary? (100)

I highly recommend Our Lady of Charity. You’ll learn about a beautiful devotion to Our Lady, but more than that, you’ll learn how she can bring you closer to her Son.


Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

31 Days with a Heart Like Mary’s: Day 31

For the past few weeks, I’ve kept Father Edward Looney’s A Heart Like Mary’s tucked in my bag, and I’ve made a special effort to get to the 9 AM Mass a little early instead of sliding in at 8:59, so I can spend a few quiet moments pondering the day’s reflection.

With 31 chapters, this book is a month-long mini-retreat that you can start reading anytime. Each day’s entry contains a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer to Mary our intercessor, and an action item: a step toward living with a Marian heart.

Pray a bit of today’s prayer from A Heart Like Mary’s with me:

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. Created in Canva with free image elements. All rights reserved.

Read the rest of this series.


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are my own.

31 Days with a Heart Like Mary’s: Day 30

For the past few weeks, I’ve kept Father Edward Looney’s A Heart Like Mary’s tucked in my bag, and I’ve made a special effort to get to the 9 AM Mass a little early instead of sliding in at 8:59, so I can spend a few quiet moments pondering the day’s reflection.

With 31 chapters, this book is a month-long mini-retreat that you can start reading anytime. Each day’s entry contains a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer to Mary our intercessor, and an action item: a step toward living with a Marian heart.

Pray a bit of today’s prayer from A Heart Like Mary’s with me:

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. Created in Canva with free image elements. All rights reserved.

Read the rest of this series.


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are my own.

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)

31 Days with a Heart Like Mary’s: Day 29

For the past few weeks, I’ve kept Father Edward Looney’s A Heart Like Mary’s tucked in my bag, and I’ve made a special effort to get to the 9 AM Mass a little early instead of sliding in at 8:59, so I can spend a few quiet moments pondering the day’s reflection.

With 31 chapters, this book is a month-long mini-retreat that you can start reading anytime. Each day’s entry contains a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer to Mary our intercessor, and an action item: a step toward living with a Marian heart.

Pray a bit of today’s prayer from A Heart Like Mary’s with me:

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. Created in Canva with free image elements. All rights reserved.

Read the rest of this series.


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are my own.

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)

31 Days with a Heart Like Mary’s: Day 28

For the past few weeks, I’ve kept Father Edward Looney’s A Heart Like Mary’s tucked in my bag, and I’ve made a special effort to get to the 9 AM Mass a little early instead of sliding in at 8:59, so I can spend a few quiet moments pondering the day’s reflection.

With 31 chapters, this book is a month-long mini-retreat that you can start reading anytime. Each day’s entry contains a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer to Mary our intercessor, and an action item: a step toward living with a Marian heart.

Pray a bit of today’s prayer from A Heart Like Mary’s with me:

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. Created in Canva with free image elements. All rights reserved.

Read the rest of this series.


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are my own.

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)

31 Days with a Heart Like Mary’s: Day 27

For the past few weeks, I’ve kept Father Edward Looney’s A Heart Like Mary’s tucked in my bag, and I’ve made a special effort to get to the 9 AM Mass a little early instead of sliding in at 8:59, so I can spend a few quiet moments pondering the day’s reflection.

With 31 chapters, this book is a month-long mini-retreat that you can start reading anytime. Each day’s entry contains a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer to Mary our intercessor, and an action item: a step toward living with a Marian heart.

Pray a bit of today’s prayer from A Heart Like Mary’s with me:

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. Created in Canva with free image elements. All rights reserved.

Read the rest of this series.


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are my own.

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)

31 Days with a Heart Like Mary’s: Day 26

For the past few weeks, I’ve kept Father Edward Looney’s A Heart Like Mary’s tucked in my bag, and I’ve made a special effort to get to the 9 AM Mass a little early instead of sliding in at 8:59, so I can spend a few quiet moments pondering the day’s reflection.

With 31 chapters, this book is a month-long mini-retreat that you can start reading anytime. Each day’s entry contains a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer to Mary our intercessor, and an action item: a step toward living with a Marian heart.

Pray a bit of today’s prayer from A Heart Like Mary’s with me:

"31 Days with A Heart Like Mary's" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. Created in Canva with free image elements. All rights reserved.

Read the rest of this series.


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are my own.