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Manual for Marian Devotion Imitation Leather – December 27, 2016
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I shouldn't say this, because I have not investigated every book about Marian devotion, but I'll say it anyway: if I wanted to buy ONE book to help someone come to know Mary, appreciate Mary, and enter into more 'relationship' with Mary, I'd get this book. It would be an excellent choice for a new Catholic convert, especially for someone for whom the 'Mary issue' is still something of a struggle or something alien. It contains enough 'apologetic' material to say, 'There is a reasonable explanation for all this' without being an apologetics book. Anyone who finds the simple explanations intriguing can always explore further.
I'd definitely recommend 'looking inside' to see the Table of Contents, if it's available. The book is divided into two parts: Preparing for Marian Devotion, which explains Mary in God's Plan, Marian Doctrines, Historical Highlights of Marian Devotion, and Marian Devotion in Practice. Each of these sections is small and easily digested; I took it to daily Mass with me and read a few of the short texts after Mass each day.
The second and larger part is Aids for Marian Devotion. Here you get teachings on Marian devotion, which I found a welcome 'moderate' approach. I have read Louis de Montfort and found him overwhelming - a bit like the 'Marian' version of the guy on the street who gets in your face and insists that you 'need to be saved, NOW.' I live in a country with strong Marian devotion, and some de Montfort-formed people are so extreme as to be very off-putting. The texts in this book have the sanity and sense that one expects from nuanced Church documents - again, excellent for anyone who is 'Mary-shy' because of coming from an anti-Mary background or who has been put off by Marian extremists.
There's a wonderful section on Mary in Scripture - again helpful for people coming from a Bible-only background. Reading through this book - everything in short, manageable pieces - is like getting a thorough overview of Mary in the Scriptures, Mary in the lives of saints and religious, Marian devotions and miracles over history and around the world. Then you come to Marian prayers - including some with the Spanish and Latin versions. There's something for everyone here, for every style of prayer. Especially helpful for me (I admit having the most wandering mind during the Rosary) are the short texts connected to each mystery of the Rosary, as well as a list of scriptural meditations (you have to look up the texts yourself) for each mystery. There are probably prayers here that you've never heard of before - a real treasury. There are short texts and prayers connected with every Marian Feast in the calendar as well as selections of poetry (nothing cheesy or trite).
A charming, and sadly neglected Marian devotion is the crowning of Mary's statue in May. This book gives you the Hymn for crowning, and then a delightful list of flowers that have been associated with the Blessed Virgin over the centuries. I knew a few - like marigolds ('Mary's Gold') and Lady Slipper, but had no idea how many other flowers had alternative Marian names or were associated with Mary. This list invites plenty of exploration for children, gardeners, nature loves and simply trivia or history buffs. Home-schooling parents could create a wonderfully educational project from researching the flowers to growing them and having your own Marian crowning at home.
This book is a wonderful compendium of Marian teaching, tradition and prayer; I really can't imagine needing any other book for Marian devotion. At the same time, it is a good launching point if you want to go deeper into teachings about Mary (it may introduce you to saints or papal documents you didn't know about). Great for cradle Catholics, for seminarians, for converts - even for open-minded non-Catholics who are willing to explore Marian devotion without prejudice. Just don't lend them your copy - you might not get it back.
I am, admittedly, a sucker for a nice prayer book. If it has a nice cover and thick pages, all the better. And when there’s gilt edging…well, it’s bound to be something I’m buying in bulk as gifts.
Manual for Marian Devotion (2016, TAN Books) is all of these things, and then some.
It’s small enough to tuck in my purse (measuring a 4.25 x 6.75 inches) and sturdy enough to survive the trip in my purse—no fallen crumbs nor stray hairbrushes will ruin it while it’s in there. In fact, my toddler might even be able to toss it around and leaf through it, and its thick pages and sewn binding will hold up.
And there’s a ribbon bookmark. (I might have swooned just a bit.)
In addition to being beautifully engineered physically, this book is full of wonderful Marian content.
The Manual was compiled by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. (Those are the same sisters who were on Oprah and who have topped Billboard’s Classical Traditional music chart.)
In the introductory “How to Use this Manual” section of the book, the editors write:
As you grow in devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we encourage you to heed the words she once gave to the servants at the wedding of Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary is the surest route to Christ, as attested by countless saints. May your path to Christ be blessed as you travel under the mantle of Our Lady.
Part One guides the reader in “Preparing for Marian Devotion.” The four chapters in this section include:
- Mary in God’s Plan
- Marian Doctrines
- Historical Highlights in Marian Devotion
- Marian Devotion in Practice
In the 70-odd pages, the topics range just as you’d expect from the chapter titles. You’re going to get acquainted with aspects of the Marian devotion that’s essential to Christianity. There’s an introduction to the reasons why, as well as easily followed how-to’s.
I was tempted to skip these chapters, but found that, as I skimmed through them, that they warranted further reading and slower pondering.
As it turns out, these chapters embody some of the most concise descriptions of Marian devotion I’ve read. They’re straightforward and easily skimmed, but they also hold up to closer reading.
Want a refresher? This is perfect. Intimidated by the sheer amount of Marian “stuff” that’s out there? Dive into this for a taste that’s not too much (and will prime you for more, if you’re so inclined to pick up further reading).
Whereas Part One gives you facts, Part Two is filled with what the book dubs “Aids for Marian Devotion.” It’s divided into chapters and subsections:
Church Teaching on Marian Devotion, including from the Catechism, Church Councils, Papal Teaching, and Sacred Congregations
- The Blessed Virgin Mary in Scripture, with topics of the Protoevangelion, Our Lady of Victory, Old Testament Types of Mary, Our Lady in Prophecy, and the Blessed Virgin in the New Testament
- The Saints and Other Spiritual Writers, starting with ancient writers and going through to twentieth-century writers
- Marian Miracles and Messages, including traditional and legendary stories, early Dominican and Franciscan stories, Carmelite miracles, the Battle of Lepanto, and apparitions and messages
- Marian Prayers, with popular selections, litanies, the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the Way of the Cross with Mary, the Rosary, indulgenced Marian prayers, and additional prayers and invocations
- Mary in the Liturgy, including selections from Marian feasts, four Marian antiphons, and Marian hymns
- Marian Poetry from both medieval and modern times
This book has quickly become my one-stop Marian prayer book: the combination of beautiful presentation and invaluable content makes it a great companion.