Whether you have a devotion to Our Blessed Mother or not, the Manual for Marian Devotion by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is a handy little books for everything you need to know about Mary. It would be great for personal use and would make a great gift. And it will inspire you to take up a greater devotion to Mary if you don’t already have one.
First let me tell you that I just love the feel and size of this little manual. It’s roughly the size of my hand and it is bound in leather. The embossing on it is lovely, the edges of the pages are silver, and there is a ribbon bookmark built in. Of all my prayer books, I especially love the ones that have ribbon bookmarks and leather binding. The nice small size is also nice for easily tossing in my purse on my way to adoration. This one will be part of my stack of favorites, for sure.
All that exterior stuff also makes it a nice gift, and it contains a page in the front for you to fill out if you are giving it as a gift. You can record the name of the person and the date or occasion for which you are gifting it, plus a large space for leaving a special note. Nice touch!
All that above is great, but I know you want to know what this book contains. Well, pretty much everything to do with Mary. The first four chapters are dedicated to preparing for Marian devotion. I really liked how this section was broken down and covered a lot of ground. It’s a very quick look at Marian doctrines, historical facts, and much more. So don’t expect a ton of details here, but it’s enough to get you interested. For a neophyte to Marian devotion this section is perfect, and if one wants more detail this gives them a jumping off point (there’s a bibliography in the back of the book). Or, move on to the next section of the book.
Part Two of the manual (chapters 5-11) goes into more detail with aids to Marian devotion. Here is where you’ll find prayers (lots and lots, from all the basics to some less well known ones), excerpts from the Catechism and other Church documents, Mary in the liturgy, quotes from saints, poetry, synopses of miracles and apparitions, and much more. There is a lot packed into this tiny volume!
While the first four chapters were a quick read, the remaining part of the book is much different. Here is where you may find one small passage to read in the morning and reflect on the rest of the day. This is the section you could flip open when you need a spiritual shot in the arm or a little inspiration. I’ve been reading through chapter 7 (The Saints and Other Spiritual Writers) and finding a lot of great passages for reflection. And I like how this chapter is divided up by time period, from Ancient writers to twentieth century writers.
I’m also finding a lot of new information in this book: things like the very first Marian prayer from 3rd century Egypt, Marian poetry I never knew about, and a list of flowers with their Marian meanings. Chapter 8 (Marian Miracles and Messages) looks absolutely fascinating (I haven’t gotten to it yet). And if you are interested in the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, the Consecration Prayer from St. Louis de Montfort is contained in this book.
I was especially pleased to find the four Marian antiphons that are traditionally said after night prayer (Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Caelorum, Regina Coeli, and Salve Regina). As a Benedictine Oblate, my oblate prayer books contains all four, but only in Latin. The Manual for Marian Devotion lists them all together (in chapter 10, Mary in the liturgy, pgs. 275-282) in both English and Latin. So I’ve now been using the Manual along with my oblate prayer book so I can say those prayers in English. [Except the Salve Regina; I already know that one quite well.]
If there is one thing I wish were included in this book it would be an index. The table of contents does a great job breaking down large chunks, but if you are looking for something specific it can be hard to find. Maybe it’s just the librarian in me, but a few times I found myself flipping around a lot looking for something I knew I had seen and wanted to see again and an index would have been helpful. As a former librarian this may bother me more than the average person. Of course, if I use the book enough, I probably won’t have need for an index after a while.
After exploring this book and reading large chunks of it, I can definitely say that this is a prayer book that any lover of Mary should have. I have really enjoyed reading sections and using the prayers in it from time to time. And as I said above, it would make a great gift for many occasions. This is a great time of year for gift giving as well! You likely know someone making their First Communion soon or maybe receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. Plus, Mother’s Day is coming up, what a perfect gift for that special Mary devotee in your life (hint, hint to the guys reading this).
Manual for Marian Devotion is currently available from Tan Books for $29.95. You can also personalize your copy with a name or message stamped on the cover for an additional fee.
And as always, I received a copy of the book for this review and no other compensation. All opinions here are completely mine.