Every year; sometimes twice a year Our Sunday Visitor publishes a Bible study book by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Today, I will be reviewing two of those books. They are entitled Mary: Virgin, Queen, and Mother and Growing in Faith. I won't hem around since this is a two review day, and we'll just get straight to the reviews.
Mary: Virgin, Queen, and Mother is one of Fr. Pacwa's thicker Bible study books, sitting at 160 pages. Most of his other studies are approximately 100 pages. Topics touched on in this book include early events in the Gospels like The Annunciation and The Visitation; and later events like Mary during Christ's public ministry and after His public ministry. I realize this is a Bible study, and Fr. Pacwa is sticking to the Canon of Scripture, but I wish he would have touched on Tradition a bit more and talked about Mary's early life.
The most interesting chapter or session to me was Session One: Old Testament Background. Fr. Pacwa limits his Old Testament prophecies to those that tie Mary and Jesus together, i.e., Mary as the New Eve, Mary as the Burning Bush, and Mary as the Ark of Covenant. As someone who has read a lot on Mary before, this Old Testament allusions to Mary are not new to me. However, if you don't know a lot of Old Testament, this is a great chapter that will teach you a lot.
No surprise, but this was an excellent study by Fr. Pacwa. Whether you are looking for an individual study book or one that you can do in a small group setting, this book will not disappoint. It is at a basic enough level that anyone can understand it, and the tools you need for this study (the book and a Bible) are minimal so there is no high start up cost to lead a study if you wanted to. If you are looking for a good starting point to understanding Mary this serves as a good beginner. You could even loan it to a Protestant friend or family member, so they might finally understand Mary better. Five stars.
Growing in Faith, I noted that it looked a lot like The Year of Faith. The cover color was different, but it had the same images otherwise. Therefore, I thought this was a sequel or follow-up Bible Study. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Growing in Faith is almost identical to The Year of Faith. The biggest difference is that anywhere Pope Benedict XVI's words were, Pope Francis' words now have replaced them. Where Porta Fidei excerpts once were, we now see excerpts from Evangelii Gaudium. I won't be overly reviewing this book as I already have here, but I will say that it is a good study. If you are a Pope Benedict fan, get The Year of Faith. If a fan of Pope Francis, then get Growing in Faith. I would have preferred this more if it was a follow-up, and not just a revision, but since it is a revision, I think it would have been better served to include both Pope Benedict's and Pope Francis' words in the revision. For that reason, I am giving this 4 out of 5 stars.
These books were provided to me for free by Our Sunday Visitor in exchange for an honest review. If you found these reviews helpful, click here and/or here and hit Yes!