“The Notre Dame Book of Prayer” may very well be the most beautiful collection — and most beautifully printed collection — you’ll ever find of a volume of its kind.
This is a masterfully crafted work of art. It’s filled with satisfying words of praise, petition and gratitude, a gorgeous book you’ll want to keep nearby to search through for just the right words to pray yourself or to share with others. Skim it as I did, stopping by happenstance and being inspired, surprised and challenged at the wonderful spiritual lift that black letters on white pages offer on literally any and every page.
The authors of the prayers are an eclectic sort — Notre Dame grads and teachers but literally hundreds of others from Dag Hammarskjold to Knute Rockne, from St. Bernard of Clairvaux to Virgilio Elizondo.
There are prayers for every occasion you can think of, and for some occasions you’d likely never have thought of. Need a prayer as you begin retirement? It’s in there? How about a prayer for grandparents raising a grandchild? And then there is the “Prayer for Openness to New Experiences” by 9/11 martyr Father Mychal Judge:
“Lord, take me where you want me to go,
let me meet who you want me to meet,
tell me what you want me to say,
and keep me out of your way.”
The familiar and the new
You’ll recognize prayers you haven’t prayed since childhood (like the “Morning Offering”) and find new prayers you’ll wish you had known (like Pam Weaver’s “For Conflict with a Co-worker or Friend”).
If you do it, there’s a prayer for it. A Prayer for Librarians, a Prayer for Actors, a Prayer for Coaches. There is a prayer for pain and comfort, after suicide, for those with cancer, for those who cause suffering, and “A Couple’s Prayer to Heal a Hurt.”
Each of the book’s dozen sections includes a brief introduction, sometimes inspiring anecdotes, sometimes catechesis, all masterfully organized by editor Heidi Schlumpf. An index of titles and names joins a helpful subject index to make prayers on a specific topic or by a favorite author easy to find.
It’s all good. Blessings on the University of Notre Dame’s Office of Campus Ministry and Ave Maria Press for gracing our lives with something so richly diverse and inclusive to carry along on our journey back to the Father. — bz