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“Equal parts reflection, reconstruction, police interrogation, psychiatric evaluation, and, ultimately, tribute to his mother. . . . With A Mother’s Tale, Lopate attempts an extraordinary undertaking for a writer, much less a son: to understand and reconcile himself to the mother he had versus the mother he might have wished for.” —Annabelle Gurwitch, Los Angeles Review of Books

Regardless of this setback for the Indian women, the Revolutionary War was a turning point for women everywhere.

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“The gravitational pull of the child toward the mother is so powerful that it persists even in the face of cruelty or neglect. What is finally most affecting about this book is not Frances’s story but her son’s pained efforts to confront it.” —Ruth Franklin, The New York Review of Books

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Alphonsus’ hope is not presumptuous, but he is convinced that God gives everyone the grace to pray, and that everyone who prays will receive the grace necessary for salvation. Just as a mother never despairs of her children, so God never closes the door to us. And Mary is a sign and guarantee of this hope for each one of us.

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This emphasis of Alphonsus finds an echo in Pope Francis. Fr. Majorano spoke of this similarity in an interview earlier this year. This particular emphasis on the mission entrusted to Mary from the cross finds explicit mention in Evangelii Gaudium (#285-286). Pope Francis affirms that there is a “Marian style to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness.”(EG 288).

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In 1984, Phillip Lopate sat down with his mother, Frances, to listen to her life story. A strong, resilient, indomitable woman who lived through the major events of the twentieth century, she was orphaned in childhood, ran away and married young, and then reinvented herself as a mother, war factory worker, candy store owner, community organizer, clerk, actress, and singer. But paired with exciting anecdotes are the criticisms of the husband who couldn’t satisfy her, the details of numerous affairs and sexual encounters, and, though she succeeded at many of her roles, accounts of how she always felt mistreated, taken advantage of. After the interviews, at a loss for what to do with the tapes, Lopate put them away. But thirty years later, after his mother had passed away, Lopate found himself drawn back to the recordings of this conversation. Thus begins a three-way conversation between a mother, his younger self, and the person he is today.

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Alphonsus wrote many works addressed to Mary, or about Mary. As he writes in the preface to the Glories of Mary, and repeats on several occasions, “There are those who protest that they have a great love for the Blessed Mother, but they do not speak of her often, and they do not speak with her daily. Such shows little proof of love.” This could certainly not be said of Alphonsus! Even in those works which are not dedicated especially to Mary, there is scarcely a page without a prayer, a reference, or an example invoking her presence. However, the context in which Alphonsus speaks and writes about her is the context of his Christo-centric theology, spirituality, morality, and devotion. Jesus Christ always is at the centre.

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Also, he was People's Commissar of Workers and Peasants Inspection (1919–22), a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the republic (1920–23) and a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets (from 1917)....