My Reading Challenge Pick for…”A Book on Catholic Prayer”

Are you participating in the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge? If not, it’s not too late to start — join us! I share my picks for each category about once a month. So far, my choices are spot on for me, and my second read gets a universal recommendation if you want to improve your prayer life…

Category: “A Book on Catholic Prayer”

My Pick: Time for God by Jacques Philippe

My husband had read this book a couple of months ago and highly recommended it to me, and what do you know…it checks off a box on the reading challenge. Boy, was he right; it is good. But apparently everything by Jacques Philippe is great, according to a friend of mine. This was my first time reading one of his books.

Two motivations to read this book:

#1 — It’s really short — about 100 pages.

#2 — It may be the most helpful book on mental prayer that you ever read.

I say the most helpful, not necessarily the best. Philippe references all of the great works by saints who were quite advanced in mental prayer (Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, St. John of the Cross, St. Catherine of Siena, etc.). But sometimes, as Philippe notes, in our modern times we have trouble getting to the root of what these great contemplatives teach us about communing with God.

Philippe’s definition of mental prayer:

“…facing God in solitude and silence for a time in order to enter into intimate, loving communion with him.”

His bottom line:

“Mental prayer is basically no more than an exercise in loving God.”

Philippe was exactly who I needed to read on mental prayer, because he concisely and beautifully gets to the heart of why and how this type of prayer should be a daily habit. He essentially reminds us that silent, mental prayer is all about loving God. There is not a magic “technique” that you can manipulate, he says, because communion with God is a grace, a gift, from God. It is not something that we conjure up. Philippe says that we have to simply come to mental prayer with the intention of loving God, with humility, out of our poverty, and be faithful to continue coming daily.

I think this excerpt from the book puts it well:

“What ensures progress in the life of prayer, what make it fruitful, is not so much how we pray as our inner dispositions in beginning and continuing it. Our principle task is to try to acquire, keep, and deepen those dispositions of the heart. God will do the rest.”

Before this book, I had recently read Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, and I was inspired by his detailed account of the steps of mental prayer, and I wanted to begin this habit in earnest. (Previous descriptions of mental prayer hadn’t be so clear for me.) However, Philippe’s book is just what I needed to read on the heels of that. It helped me develop the correct attitude toward silent prayer, to remember the ultimate purpose of loving God and entering into a deeper communion with him — as he leads.


What did you read for “a book on Catholic prayer”?

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey

GoodRead: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion

I was able to get my hands on a galley copy of The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion in order to review it here, and I am so glad that I did! I have had the privilege of praying with this book of daily reflections for the past month, and it has refreshed my prayer life in wonderful ways. The book, edited by authors Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard, is a compilation of reflections by many different writers. There are many devotionals out there by single authors — great ones. But this book is unique in its multi-vocal quality. You hear the voices of many different women — some like you, some different from you — and I found that really valuable.

As a mom seeking to grow in my prayer life, I am always grateful for a fresh perspective, a different vantage point. As I read through various entries each day, I was struck by the beautiful diversity of Catholic motherhood that is represented in these pages. It reminds me of what St. Therese says about all the different kinds of flowers. The wildflower is not less beautiful than the rose or the lily; they are just different beauties in God’s garden. The diversity is God’s design. Diversity is important for the edification of the body of Christ, and books like this help with that edification — particularly in the flourishing of our prayer lives.

Here are a few additional things that I liked about the Prayer Companion, and I think a lot of other Catholic moms will appreciate these too: Continue reading “GoodRead: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion”

Learning to Meditate, Part 2: Cultivating Simple Symbols

Mental PrayerOne of our frequent errors in mental prayer (at least it is for me) is to ambitiously attempt to mediate on long passages, intaking great amounts of spiritual insight to take into mental prayer. As a result, we spend so much time reading and thinking about a lot of concepts on a surface level, instead of going deeper with the Lord by meditating on one simple truth. We jump around to a lot of ideas about God, but we don’t get the time to sit with God and let the Holy Spirit start to move these spiritual truths more deeply into our souls and change our hearts. Continue reading “Learning to Meditate, Part 2: Cultivating Simple Symbols”