Who doesn’t love a nice prayer book?

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.