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Book Review: MARIAN MEDITATIONS - Part One

April 08, 2018

MARIAN MEDITATIONS (Part 1 of 3 volumes) by Rev. Ildefonso R. Vilar, SDB.  Kolbe Publications, 2018. Pp. 190

It is not easy to write well on Our Lady.  Ste. Thérèse de Lisieux said in one of her last saying that “all the sermons on Our Lady that she had heard left her cold… If a sermon on the blessed virgin is to bear fruit, it must present her real life, as the Gospels let it appear not her supposed life”.  The volume under review by a Salesian priest – originally written in Spanish – presents exactly that.  And it succeeds in giving the reader a glimpse of the real life of Our Lady.  This is what God had in his mind and it is precisely what we must imitate. This book will help you with that.

“We are dealing with a mystery.  Therefore we cannot plumb the depths of it since we would be lost in its immensity.  Nevertheless, it is sweet and consoling to ponder, as far as in us lies, over those reasons for which Mary… had to be our Mother” (p.24).   This is what the author intends to present in 40 meditations.

After presenting who Mary is (meditation #1,2) he presents the points for meditation on the Immaculate Conception (#3-9), the name of Mary (#13,14), the Presentation of Our Lady (#15-17), the Espousal of Our Lady (#18), the Annunciation (#18-28), the Visitation (#29-31), Magnificat (#32-38), the Expectation of Christ’s Birth (#39) and on the road to Bethlehem (#40).

“Think deeply what is means.  Try to be penetrate deep and deeper into this mystery.  You will derive much advantage from it”. (p. 21). Indeed.  What strikes one much is the fact that there is a perfect chord between doctrine & piety.  This book is neither over-pious nor too complicated.

Each meditation has three (or four) points where the author presents the mystery in a simple term for our consideration.  The last points are usually for practical purpose.  For example, on Annunciation, “Learn prudence of Mary.  How easily we believe something to be God’s business, seeing it as easily as a suggestion from an angel when it resounds to our own profit or glory.  How readily we sprint towards those things that please us.  And how often we afterwards realize that the inspiration did not after all come from the Angel of Light but from the Angel of Darkness, and what we thought to be a divine whisper was in reality a temptation! Examine, meditate, take advice, so that you may always be right in your choice and resolves, thereby imitating the prudence of your Heavenly Mother” (p. 129).

We do notice few misslips. p. 23 ‘that’ should be read “than” P. 74: ‘heart’ is misspelled and on p. 76: ‘Blessed Lady’, p. 150 ‘Mary’… Some phrases sound awkward like p.15 ‘Be confused in God’s love for Mary’. These are just a few slips which does not take away the essential soundness of the rest of the work.

This book may be warmly recommended to priests, but they should not expect to find readymade sermon; they will find better than that, if only they can afford the unhurried and meditated reading it requires to let the central idea of the book to sink in.  They will acquire an insight into the Marian dogmas and a conviction of the meaning of her mission which may well prove the secret of fruitful preaching.

It is equally and highly recommended to laity alike.  They cannot afford to miss it.  This book will prove of practical use to its reader and a joy to them as well.

Kolbe Publications have done a wonderful job.  The printing and color pictures throughout the book are very attractive.  With these new volumes the publishers have doubled the debt of gratitude the English speaking traditional world owes them.

Fr. Therasian Babu SSPX