NEW HAVEN – Most cradle Catholics have a staunch devotion to the Blessed Mother that has been woven into their belief since childhood. Devotion to the mother of God is deeply rooted in the Catholic faith.
Now, Dominican Father Peter John Cameron, founding editor-in-chief of the monthly worship aid Magnificat, has written a book that gives us the reasons for that, by providing rich detail on the major feast days of Mary and the "mysteries" associated with the Mother of God.
The purpose of Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living Our Lady’s Graces (Servant Books, May 2010, 176 pp.) "is to deepen our reverence for Mary," Father Cameron said.
"It presupposes that someone has been introduced to Mary and wants to know her better," he said. And the way to do that "is to deepen our reverence for the Blessed Virgin Mary the way the Church reverences her" through the mysteries that the Church makes known through her feast days.
The first chapter of the book asks, "Why Pray to Mary?" and offers seven reasons for Marian devotion, beginning with "because God does" and incorporating the profound reality that Christ gave his mother to us from the Cross.
"Without Mary, we cannot find our true selves," said Father Cameron, who received reviews for the book from Most Rev. Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and author Scott Hahn.
"The beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our relationship to her is that in Mary, we are given a way to address all of the concrete, urgent needs of human life," he said, "and that’s what the mysteries represent. Everything God gives to Mary, he gives to her for us so that Mary will give (or mediate) it for us.
"That is key," he said. "The glories of Mary are meant to be given away. She is born to be our mother. The great miracle of the maternal mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is that whenever she loves us, she gives us Jesus."
The book goes on to highlight 13 major feast days of Mary according to the chronology of her life that can be returned to throughout the year for reference as the feast days arise; and concludes with an explanation of the designation of Saturdays as memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father Cameron said that he wrote the Marian account, which is the seventh book he has published, "because I have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and really owe my conversion, my desire to live united to Christ, my Dominican vocation and my happiness to Mary."
"I felt a kind of sorrow because I don’t think the Blessed Mother is known and loved as God intended her to be known and loved," he said.
He recalled being asked to lead the rosary at his grandfather’s wake. Afterward, an attendee pulled him aside and chastised him for what he called "worshipping Mary." It made him aware of how many people erroneously espouse that misconception, which he says "is so far off the mark."
"It made me sorry that people don’t see how vital she is to their own happiness," he said. "So, when I became a Dominican, I joined a community that has a profound love [for] and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary," especially since Saint Dominic is credited with being one of the great proponents of the rosary, he noted.
"I was inundated with the rosary and wanted to learn everything about why she is so important," he said. "I had a keen devotion in my heart, but I wanted to know the reasons why so I could help people like that person who was at my grandfather’s funeral." According to Father Cameron, "We have a terrible tendency of making Christ an abstraction. We know his message and his pious images; but he’s not a living, breathing human image, who is alive like any true friend. To most people he’s distant and aloof.
"That’s why people don’t go to Mass or confession because they don’t believe he’s really present," he noted. "That’s why he gives us his mother … to reduce our tendency to turn him into an abstraction.
When you let the Blessed Virgin Mary into your life, "Christ becomes that much more intimate to you," said Father Cameron, "which is why devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not an obstacle. It intensifies our relationship with Christ."