Carrie Gress has a doctorate from the Catholic University of America and is a philosophy professor at Pontifex University. She is the author of several books, including The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis. Carrie is the co-author with George Weigel of City of Saints: A Pilgrims Guide to John Paul II’s Krakow. A homeschooling mother of four, she and her family live in Virginia. Visit her blog at www.carriegress.com. (Photo by Renata Grzan Wierczorek, RenataPhotography.com)
A few weeks ago in my article Before Taking the Benedict Option, Try the Marian Option I suggested that based upon her outstanding track record, Mary is the best response to all that plagues our world. Not just a saint among many, Mary has shown through the ages that she is anxious to come to our aid if we only ask.
In the article I mentioned that the Rosary and the Consecration to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort are great ways to live the Marian-Op, there are plenty of other ways to draw closer to Mary. On today’s feast of her birthday, it seems appropriate to consider a few more ways to live the Marian Option:
1. Wear the Brown Scapular
Under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the modified version of the Carmelite habit has given to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, with the promise that, “Whoever dies in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire.” The scapular is still help up today as a sign of true devotion to Mary, signifying veneration, confidence, and love.
2. Find a Holy League (or establish your own)
The Holy League was the name of the soldiers, laity, clergy, bishops and Pope Pius V united together in anticipation of the battle of Lepanto. These holy men were the ones who prayed the rosary for victory, knowing that they were completely outnumbered by the Ottomans and that victory would only come through Our Lady’s intercession. A new Holy League has cropped up recently, as explained here by Joseph Pronechen.
3. Fill Your Home with Beautiful Marian Artwork
In their book, The Little Oratory, David Clayton and Leila Lawler give great ideas about both the importance of the Way of Beauty in strengthening our relationship with God, but also how we can live this way in our own homes.
4. Have Your Home Blessed
This is always a good idea, no matter what the circumstances. Holy water and other sacramentals are good to have on hand, too.
5. Read the Just Released Champions of the Rosary
Written by Fr. Donald Calloway, this is a comprehensive guide to the rosary’s history, heroes, and how it is truly the weapon for our age.
6. Encourage Others to Pray the Rosary
Praying the Rosary can be daunting to the uninitiated, or it simply doesn’t occur to others to pray it. Inviting friends and family to do pray it in a group setting (and not putting them on the spot to lead a decade) is a great way to get it on their radar again.
7. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
These prayers (also known as the Divine Office) are based on the psalms of the Old Testament. They are among the prayers that Mary prayed. The Rosary itself was based upon a simplified version of the Divine Office and was known by many as Mary’s Psalter.
8. Visit a Marian Shrine
Marian shrines seem to be everywhere. Find the closest one and make a pilgrimage or retreat there.
9. Order a Pocket Oratory
I recently discovered these little gems to help in prayer anywhere (even while tending sheep). They make great gifts and can be personalized upon request.
10. Listen to Fr. Paul Scalia’s Lecture Shadows of the Virgin
Hosted by the Institute of Catholic Culture, Fr. Scalia explains how Mary was foreshadowed in the Old Testament by such figures as Eve, Rebecca, Judith, and Esther.
11. Pray a Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Heavily promoted by Pope Francis, this more than 300-year-old devotion originated in Augsburg, Germany at the church of St. Peter am Perlach. Fr. Bergoglio learned of the devotion when in Germany studying and has since promoted it in Latin America and now to the Church universal.
12. Use Mother Theresa’s Flying Novena
Joseph Pronechen just published this useful tool employed by Mother Teresa for when you need a prayer answered immediately consisting of nine Memorares of petition, and one more for thanksgiving.
13. Read just published Guadalupe Mysteries: Deciphering the Code
Written by Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon, this book a wealth of data that is both breathtaking and faith-inspiring about the many miraculous elements of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
14. Pray the Angelus
Although the pattern of praying three Hail Mary’s at certain times of day dates back earlier, the Angelus as we know it today — as a repetition of the meeting between St. Gabriel and Mary at the Annunciation three times a day — dates to the 1500s. The prayer has been used particularly times of great need to ask for Our Lady’s protection.
Get yourself a copy of The Mysteries of the Rosary: An Adult Coloring Book, by Daniel Mitsui. I saw this advertised a few months ago and since then have had many occasions when I wished I had one handy to use in a quiet moment or to give as a gift. It is a relaxing and wonderful way to meditate on the beauty and mysteries of the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima asked, as part of the First Saturday reparations for sinners, that we we keep her company for 15 minutes by thinking about the mysteries of the Rosary (in addition to saying 5 decades of the Rosary). This is a perfect way to do that.
I would love your comments if you have further ideas. (And stay tuned for a list of How to Live the Marian Option with Kids in the coming weeks.)