April 24, 2009

100 Names of Mary: Stories & Prayers by Anthony F. Chiffolo

BOOKS #: 30
CHALLENGES: Triple 999, Spiritually Speaking Challenge
RATING: 3 Stars

Book Description: Perhaps the most popular saint, Mary has come to be known by many names, reflecting her many different qualities. Each of the hundred names selected provides the story about the title of Mary, a traditional prayer and a new prayer that reflects the particular charisms of the title. The Gospels refer to her only as the mother of Jesus, but over the centuries Christians have bestowed upon her innumerable titles of devotion- some lists include more than six thousand titles. This proliferation of titles reflects the different ways people relate to Mary. While one person may find comfort in the Mother of Sorrows, another may find his center in the Queen of Peace. Other titles relate to her privileges (Immaculate Conception) or link to her particular apparitions (Our Lady of Lourdes). This book will hopefully challenge readers to re-explore their own beliefs about Mary and also lead to a deeper appreciation of the glorious mystery of the Christian faith.

Book Review:

What I liked about this book is that it was both a history book and a devotional prayer book. I learned the stories behind each of the names chosen and I learned prayers that speak to Mary and ask her to petition on behalf of her people. It helped me to feel a lot more connected to Catholicism than I have for a while now, given all of the crazy things the current Pope is doing. But that is a story for another day. :)

There are a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic view of Mary (a lot of which I had before I eventually converted). She is not to be worshiped as a god or a demi-god. She is looked to as a heavenly mother. She is revered as the most special of humans next to Jesus. Catholics believe that Mary had to have been particularly pure and special in order to be chosen not only to be the birth mother of Jesus, but also to raise him. Catholics believe she was the Immaculate Conception, or conceived without sin. How could a sinful person carry something as holy and pure as the Son of God? Catholics also believe that by petitioning to her she can speak to her Son on our behalf, help to protect us in times of danger, and help lead her people back to a right relationship with God. She is the Mother of God.

While I enjoyed reading all of the stories and prayers, one that is a favorite of mine is the story of Madonna della Strada, or "Madonna of the Streets". It tells of the two icons that represent Mary as enduring hardship and poverty, pleading for shelter for herself and her child. It is representative of Mary's characteristically intercessory role. Her message is that when you hunger and when you thirst, there is someone who can satisfy your ultimate hunger and thirst- Jesus. And she reminds us of those who are less fortunate than us. When we complain about the price of gasoline for our car, she reminds us that there are those who have no transportation but their own two feet. When we make plans to buy a bigger house, we can look to her to remind us of those who have no shelter. She is there to remind us of what is important. That to me is a beautiful story.

One of the more powerful prayers to me was the traditional prayer of Our Lady of La-Vang. La-Vang was a place deep in the jungles of Vietnam, where many Catholics escaped to during the persecutions of King Canh Thinh in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is said that our Lady appeared to her people in La-Vang during these violent years, where more than one hundred thousand people became martyrs.

O Mary, give my dear ones true charity through which they may forgive with all their hearts and bear with resignation the crosses laid upon them by those they believe to be their enemies. -Pope John XXIII

If you would like to read more, here is the link to Anthony Chiffolo's web site. I would share mine with you, only my cat thought the book was for chewing on as oppose to simply reading. :P

1 comment:

  1. You got an award waiting :) please pick it up here ..



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