Summary of The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis by Carrie Gress

Here are 3 insights from reading Carrie Gress’ book on Mary:

1. Mary is the created Immaculate Conception.

In 1858, Mary said to St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

This not only confirmed Pope Pius IX’s Immaculate Conception Dogma in 1854 but also led St. Maximilian Kolbe to realize that Mary is the ImmaculateConception insofar as the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception (because He proceeds out of the love of Father and Son) and Mary is the created Immaculate Conception (because she is the Spouse of Holy Spirit – reveals the Holy Spirit in the flesh).

As the created Immaculate Conception, Mary bridge all of heaven & earth (the neck of the Body of Christ – St. Bernardine of Sienna).

She provides for us a concrete and human image/icon of the Holy Spirit and His love.

Despite all the theology, definitions, and distinctions about who Mary is, St. Maximilian reminds us that above all, she is best known through prayer, humility, and love found in everyday life: “Approaching directly, to her heart, you will attain a greater knowledge of her and be inflamed by a greater love for her than all human words together could teach you.” 176

“Let us let ourselves be led, then; let us be peaceful, peaceful; let us not attempt to do more than that which she wills or more quickly. Let us let ourselves be carried by her; she will think of everything and take care of all our needs, of the soul and of the body. Let us give every difficulty, every sorrow to her, and have confidence that she will take care of it better than we could. Peace, then, peace, much peace in an unlimited confidence in her.” St. Maximilian Kolbe


  • 23 Daily Ways to Live the Marian Option (click here)

2. Mary is the world’s most powerful woman.

In their December 2015 issue, National Geographic hailed her as the “World’s Most Powerful Woman,” while TIME has called her the most revered woman in history.

Throughout history, “Our Lady has been the strongest force in conquering enemies, making converts, and renewing culture” (10).

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world” – Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792–1878):

John Paul II offers a prime example of one living the Marian Option and evidence that Mary will help us live out our unique mission.

“in the end, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph.”

But the Marian Option asks for the small, the hidden—tiny acts performed, as Mother Teresa said, with great love.


  • Why Catholics are to blame for war (with a surprising answer!) (click here)
  • The Anti-Mary movement & attack on motherhood (click here)
  • The Power of the Rosary (click here)
  • Why Mary is the Destroyer of Heresies (click here)

3. Mary is the cultivator of culture

Q. How is it that this young woman from Nazareth—so contrary to modern manners—has influenced and is still influencing culture?

Noted art historian Sir Kenneth Clark stated that there is something unusual about the feminine element in religion and culture. He says, “The all-male religions (a reference to Israel, Islam, and the Protestant North) have produced no religious imagery—in most cases have positively forbidden it. The great religious art of the world is deeply involved in the female principle.”4 With that in mind, we are reminded once again of the critical role Mary does and has played in culture over the last two thousand years, because there simply have not been other women who offer a universal “female principle” as suggested by Sir Clark. 45

Art historian Sir Kenneth Clark remarked that Mary “taught a race of tough and ruthless barbarians the virtues of tenderness and compassion.” 135

The Marian Option is more fundamental, more powerful, and more universal than any other options (Benedict, Tolkien, Dominican, etc). “Living the Marian Option does not require a change of address, career, or nationality; what it does require is going deep in one’s faith by both living the sacramental life and acknowledging Mary as our spiritual mother” (18).

As historian Arnold Toynbee (1889–1975), after exhaustive research of 26 great civilizations, noted, civilizations rarely die simply from external assault; they are first hollowed out by internal moral decline. “Civilizations,” Toynbee wrote, “die from suicide, not by murder.” They are weakened from the inside out, like an old tree rotted to the core and knocked down by the slightest wind.

Rather than massive populist movements, it was “creative minorities” – generally led by creative individuals – who transformed cultures through (1) drill a message into the minds of the unthinking masses (through social media for example); (2) being a mystic – entering & exiting the world through prayer. Therefore, only a few people are needed, like Christ and His 12 Apostles.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom – Through this inspiration, she not only stomps out heresy but also inspires tight logic, deep intellectual insights, and creative forms of communication and rhetoric. 133

Mary is the true source behind all Catholic creative minorities:

  • Battle of Lepanto
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe (bridged Aztec & European world + 4-10 million souls became Catholic).
  • Our Lady of Fatima: Goal to Convert Russia and save the world.

Where Mary is revered, the culture soars! Marian culture, such as art, music, architecture, and literature proves this.

Like a good mother, she also brings order, beauty, and peace wherever she is welcomed.

J. R. R. Tolkien said, “All my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady.” 53

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once made this keen observation: “When a man loves a woman, it follows that the nobler the woman, the nobler the love; the higher the demands made by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That is why woman is the measure of the level of our civilization.” This, of course, also applies to not only the women men want to marry but also Lady Mary. When men love the most noble of women, the bar of culture is raised to new heights. Archbishop Sheen’s insight also sheds light on something Pope Pius X said. “If we were to lose Mary,” the pope explained, “the world would wholly decay. Virtue would disappear, especially holy purity and virginity, connubial love and fidelity. The mystical river through which God’s graces flow to us would dry up. The brightest star would disappear from heaven, and darkness would take its place.” Sadly, we need not look too far to see what a culture that has lost Mary looks like and why it is so essential that we bring her back into our hearts and homes. 54

Final Quote:

What has also become clear in these pages is that, in characteristic Marian form, the Marian Option doesn’t just mean one thing; it means more than just picking one avenue to battling culture wars. The Marian Option is something that every man and woman must choose and decide to emulate. We must decide when faced with the true reality of who Mary is whether we will embrace or reject her love. The saints have reported that Satan and all his fallen angels rejected God because of the role that Mary, as a human woman, was to play in salvation history. We must decide if we will go the way of Satan—and so many others who have trampled on her gifts—and reject her. Or we can allow her to love us; to give us peace, joy, and all the virtues; and most important, to bring us to her Son. Mary is the gate of heaven, and we must decide if we will follow her. This is the calling God has willed for us—we are called to “become like little children” (Mt 18:3). Every child naturally runs to his or her mother. 191

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