Monday, December 22, 2014

Behold Your Mother (Catholic Answers)

"Catholic Answers is one of the nation’s largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization." They are "dedicated to serving Christ by bringing the fullness of Catholic truth to the world. We help good Catholics become better Catholics, bring former Catholics “home,” and lead non-Catholics into the fullness of the faith." I became familiar with them on my drive home from work. Each day they devote several hours a day to answering questions for Catholics, non-Catholics, atheists, and agnostics. Their apologists also write books, one of which I am pleased to review today.

Behold Your Mother is a 300+ page blue hardcover (Really what other color would be appropriate?). It is written by Tim Staples, who is the Director of Apologetics at Catholic Answers, and is billed as "a Biblical and Historical defense of the Marian doctrines. The book is divided into five parts, one for each of the core doctrines. They are as follows:

Part I - Mother of God
Part II - Full of Grace
Part III - Ever-Virgin
Part IV - Assumed into Heaven
Part V - Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix

Each part includes one to three chapters defining the doctrine; Scripture references/citations, which support the doctrine; and the historical Tradition that the Church has believed about these doctrines. Each of the five parts also includes a chapter, which answers common objections. These chapters above all are very useful for Catholics looking to defend Mary against Protestants, atheists, and agnostics. There are copious footnotes in this book as well, which even contain either citations or personal commentary by Mr. Staples on the subject at hand. Lastly, there are six appendices at the end of the book. Two of them use Patristics, which is a huge selling point for me, and one of them addresses the puzzling doctrine of Mary remaining a virgin, even during labor.

Each section of the book was well-organized, well-argued, and insightful. His argument for how Mary is Theotokos or God-bearer made perfect sense. Mary can't just be mother to Jesus' human-nature. She is mother to all of Jesus, humanity and divinity. Therefore, she is the Mother of God. Another section I enjoyed was the talk of Mary's Assumption, and his comparisons of her to the Ark of the Covenant. Though he doesn't state in the main text whether or not Mary died, because the Church doesn't have an official teaching on that, he does state in the footnotes that he believes she did. I too share that belief. With all these helpful sections, the one most important to me dealt with Mary as Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. This is a doctrine I have always struggled with, probably due to lack of understanding. I can't even begin to summarize Mr. Staples explanations in these chapters, but I can say I walked away from them at peace and with a better understanding of a doctrine that has caused me many nights of head-scratching.

With all the positive aspects of this book, the main question one must ask is who the book is intended for. I would say that this is primarily intended for faithful Catholics. While, they may believe all five of these doctrines (blindly or with limited understanding), they would benefit from this book in trying to articulate these points to people who don't believe in them. While Protestants and non-believers would benefit from reading this book, I have to think that only the serious inquirer would dare tackle a book this thick. Others would simply be turned off the size and possibly look for something a little more brief. I am proud to have this book in my library, and I know it will be a valuable reference for years to come. Five stars!

This book was provided to me for free by Catholic Answers in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!