By Sean Salai, S.J.
Your new book The Marian Option encourages Christians to turn to Mary of Nazareth for help in responding to the crises of our world. What inspired you to write this book?
This was not a book I set out to write; it sort of fell into my lap. A year ago, I started doing research on Rod Dreher’s work on The Benedict Option out of curiosity. Additionally, while researching City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow, the book I co-authored with George Weigel, [I came to see] a field guide for Christian persecution that I turned into an article. It was hard for me to imagine a better example than our Polish pope for dealing with persecution, since he lived through both Nazism and Soviet Communism. But Pope John Paul’s faith was clearly pronounced with a very Marian cast—the “M” on his coat of arms; the use of Totus Tuus as his motto in a nod to his Marian consecration; the way he ended every encyclical and letter with a prayer to Mary; and, of course, the link between his assassination attempt and Fatima, to name just a few Marian connections.
Finally, it occurred to me that many of the issues Dreher worries about (and most of us worry about)—terrorism, wars, heresy, civilizational decline, etc.—have been dealt with before through Marian intercession. St. Dominic and the Albigensians came to mind, as did the massive conversions that followed Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparitions in Mexico. These threads started me thinking about a book on the topic. What I ended up uncovering about Mary’s intercession—in culture, geopolitical events and the urgency of her assistance—went well beyond anything I ever imagined. The data is truly overwhelming. Before I knew it, I had my own “option.”