This is an older book in the public domain (freely available at archive.org). What is wonderful about the work is the detailed and meaningful reflections about our Lord’s passion. Although, the author does use his imagination to come up with the minor details never is the reader left reading about a phantasy world without real life application. One does not have to agree with every character portrait or the author’s musing about personal motivations to get something out of the work. The trains of thought evoked bring about reflection on some of the most important Christian themes. The author does well to tie in scripture abundantly throughout the work in very thought inducing manners. For me it was a way to deeper understand the redemptive value of suffering when united with Christ. The book is long at over 700 pages, but is broken into hundreds of small subsections and major scenes. It is something I would read sections of rather than the whole thing at different times in my life.
Overall Positive to Highly Positive
I started praying the Divine Office a while back. As life got busy and since my vocation was not to be a monk I was searching for a more adaptable and manageable prayer routine so I could maintain my devotion to my family and work/life balance. To accomplish this is switched from the Divine Office to the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary after the example of a friend in a similar situation seeking to develop a common prayer life with his girlfriend at the time.
Here are my observations and lessons learnt.
First, I bought a cheaper mass market paperback copy of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary according to the Carmelite Rite (1953 in Latin and English). What I soon found out is that paperbacks are not meant for daily prayer books and the condition of the book soon declined – although it stayed together. Thus, if you are just trying this out like me (and want to save money before buying a leather copy) I would use or print out the The Little office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, comformable to the recent pontifical decrees and the Office of the dead in Latin and English available online for free at archive.org by Benzinger Brothers 1915. After you decide this is for you, then go straight to a leather or hard copy of one of several Little Offices available for purchase online.
Second. After praying the Divine Office for 3 years, because of its 4 week cycle and changes throughout the liturgical seasons it gave me a larger exposure to scripture and the psalms but not as much depth and insight into a particular set of psalms as the Little Office of Mary has. The Little Office I now pray uses the same psalms every day all year so I have become deeply familiar with them and they can more easily accompany me throughout the day. Of course, if you were to pray the Divine Office for longer than I did I am sure that this would happen as well. I do recommend finding supplementary hymns for the Little Office (my only had 1 for each major hour) as signing the same hymn every day can get tedious.
Third, the structure is largely the same as the Divine Office so it works just as well to hinge the day with morning and evening prayer.
Fourth, because the prayers remain the same every day (minor changes with liturgical season) I was able to pick up a little more Latin for myself by reading the Latin text in conjunction with the English. (I think the Latin translation of the Carmelite edition I used was good except in a few odd places were it simply failed to include some final phrases of a few psalms)
Overall, I highly recommend giving the Little Office a chance. For me it has been a great way to include a rhythmic/scriptural/liturgical based prayer in my life while maintaining flexibility and availability for my family.
One of the best website resources for online homilies and conferences especially Marian themes. It is run by the Franciscan Frias of the Immaculate.
1. Excellent coverage of Marian Topics
2. Vast amounts of archived material
3. Short homilies as well as longer retreats and conferences
4. Videos by several active and popular theologians
5. Diverse themes for any occasion
6. High quality of material and spiritual depth
7. Some of the best material on Marian co-redemption
If you have never visited this site, I highly recommend that you do!
For those who do not support the development of the doctrine of Mary as a co-redemptrix this website’s theological bent may be different than your own. Regardless of your view on up for debate theology, the faith and its definite teachings are expressed well in its videos.
Overall: Highly Positive
This book is what I call a chapter a day book. You can sit down, read an entire chapter and complete the thought with prayer all in under 30 minutes. (43 chapters with 175 pages of material – including lots of pictures!)
The best feature and what I will recommend as the reason to read is its ability to make passages of scripture come alive deeply. When I read this book, it helped me realize the simplicity of the Gospel message and how to live it out in daily life. It gives real life meaning and application to Jesus’ call to serve our sisters and brothers.
Fr. Ho Lung’s reflection about his life serving the poor in Jamaica serves well to cement a motivation to go out and help your own neighbor. This is accomplished by not only detailing social circumstances, often out of people’s control, but also the humanity present in every single face we meet.
I once did a mission trip and got to see Fr. Ho Lung, missionaries and residents mentioned, photographed and written about in the book. I will share that what we gave the poor in Jamaica was less then what we received in love, knowledge, purpose and deepened spirituality. I hope this book gives you a similar exchange.
Overall: Highly Positive