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On Prayer and Prayer Books

Anne Lamott wrote once that prayer boils down to saying either Help Help Help or Thank you Thank you Thank you. The description’s accurate enough, as I have some reason to know, and as a default mode for prayer, I guess a person could do worse. To believe in God to begin with, and to believe that . . . . Continue Reading »

Newman on St. Monica

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. This feast was the occasion on which the the Venerable (soon to be Blessed) John Henry Cardinal Newman preached a characteristically brilliant sermon called “Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training.” The whole thing is . . . . Continue Reading »

How to Pray

As a Catholic growing up in the years before Vatican II, I knew very few Protestants, much less evangelicals, even though I lived in Kentucky and southern Indiana, heartland of Protestantism, and not the Episcopalian variety. As a matter of fact, until I went to college, there were no blacks and not a single person I would have been able to identify as Jewish among my acquaintances. Such was the status and class separation of the 1950s, an outcome of the hermeticism of middle-class life of that era. Continue Reading »

Halfway Through the Hail Mary

A Methodist friend of mine has always been puzzled by the emphasis Catholics place upon ready-made prayers. She considers recourse to the Hail Mary to be little more than prayer on autopilot, the rote droning of words learned and memorized as children. How, she wonders, can it possibly produce an . . . . Continue Reading »

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