Prayer books for all occasions

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

While others wake up with a daily blast of caffeine, Father Wilson Miscamble, CSC, relies on the hauntingly familiar Saint Francis prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. “It gets me started in the morning,” says Miscamble ’77M.A., ’80Ph.D., ’87M.Div.

Using the prayers of others, the rector of Moreau seminary says, offers “a powerful instrument for communicating with the Lord.” And prayer books, in his view, can impart an enormous benefit by helping people articulate what may be inchoate thoughts.

Whether you want the inspiration found in others’ prayers, meditations and poetry or are seeking a Christmas gift that may inspire loved ones, the following books may be the answer to your prayers.

Be Gentle, Be Faithful: Daily Meditations for Busy Christians, James Stephen Behrens (ACTA Publications). Father Behrens, a frequent contributor to this magazine, offers harried Christian short daily reflections that, as a reviewer said, “are personal, often humorous, but always thought provoking.”

Day by Day: The Notre Dame Prayerbook for Students, edited by Thomas McNally, CSC, and William G. Storey ’54M.A., ’59Ph.D., (Ave Maria Press). Now in its 19th printing, the small book is filled with a rich sampling of Psalms, examples of meditation, student-written prayers and prayers for morning and evening. Storey and McNally also compiled the revised Lord Hear Our Prayer (Ave Maria Press), with an introduction by Father Theodore Hesburgh, CSC.

Earth’s Echo: Sacred Encounters with Nature, Robert M. Hamma ’83M.A. (Sorin Books). Beginning with the words of such nature writers as Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez ’66, ’68M.A., Rachel Carson and John Muir, Hamma leads the reader through a process of meditation, prayer and contemplation. “When we begin to recognize that this world we inhabit . . . is indeed a sacred reality, a divine presence,” Hamma writes,“we will have found a lasting source of vision and strength for both our personal and social lives.”

An Everyday Book of Hours and A Seasonal Book of Hours, William G. Storey (Liturgy Training Publications). These two volumes are modeled off the liturgy of the hours, but the author, an emeritus professor of liturgy and church history, says they are designed to be more accessible to lay people. Storey also is the author of Hail Mary: A Marian Book of Hours (Ave Maria Press). This collection, he notes, “works at reviving and representing the oldest Marian devotion known to the Western Church. . . . It is modeled on the liturgy of the Hours but with new flavor of the II Vatican Council.” And: A Book of Prayer: For Gay and Lesbian Christians, (Crossroad Publishing). “The book,” Storey writes, “contains prayers for the totally committed, the partially committed, the deeply troubled and the alienated!”

Focus Your Day: Reflections on Christian Experience, Kenneth E. Grabner, CSC (Ave Maria Press). Father Grabner’s short daily reflections are designed to aid the reader “reflect on Christian experience day by day and to make the experience a conscious part of yourself.”

Mary’s Song: Living Her Timeless Prayer, Mary Catherine Nolan, O.P., ‘70M.S. (Ave Maria Press). Sister Nolan discusses the themes found in Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and concludes each short chapter with thoughts for reflection and a prayer.

Show Yourself to My Soul, a new translation of Gitanjali, James Talarovic (Sorin Books). The poetry of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), a Hindu who won the Nobel Prize for literature, is often quoted by contemporary spiritual writers. Here, Brother Talarovic, CSC, offers an unrhymed translation of Tagore’s “song offerings,” what one writer called his “sensitive dialogue with God — universal precisely because they are so personal.”

Through Good Times and Bad: Prayers for a Lifetime Together, Robert M. Hamma ‘83M.A. and Kathryn A. Schneider ’78, ’84M.Div. (Sorin Books). The husband-and-wife team have gathered prayers that work both for strained and for joyous marital times, whether it’s difficulty with in-laws or the joy of making love. Hamma also wrote Let’s Say Grace: Mealtime Prayers for Family Occasions Throughout the Year (Ave Maria Press).

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet: A Way of the Cross, Nicholas Ayo, CSC, ‘56, ’62M.A., James Flanigan, CSC, ’58, ’63M.A., Joseph Ross, CSC, ’88M.Div., J.Massyngbaerde Ford (Ave Marie Press). Historical background, prose meditations and poems combine with sculpted images to bring the profound spiritual meaning of the journey along the stations of the cross to contemporary reality. "It is as if we are asked to stand there a moment and become part of [Christ’s] suffering," writes Ayo.