Three books about prayer in some of its many aspects

Three books about prayer in some of its many aspects
Prayer: Our Dialogue with God by Pat Collins CM, preface by Cardinal Seán Brady (New Life Publications, €18.00)

Fr Pat Collins has been popular with many people for many years. This book is an epitome of the qualities that they go to his books to find.

He sets out in his new book, which contains some 27 chapters, a survey of prayer as it is and could be.

He starts with prayer in relation to religion, and Jesus in particular, and what he actually thought about prayer, and not perhaps what people think he taught. He then explores further particular aspects, such as prayers as friendship with God, as self-disclosure to God, and prayer as “self-forgetful attention”.

Through prayers people can seek and discover God’s will for them. He then chapter by chapter examines particular forms, a more diverse and complex matter perhaps, such as Charismatic prayer and prayers to the Virgin and saints, prayers as praise and worship and as thanksgiving – surely an important matter. How often these days do we all simply forget to say thanks. He closes with a discussion of the stages of prayer as it develops, and with a chapter on family prayers.

All of those who admire Fr Collins will find here things they value and appreciate. But running as it does to nearly 400 pages it has to be approached with patience, which is all to the good. This is a book which many will find of lasting value in coming years.


Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2023 (Messenger Publication, €14.95/£12.95)

Some readers seeing the title of this book, which relates to the upcoming year, may say “Surely not Christmas already, it’s still summer”.

Well whatever the heat tells, this is the end of August and before you know it the holiday will be down on you. This is the time to think of those family members, relatives and friends abroad, and post gifts early.

Now this prayer book has become a familiar one, beloved of many in previous years. It covers a full year, of course, but this year a special emphasis will be given to synodal journey, which for many will need a special process of prayers.

How the process evolves is not down to the clerical authorities, but every person who still sees themselves as a Catholic, and that is a great deal more than go to church most Sundays, should take part.

The thoughts and feelings of those who see themselves as lapsed or distanced are worthy of attention, for the conditions they find themselves in say a great deal about what confronts and confounds the Catholic Church across the world today.

(With regard to those relatives in North America, readers might like a note that the Messenger Publications Irish edition is not for sale in the USA and Canada. If you are resident in the USA or Canada, please beware that the Irish editions are distributed by Loyola Press in those countries. Please visit )


The Good and the Beautiful: Discovering the Person Jesus Created You to Be by James Bryan Smith (Hodder & Stoughton, €9.95/£16.99)

For many Christians of all traditions their “faith” is about belief and practises. But this kind of approach has the danger, as everyone really knows, of being a merely superficial mask, often without any inner meaning, but great social acceptance.

Even the most superficial reading of the Gospels reveals that Jesus himself set little store by such things. His emphasis was and is all about now and about being, as the author puts it so well, the person Jesus created you to be.

And becoming that person is not a matter of thinking about yourself, but thinking what you can do for others. The Gospels seem to pack such a lot into that seemings simple notion of “Love your neighbour as yourself”. A simple notion, but often neglected.

We race to judge others, even after being told not to judge others for fear we ourselves are judged.