Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
At a time when our society is yearning for the tenderness and love of Mother Mary and the beginning of her trek into Advent and the Incarnation, we look to the book by Father Cameli Mary's Journey. It is a meditation on Mary in the life of the Bible, in the teachings of the Church, and our life of worship and devotion. It outlines the journey of faith by the most beloved female figure in the Catholic faith tradition. It reflects the best of contemporary scholarship and theological insight. A collection of well-known Marian prayers appears at the back of the book. Father Cameli writes: "I invite you to share in this meditation. Together we will certainly recognize the unique and privileged place of Mary in the story of salvation and the Church. We will also see her setting a pattern for our journey and accompanying us along the way. I hope that you, the reader, will return to your image of Mary, the Mother of God, and find her more alive and present to you than ever before." Father Cameli taught Mariology at the St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein.
In Part One, the author lays out for us Mary’s journey of faith. The fact that she said YES to the most mysterious question that ever could be posed. Her yes to the call of God provides us with the strength to do the most difficult things on His behalf. If Mary can say yes to being the Mother of God we can imitate her profound surrender to the Father in our lives. From the Incarnation to the Resurrection she is one with Christ, her son. She is by His side, she is comforting Him, and she is watching and assisting Him in all that He does. She is with Him through His suffering and death and stood under the cross as he suffered and died. Mary joined the apostles and others of the new family of God, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. Mary, who conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, was now joined by that same Spirit to the followers of Jesus. The last picture we have of Mary in the Bible shows her gathered with the early Church in prayer. This is the link with ourselves. We are part of that Church gathered by the power of the Holy Spirit. “We are the Church of faith, witness, prayer, and service. We are joined to one another, to all who are disciples of Jesus. Uniquely, we are joined to Mary, the mother of all disciples. We come to understand that the Church’s journey of faith is a journey of faith with Mary.” (p.78)
In Part two we hear the author call us to understand the Church’s journey of faith with Mary. Cameli states: “Faith is the moving force and sustaining the power of the journey, providing the Church with a vision of its destination and an assurance that the reign of God is taking hold of our world in Jesus Christ. “The Church, as a community of people and as a movement, journeys through time and more and more deeply into the mystery of Christ. The Church experienced growth and development in understanding, feeling and valuing. In statements of belief called doctrines, the Church expresses its growing understanding of the mystery of Christ. In prayer and devotion, it expresses its feelings and close attachment to that mystery. In living and behaving in a particular way, the church expresses its value for the mystery of Christ, a value that leads it to action and ways of living. Doctrines, prayer and devotion, ways of living and behavior –these are the expressions of the Church’s journey of faith as a pilgrim people.” Cameli brings to us the four major doctrines: that Mary is the Mother of God, that she is ever-virgin, that she was conceived immaculately, and that she was assumed into heaven. The author explains these doctrines in detail so that all may understand the beauty and complexity of Mary’s decisions.
In the next section on Marian devotion, we reflect on the communion of saints that brings us to an important conclusion. We make the journey of faith together. With this in mind, we consider the Church’s experience of Mary’s intercession. Mary's journeys with the Church are linked with us and affect us. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 967-970, 975.) In this last section, the author brings out clearly and specifically the importance of imitating Mary. The Church’s journey of faith, however, involves more than growing in its understanding of Mary or its feelings of attachment to her. It also involves developing a sense of value about Mary that can open possibilities for daily living. In other words, because the Church values Mary as a woman of great faith and as the mother of all Jesus’ disciples, it recognizes that she is worthy of being imitated. She is a model person in the family of faith. From the Incarnation to the Resurrection Mary provides us the direction we need and all that needs to be imitated.
This is a priceless reflection on the goodness, strength, and faith of Mother Mary and one you will use over and over again. During Advent spends time reflecting and praying to Mother Mary, she is our Mother and loves us all. This book assists us in accomplishing a stronger relationship with her and all her disciples.