Fr. Edward Looney has a great love for Mary. He even hosts a podcast in her honor, How They Love Mary, which I had the pleasure of being a guest on a couple of years ago (I discussed Our Lady of La Salette). That love shines through in his new book, Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.
St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary is designed to lead one in thirty-three days of preparation for total consecration to Mary. In doing so, our goal is to love Mary the way Jesus loves Mary. In turn, Mary leads us in a special way to her Son. However, St. Louis de Montfort wrote in the 1700s and his book, while a classic, can be intimidating and hard to understand in our modern world. In Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, Fr. Looney, attempts to “break open the relics of de Montfort’s writings and discover the beauty of total devotion to Our Lady.” It is designed as an intermediary step between having a basic interest and devotion to Mary and going all in, as one does with a full Marian consecration.
It is designed as a ten-day retreat, with each day bearing a title of Mary. Those titles are Queen of All Saints, Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, The New Eve, Mother of the Interior Life, Mother of Disciples, Star of the Sea, Queen of All Hearts, Mediatrix of Grace, The Mold of God, and My Mother and My Queen. Each day (chapter) includes a few-page reflection, prayer, and a traditional Marian hymn or prayer. Through the ten days, one is invited to make “a journey to Jesus through the heart of Mary, with St. Louis de Montfort as our guide.”
While the purpose of this book is to lead people to want to make the full Marian consecration in which “we do everything by Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary,” Fr. Looney is quick to encourage people to live Marian devotion to whatever degree they feel comfortable with at the moment. Mary continues to reach out to us, to call us into a deeper relationship with her and her Son.
As a personal aside, I’ve had a deep devotion to Mary for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t feel comfortable with making a Marian consecration until I was in my forties. Also, Fr. Looney maintains (and I have seen others testify to this as well) that making a Marian consecration will lead to a huge shift in your life. As Fr. Looney states that “God is going to rock your world.” Perhaps that is true for many people, but for me, that wasn’t the case. There was no huge transformation. It was simply the next step in my relationship with Mary and Jesus. However, I do encourage anyone who is even remotely interested to pursue making a Marian consecration. I personally found Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory to better a more user-friendly way to make this consecration than St. Louis de Montfort’s original.
Behold the Handmaid of the Lord offers a meaningful exploration of Marian devotion. It is ideal for anyone looking to make an at-home retreat or who is interested in learning more about Marian consecration.
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