Saturday, 6 May 2017

Iluminated Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2016 Caritas Publishing

I already have the modern Catholic Publishing Corps edition of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin and the Bridgentine Daily Office of Mary. I also have the short set of hours of Mary in A Catholic Book of Hours. I bought this book because I fancied having a Little Office in more traditional language (my heart belongs to the King James Version). This book is indeed traditional in using the Douay-Rheims Bible, though strangely, some of the prayers are in contemporary English. I couldn't help concluding after using this, that the Douay-Rheims Psalms do not flow nearly as beautifully as the Coverdale Psalms in the Book of Common Prayer or in the King James Bible and feel somewhat awkward and cumbersome in language.

This edition of the Little Office tries to emulate the Medieval books of hours with their beautiful illuminations. It therefore contains illuminated pages with Medieval illustrations. The book is not nearly as decorated as a Medieval primer, but the illustrated pages are distracting enough. Call me a Puritan if you like, but I bought the book to say the prayers rather than to look at the pictures.

The office has the hours of matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline. Each hours begins with a Hail Mary, which is a very worthy touch. Separate offices are provided for Advent and Christmas, while there are minor variations for Easter and Lent. The big limitation of this book is that, unlike the Catholic Publishing Corps edition, it has no daily variations, so one has the same set of Psalms and prayers every day.

This prayer book will appeal a lot to traditionalists who want an alternative to the Liturgy of the Hours, but personally I think one would miss out a lot if one used this exclusively for daily prayers. Still, any resources that foster increased devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary are to be welcomed.

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