Welcome to the My Sisters the Saints Book Club! We're reading My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, by Colleen Carroll Campbell.

Saints Book Club rect

We share a favorite prayer, Colleen and I:  the Memorare. I also learned it in school, but never thought about it much until one day ten years ago when I visited a friend of mine in the hospital during the last days of her battle with terminal cancer. Irene knew I was there, but couldn’t really speak; at a loss for words myself, I sat down, held her hand and took a little prayer booklet out of my purse. I told her we’d pray together, and I opened the booklet to the page with the Memorare.

I learned during the homily at my friend’s funeral that the Memorare was Irene's go-to prayer—and I was blown away. It’s become my go-to prayer since then, and when someone asks me for prayers, that’s the one I pray. Immediately, and every time I am reminded of that person in need.

We also share a similar history with the Blessed Mother. Colleen shares that “turning to Mary had not always been easy” for her, and that her esteem for Mary grew “gradually, after decades spent alternately ignoring her, fearing her intrusion, and fleeing to her for help.” She continues, “I knew too little about Mary to feel genuinely close to her and felt too wary of Marian piety to learn more.” I’m right there with her! I remember my young-adult days when the Bishops issued a pastoral letter on women, and I resentfully remarked that the message of the letter boiled down to, “women can be like Mary, as if that’s some sort of consolation prize.”

For me, it took motherhood to really appreciate Mary’s example and influence. Looking to Mary as a model, becoming like Mary, is no consolation prize at all. It’s a heavenly prize. Mary’s spiritual motherhood is a gift that I appreciate more and more. As a person who often loses the battle against a tendency to overreact, I need to keep reminding myself that

a woman’s greatest strength comes from silent communion with God, and sometimes the most radical thing she can do is not rant and rave but watch and pray.

The Blessed Mother’s perfection does not have to scare us off. Throughout this chapter, Colleen shares how, rather than intimidating, Mary is inviting us to become closer to her, and through her, closer to her Son.

As a mother, I know that Mary "gets it." She experienced joys and sorrows--very deep sorrows--like all mothers do. She felt anxiety, perhaps even terror, on behalf of her Child (that Finding Jesus in the Temple thing? Every mother's nightmare, right there.) She went through the Passion right alongside Jesus, standing with him while he was tortured and crucified. What better Mother could we run to with all our fears, joys, anxieties, nightmares and pressures?

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Examine the history of your relationship with the Mother of God. What can you do to deepen your devotion?
  2. What’s your go-to prayer? What makes that prayer special to you?
  3. Another prayer mentioned in this chapter is the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). In what ways does your soul glorify the Lord?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

This is the final week for this book club. Thanks so much for participating! If you want more information about the book or the book club, be sure to visit the My Sisters the Saints Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Barb Szyszkiewicz