Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices by Ann Ball



Where do I begin?

For it is always hard to review a book one hasn’t read!

Yet one doesn’t really a book like this, which forms a comprehensive encyclopedia of Catholic devotions and practices.

Instead, one learns from it over a lifetime, dipping in again and again …

Yet even if I cannot write a proper review of this for our reviews section, I would at least like to give just a little notice of this invaluable item.

It is the only thing like it that I know and with over a 1000 entries, spanning 777 pages, this book is packed with information on hundreds of Catholic prayers, activities, customs and rituals.

To give you an idea of the contents, I opened the book at random to the P section – finding entries as varied as the Pange Lingua of St. Thomas Aquinas, Pannykhiddia, which apparently is a vigil in the Byzantine Rite, a long, long section on pilgrimage and an unfortunately very short entry on Paray-le-Monial – that little town in France where St. Margaret Mary beheld his Most Sacred Heart (and where, incidentally, my own life completely changed and the inspiration for this website devoted to his Sacred Heart was found.)

The book is devout, traditional and easy to read. Perhaps some will find the latter a drawback – for the emphasis is on simple and accessible, rather than detailed or abstruse.

Nonetheless, I think Ann Ball has done a wonderful service to the Anglophone Catholic world collecting all this into one volume.

And by ‘all this’ I mean more than simply the ‘Catholic Devotions and Practices’ which the title suggests.

For truly, that title is rather limited for what is on offer here.

No, what is here goes much further. To give just one example – if one wants to know about devotion to Our Lady of La Salette, one will find an entire two page history of what happened to Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud on that holy mountain …

In short: although there is plenty of value here in terms of one’s own personal practice and devotion – there is also plentiful material of historical and theological insight.

God bless Ann Ball for this one!

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