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Changing the world, one Marian heart at a time


Ave Maria Press

Kathryn Jean Lopez - published on 12/03/17

An interview with Fr. Edward Looney, on his guide to loving as Mary loves.
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“The goal of humanity should be to possess a heart” like Mary’s, “because hers is the exemplar for all human hearts,” Fr. Edward Looney writes in his new book A Heart Like Mary’s: 31 Daily Meditations to Help You Live and Love As She Does. “Our hearts,” he writes, “are prone to concupiscence on account of original sin, but her heart is sinless, immaculate and pure. Mary’s heart is capable of pure love of God and for others.” This is what Fr. Edward Looney wanted for himself, and he shares some of the meditations on her heart that have helped him growth in greater Marian receptivity.

In an Advent interview, he talks about Mary’s heart and how it makes us more like who we were made to be.

Padre Edward Looney / Facebook

Kathryn Jean Lopez: What is it about Mary’s heart that is so crucial to the Christian life?

Fr. Edward Looney: It’s funny you use the word crucial, since the Latin root of that word means cross, and it was from the cross that Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother, thereby making her the part of the apostolic life of the Church. Mary is our mother and because of this she cares about us, loves us and listens to us. As she did with the couple at Cana she presents our needs to her son; she is our advocate.  She is important to the Christian life, because we need her prayers.

More to the point, Mary was a human person and we can look to her as an example of what it means to live the Christian life. The very fact that God preserved her from sin gives us something to strive toward, to be without sin ourselves. In her we see the first and model disciple. The way she loved God and lived her life should inspire us on our Christian walk of life.

Can a man ever really have a heart like Mary?

The answer is “yes,” at least in the way I envision us having a heart like Mary. Looking at the attributes and desires of her heart, we want to love as she loved and desire what she desires. This is something open to all sexes. If we look to her as an example and see how she loved, we can try to mirror that in our own life.

Is it different for women, as you’ve observed it as a priest – experientially and theologically?

Because Mary was a woman, women might have an easier time identifying with and relating to Mary. Although, Paul VI in Marialis Cultus remarked that the modern-day woman finds it difficult to see Mary as an example. For a woman they are a daughter, a wife, and a mother; the same is true for Mary. A mother who loses her husband or child can look to Mary and mourn with her in their time of grief. I know many more women who have a devotion to Mary than I do men, but I think men look to Mary as an example of the virtues for which they yearn.

What draws you to Mary?

I often joke that I came out of the womb loving Mary. She has been a part of my life from when I was a young boy to the present day. Several things draw me to her. First, her beauty. We call her the all beautiful one, and beauty draws us into mystery. Secondly, my mother was often away from the house working two jobs as a single parent. My grandmother was my principal caregiver. I believe what I lacked in maternal affection from my mom was shown to me by our heavenly mother.

Do you worry you might worship Mary, as some criticize/caricature Catholics as doing?

There is a phrase, de Mariam numquam satis, of Mary never enough. At the core of that phrase is the reality that Jesus loved his mother so much in this life, and the love we have for her can never compare to the love that he, or the other two persons of the Trinity had for Mary, God the Father and Spirit. Mary does not seek any honor for herself, rather, she always brings us to Jesus and focuses our attention on her son.

Why do the attributes and desires – how you divide the book up — of Mary matter?

The premise of the book is to make Mary’s attributes ours and to desire what she desired. If we look at the various stories in scripture where Mary shows up, we can understand what attributes comprised her life. And since Mary is the model and example to Christians, the way she lived her life should inspire us to live our lives just a little differently than the world might ask us to live. When Mary has appeared throughout the world, she often has come with a message begging us to return to God. In those messages she spoke, there are certain desires being conveyed—peace, reparation, consecration, among others. The attributes and desires matter because they help us to understand the characteristics of Mary’s heart.

What does it mean to say that Mary is our intercessor?

Each day’s meditation asks Mary to intercede for us, meaning that she prays for us, specifically that we might live the day’s attribute or desire, thus living with her heart. Catholics ask Mary to pray for them often, especially when they pray the Hail Mary or when they stop by a Marian shrine. Old Testament theology talks about the Queen Mother who was the mother of the King. Since Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the Queen Mother, and the role of the queen Mother is to be the intercessor and advocate of the people. In heaven, Mary prays for us and the world. That’s what she told Adele Brise in 1859—I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners. Mary is praying for us, always!

If you feel abandoned in any way, how can Mary help?

In moments of abandonment, we might not feel loved. It’s in those moments that we realize we are loved—loved by the Trinity, and loved by Mary. Mary can help us by her prayers, but we can also ask her to be with us and keep us company. One way she keeps us company is by telling us the story of Jesus through the Rosary. Marge Fenelon in her recent book Forgiving Mother captures how Mary helped her in times of abandonment. She relates that looking at a picture of Mary filled her with peace; singing Marian songs brought her serenity. These small acts of devotion allow Mary to embrace us as a parent embraces their child.

What’s key to understanding Mary’s Immaculate Heart?

I am sure if you asked many different Marian theologians this question, they would all answer differently.  For me, it comes down to love. Mary’s heart was full of love for so many—her family, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Joseph, the Scriptures, and the Church. This love motivated everything. Her love is worthy of imitation because she loved all.

BooksVirgin Mary
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