Preface: My Queen and My Mother

Read the other chapter here.

The first edition of this book appeared very appropriately in 1904, the Golden Jubilee year of Pope Pius IX's dogmatical definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Jubilee was celebrated with an extraordinary outburst of faith and devotion, and a most abundant outpouring of Divine grace, throughout the Catholic Church, and nowhere more strikingly than in our own islands. Hence the new work was welcomed in a very special manner and enjoyed quite a remarkable popularity. But over and above this, there are reasons of a more general nature that will recommend this charming volume to all devout clients of Mary. To the very many pious souls who find a great difficulty in meditation, and yet are desirous of learning the art of meditation, these reflections, in the form of prayers, upon the various petitions and titles of the Litany, will afford an easy and most fruitful method of mental prayer. For it is wisely recommended to such persons by some spiritual writers and directors to practise mental prayer in this very way – that is to say, by selecting one or other of the familiar formulae of prayer which we are accustomed to recite, such as the “Our Father,” the Creed, the “Hail Mary,” a Litany, the De Profundis, or other psalm, and then by going slowly, one by one, through each of its component verses and petitions, expanding them in one’s own thought and language, paraphrasing them, so to speak, and, in the words of St Francis of Sales, sucking from each its honey, as the bee does from every flower. Such is a highly profitable way of meditation, and the present little work will lead the pious reader easily and sweetly to the practice of this method applied to our Lady’s Litany. And no better form of prayer could be found for the application of the above mode of meditation, as it covers the entire range of our religious belief and sentiment. The opening petitions fix our mind on Almighty God in His Unity and His Trinity, and upon God made Man in the Person of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Then follows the invocation of Christ’s Blessed Mother under a wonderful variety of titles, all selected from the writings of the Fathers of the Church, as Mother, Virgin, the Woman of prophecy, Queen – that is to say, in her manifold relations to the Incarnation, to the Church and to our own spiritual life.[1] And the whole concludes with the solemn triple invocation of her divine Son as “The Lamb who was slain from the beginning,” the Lamb of whom St John speaks in the Apocalypse, whose name appropriately closes the whole cycle of meditation and prayer, as it does the canon of Holy Scripture itself.

One more merit of the present work we gladly note: it is the constant use of the very words of Holy Writ in elucidating and expanding each one of the successive petitions of the Litany, which will be found, we are sure, a very powerful aid to devout meditation, as well as to love and appreciation of the sacred text.

+ Louis Charles,

Bishop of Salford.

St Bede’s College, Manchester,

May, 1905.


[1] See my articles “The Litany of Loreto and its History,” in The Rosary, 1898.