Do you live near a Marian shrine, perhaps without even realizing it? A recent piece of mine was about perhaps the world’s most famous Marian shrine, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Have you considered making a pilgrimage to a shrine honoring Our Lady, or even more than one, sometime soon?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Marge Fenelon, who has written a new book, My Queen, My Mother: A Living Novena – A Marian Pilgrimage Across America. As a lifelong resident of the Archdiocese of Washington — and a native of suburban Maryland — I have always had a great devotion to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is adjacent to the campus of the Catholic University of America and across the street from the Dominican House of Studies, where I meet with my fellow lay Dominicans (of the Immaculate Conception chapter) monthly. If you are able to make it to the DC area, I encourage you to visit the Basilica. Meanwhile, I thank Marge for her responses here:

Why does humanity need Mary’s intercession now more than ever?

Humanity needs Mary now more than ever, because despite the numerous Marian apparitions over hundreds of years, we continue to ignore her urgent messages of penance and conversion. Again and again, she has pleaded for us to turn to her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of her Son, and instead we turn away. Add to that the increasing and alarming devaluation of women and motherhood, and the desecration of marriage and family as a sacred institution. Jesus has given his mother a privileged role in the economy of salvation, and she is the surest pathway to eternity.

What are your hopes with your new book My Queen, My Mother: A Living Novena — A Marian Pilgrimage Across America?

My hope is that, through My Queen, My Mother, America will re-discover (or discover for the first time), its rich Catholic heritage, and a new unity and love of country will be fostered in all of our hearts. Along with that, I hope to rekindle a fervent love for the Blessed Mother and an appreciation of her places of grace that are speckled throughout this marvelous homeland of ours. I would like folks to become curious about Mary’s pilgrimage places in America — so much so, that they stake out on their own to visit the ones I’ve visited in My Queen, My Mother, but also ones that surround their homes and wherever they travel. She’s there! Our dear Mother is right there in her places of grace, waiting for her children to come and visit her, and to receive from her all the graces that she has in store for us.

How does My Queen, My Mother tie in to your previous Marian titles?

Everything I write is dedicated to Mary, whether the title states so or not. My Queen, My Mother is one more step in not only showing my love of Mary, but in [hopefully] generating that same love in others. Every day I pray, “Dear Lord Jesus, what can I do today to help one person love your Mother?” The living novena aspect of My Queen, My Mother follows the style that I invented for Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena. I often refer to them as “sister books” because both are part armchair pilgrimage, part devotional. Through the pages, I take the reader on a journey with me, bringing alive the sights, sounds, feelings, and sensations of the actual place, so that they can close their eyes and really be there with me. I want them to experience what I experienced when I visited the various sites. Then, we pray together — that’s the devotional part, which is formed into a novena. A novena is a long-standing Catholic tradition of nine consecutive days of prayer for a particular intention. In Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, we pray for the release of the knots that tangle our lives. In My Queen, My Mother, we consecrate ourselves, our loved ones, and our country to the Blessed Mother in petition for her intercession before her Son.

Do you have any parting words for our readers?

Yes! Go see your Mother! She’s waiting there for you! It could be a distant place, or a site right in your own backyard, figuratively speaking. Many of our beautiful Marian pilgrimage sites are in danger of extinction due to lack of visitors, volunteers and funding. We must understand that it’s our responsibility to keep them alive, because once we lose them, they’re gone for good. And if we lose our Marian places of grace, we lose vital contact points where heaven touches the earth. We can’t let that happen — for our own sake, and for the sake of generations to come.