Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: Excellent book by Andre Louf on prayer and the heart--beautiful--'Teach us to Pray'
by Peter Menkin

Andre Louf
This is a lovely book on prayer and the heart. The copy I own is by a different publisher, and I purchased it used for what is probably a pretty good sum. Not like $50, but still for a used book this was a harder to find one. It was worth the money to me, and I sometimes go back to it from time to time.

Usually, I don’t quote from the very beginning of a book, but this from the introduction, right at the start, tells a lot about the title:

“The purpose of this short book is to do just a little to appease the hunger for prayer; a hunger to be found here, there and everywhere in these days.”

The subtitle of the Darton, longman and Todd publisher’s version that I own now was owned previously by a nun. I found that worthwhile and interesting, especially since she had marked up various lines with a yellow marker. They may not have always been my choice, but I liked hers and it added an additional dimension to the reading of the book translated by Hubert Hoskins.

Anchorite, photo by Henry Worthy, Oblate Cam Osb,
(unknown location Europe)
 The book is a personal testimony by the author, a former monastery Abbot and a man of the heart and other matters. Is this also a book of the psyche, I think so, for it asks the reader to go places in prayer and to know he or she can approach God in this manner. Here is one of those highlightings by my previous book owner, and I think she’s chosen a good quote from the part on cosmic prayer:

“That you have become a free human being, that your heart has begun to live and to sing, that the word of God is able to reverberate freely and frankly in your inmost centre, is a source of light and power for anyone.”

There are other dimensions to prayer one uncovers in this book, and I was so moved by the work as to be inspired to write a poem. Here is the poem:

Mr. de Wolf’s hope…
Peter Menkin

Something awakened
his heart,
becoming inner chamber,
place of prayer.

Who could know, even
when it occurred
aware of this–
striving with the spirit,
not striving with the spirit.

How could one know?
Mr. de Wolf became
a knowing man of prayer
in Church. Later he
reflects, that was
my hope.

Two old monks in contemplation
photo by Henry Worthy, Oblate Cam OSB
(unknown location Europe)
 That we come to know something of God is a matter of approachability of God, and the book is encouraging in this matter. What does prayer do. According to Andre Louf, “It cleanses people and things. It lays their deep centre bare; and in so doing prayer restores and heals the creation…every prayer is always related with blessing; and it will normally overflow into eucharistia, thanksgiving.”

Here are some of the quotes highlighted by my unknown previous owner of the used book, “Teach Us to Pray.”

  • “The living spirit of God is the fount of prayer in us.”
  • “Deep within Jesus, the Will of the Father was at one with His most fervent longing to pray.”
  • “…this meeting between the Word and the heart of a man is of one cannot say how much greater importance.”

There is a discussion of the Psalms in this beautiful book, and I say beautiful because of the topics and the manner of handling. One gets the unwritten idea that God loves us and that he is generous, and forgiving, that we can enter into private and public prayer with Him. The Psalms are for public prayer, and also “For many faithful people they are a source of inspiration and the means of nurturing their silent, interior prayer.”

For the religious man or woman this worthwhile book will be a lovely addition to a private library or sharing with a friend. Though a little expensive because it is harder to find, it is worth the money to many especially one who has an interest in religious reading and reading about prayer. I have given the book five stars. I recommend this small book, mine about 107 pages and know you, too, may find yourself returning to it from time to time.

Audio reading of the book review as read by its author Peter Menkin:

This book review appears on The Church of England Newspaper, London website where it was posted in 2011. It was written and originally appeared on the web in 1995, with the audio reading added for Church of England Newspaper, London in 2011.


Pop Art said...

I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information. I'll definitely add this great post in my article section.

Peter Menkin said...

So glad you will. Thank you for coming by.