Book Review: Mary: Help in Hard Times

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When I go on retreats or to religious conferences, I have the bad habit of packing way too many books. With my trip to a Steubenville conference as a chaperone, I was determined to only pack one book besides my Bible. However, on a Saturday, I was blessed with some unexpected free-time and decided to purchase a book to read.

I’ve been feeling a nudge to grow closer to Mary, especially as I struggle with my Type 1 Diabetes.

Mary: Help in Hard Times, written and compiled by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP, had the following description on back:

“No matter what challenges we may face in life, Mary is always there to help us….Let the prayers and real-life stories of how others have experienced Mary’s intercession open your heart to the care she can provide for you.”

As Ben and I read the short list of challenges that drew people to Mary, we felt as though we were looking at a checklist.  It seemed like a perfect book to read for this time in my life. Though perfect is just a tad too strong of a word, this book was an excellent resource and I am very happy I stumbled upon it.

The book as a whole has a good structure. It explains the who and what of Mary. This is followed with why a devotion to Mary is good. It concludes with how one can foster a relationship with her.

The first section did a great job of unpacking some key aspects of Mary while also providing a reflection and prayer. The explanations clear, convincing, and a good level of detail. I was very impressed by the level of depth for the reflection questions.

The second section was an interesting look at people’s experiences with Mary. What I loved about this section is in addition to having miracles, it had smaller, more basic influences. Though I love reading about miracles, it is comforting to see everyday experiences. I think it is important to have that balance because we might not all see a miraculous healing or smell roses, but we can all find comfort through devotion to her.

The last section was a compilation of prayers and devotions. I appreciated that after reading about Mary, we are provided with steps on how to grow closer to her. It’s a good way to inspire action and provides concrete steps.

My only criticism of this book is the Bible translation that was used for the Annunciation. The translation itself wasn’t the problem; the problem is she referenced a verse from a different translation. This is a really minor criticism, but it still bothered me.

I think this would be a great resource for Catholics who don’t know much about Mary or for Protestants who would like to develop a basic understanding of the Marian devotions their Catholic brothers and sisters practice. I also think this book has good re-read value either in a daily (or weekly) devotional format or a quick reference.

If you would like to read more of my book reviews, you can find them here.

If you’re looking for more books on Mary, I recommend:

Mary by Tim Staples

Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions by Donna- Marie Cooper O’Boyle

If you’re looking for books specifically on the rosary, I recommend:

The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare by Johnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan

Praying the Rosary like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth by Edward Sri

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