Welcome to Peace Garden Mama and the Blog-Tour Train of Marge Fenelon’s latest book, “Imitating Mary!”
It was at my hometown parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Poplar, Mont., where I first met Mary. Outside our church just off Highway 2 stood a statue of Our Blessed Mother in a makeshift grotto. Below her, Bernadette, the poor child from Lourdes, France, knelt in admiration.
We didn’t pray a daily Rosary in our home and yet I felt a great love for Mary. As a teen girl going through challenging emotions, I felt comforted by the thought of her. She seemed gentle, understanding and faithful. I knew she loved her son, and I knew she loved me, too.
Though Catholics are sometimes challenged for putting too much emphasis on Mary, I’ve never felt the concern. Is it possible to care for the mother of Jesus, the savior of the world, too much?
Despite the fact that Mary has traveled with me all these years, there’s a part of me always yearning to know her more. And with my friend Marge Fenelon’s latest book, “Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom,” I feel like I’ve finally found the resource that will come close to satisfying my need.
It’s a bit like stumbling upon the diary of a great-grandmother you’ve known has been with you, but until that point, you’ve only known bits and pieces about her. But alas, with this latest find, you can finally delve into the interior and really know the heart of this beloved person to whom you are connected.
Marge begins her book sharing an observation she’s noticed within our culture: a tendency by women to be convinced that motherhood is either a commodity or an affliction. “It only follows that if our culture doesn’t value motherhood, then it won’t value the mother either,” she begins.
Through Mary, Marge hopes to change all that. After all, what better model do we have in a mother than the mother of our Lord himself? Marge says that by entrusting our motherhood to Mary, we can “become the mothers God intends for us to be, the mothers our children need and the mothers society lacks.”
So offers ten chapters that delve into all that Mary was: Mary’s Fiat, The Unwed Mother, The Handmaiden Mother, The Messenger Mother, The Young Mother, The Committed Mother, The Fleeing Mother, The Attentive Mother, The Grieving Mother-Child, the Disciple Mother, and finally, Letting Mary Mother Us.
There’s no mother who will not find something in Mary to be drawn toward.
In a section titled “Motherhood as a Vocation,” Marge notes that “part of the beauty of Christianity is the idea that suffering is a doorway to grace.” In this way, she said, motherhood is a vocation, “a unique calling from God that sets us on the path to union with Christ.”
Traveling through Mary’s life for our benefit, Marge uses Scriptural scenes and then expounds on them for the modern reader, helping highlight their relevance to us here and now.
For instance, in sharing about Mary’s journey to visit Elizabeth after learning of her pregnancy, which was fraught with danger and worry, Marge draws a parallel to our lives. When we’re worn out and upset, she said, our family’s needs can seem just as difficult. “Sometimes a trip across the living room flood can feel as long and grueling as a first-century trip from Nazareth to Judah.”
Some may feel intimidated by Mary, thinking that someone as holy as this handmaiden can never be someone to truly emulate. But Marge begs to differ. Emulating Mary, she said, doesn’t require a major overhaul of our lives, and can be done in small steps, beginning by doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well with an attitude of joy.
“You don’t have to do more things; simply put more into the things you already do,” she said.
I could go on quoting and pointing to the treasures within, but it’s never the same as opening a book and diving in for yourself. I’m happy to share that readers will have two chances to end up with a copy of this beautiful book. Ave Maria Press is doing a giveaway, which you can enter here. In addition, by leaving a comment and your email address in the combox here, you’ll be automatically entered into my drawing. I’ll announce the winner on May 10.
May God bless you, and may our sweet mother Mary — a mother we all share together — walk gently with you!