As a former Protestant, I felt outside the Mary Fan Club for a long time. I didn’t get all the hoopla surrounding Mary, the Mother of God. She had all these fancy titles. She showed up in a thousand different ethnic identities all over the world. The Hail Mary prayer sounded a little weird to my ears. Mary was a plastic Nativity figure I pulled out of storage each Christmas and neatly packed away each New Year. Like an arrogant girl who believes that sipping Scotch on the rocks would dilute the flavor, I preferred to pray to Jesus, straight up. No intercessor necessary.
As a girl with a former “Mary block,” I was so pleased to read Edward Sri’s beautiful introduction to Our Blessed Mother in Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross. This slim book is a must read for any new Catholic. Sri’s prose is clean and his theology is easy to follow.
I appreciate how strictly Sri focuses on Mary as she's described in the New Testament. He highlights Mary's human qualities in order to make her more relatable. For example, Sri contrasts how Zechariah is approached by the Angel Gabriel to how Mary is approached by the same angel. Both holy people receive similar news of a future miraculous birth. Yet the circumstances that surrounded their two visits with the same angel is vastly different.
“The Angel Gabriel visits Zechariah when he is in a sacred place--the Temple in Israel’s religious capital, Jerusalem. And Zechariah is a public figure holding a sacred office, serving as a Levitical priest. He is in the middle of performing a sacred function in the Temple liturgy when Gabriel appears to deliver the message that Zechariah’s barren wife, Elizabeth will conceive a child in her old age. Mary in contrast, is an unknown young woman, holding no official position, and apparently going about her ordinary daily life in the insignificant village of Nazareth when the angel speaks to her.”
Sri uses a light touch of historical context to bring a freshness to the familiar scriptures heard frequently in church. Any one of Sri’s paragraphs is a great jumping off point for private prayer. Who was Mary? Who is she to me? How can I be more like this model of Jesus’ first and most perfect disciple?
Sri's book, A Walk With Mary, is the perfect companion to a Rosary prayer. Hope you pick up a copy soon and join us in a timeless Meetup with Mary during her walk from Nazareth to the Cross.