Synopses & Reviews
What ever happened to the Virgin Mary in the modern Catholic Church? For the past forty years her presence has been radically minimized. In a groundbreaking work, Charlene Spretnak cuts across the battle lines delineated by the left and the right within the Church to champion the recovery of the full spiritual presence of Mary. Spretnak, a liberal Catholic, sheds new light on the dethroning of the Queen of Heaven at Vatican II, and she traces the rise of a grassroots resurgence of Marian spirituality in recent years. She offers fresh reflections on the meaning of Mary, situating the Marian renewal in the larger context of contemporary efforts to correct the barrenness and sterility of modernity. Spretnak also notes that much of the cosmological symbolism traditionally associated with Mary as the Queen of Heaven and the maternal matrix is simpatico
with recent discoveries in scientific cosmology about the profoundly relational nature of the Creation. Moreover, Spretnak asserts that a deep loss ensues for women in particular when Mary's female embodiment of grace and mystical presence is denied and replaced with a strictly text-bound version of her as a Nazarene housewife. Complete with a striking insert of contemporary Marian art, Missing Mary
is a deeply insightful reflection on Mary in the modern age.
"For anyone who has ever loved Our Lady, or desires to, Charlene Spretnak offers a clear vision of Blessed Mother's true and enormous shape - one that some, over time, have tried to reduce to dust. But The Mother of the Immaculate Heart is a wild one. She refuses to be made small. As in the oldest 'call and response' songs, Spretnak has called on Blessed Mother's magnitude. And the Holy One has responded with her immaculate love; this is evident on every page. This book and its author are to be treasured as truly enacting the deepest spirit of ¡Viva La Virgin!"--Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, author of Women Who Run With The Wolves
and The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die
"Missing Mary is a classic! Charlene Spretnak offers authentic insight into the mystery that is Mary. The book is elegant, playful, and real. It's history and theology. It's mythic, scientific, and above all, it's cosmological. Her critique of the Marian decisions at Vatican II is wonderful, and her vision is urgently needed now. She has set a great course into the future."--Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work
"Missing Mary is a joy to read - luscious language, brilliant ideas, and a many-layered wisdom that continually astonishes. Charlene Spretnak has given birth to a work that, if fully apprehended, will change the course of history. Certainly the debate between science and spirituality is now permanently changed. Spretnak offers direct access to a deep spirituality that has the power to tear open modernity's materialist ideology, allow a fountain of grace to flow into the human heart, and save us from plummeting finally into chaos. The impact on a reader of this daring and beautiful book is profound."--Brian Swimme, Ph.D., author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos
"In Missing Mary, Charlene Spretnak has returned Mary to our midst where she belongs. Spretnak explores the numerous facets of Marian devotion and doctrine with gusto, including Mary's mystical presence. Spretnak's incisive arguments, her careful research into the shifting perception of Mary since Vatican II, and her clear-headed thinking about the variety of responses to this enigmatic figure are indeed welcome. A profound grassroots devotion to Mary has persisted throughout the centuries. This book brings the wisdom of that ancient belief in the 'Mother Who Contains the Uncontainable' into our world today."--China Galland, M.A., Professor-in-Residence, C.A.R.E., Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA; author of The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion and Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna.
"Charlene Spretnak skillfully sheds light on the remarkable reawakening of devotion to the feminine in a modern context. Her careful historical analysis and her clear insights into the cosmological implications of Mary make this book fascinating and indispensable reading. With this path breaking work the bridges can now be made to the enormous energy of devotion to the feminine in many parts of the world that reflect our new historical moment."--Mary Evelyn Tucker, Department of Religion, Bucknell University
"Passionate and courageous, Missing Mary is a rousing call to recover and reclaim the mystical dimensions of the cosmic 'Queen of Heaven.' Spretnak rescues Mary from social conservatives and actually makes it 'safe' for progressives to reclaim the mysteries of Marian spirituality. In a narrative filled with suspense and surprises, Spretnak traces the fate of Mary in the Catholic Church in recent decades and charts a path for revitalizing her spiritual presence in the world today. For all those who have hungered for the power of the Blessed Mother in their lives, Spretnak's book is a banquet."-- Professor Sarah McFarland Taylor, Department of Religion, Northwestern University
"In Missing Mary, Charlene Spretnak details the opposition to Our Lady during and after the Second Vatican Council, how liturgists, catechists, religious educators, ecumenists and feminist theologians have tried to diminish Mary's role in Catholic life . . . She argues that they almost succeeded, but now there are signs of a 'return' to Mary."--Fr. Andrew Greeley, National Catholic Reporter
"In her well-researched original work, Spretnak has composed one of the most profound theological reflections on the post-Vatican II church. With clear and lyrical prose, she names the challenges and points us well beyond."--Catholic New Times (Toronto)
"Mary's comeback as Queen of the Universe makes her, in Spretnak's words, 'much more than a nice lady mentioned in the Bible.'"--Los Angeles Times
"The book is a nice blend of theological argument and reportage of popular piety...Spretnak's writing is engaging."--Publishers Weekly
"If you have prayed for a closer walk with Mary, then this book is an answer to your prayer. Charlene Spretnak serves not just Mary, but all of us, in returning her to her proper place in the cosmos and in our hearts."--Marianne Williamson, author of Everyday Grace
A groundbreaking new work on the spirituality of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a call to the Roman Catholic Church to recognize her full spiritual presence again.
Mary: Nazarene housewife or the Blessed Queen of Heaven? Quiet mother figure or source of power sighted in visions throughout the world? In the 1960s, Vatican II largely abandoned the traditional meaning of Mary. Once the mystical bridge between humans and the Divine, Mary and her spiritual significance is largely obscured. Today the Church is split over whether the decision to reduce Mary to a biblical role was a modernizing advance or a profound error. Cutting across the ideological battle lines, Charlene Spretnak, a life-long Marian Catholic, reflects on what was lost when Mary's presence and power was denied, and argues for a resurgence of Marian spirituality. "Missing Mary is "the book on the cosmological Queen of Heaven and is sure to provoke debate about Her role for the 21st century.
An insightful and controversial exploration of Mary's role in the modern Catholic Church
Was Vatican II right to downgrade the Virgin Mary? This fall marks the fortieth anniversary of the final session of Vatican II (1962-65) at which the Roman Catholic Church brought itself "up to date"--and, asserts Spretnak, fired the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven, demoting her to being "just like us," merely the first Christian. Spretnak, a liberal Catholic who agrees with 95% of Vatican II's decisions, cuts across the battle lines of a polarized American Catholic Church, challenging Catholic progressives not to acquiesce to the Catholic Right's claiming of the Virgin Mary as emblematic of their political positions. This is a book about religion and modernity that has reframed the thinking about Mary in our times.
About the Author
Charlene Spretnak is the author of several books including States of Grace and The Resurgence of the Real. She is a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She lives in Half Moon Bay, California.
Table of Contents
Preface: Being Marian * The Virgin and the Dynamo * The Quiet Rebellion Against the Suppression of Mary * Premodern Mary Meets Postmodern Cosmology * Where Mary Still Reigns * Why the Church Deposed the Queen of Heaven * Mary's Biblical and Syncretic Roots * Reflections on Her Mystical Body of Grace * Epilogue: Being Mary