Many lay Catholics feel a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but few have studied her life as faithfully as Christopher Graham.
Particularly interested in Mary’s experience during the three-day stretch preceding Jesus’ resurrection, Graham spent decades reading about her life. Then, still not satisfied with his findings, he began to write.
Graham is a member of St. Francis Xavier, Merrill.
Originally from Cleveland, he is a retired information technology executive. He and his wife, Kathleen, have two grown children.
Neither a professional writer nor a theologian or biblical historian, Graham nevertheless tackled the ambitious project: Contemplating the three-day period between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection for those closest to him – the women with whom he traveled, friends and Apostles, and especially his mother, Mary – and writing a novel imagining those days and nights.
The project was a long time coming.
“I have been thinking about this story for almost 20 years,” he explained. “I am a practicing Catholic and attend Mass regularly. During the celebration of the Mass, I have been inspired to write down my thoughts as ideas began to pop into my head.”
Curious about the “missing pieces” in the Gospel – details about the lives of Mary and Jesus not included in the New Testament – he began taking notes on his questions. His wife was convinced he wasn’t paying attention in church, Graham added, because he was often typing on his phone. In reality, he was truly engaging with the text.
Graham’s search for answers led to two decades of hunting with little success.
“So, when I was getting frustrated and discouraged about not finding stories about this period, my friend, Fr. Jim, suggested that this might be a calling to search for the story and to write about it. I am more of a consumer of information than a producer of information and thought this suggestion to be more of an offhand joke,” he said, “but over time I listened to the little voice in my head and prayed for guidance. The search for a story leads me to Jesus’ mother, Mary.”
An avid reader, Graham sought a variety of sources while researching the book.
“There is a lot of written material about Mary available for those who want to search. There are stories assumed to be factual and others that are legends, but there is historically sourced material available to seek out and read,” he said.
Some of his sources were canonical Catholic texts, like the Bible and the catechism, while others hailed from different religious traditions, oral tradition or legend.
Ultimately, Graham relied on his imagination to help fill in the blanks. He identifies the story as “speculative theology.”
“The book is a novel, not a historical recreation of the events that took place,” he explained. “I placed emphasis on Mary and her relationships with the people in the room.”
He began to draft the novel in November 2019 and finished by March 2020, then spent another six months editing.
Titled “MARY,” the novel is subtitled “Mother—Spouse—Servant: Three Days with the Mother of Jesus.”
Emphasizing Mary’s fulfillment of those three roles, Graham was inspired by her devotion to God and her willingness to accept God’s invitation.
“Mary is just not some haloed being who has been described to me by the church over my lifetime,” he said. “She is more than a messenger of God. She is more than an apparition. She was/is a real person who lived.
“There are many stories of God asking people to serve, but none answered as quickly and with as much faith and love as Mary,” he added. “Mary brings a highly developed sense of awareness to the needs of God. Her life is a living example of how mankind should interact with God.”
After finishing the final draft, Graham elected to self-publish the novel through Xulon Press, a media company specializing in Christian books. The novel can be purchased on Amazon for $10.36 or $8.99 for the Kindle edition.