Of Mary There is Never Enough
Publisher: Tumblar House
Publication Date: November 11, 2015
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A tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mother that is unequaled in our times. Drawing on the ancient Fathers and Doctors of the Church and on the hidden Scriptures which tell of the love of God for this singular beauty of His creation, Mr. Biersach has woven a tapestry of his own making, baring a heart not altogether unlike those of the best saints who have written of Her. Some will savor in his writings a whiff of Belloc, others a turn of phrase reminiscent of Chesterton. Bringing with him the terminology of his own generation and some of the flair of the 60's, the author, like a knight in rusty armor, declares his unworthiness to present to us so sublime a Person as She who has captivated the Heart of God. You will want to give copies of this book to everyone who is dear to you. For the answer to all problems, and to paraphrase St. Bernard, "in all things, give them Our Lady!"
Who is She?
He that awaketh early to seek her, shall not labor: for he shall find her sitting as his door. —Wisdom VI: 15
∞ ∞ ∞
One only need look at a map of North America to see that the landscape is peppered with cities and towns named after the Blessed Virgin Mary. My own metropolis of Los Angeles was originally called Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles—“Our Lady Queen of the Angels.”* Landmarks such as Point Conception also bear reference to Her. Surely She must have held an important place in the lives of the early explorers for them to name so many places with Her in mind rather than after their wives and sweethearts. What kind of amnesia has over-taken us that we no longer understand what so moved the Spaniards, the French, and the Portuguese that they would praise the Blessed Virgin at every turn of coast, river, and mountain range as they explored the New World?
Why, we might ask, are so many chapels, churches, cathedrals, shrines, monasteries, convents, hospitals, orphanages and so on, all over the planet, named after this Woman who never traveled far from Her place of birth, never performed any great miracles in Her lifetime, and is only mentioned in passing in the Bible after the birth of Christ? What is it about Her that captured the devotion of kings and paupers, theologians and simpletons, explorers and blacksmiths, queens and scullery maids, Saints and sinners? Who could She possibly be? Could a myth carry such weight, provoke such ardor, inspire such devotion, and sustain all this momentum over the span of so many centuries?
Of course, there are those who say that we Catholics put too much emphasis on Mary. Some go further and become downright derogatory. It has become fashionable in some circles to question Her Immaculate Conception (a natural consequence of denying the Fall and Original Sin), Her Virginity with respect to Saint Joseph and the birth of Jesus (ditto the collapse of piety), and Her glorious Assumption into Heaven (the loss of the sense of wonder). Such things are reduced to mere legend, stories to fascinate gullible peasants when the Faith was still young. Most people certainly don’t call her “Blessed” let alone “Virgin,” and one particularly obnoxious fellow comes to mind who once referred to Her as, “Just an incubator, nothing more.”
My own quest in this matter began shortly after my return to the Church after a lapse of a dozen years. One of my first commitments was to say the Rosary daily, which brought me face-to-face with Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and Coronation. Questions were thus raised which demanded answers.
First I contacted a friend of mine, a man who had stayed within Peter’s Barque all the while I had been away. A singularly devout man, he married a fine woman and together they raised a family of eight children*, all of them home-schooled. They had been praying that I would find my way clear to God again; and God had heard their prayers. If anyone knew about Our Lady, it had to be my friend, right?
“So tell me about Mary,” I said to him. “Who is She? What is Her place in all of this?”
His answer surprised me. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know. My family and I say the Rosary together every night, and we certainly observe all Her feasts, but I really don’t know much about Her.”
His Faith had been one of simple acceptance, and I appreciated that. But I knew that, for myself, I needed more in the way of knowledge. If my Faith was not founded on rock-sound reason, I ran the risk of falling away again. Not that feelings didn’t play their part, but I needed to satisfy my intellect as well.
So I started digging.
What I found overwhelmed me. It was no accident that most of the Catholic Churches in the world are named after the Blessed Virgin Mary. No mere “incubator” was She, but rather the most necessary and remarkable human being ever born. Clearly, She had played a part in my return to the Faith, a critical and essential part that only became obvious after the fact. There was no way I would have understood while the process was in progress, but I came to realize that Mary plays a vital role in the Salvation of every sincere follower of Christ. Every single one.
