“After Baptism, continual prayer is necessary to man, in order that he may enter Heaven; for though by Baptism our sins are remitted, there still remain concupiscence to assail us from within, and the world and the devil to assail us from without”. (III, q. 39, art. 5) –St. Thomas Aquinas
One of my goals for this coming year, 2022, is to dive into books more indepthly then I have in previous years. I want to ungaze my eyes off of Facebook as much as I do and just read books. Good books. Interesting books. Novels, Short Stories, Non-Fiction, Religious. And I want to write about them. Study them and soak them into my blood and bones. This is of course easier said than done.
I start off with Deacon Greg Kandra’s ‘The Busy Person’s Guide to Prayer” as my first real accomplished book of the new year.
Here is a taste of what you will find in the pages.
“The story of the Holy Family is not just about perfection. Truth be told, it’s the story of life not always turning out the way you planned. It’s the story of a teenage girl conceiving a child she didn’t expect, in a way she never imagined. It’s the story of an anxious husband wrestling with doubt and questions-and even entertaining the possibility of divorce. It’s the story of an innocent child destined for martyrdom. Even in his infancy, a brutal dictator hunted him down and wanted him dead. It’s the story of a family displaced from their home, fleeing for their lives, living in the land that once held their ancestors as slaves. So what can they teach us about prayer? A lot.”
There are several reasons why I am starting off with a book on prayer in reading and writing about it, and Deacon Greg’s book in particular. I list below some of the reasons why below mingled with some of my reflections on the book.
1. I need to jump start my prayer life as it is often infrequently practiced, not practiced at all, and when it is practiced I’m often just not attentive enough when I pray. I figure a good book will help me with that goal. The title of this book seems to jump off the page to someone who doesn’t always find the proper time to pray.
2. I tried last year to read ‘Learning To Pray’, by Fr. James Martin.
I didn’t finish because I got distracted from wanting to look at FB a lot, and working and spending time with my wife, and finding things to write about for the Catholic Bard. Plus the book was kinna long which didn’t help. I may go back to it at some point as it was good. Deacon Greg’s book on the other hand is rather short and easy to go through. Very easy simple reading. It is great for someone who is BUSY.
3. It’s not just a book you read through, but a book you can study. In the book Deacon Greg gives a catechesis on prayer coupled with interesting stories from his life and those of others. Some stories that stand out is his prayerful life as a subway rider on his way to work, his visit to a Trappist monastery and his love of pie. He ends each chapter with something to Consider. This consists of comments from well known and lesser known ordinary praying Catholics. This helps to give the reader a perspective of their baptized brothers and sisters who are journing on the same road of faith they are. He also gives the reader a prayer exercise to Try and a original Prayer to pray.
4. My sometimes writer partner at the Catholic Bard is trying to read books on Spiritual Direction so she can help direct people spiritually. If your interested in talking to her about spiritual direction, check out this post An Added Vocation | Kristin Wilson (patheos.com). I recommended to her that she should recommend this book, as it seems perfect for someone trying to ignite their prayer life.
It’s not that TBPGTP covers new ground in the concept of prayer and that Deacon Greg has uncovered something revelionary no one has ever heard of before. If we have been Catholic or Christian for sometime we probably know a lot of what he is talking about. But sometimes we need to be reminded of things we already know. Things that come alive for us once again after being buried in a tomb of laziness, neglectfulness, and forgetfulness. We need a good friend to help us once again to start exercising our faith that seems to have gone flabby. Deacon Greg is that friend.
5. This book was apart of my neverending book list. I think I even may have added it to my books I was planning on diving into soon. Or it may have been another book by Deacon Greg. Regardless when I saw free copies of this book at a church I go to, I decided that a opportunity had presented itself to me, so I grabbed it, literally, and took it into church as I was waiting for confession and mass and started reading it.
Fun Fact: Deacon Greg is a former Patheos Catholic contributor.
6. Some of the types of prayers and techniques that are gone over for the Busy person include..
A. How to start and form the habit of prayer.
B. How simple it is to pray and how to keep it simple.
C. How to pray always and everywhere.
D. How to practice the art of praying grace before meals. This is something I try to do at every meal regardless of who I’m with.
E. The power and importance of Silent Prayer. I attempt to do this and sometimes it works, other times I’m distracted and sometimes I fall asleep.
F. The art of praying at Mass. Seeing we are supposed to go to Mass every week, this one should be easy to incorporate into our praying schedule.
G. How the art of Friendship can be a prayer. I’ve always enjoyed having friends although as I’ve gotten older I’m become more introverted and not want to talk to people like I once did. I think that is because I’m tired from lack of sleep.
H. The importance of praying as a family. My wife and I pray together on a regular basis.
I. The importance of the Daily Examen popularized by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
J. The Art of praying the Divine Office. See H.
K. The Art of praying to the Blessed Mother.
L. There is a list of short popular prayers you can memorize and learn if you haven’t already. Most of which are found in the Holy Rosary
7. The most interesting things I discovered from this book were…
A. Remembering that The Practice of the Presence of God by a 17th-century Carmelite friar named Brother Lawrence exists. Perhaps I should read this book, this year.
B. Discovering that St.Vincent Pallotti (April 21, 1795 – January 22, 1850) is a patron of Vatican II.
C. Enjoying and relating to The Kitchen Prayer by Klara Munkres. I literally work with pots and pans everyday for work so I should take this poetic prayer to heart more than I do.
Lord of all pots and pans and things
Since I’ve not time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawn light or
Storming Heaven’s gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and
Washing up the plates.
Although I must have Martha’s hands,
I have a Mary mind
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals Lord I find.
I think of how they trod the earth,
What time I scrub the floor
Accept this meditation Lord,I haven’t time for more.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace
Forgive me all my worrying and make
My grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea
Accept this service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
Read more about Pots and Pans at How God is present among the pots and pans (aleteia.org)
Overall if you want to jumpstart your forgotten prayer life or bring a new one into being, The Busy Person’s Guide To Prayer by Deacon Greg Kandra is a good place to start and come back to again when you want a refresher. I will need to reflect on this book some more to really take it all in. Check out more writings from him
Here is Deacon Greg talking about his book.
Here is how the Carmelite of the Catholic Bard prays.