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Mary is the answer to a civilization in crisis

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In the face of threats to the Catholic faith, turning to Mary is the way to move forward, according to author Carrie Gress. She gives concrete ways to do this in her book, The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis and presented her findings at the Catholic Information Center in Washington June 8.

Gress, a parishioner of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg, defines the Marian Option as the recognition that Mary wants to help us and has the capacity to do so. “At the heart of it is deepening our own relationship with Mary through praying the rosary,” she said. “There is overwhelming evidence that Mary wants to help us.”

Gress is the author of several books, including Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of MotherhoodCity of Saints with George Weigel, and Nudging Conversions: A Practical Guide to Bringing Those You Love Back to Church. She is married with four children and is a faculty member of Pontifex University, an online Catholic university founded in 2014 that also offers in-residence programs in the United States, the Holy Land and Italy.

“It seemed like (Mary) was the right answer to all of the problems,” said Gress. “This (book) is what materialized looking at Mary through a large lens instead of looking at a single apparition or single theological point.”

Gress’ relationship with Mary grew significantly through writing this book. When Gress was awake in the middle of the night nursing one of her four children she worried about what might happen to her children considering the state of the world.

“I know through writing this book that I don’t have that anxiety,” said Gress. “I just have a much deeper trust because I have seen the radical ways that Mary intercedes for us from massive events to the very tiny things we think are insignificant things that she comes through on.”

Gress talked about praying the rosary and Marian consecration. Her book has other suggestions, including praying the Angelus, wearing a brown scapular and filling your home with Marian artwork.

She focused on nine Vatican-approved Marian apparitions in her book and gave examples of why Mary is God’s solution to crisis in today’s civilization.

Gress looked at the work of Arnold Toynbee, a British historian who uses an expression called the “creative minority,” which Gress said is a small group of people who have an idea that can stop civilization from destruction.

“The good thing out of this study is seeing that civilizations are not saved by a mass movement,” Gress said. “There are a small number of people that are really going to fertilize the civilization and bring it back to life.”

Gress noted Mary’s geopolitical influence as something she had not considered before her research.

“I’m looking at the miraculous connections between Spain and the Reconquista, the connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and (Christopher) Columbus’ role in that,” she said. “There is a lot going on here that I don’t think any of us have really thought about in depth.”

Her study of the life of St. John Paul II encouraged her to look deeper.

“I saw at the end of the day that his life was really formed by Mary, that everything that he did was underlined by this strong devotion he had to her,” said Gress. “It only seemed natural to look at what else has Mary done and what are other ways she has been effective.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017