How sad it is that so many Catholics have been convinced by outsiders that we place “too much emphasis on Mary,” and so purged the Faith of all things Marian. In so doing, or rather undoing, we have deprived ourselves of a spiritual resource so powerful and breathtaking as to defy imagination.
Some have capitulated, but not all. Those “old fogies” who remain in the church after Mass, shunned by the modern liturgical specialists, murmuring Hail Mary’s amidst the chitter of so many tiny beads, are holding on for dear life to that same Mother bequeathed to us on Calvary:
When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son.
After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.
—Saint John XIX: 26-27
That Mary became our Mother at that moment was understood without equivocation by the Fathers of the early Church. That She is still our Mother has been forgotten by many, but the realization is being rekindled all over Christendom as we turn these pages.
It was through Mary that the salvation of the world was begun, and it is through Mary that it must be consummated.
—Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
True Devotion to Mary
Do we dare rediscover what so many Saints understood as a matter of course, or do we choose to follow the lore of the modernists who rip their Rosaries to pieces in their tin pulpits? Should we revel in the darkness, knocking ourselves senseless against the damp walls of cold stone, or do we pursue the drafts of fresh air into the light of day? Can we continue to wallow in the mud of ignorance to please our peers, or does honor and dignity require that we seek the waters of Truth and stand tall in the warmth of the bright and fiery sun? Do we dare to uncover the Treasure, the Cache buried under the sands of contemporary indifference, the same Trove transported to the New World aboard Spanish galleons, French transports, and Portuguese frigates, carried within the very hearts of the explorers themselves?
Nothing is equal to Mary, nothing but God is greater than Mary … Every nature is created by God and God is born of Mary. God created all things and Mary gave birth to God. God who made all things made Himself from Mary and thus He remade everything He had made … God is the Father of created things and Mary is the Mother of recreated things. God is therefore the Father of the constitution of all things and Mary is the Mother of the restoration of all things. God begot Him through whom all things were made and Mary brought forth Him through whom all things were saved.
Awaken, Church Militant! To the oars! (Orchestral flourish here.) The Catholic Faith is a grand adventure. Let us raise the anchor and depart these tepid doldrums. What awaits us over the horizon may surprise us, it may shock us, it may even arouse within our lazy hearts feelings we’ve never felt before.
What have we got to lose?
Our souls! Do you hear? Our very souls!
To the oars, to the oars!
* The full name was actually El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula, but a comprehensive explanation of this colorful bit of historic nomenclature would take us far afield of the topic at hand.
* Nine as of this edition.
William L. Biersach was born in Pasadena, California, on the Feast Day of St. Philip Neri, the "Laughing Saint", in 1953. A product of Catholic grammar and high school, he naturally lost his Faith when the effects of Vatican II came rattling through the world like a maniacal jalopy in the 1960's and 70's. He found his way back to Traditional Rome in 1993 and has been active in trying to reacquaint Catholics with their own religion ever since. The Endless Knot is the first of his Father Baptist novels. He is currently working on the rough draft for the sixth book in the series. He resides in a stone house somewhere in Southern California, likes spicy food, and hopes to retire in Heaven some day.
This is a wonderful short introduction to the importance of Mary, but let its size not fool you, there is abundant detail within to be used as stepping stones to greater understanding. Interestingly enough, but perhaps not surprising given that Mary points towards Jesus, but the short meditation on the penetrating eyes of Jesus was by far the most striking part of this little book. Well worth it.
I am glad I bought this book and that I will have it for future reference and inspiration. It was easy to read and written with a lively pen.
It had many quotes from the Bible, Popes and Saints and more concerning Mary. I learned a lot about Saint Mary which expanded my view of Her and Creation itself! He really put her in a context that makes her more attainable. I feel closer to her and her Son, Jesus Christ and further on my way to reshaping my worldview. Thank you Mr. Biersach.
This book answered so many questions I had about Mary. The One I am most grateful for is why she is called Star of the Sea. This book can be read rather quickly but I was forced by the wonderment of what I was reading, to put it down after every chapter to really meditate on what was being said. Thank you for this fantastic book on Mary!