Prayer in the Catholic Tradition

edited by Robert J Wicks, Franciscan Media , £31

The latter half of the 20th century saw the ascendancy of buzzwords, handmaidens of fads and fashions. Sometimes perfectly good old words were co-opted for new ends. One such word is “spirituality”, which was often employed as a safe word by those seeking to be spiritual but not religious.

For a Catholic, spirituality is properly seen as centred in God and lived in the Church, incorporating all that gives life to our faith and impels us deeper in faith and in our service of God and neighbour. An integral and essential element of this is prayer, and this handbook seeks to serve as a practical compendium of the vibrant Catholic tradition of prayer.

Wicks intends the book to be a single, broad and inclusive resource for the practice of prayer in the Catholic tradition: comprehensive but not exhaustive. To this end it invokes “leading and upcoming voices” in the Church. In all, there are 45 such voices, each with a chapter averaging around 15 pages.

Many of these voices are more familiar to Americans than the British but some may be familiar enough, such as Fr Ronald Rolheiser, Fr Richard Rohr, Sister Joyce Rupp and Fr Laurence Freeman. The average age of the contributors is in the late 60s, with a handful in their 30s or 40s, and the approach of many of them will reflect the generation in which they were formed. So for this reader the book presents a mixed bag.

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