Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 19, 1999
Books to guide family prayer
Dolores Curran on Family Prayer., by Dolores Curran (Twenty-Third Publications, 1997).
Prayers, Activities, Celebrations (and More) for Catholic Families., by Sr. Bridget Mary Meehan (Twenty-Third Publications 1995).
Family Prayer for Family Times: Traditions, Celebrations, and Rituals., by Kathleen O'Connell Chesto (Twenty-Third Publications, 1995).
Review by DEAN SARNECKI
Special to the WCR
Here are three books on family prayer I have read. Following each title is a brief description of the book and of its appropriate use and usefulness. Please note that different prayer styles and personalities will influence the usefulness of a book.
Dolores Curran on Family Prayer by Dolores Curran (Twenty-Third Publications, 1997).
A wonderful and exhaustive supply of prayers and prayer forms for families. This very "Catholic" resource outlines for parents when to begin praying with children, what prayers at different ages and how to teach traditional prayers to children.
Chapters include Praying Spontaneously, Creating Family Rituals and Celebrating Through the Year. There are also special sections on the liturgical seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.
The focus in this book is on traditional prayers within the family context. The book also includes sample family celebrations and an extensive list of other resources and a complete index. It's an excellent investment for every family.
Prayers, Activities, Celebrations (and More) for Catholic Families by Sr. Bridget Mary Meehan (Twenty-Third Publications 1995).
This book provides practical guidelines to help today's Catholic families grow in faith, strengthen their relationships and solidify religious values.
Families or different groups looking for both traditional and new prayer experiences could use this collection of activities and exercises.
This book, while including a chapter on prayer, places its emphasis on developing strong community and family life. For example, the chapter, Developing a Social Conscience, challenges families and groups to raise children and provide members with a Gospel of love and practical means of living this within the local and global community.
The practical activities include family outreach projects, adopting an elderly person within the community, family service and prayer for global needs. Another very good resource for the family.
Family Prayer for Family Times: Traditions, Celebrations, and Rituals by Kathleen O'Connell Chesto (Twenty-Third Publications, 1995).
An extensive and exhaustive supply of traditional and somewhat not so traditional Catholic prayers by an esteemed speaker and religious educator.
Chesto introduces the book by explaining her upbringing in a Catholic family prior to the Second Vatican Council and her experience of ritual prayer. She describes the comfort that her parents, and to some extent, her whole family, received from these rituals, many of which disappeared at the end of Vatican II.
Following the council, a period of more meditative, spontaneous or scriptural prayer was introduced.
While not necessarily better or worse than ritual prayer, it was different. Both traditions have validity and, in her book, she attempts to draw out the best points of each.
Much like Curran's book, the emphasis is on prayer and prayer forms. There is a prayer for every occasion, traditional prayer rituals such as novenas, the Way of the Cross, morning prayer, evening prayer, prayers before and after meals, Advent and Lenten prayer, etc.
Another excellent resource and one that families who are looking to pray together would benefit greatly from possessing.
(Dean Sarnecki teaches religious studies at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School in Sherwood Park.)