Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Marian Option by Carrie Gress

Dr. Carrie Gress provides a thoroughly researched bird’s eye view of the significant cultural and military events mediated through Mary...

Until now, books on the Virgin Mary have generally focused upon one apparition or various theological elements of this mysterious woman. But the scope of The Marian Option is far greater. Drawing from a vast array of dogmas, Vatican approved apparitions, and writings of the saints, Dr. Gress has pulled together the remarkable story of Mary’s overwhelming influence and intercession.

Using history, sound theology, and a detective’s eye, Gress brings to light the fascinating details of Mary’s role in major geopolitical shifts.
Rod Dreher's book The Benedict Option certainly touched a nerve. Christians started talking volubly about how to stem societal chaos. A number of new books came out in response, many with critiques and their own solutions.

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 "option" 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.

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