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The Catholic Youth Prayer Book


This second edition of The Catholic Youth Prayer Book, which Saint Mary’s Press kindly sent me to review makes a highly appropriate gift for Easter or any time of the year – not only for Catholic teens and young people but Christians of all ages.

Divided into four sections, the book includes:

Part I Prayers for Daily Life
Part II Prayers from the Catholic tradition
Part III Methods for Personal Prayer
Part IV Liturgical Prayer

Throughout the book, Bible prayers appear, often from the Psalms but also Ezekiel, Matthew, Philippians, 1 Peter, and other books found in Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament. In addition, you’ll find creeds of faith and prayers from spiritual giants such as St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Jerome, Ignatius, and more.

As you might imagine, Part II, Chapter 5, “Prayers and Devotions to Mary,” is most apt to cause concern for non-Catholic Christians, who have assumed the honor given to her is a form of worship, rather than the devotion, respect, and just plain love rightfully due the young woman who humbly and willingly gave her consent to become the Mother of Jesus. Even an angel – a messenger of God – called her “Blessed!”

In those poetic words, which begin the Rosary, we learn to pray through stages of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (If you don’t have a string of beads to help you keep track of where you are in your prayers, you can always use your fingers!) Regardless, the chapter includes instructions and an illustrated “Guide to Saying the Rosary,” which, Catholic or not, has been known to move mountains and help people with insomnia sleep better at night!

“Chapter 6: Prayers about the Holy Spirit” includes an insert, “Scripture Tells Us about the Holy Spirit,” which encourages Bible readings in the epistles and the prophet Joel. For example

“You will do great things! ‘It shall come to pass/ I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh./ Your sons and daughters will prophesy,/ your old men will dream dreams, / your young men will see visions,” (Joel 3:1).

In Chapter 7, “Prayers from the Saints,” you’ll find prayers that speak to or for you so well, you might want to check out other works from those early Christians. For example:

“Take Me, Give Me

Lord, take me from myself and
give me to yourself.”

Saint Catherine of Seina

Or, for another example:

“In God’s Service

Lord God,
whose we are and whom we serve,
help us to glorify you this day,
in all the thoughts of our hearts,
in all the words of our lips,
and in all the works of our hands,
as becomes those who are your servants,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Saint Anselm

In the third section on personal prayer, the chapters and “methods” include:

Praying the Lord’s Prayer
Praying with Scripture: Lectio Divina
Praying with Guide Meditation
Prayer and Journaling

The final section gives liturgical prayers used in the church community and ones for a month of private devotions too. Typically those personal times of prayer begin with:

“Call to Prayer

God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.”

And end with a “Closing Prayer,” followed by:

“Dismissal

May the Lord bless us
and protect us from evil
and bring us to the joy of Heaven.
Amen.”

Yes and amen.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-writer and pray-er


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