We can never exhaust the treasury of Mary. We can never “be finished” thinking about, writing about, or singing about (or painting about!) the Virgin Mother of Jesus and of all Christians. She is the mother of the Head, and thus, the mother of the Body too.
In this year of the Centenary of her appearances at Fatima, the whole Church is invited to look to Mary with renewed confidence and devotion.
In August we celebrate the ancient feast of her Assumption on the 15th (formally integrated into the Roman calendar from the East under Pope Sergius I in the 7th century), as well as the corresponding feast of the Coronation on the 22nd (a later calendar feast of her perennial title “Queen” / “Lady” / “Empress”).
One way of honoring Mary is to read more about her through a study of history, spirituality, and art related to her. We would like to offer a short list of recommended readings ranging from the formally academic to the more accessible along with classics.
Stephen J. Shoemaker. Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.
Our own Sr. Maria del Fiat recently published a book review of this academic work in Ancient Jew Review. Her piece will provide a good sense of the work, and help you to see if it might be a good read (or a Christmas present for someone else!).
Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983.
This short paperback offers an excellent overview of Mariology. Different from the warm Marian spirituality of John Paul II, Ratzinger negotiates the intellectual demands of the figure of Mary with an objective and calm approach. Highly recommended for adult converts to Catholicism from Protestant traditions, or any one who has experienced reservations towards the Mother of God.
John Paul II. Redemptoris Mater: On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church. Vatican Editions, 1987.
Written on the occasion of the Marian Year, the papal encyclical Redemptoris Mater provides a beautiful scriptural reflection on the ecclesial spirituality of Mary, “Mother of the Redeemer” (Redemptoris Mater). The text is divided into Part I: “Mary in the Mystery of Christ”, Part II “The Mother of God at the Center of the Pilgrim Church”, and Part III “Maternal Mediation”. Highly recommended!
Ven. Fulton Sheen. The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010.
Our good friend, Fulton Sheen (the greatest 20th century TV evangelist–way before all the rest!) offers a gentle and progressive look at Mary as beloved by all believers. Easy to read and full of deep reflections.
Luigi S. M. Gambero. Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006.
Luigi S. M. Gambero. Mary in the Middle Ages: The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thought of Medieval Latin Theologians. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005.
For readers interested in the hearing the voices of the Church as they discuss Mary from the Patristic through the late Medieval period, Luigi Gambero’s books are an excellent resource. The two volumes introduce and frame the primary texts of major saints and theologians concerning various aspects of the Virgin Mary.
So many more to recommend (see the Catholic Culture page on St Louis Marie Gringion de Montfort!), but this is all for now.
Blessings to all and may our Lady aid, assist, and guide us ever closer to her Son. It is all she wishes to do.
Do whatever He tells you.