Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Book Pick: A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary
By Father Edward Looney
Sophia Institute Press, 2020
144 pages; $14.95
EWTN Item: T1421
To order: ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com (800) 854-6316
and SophiaInstitute.com (800) 888-9344
As we journey through Lent, who better can we ask to accompany us every day than Jesus’ Mother Mary? After all, he gave her to us as our Mother too, and that was during Lent, on Good Friday.
Father Edward Looney had this right idea as he helps us in his new book, A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary.
First of all, the map is very easy to follow. It’s a day by day direction and suggestion for the road through Lent to Easter and the week beyond.
The format is distinctive. Father Looney introduces nearly every day with the words of our Blessed Mother from one of her apparitions, from Lourdes, to Fatima, from Our Lady of Good Help to Our Lady of La Salette, from Our Lady of Beauraing, to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and more.
From there, he tells us how it applies to our life, often using a personal story from his own experience or for those he has come across in his travels. They’re simple, nicely illustrating the thoughts and advice of our Blessed Mother, and at the same time inspiring so that we see how they apply to our own lives during the similar situations we have found ourselves in. They have a universal appeal.
And here’s a key point: because each day’s chapter is short, most often no longer than two or three pages, there’s no excuse for anyone, no matter how busy, to take A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary. Father Looney’s conversational style makes the reading easy and the high points and recommendations simple to grasp. And to put into practice. So are his counsels for a prayer for that day, and beyond.
Take, for example, each chapter’s brief prayer such as “Dear Blessed Mother, you know my family and friends. Ask your Son to help them in whatever areas they struggle and flood their lives with God’s grace.”
Or again in another chapter, “Dear Blessed Mother, you were a faithful woman of prayer. Please obtain for me the grace of fidelity to prayer form your Son.”
The same hold true for the “Lenten Action” segment that follows the simple prayer and ends the chapter with its recommendation. One advises, “Spend a few moments reflecting on your life and your relationships. Is there someone you have fallen out of touch with who requires healing because of your hurtful words or actions? Resolve today to make an act of self-denial, asking God to flood that person’s soul with healing graces and mercy.”
Or this suggestion, where instead of cringing or ignoring, we do something about what we’ve heard: “Let your ears be attentive to your surroundings. Listen for the name of Jesus spoken in public places...If you hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, say q quick prayer of reparation, such as “’Jesus, I love your holy name,’ ‘Jesus, have mercy on us sinners,’ Hallowed be They name,’ or ‘Holy is Your name.’ You may want to make it a daily practice before bed to say an Our Father with the intention of making reparation for the blasphemies against the name of Jesus.”
Every week focuses on a theme, such as “Healing,” “Praying for Others,” and “Mary Teaches Us Methods of Prayer.”
The same goes for each day of the week. One day there’s a focus on “Morning and Evening Prayer,” another on “adoration.” There are question days, too: “Do You Avoid Prayer? And “Name Your Grace” and “Experiencing Holy Week with Our Lady.”
In each case, each day’s chapter is presented plainly so that people new to Lenten practice, or new to the faith or returning to the faith, can greatly benefit from Father Looney’s gentle approach.
Even his challenges on prayer such as excuses for avoiding it are answerable by anyone, such as, “Could you pray during your commute to work? While going for a short walk? If you drive by a church every day and it is open, could you make a quick visit to the Blessed Sacrament?
At the same time, for “regulars” this book continues as an inspirational guide and often a reminder of important things we may have forgotten along the way, especially in simple ways to pray for healing of hurts, how to be silent in prayer at times to hear God’s voice, and different simple ways to pray and act during Lent that universally should, and with a little effort, carry over the rest of the year.
More highlights include a beautiful reflection for each day of Holy Week and or Blessed Mother’s place on each day. As a reminder of God’s great mercy, Father Looney does not stop when Lent is over but takes us through Easter and the Octave to Divine Mercy Sunday.
Each day’s reflection and prayer builds on an entry from St. Faustina’s Diary, either something Jesus told her or what she had to say.
Overall, there are many reasons to get aboard this Lenten local that stops each day of the week. Time to book A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary. It’s one of the best traveling companions or guides.