JESUS AND MARY: IN PRAISE OF THEIR GLORIOUS NAMES
Fr Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR; Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Huntington, Indiana; 2012.
Reviewed by Barbara Flynn
FATHER Benedict Groeschel, founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, spent much of his life as a street priest working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly troubled and homeless youth.
As well as his dedicated involvement with youth he published many books and tapes on spirituality.
He established a retreat centre for clergy focused on prayer, study and renewal, and conducted retreats for people of all ages and backgrounds.
As well he presented programs on Catholic teachings to television audiences particularly addressing social justice concerns regarding the poor and marginalised.
Jesus and Mary: In Praise of Their Glorious Name, his latest book published two years before his recent death, is a source of prayer and meditation reflecting his deep personal devotion to Jesus and Mary.
In defence of this book, Fr Groeschel has indicated, in the introduction, that devotions and devotional practices are a way of entering into prayer wherein both heart and mind are engaged.
“Devotions allow us to approach God with our imagination,” he asserts, while additionally indicating the significance of images, symbols and imagination as involving the whole person – body, mind and soul – in their faith.
Fr Groeschel has selected 25 names-titles attributed to Jesus and 25 attributed to Mary which he discusses in alternate order.
Each meditation starts with a quote from Scripture or a quote from a canonised saint or spiritual writer and concludes with a prayer.
Primarily but not exclusively, he uses as his source the Litany of The Holy Name of Jesus and The Litany of Loreto both of which he includes in the book.
The compendium of teachings and explanations often contain historical anecdotes set in Church tradition or biblical sources.
His foremost purpose is to give his readers a context for prayer and meditation and a devotional resource to deepen their relationship with Jesus and Mary and so with God.
Fr Groeschel anticipates that readers will comprehend the significance and relevance to their own lives of the spiritual perspectives he illumines through the prayer-inspired meditative teachings.
He writes in a lucid conversational style inviting the reader enthusiastically into his joy of sharing spiritual insights on names and titles of Jesus and Mary.
Some are of biblical tradition “others poetic and evocative in attempt to describe the indescribable”, for example Jesus, Angel of Great Counsel and Mary, Mirror of Justice. But all have a significant place in Church tradition.
This is a highly recommended book written to deepen faith and prayer-life using images, symbols and metaphor pertaining to Jesus and Mary to engage the imaginative capacity of readers in a devotional dimension sometimes overlooked but treasured in Church tradition.
Explicitly the book bears testimony to Fr Groeschel’s deep personal devotion to God.