Book Whisperer: Favorite Books on Prayer

Book WhispererThis week in Confirmation class we talked about the Rosary, and about how prayer is an important part of Christian life.

Here are some of my favorite books on prayer and the saints….

33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael Gaitley. This “do-it-yourself” retreat is a wonderful introduction to Marian devotion (including the Rosary) and Christian contemplative prayer. We used this little book last year at Ascension, and it was a wonderful experience.

groeschelI Am With You Always: A Study of the History and Meaning of Personal Devotion to Jesus Christ by Father Benedict Groeschel. This massive work is surprisingly accessible, and represents a decade in the life of one of the most beloved and respected Catholic teachers alive today. I am grateful to Ignatius Press for publishing it, and keep it on my “fire shelf” of important books for easy reference.

The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries by Edward Sri. Dr. Ted Sri is a popular speaker and theology professor at the Augustine Institute. This book, published by Servant Press, is an especially thoughtful gift for Christians who are curious about this classic Catholic prayer tradition.

What are YOUR favorites?

Confirmation Countdown: It’s All About Love!

scholastica2Today is the feast day of my very favorite saint, Benedict’s twin sister, Scholastica. Although she didn’t leave behind any great writings, and (like most women of her day) had very little on record about her life, Pope St. Gregory the Great records one memorable scene from her life that reveals the spirit of this strong yet gentle and prayerful woman. I love her because she reminds me of the power of desperate prayer: When trying to move someone’s heart, prayer can be more persuasive than argument!

In the windows of heaven, the saints shine like stained glass, radiating the light of God to the world below. No two bits of glass — and no two saints — are alike. Together, the “communion of saints” (those following Jesus on earth, those journeying through Purgatory, and those who are already seeing God in heaven) are a mighty force of intercessory light in our cold, dark world. So this week is dedicated to learning about prayer, and especially the most important prayer, the Rosary. We will also be looking at the Sacrament of Baptism, and exploring how we join the family of God through this ancient rite.

On “Book Whisperer” on Wednesday, I’ll share with you some of my favorite books on the saints and prayer! See you then!


31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 24: Talk to God

Have you seen “My Afternoons with Margueritte”? In what may be his most endearing role ever, Gerard Depardieu plays a simple gardener who befriends an elderly schoolteacher. The fruit of this unlikely friendship transforms them both.

Like Germain, the uneducated oaf with the heart of a poet, I sometimes feel as though I am blundering through the circumstances of my life. Perhaps you can relate. Thankfully, I have also been gifted with my fair share of “Maruerittes,” who have come alongside me and illuminated the path.

This happened most recently when I stumbled on Meg Kilmer’s “50 Ways to Talk to God” post. Meg reminded me that how we pray varies not only from person to person, but from moment to moment. Sometimes we pray for others. Other times, for ourselves. Yes, sometimes I’ve even been known to toss up a quick SOS just to shift the burden of the day from my shoulders to God’s infinitely stronger ones.

Growing up, I learned to talk to God just like I was talking to a friend. An invisible friend, yes. A friend I sometimes had issues with, to be sure. But a friend nonetheless. It wasn’t until I became Catholic at the age of 30 that I discovered the benefits of rote (memorized) prayer, like the Rosary. Fingering the cord of beads, especially when the rest of my life was in turmoil, felt as though I was holding a lifeline. And when my mind started down a dark rabbit trail, I could glance at the beads and get myself back on track. In my mind, I would imagine placing each bead in the hand of God, entrusting it to him. Soon the calming rhythms would take over, and either my mind would clear or the tension would ease.

What’s your favorite way to talk to God?

40-Day Challenge: Prayer (Day 25)

  Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

  See that little gadget on my dashboard? That’s Gertrude … Gertrude Penelope Saxton (GPS).  I never go anywhere without her, primarily because when I do I have a tendency to drive in hopeless circles. With her, I’ve been known to drive across whole states without incident.

I don’t usually have a Rosary on my windshield — although I usually keep one on hand when I’m flying someplace. (As in “on a plane,” as I have yet to receive the gift of levitation). Part of me thinks that the plane is more likely to stay in the air that way. The other part needs something to do for the take-off part of the flight, which is the part that statistically is the most dangerous.

So in a way, this picture gives you a rather succinct image of my prayer life:  When I need direction, I pray (unless I’m driving, when I just listen for Gertrude’s promptings). And when I’m anxious, I pray (unless I’m driving, as I find closing my eyes and clasping my hands does nothing to calm me or my passengers).

At the end of the day, I like to recap using a form of the ACTS prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) that goes like this:

“I LOVE you God because …..”

“I’m SORRY, God, because …..”

“THANK YOU, God, for …….”

“HELP me, God, to …..”

The other day as I was going through the steps, it occurred to me that this formula also works with husbands, when we need a little “check-in” (or if there’s just a lull in the conversation):

“Honey, do you know something? I love you because ……”

“And honey, I’ve been thinking about something. I want you to know that I’m sorry because ….”

“I was also thinking of how thankful I was when you ……  I don’t think I thanked you properly. So, thanks!” [Insert appreciative kiss here.]

“Have you given any thought to what you’d like to do this weekend?  It would make me really happy if you could …..  Is there anything I can do for you?”

Today’s Challenge:  What do you love most about your husband, and what does he do to make you thankful?  Jot them down and post them on the bathroom mirror, or somewhere else you’ll see it during the day. When you do, don’t forget to thank God for your sweetheart, and ask God to bless him today.

Today’s Prayer:  God, I love you because ….  I’m sorry that I …. I’m thankful today because ….  Please help me ….

Spiritual Fitness: Setting the Pace

Today, the feast day of my favorite saint Teresa of Avila, I got a letter from Joanna Davis, a grad student and SPO missionary from my church. Joanna is living and working with a group of college students to help them grow strong in the faith. Although she is not married and has no children, in a sense she too is an “Extraordinary Mom,” for she is using her spiritual gifts to raise up spiritual children.

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