Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
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{Book Review} Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest

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Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest by Father Donald Calloway, MIC (Marian Press, 2013) is the perfect book for someone who is not a theologian to read and glean an understanding of Mary. Even if you think you know Mary, this book has some thought-provoking and "aha" moments for you.
Father Donald H. Calloway is a priest who is known as the "Surfer Priest". I read his book No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy in one day. I was riveted by what a troubled young man he was and his "in your face" conversion. While that book is not necessary before reading Under the Mantle, it does provide a bit of insight as to who exactly wrote this book.
Fr. Calloway poses this question in the 3rd Chapter (Who Do You Say That I Am?":
So what the heck happened that caused so many modern Catholics to turn away from loving Jesus and his Church? The answer is heartbreaking. They had forgotten Mary.
How in the world do any Christians, much less Catholics, forget Mary? Heartbreaking, indeed. I thought I knew a lot about Mary but after reading this book I realize I have so much more to learn. Father Calloway does an excellent job of putting Mary right smack dab in the middle of our faith and explaining how she is a part of every facet of Christianity. How sad is it that she is often cast aside?

Connecting Us with Jesus

In the introduction, Father Calloway suggests reading this book slowly. I'm a fast reader and often don't retain a lot of what I read. I took his suggestion to heart. I would read a chapter then put the book down. That allowed his words to truly sink in.
Case in point: In Chapter 3 Father Calloway gives the illustration of Mary's importance by using our body. We are the body, Jesus is the head, and Mary is the neck. I read that chapter, put the book down, and thought, "Okay. I get it." But, did I really get it? It wasn't until about a week later when I was walking the dogs in the park early one morning that I wholeheartedly understood, thanks to a song by Casting Crowns. I had my earbuds in and my music randomly playing when this song came on:
By the end of the song, I got it. There's no mention of Mary in the song, but Mary (the neck) connects us (the body) to Jesus (the head). If Jesus is the head and we are the body, there has to be something that connects us. There has to be a neck. The neck allows the body to receive nourishment. The neck holds the head. The neck appears to be unimportant, but it isn't. Mary connects us to Jesus.

Seeing Mary in Every Aspect of our Lives

Father Calloway does an excellent job of tying Mary to every aspect of the Catholic Church: Scripture, the Papacy, the Priesthood,  Confession, Matrimony, and The Divine Mercy. Mary's importance in telling of Jesus' birth and childhood is examined. Who told the apostles the stories? As Fr. Calloway says: that's a "no-brainer": it had to be Mary.
At some points in the book, I wondered where he was going with the subject and how it tied into Mary. He did a fantastic job of tying everything back to Mary and our relationship to her. In Chapters 8 and 9 he discusses Manhood and Femininity respectively. I have to admit that the manhood chapter made me a little sad because he discusses how important it is for men to show their sons their devotion to Jesus and Mary, as well as praying. I realized that this was such a huge hole in the lives of my sons, but that's a discussion for another day.

Favorite Quotes

At the end of each chapter, there are Marian quotes that Father collected through the years. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • If God labored six days in preparing a paradise for man, he would spend a longer time preparing a paradise for his Divine Son. As no weeds grew in Eden, so no sin would arise in Mary, the paradise of the incarnation. Most unbecoming it would be for the sinless Lord to come into the world through a woman afflicted with sin. A barn door cannot fittingly serve as an entrance to a castle. Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
  • True devotion to Christ demands true devotion to Mary. Pope St. Pius X
  • While we adore the Child, should we not then venerate his mother, and while we kneel to Jesus, should we not at least clasp the hand of Mary for giving us such a Savior? There is a grave danger that, lest in celebrating a Christmas without the mother, we may soon reach a point where we will celebrate Christmas without the Babe, and these days are upon us now.  Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
  • Satan fears Mary as a frightened dog fears the rod with which he has been beaten. St. John Eudes
  • Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary be sure to fight well, arms in hand; that is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is hard to say and you have absolutely no sensible devotion. It is a terrible battle, I know, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul. St. Louis de Montfort
  • If you invoke the Blessed Virgin when you are tempted, she will come at once to your help, and Satan will leave you. St. John Vianney
  • The heart of a mother is a marvel of mercy. When we fear to go to God, when we are overwhelmed by our unworthiness, we can go toMary, because God has entrusted to her the realm of mercy. Blessed Columba Marmion
  • In our day, Our Lady has been given to us as the best defense against the evils that afflict modern life; Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation. Pope Benedict XVI
  • If you wish to convert anyone to the fullness of the knowledge of our Lord and of his Mystical Body, then teach him the Rosary. One of two things will happen. Either he will stop saying the Rosary--or he will get the gift of faith. Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
  • Do you want to have an advocate in the Son's presence, too? Turn to Mary. St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did. St. Maximillian Kolbe

Mary has always held a special place in my heart. I wrote about her as my protector in this post. This book gave me a much deeper look at how she is not just our mother, but our mama.
As Christians, we should all embrace Mary as our mother and look to her for intercession. Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest is the perfect book to help all Catholics hold Mary in the high esteem she should be and to embrace her as our mother and intercessor.
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