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The Marian Option: God's Solution to a Civilization in Crisis Hardcover – May 22, 2017
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<DIV>"The Marian Option offers a brilliant treatment on why the Virgin Mary the mother of Jesus and our spiritual mother must be at the heart of any Christian effort to renew society. Providing powerful historical witnesses, concrete examples, and practical cultural remedies, Carrie Gress masterfully describes how in ages past it was only through the maternal intercession of the Queen of Heaven that fervent Catholic resurgences took place, and why our modern age must learn from this and once again turn to Mary. This book is compelling and convincing!"
--Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, Author, Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon
<DIV>"This book is provocative in its simplicity. Looking closely at the recent conversations surrounding the so-called 'Benedict Option,' Carrie Gress uncovers something more fundamental to living a full, Christian life: the Marian Option. The call to personal holiness - given by Christ Himself - has no better exemplar over the centuries than our own Mother, Mary. St. Benedict would agree! And so would, I strongly suspect, those attracted to the Benedict Option. Marian devotion, lived through a deep devotion to Our Lady and a life of simple holiness changes the world, because it changes us."
--Chris Stefanick, Reallifecatholic.com</DIV>
About the Author
Carrie Gress has a PhD from the Catholic University of America and is a faculty member at Pontifex University. Her work has appeared at Aleteia, Catholic Vote, Catholic World Report, The National Catholic Register, New Advent, Real Clear Religion, Reddit, Zenit, EWTN Radio, Relevant Radio, BBC and CBC television. She has lived and worked professionally in Wash-ington, DC and Rome, Italy, and her work has been translated into seven languages. Dr. Gress is the author of Nudging Conversions: A Practical Guide to Bringing Those You Love Back to the Church, Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood, and co-author with George Weigel of City of Saints: A Pilgrim s Guide to John Paul II s Krakow. A mother of four, she and her family live in Virginia.
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Dr. Gress argues - quite successfully in my opinion - that cultures thrive when the Blessed Mother is venerated. She deftly points out how as western culture's veneration of Mary deepened, so too did its esteem of womanhood - motherhood in particular. Men, instead of regarding women as trophies or objects of gratification, were instead led to ponder the mystery at the heart of every woman and to embrace men's God-given mission of laying down their lives in service to wife and children. Women, in turn, recognize the incredible dignity with which the Creator has endowed them - their unique genius for cooperating with God to bring new life (both individual and cultural) into the world and nurture it to adulthood. When Mary's place in salvation history and our devotional lives is forgotten - or worse yet, rejected - then Christian culture begins a process of deformation: the exaltation of the "I" in place of the "we," marital breakdown, contraception, abortion, moral relativism, etc. We see the results all around us. The answer? We must accept Jesus' gift from the Cross, Mary, and allow her to mother us into a life of radical discipleship.
Cultural change always begins small - look no further than Mary and Joseph in the cave of the Nativity...or Mary and the small cluster of disciples awaiting Pentecost...or Mary and Juan Diego and the conversion of the Americas...or Mary and Cardinal Wojtyla behind the Iron Curtain. Mary is always there, waiting to introduce us, as she has countless millions of other disciples, into deeper intimacy with her Son, greater receptivity to the stirrings of the Spirit, and heroic obedience to the Father.
There is a great deal to love about this book but at the top of the list, at least for me, is the way Dr. Gress explains the theology of consecrating oneself to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She pulls together insights from saints such as Bernadine of Siena, Louis Marie de Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, and John Paul II, as well those of theologians like André Feuillet and Johann Roten. (My "to read" list has grown as a result.) I especially appreciated her discussion of Mary's relationship to each Person of the Trinity; it is extremely well done.
At just over 200 pages, this book is not so thick as to intimidate. As soon as one begins reflecting upon what he or she has read, however, the scope of the discussion and weighty insights give it the feel of a much longer work. The Rosary is a subject woven throughout, but Dr. Gress also discusses Marian apparitions, devotional items like the Miraculous Medal and Brown Scapular, as well as drawing a number of historical connections of which I was unaware. (Fulton J. Sheen fans likely know of the connection between Fatima and Islam, but who knew that the same was true of Lourdes? "The Marian Option" is filled with these kind of historical gems.)
There is a great deal of buzz about this book and deservedly so. "The Marian Option: God's Solution to a Civilization in Crisis" is a gorgeous book, both inside and out. (Seriously, online images cannot do the cover justice!) I heartily recommend picking up a copy and allowing the Lord to renew the fire to live your vocation.
The Marian Option is also a response to Dreher's book, but not a refutation. It is is part history lesson, part explanation of Mary's role in Catholicism and the world, and part suggestion for how to live the "Marian option." Carrie Gress suggests that turning to Mary simultaneously with any other "options" you may care to practice is a way to affect radical personal and societal transformation. Tracing Mary's intercession throughout history, Gress argues that venerating Mary makes cultures flourish.
I enjoyed the book and found a couple of concepts that were eye opening. First of all, I was fascinated by Maximilian Kolbe's insights into Mary as the Immaculate Conception and what that meant about her relationship with the Holy Spirit. It's been a long time since I've come across a concept that I pondered the way I did this.
Secondly, Gress's proposition that we are living in "anti-Mary" times was revelatory. I knew all the pieces she discussed but hadn't seen them through that particular focus.
The Marian Option is well written and interesting. Although Gress is making a case for Marian devotion, you could certainly read it simply for the history and theological insights. Though you may, as I have, find yourself dusting off your rosary and leaning on Mary for her motherly intercession.