Did you grow up saying prayers to Our Lady at bedtime? Is there a special image or icon of the Mother of God that is dear to you? And did you then become an adult with a special devotion to Mary?
If this sounds like you, then you’ve probably spent the last couple of years wondering how to renew our understanding of Our Lady’s role in the Church today in giving Jesus to the world, especially in the light of the New Evangelization. It’s normal to be perplexed: the 21st century so far hasn’t exactly teemed with literature that can serve as a guide.
That wasn’t true of centuries past, of course. The co-founder of the Daughters of St. Paul and indeed of the whole Pauline family of religious, Blessed James Alberione, developed in the 20th century a spirituality that was both apostolic and Marian. His favorite title for Mary, “Queen of Apostles,” was the term he chose that best expressed Mary’s role in the Church’s mission of evangelization.
He wrote homilies, meditations, and conferences on Mary, but Alberione’s Marian thought is more evident through his work, making him a man not just of his own time but of ours as well. His work included the awe-inspiring Queen of Apostles Basilica in Rome: during World War II, Alberione promised the Blessed Mother to build a church in her honor if his religious institutes were protected; that magnificent basilica is now a thriving parish in Rome.
“The Pauline Family strives to live fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life, in the spirit of St. Paul, under the gaze of the Queen of Apostles,” Alberione explained, and it’s a phrase that isn’t just relevant to the various congregations of the Pauline family: the rest of the Church can benefit from an understanding that everything happens under Mary’s gaze and direction. Mary is a mother who cares about everything that concerns her children. “It was not a matter of some devotions or prayers,” writes Mariologist Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP, “but of a profoundly Marian orientation of life; it was a matter of devotion, rather than devotions.”
For Alberione, devotion to Mary has two primary purposes:
- growth in holiness
- the apostolic mission
Holiness informs and supports us in our apostolate; the apostolate bears the fruit of the holiness. Both are intrinsically connected to the Queen of Apostles.
Join Sr. Anne for 3 days of reflection on how Mary transforms you into Christ..
Alberione, of course, is not the only one to focus on this role. St. Louis de Montfort at the turn of the 18th century spoke of Mary as “a smooth but certain way of reaching Jesus Christ,” and saw her role as aiding in the evangelization of the world. And in our own century Guiseppi Forlai’s upcoming book presents the Mariology of Alberione, with his particular emphasis on bringing Jesus to the world, showing its connection to the thought of de Montfort and John Paul II.
Mary Mother of Apostles shows how Marian devotion leads us to Jesus in Christification, providing a stunning meditation that integrates de Monfort, John Paul II, and Alberione’s thoughts. “Mary,” writes Forlai, “stands before us as Mother and Teacher to give us marvelous proof of how one becomes a true disciple of Christ and to guide us to build our personality on the form of the Word.”
Perhaps there is someone in the 21st century we can turn to for this sort of wisdom, after all!
Mary Mother of Apostles: How to Live Marian Devotion to Proclaim Christ by Guiseppe Forlai will be releasing in August from Pauline Books and Media. Pre-order now and get free shipping.