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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

Welcome to my own personal exploration of life through reading the great books of the world.

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Location: Spokane, Washington, United States

"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Best Thing I Read this Week

I found a real gem at the used book store yesterday: Quiet Places with Jesus by Rev. Isaias Powers, C.P. I've been looking for a prayer book to help me concentrate more on the person of Jesus as I pray. I tend to be a bit too intellectual when I meditate and I wanted something that would help tap my imagination.

Fr. Powers wrote these guided meditations in the 1970s and they're very much in the Jesuit tradition of using the imagination to help one pray. What I've been impressed with most so far, however, is Fr. Powers' summary of how to know if one's prayer is successful. He's captured the essence of effective prayer so beautifully that I want to share it with you:
For prayer to be "successful" (that is, for grace to have "worked") does not depend on an emotional "high," or even on the awareness that "I prayed really well." The only criteria is that which was proclaimed by Christ:

"By their fruits you will know them."
(Matthew 7: 15-20; 12:33)

If the time spent in prayer endows the person with more kindness, patience, hope, joy, gratitude, love, serenity, faith, thoughtfulness, gentleness, courage, humility, wisdom, compassion, a sense of oneness and purpose with all humanity...then God's grace is most certainly at work.
To me, that is one of the greatest explanations of how to know whether or not one is really praying or simply going through the motions. It's not how good we feel during or immediately after the prayer, it's how our actions slowly begin to change for the better.

Fr. Powers ends his introduction with this beautiful blessing:
May Blessed Mary, the greatest example of prayer--and St. Luke, the foremost evangelist of our Lord's insistence on prayer--guide you to a place of peace, a hold on hope, a capacity for unclutteredness...and to such a habit of constant prayer that you will no longer need any manuals or methods...when God will speak plainly--without parables--to your heart.
I think Quiet Places with Jesus is really going to help my prayer bear more fruit.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:39 AM

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