Insights into a new book on Mary: Perfect for May

May is a month in which Catholics have traditionally been invited by the Church to increase their devotion to the Virgin Mary. In our new list, we have a number of titles, from a leather-bound prayer book, to prayer cards, that can help with this. We spoke to the author of one of them, Professor David W. Fagerberg of the University of Notre Dame in the USA, who wrote Mary in the Liturgy.

The title looks at Mary’s importance in the worship of the Church, and we asked the professor how the idea came about.

I was received into the Catholic Church as an adult. I am serious when I say that I wrote my way into Catholicism in chapter five of my doctoral dissertation on the liturgy. I am more light-hearted, though still serious, when I tell people the reason I became Catholic is because my birthday is August 15 and Jesus still can’t refuse his mother anything.

There is an impression among some non-Catholics – an untrue impression – that Catholics “do too much” with Mary. There is the usual concern that she is being worshipped (she is not), but also perplexity at Marian months, and rosaries, and litanies, and medals, and so forth. Too much blue. Too much sentimentality.

A picture of Mary in the Liturgy's author

Chesterton helped me see inside even before I came inside. He said there is devotional art and literature that are sometimes excessive, but that is only because the emotion is strong. It is the same thing, he suggests, that “makes the love-letters of the wisest men like the letters of lunatics.” But so long as the devotion does not contradict the doctrine, there is no problem.

So I was interested to accept CTS’s invitation to write something that was not about Marian devotion but about the central activity of the liturgy and Mary. After all, it was liturgical theology that had drawn me into Catholicism. And I had explored the fact that the Church’s prayer (her lex orandi) establishes the Church’s belief (her lex credendi). So what was the role of Our Lady in the liturgy?

Electricity arcs between two poles. This booklet arcs between two quotes. It is often said (and de Lubac wrote it down) that “The Eucharist makes the Church.” And then I found Fr Jean Corbon saying that “Mary is the Church as it dawns in a single person.” There must therefore be profound connections between the Eucharist and Mary. And those lines are what I have tried to trace here.

Mary in the Liturgy by David W. Fagerberg is available from CTS priced £2.50

Of related interest:

d752-new-web Marian Prayer Book – A collection of prayers to Mary, bound in imitation leather.
D751 The Litany of Loreto- This booklet, as well as containing the full text of the actual litany, also looks closely at the many titles used to describe Our Blessed Lady and how their meaning can help us to live as she did, ever open to God’s plan.
The Dolour Rosary Wallet Card (Pack of 20) – Promoted by the Servite Order or the Order of Friar Servants of Mary, the Dolour Rosary is prayed with a special rosary with 49 beads (seven sets of 7) and 7 medals – each depicting one of the seven sorrows of Mary.

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