Marge Fenelon on motherhood and “Imitating Mary”
Today I’m honored to be hosting Marge Fenelon and her blog tour for Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Marie Press). We’ve got a great interview with Marge here, and as if that’s not exciting enough, there’s a book giveaway involved. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Imitating Mary. I’ll choose a winner at random when the tour ends on May 1.
I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of this insightful and inspiring book when I was asked to “blurb” it. This is what I send at the time:
“So often we look to Mary as a prayerful companion but gloss over the very real fact that she was a mother who knew all the joys and struggles of raising a child. Marge Fenelon, in her beautiful book Imitating Mary, invites us to experience our moments of motherhood through the prism of our Blessed Mother’s life.”
Marge took the time to answer some of my questions about her hopes for this book, how it came together, and why it’s good for mothers of every age. Read on…
NSS: If you had to boil it down to a line or two, what do you hope mothers take away from this new book?
Marge: I hope mothers receive two things from Imitating Mary. First, I hope they receive the gift of a genuine, and ever deepening relationship with Mary as a real, tangible woman who is Mother, companion, and confidante to them. Second, I hope they receive the gift of encouragement, support, and sustenance for their own motherhood.
NSS: I think we often assume books for mothers are focused on moms in the throes of raising younger children. And yet, as a mom of a 16-year-old, I know full well that this mothering thing never ends; it just changes. Can you talk about the ways older moms, even moms of children already living their own adult lives, can benefit from the book and from this companionship with the Blessed Mother?
Marge: Talk about it? I’m living it!! As our kids get older (and, alas, ourselves along with them), the principles, practical advice, and wisdom in Imitating Mary become more and more valuable. That’s because the book is about getting to know Mary and through our relationship with her, increasing in our own virtue. What mom (or grandma) do you know who ever knows everything there is to know about Mary? What mom (or grandma) do you know who has reached a point of virtue that can’t be increased? Truthfully, I find that, as each year passes, I rely more heavily on Mary’s example and help for my mothering because each phase of motherhood brings new and different challenges (and blessings, of course!).
NSS: How did you choose the ten events from Mary’s life as focus points?
Marge: I think they chose me. Very early in the book’s development, I came to the realization that Imitating Mary could not be about what I wanted readers to know about her, but rather what Mary wanted readers to know about her. And, so, I prayed before and after each work session, asking Mary to lead the way. I started at the beginning of the New Testament and slowly worked my way through, meditating on the lives of Jesus and Mary and searching for clues about what Mary was like, how she lived, what she dealt with, what she contributed to the people around her… From there the Blessed Mother surfaced in my heart the ten scenes that needed to be included. Once I had those, I researched to fill in the historical, cultural, and geographical details that weren’t immediately obvious in Scripture. The ten virtues, then, evolved from out of the scenes.
NSS: Although I’ve always had a special connection to Mary (the whole name thing), I didn’t really connect with Mary in a real and practical way until I became a mother and started to focus on Mary as a mother as opposed to only as Mother of God. Earlier in my life, “imitating Mary” seemed too overwhelming, too impossible. It wasn’t until I was dealing with some of the struggles and joys of motherhood that the idea that I could imitate Mary in more practical ways became possible in my mind. So… how is this combination — saintly woman and real-life mother — something that can help mothers on a day-to-day basis?
Marge: First, Mary is real. She isn’t a statue; she isn’t a mythological goddess. She is a real person who lived a real life in a real world. And did I mention that she was and still is a real woman? She loved a husband (and lost a husband), changed diapers, soothed bumps and bruises, cooked supper, did the laundry, worried about where her Son was at and what He was up to, and watched Him grow up and out of the house just as mothers today do for and with their own children. Sure, she was born without original sin, and sure, Jesus was God, but the human conditions, emotions and concerns they experienced are the same or very similar. Now, take that woman who understands our struggles and joys because she’s lived them herself and add to her the astounding gift of intercessory “powers” and distribution of God’s grace, and you’ve got the best mother’s helper there ever could be!