It seems to me that books of meditations are relatively thick on the ground these days. The popular “In Conversation” series seems to be selling extremely well and it should rightfully remain on bookshelves because of its comprehensiveness. But seventy or so years ago, there was a book of meditations that was read in monasteries all over Europe and America. It title was simple: “Growth in the Knowledge of Our Lord: Meditations for Every Day.”
Written by the French Abbe de Brandt, it was translated into English by Mother Mary Fidelis in the early part of the 20th century. It underwent several different editions until 1970, when the last edition went to press. Essentially none of the text was changed in any of the editions. Rather, the books themselves may have received new covers and so on.
Like “The Church’s Year of Grace,” “Growth in the Knowledge of Our Lord” exists as a three volume set. The first volume encompasses the Seasons of Advent and Lent, while the second and third encompass the Time After Pentecost. For each of day of the year, Abbe de Brandt provides a meditation on some aspect of the Gospels. For example, he goes through the Passion during Lent and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. On feast days of various saints, he also gives meditations that are appropriate to the saint being commemorated.
The meditations themselves are divided into the usual parts that one may find in other meditation books from the period: Prelude, First Point, Second Point, Colloquy, Resolution, Quote for the Day, and Prayer. Each meditation is about two pages long, but some are much longer depending on the day.
Abbe de Brandt’s style in translation may seem antiquated to some. He is interested in arousing the devotion of his readers. He forces them to really think about various subjects and not just imagine them. His own writing style makes the words and events of the Gospels come alive. Much like Fr. Ferdinand Prat, Abbe de Brandt’s knowledge of the Bible is amazing. Witness the excerpt that was posted on this site for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
As a set, these books come highly recommended. I use them together with “The Church’s Year of Grace” when time allows. Otherwise, they can be used on their own for one’s daily meditations. They follow the pre-Vatican II calendar, but that does not mean that they shouldn’t be used. They should as the Church enjoins to meditate on some pious topic every single day.
You may purchase copies of “Growth in the Knowledge of Our Lord” from various booksellers such as amazon.com and alibris.com. Sadly, it has not been reprinted.