Monday, November 21, 2011
Book Review of The St. Francis Prayer Book by Jon M. Sweeney
In recent years, as readers of this blog know, I have experimented with fixed hour prayer. I have also had a long-term interest in St. Francis' spirituality, especially his ability to combine depth in spirituality with a compassionately activist faith. For this reason, when I saw The St. Francis Prayer Book I snapped it up as quickly as possible.
Once I recieved The St. Francis Prayer Book, I was impressed. The first thing I noticed is how the book was organized. The book is divided into four very helpful sections. The first section presents a summary of the nature of St. Francis' prayer life. The second section presents the "St. Francis office". It includes morning prayers and evening prayers for one week. This section of the book does not necessarily include a lot of the words of St. Francis. Instead, it contains Scriptures and prayers inspired by St. Francis' sprituality what we know of the form and content of his prayer life. The next section shares occassional prayers that are attributed to St. Francis himself. Then there are some very helpful appendices to further model one's prayer and spirituality after St. Francis.
I have read several books on Francis of Assisi. Jon Sweeney gave me new insights in his brief summary of Francis' prayer life. I was really impressed by the introduction with this book. If you buy the book you must read it. It sets the stage for everything that follows.
I thought the actual "St. Francis office" was very helpful and well done. It was laid out in a way that seemed to both provoke me to mediation on the Lord and prayer to him. It mixes Scriptural and historical prayer resources well. And, as a Protestant, it was nice not having to work through a lot of veneration of Mary in a prayer book published by a Catholic publisher.
I also the other parts of the book helpful. The occassional prayers, while I have similar resources elsewhere, I felt was well laid out. Also, the appendices were also intriguing to read and think about.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in either fixed hour prayer, or St. Francis of Assisi's spirituality.