I must admit when endeavoring to review Dr. Carrie Gress’ marvelous work The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis (Tan Books) I know what it must be like to be a biased reporter at the Washington Post or Politico because I start from the perspective of a great love for the subject matter that Dr. Gress explores in this important work.
My own Marian Devotion comes from my own mother who taught myself and my siblings that the way to a healthy love for Our Lord Jesus was through the Blessed Virgin Mary who bore the Savior of the world. My mother, in her eighties now, rightly laments the lack of emphasis of Our Lady’s prerogatives by the Church and the faithful in the wake of Vatican II. She is still often heard to say that “many Churchmen wanted to put Our Lady to the side but it was the laity who kept devotion to Her alive.”
Dr. Gress accessible work is not so much a rebuttal to the often talked about “Benedict Option” but a healthy alternative to it. In The Marian Option, she layouts a blueprint on how to revitalize our culture and our Church both of which is suffering from unprecedented confusion at the moment. She rightly points to Mary’s many victories throughout the centuries as a way out of the morass we suffer at this critical juncture of time. Although Dr. Gress is a well-credentialed philosopher and scholar, she makes this work an easy to read book for people like myself who have a cursory knowledge of these matters affording the reader a battle plan for their families and loved ones.
The Marian Option struck me as a worthy extension of the teaching of Saint John Paul II whose Marian Pontificate was a gift to the Church and mankind. The book often cites Marian devotees like St. Louis DeMonfort, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, St. Maximillian Kolbe and the aforementioned Saintly Pontiff among others as Marian heroes who invoked the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy to triumph over the evil of their times.
At present, we see in our culture a degradation of how men treat women. We only need look at the present headlines to see the abuse women are suffering at the hands of Hollywood moguls and male power brokers in the media and politics. Dr. Gress timely work shows that we can draw a straight line correlation with this treatment and the diminution of veneration to the gifts of womanhood personified by Our Lady. Dr. Gress shows that when we as a culture have a healthy devotion to the “Theotokos” we will cease to objectify women and celebrate the beauty of women and the personification of that is Our Lady.
The book also highlights how Mary, a creature like us, links us to the Triune God and that we need to tap into Her intercession more to understand the mysteries of Eternal Life. Any of our Protestant brethren that are struggling with Catholic doctrine could purchase this book to allay their fears that Mary takes away from Jesus — of course, a healthy relationship with Mary only “magnifies” Our Lord. For Catholics, this book is a healthy reminder that we must cultivate a healthy devotion to Her because it is as DeMontfort stated the “surest path” path to Jesus.
In this Hundredth Anniversary of Fatima, the greatest event of the 20th Century, this book will be a welcomed addition to your library because it ratifies the axiom that God has ordained that all victories are secured through this humble Virgin from Nazareth. Totus Tuus!