Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert might sound like it’s a stuffy book. Perhaps you will stop reading now, before I shatter the preconception you may have just from reading the title.
Yes, it’s a book about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Yes, Heidi Hess Saxton is a Catholic convert. No, it’s not stuffy.
I couldn’t put it down, though that seems to contradict the fact that I couldn’t read it all in one sitting either. I was caught completely off guard by the style of the book. I don’t know what I was expecting – it’s not a very thick book, 70 pages – but I wasn’t prepared for the impact this little collection would have on me.
The book is divided into two parts. In the first, Heidi shares three short stories from her own life about Mary. They’re not of the rolling-your-eyes-this-lady’s-off-her-rocker variety; instead, they’re candid tales that were probably written only after Heidi had done a bit of shaking her head and trying to attribute them to something other than Mary’s intercession. (My mother-in-law has a fair share of guardian angel stories of this ilk.)
In the second – and my favorite – part, Heidi has put together 48 reflections on the life of Mary. They were as surprising in their point-of-view as they were fresh in their styling. There were a few that made me tear up, and there are more than a couple of dog-eared pages that I’ll be turning back to again and again.
It’s the kind of book that I buy for all of my close friends and family, whether they’re Catholic or not. That’s partly for selfish reasons – I don’t think I can part with this book to lend it out, because it’s really that good. (The list of books I don’t lend out is very small, just so you know. It probably includes two books, come to think of it.)
I challenge you, for a second, to let go of your preconceptions about Mary, Mother of God. Even if you have a devotion to her. Start out with a blank slate, and pick up this book. You may find that you come away changed. You may find that you come away smiling, with tears in your eyes. You may find yourself looking around you with new eyes.
While it would make a great Mother’s Day gift, or birthday gift, or it’s-Tuesday-I-love-you gift, don’t wait to share this book with your favorite person. As a mother, I think automatically of other women and mothers to share it with, but last night, at our parish’s May Crowning, I looked at Padre standing in the shadow of the be-flowered statue of Mary, and I realized that HE needs a copy of this book. Then I thought of my own father, and my husband, and my brother-in-law.
There’s a timelessness to this book, and I look forward to sharing it with my daughters someday, and my nieces, and perhaps even my grandchildren. May, the month of Mary, is a terrific time to read it, though I can’t think of a BAD time to read it.
Am I fawning?
But only if you promise to go check it out for yourself. Then let me know what YOU think of it!
You can find Heidi online at her new blog, inspired by this book, Behold Your Mother: A Bouquet of Love to Mary from Her Children. She also blogs at Mommy Monsters, with a focus on adoptive parenting, and Silent Canticle (Heidi’s Hotline), for writers and potential writers.