The Heart in Pilgrimage: A prayerbook for Catholic
Church Times Bookshop £18 (Use code CT861 )
THIS is a collection of all sorts of prayer and poetry for many
situations. We find the text of the Roman mass, together with
prayers to help preparing and giving thanks for holy communion.
There are also a helpful section on the sacrament of
reconciliation; the Stations of the Cross; and a simple Office that
can be used daily.
Besides these traditional matters, there is a large collection
of litanies and occasional prayers. Since I have been in much pain
recently, I turned to the section "Prayers in Sickness, Suffering
or Extremity". It contains quotations from the Psalms, poems by
Gerard Manley Hopkins and Christina Rossetti, and prayers by
Teillhard de Chardin, Samuel Johnson, and Karl Rahner.
This apart, it is worth buying the book for the foreword by
Rowan Williams, the preface by Fr Timothy Radcliff OP, and
Professor Eamon Duffy's introduction. Lord Williams gives an
explanation of "Catholic", pointing out that it is not a tribal
badge. Calling the Church "Catholic" is a matter of grasping that
it teaches the whole truth in a way that involves the whole person
and is addressed to the whole of humanity.
Radcliffe discusses the nature and meaning of prayer and its
difficulties. He points out that the prayers in the book are words
of people who dare to converse with God. I found most helpful the
words: "Prayer is not our attempt to make contact with God but a
sign of our confidence, fragile sometimes, that God is already
present, and has always been present, awaiting our invitation to
come and be at home in us."
Duffy discusses prayer as the use of the whole person, including
the body, with times of fasting and abstinence. Although prayer is
beyond words, we, as conversational beings, need at times to pray
in words. He is to be congratulated for providing us with such a
wonderful compilation, beautifully bound and illustrated, which is
a tool to help our heart on its pilgrimage.
Prebendary Scott is Sub Dean of Her Majesty's Chapels