Wednesday 13 October 2021

The Prayer of the Church - Father Robert Taylerson - A Guide to Morning, Evening and Night Prayer

The Prayer of the Church:
A Guide to Morning, Evening and Night Prayer
Robert Taylerson
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9780851839240
CTS Booklet D625

Over the last several years, I have read over 200 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series, and many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. I read one book by Father Taylerson in the CTS Deeper Christianity Series called Prayer in Sadness and Sorrow, when researching for that review I came upon this volume, another that sounded similar and 2 others in the Deeper Christianity Series. This was the next I tracked down to read. The description of the booklet is:

“This guide to Morning, Evening and Night Prayer is intended for beginners, whether sharing in community or praying the hours alone. It can be uses as a self-tutorial or as the work-book for a small group. It will be of value whether the edition of The Prayer of the Church you use is British, Irish, or American.”

The chapters in the book are:

Getting Started
     1 - Introduction to Morning, Evening and Night Prayers
     2 - Understanding Your Office Book
     3 - Where to Start for Evening Prayer
     4 - Morning Prayer and Night Prayer
     5 - Understanding the Printed Psalter Page
     6 - Enhancing your Prayer

This volume was originally published in 1993, the CTS Booklet number is D625. Only after reading this and starting research for this review did I discover that there is an updated edition of this volume called Guide to Morning, Evening and Night Prayer: How to Pray the Prayer of the Church published in 2008 and released as an eBook in 2017. It has booklet number D671 and comes in at nearly twice the page count. But a quick comparison and the table of contents is the same. I have already picked up the eBook of that volume and will give it a read for comparison soon. But I do not regret picking up this as I tracked it down used and it appears to be signed and dedicated by the author. But back to this earlier edition for reviewing purposes. 

There are several things to like about this little volume. First it is written so that you can use it as a guide and starting point for praying the hours or even the whole breviary. It is written in a generic enough fashion that you can use various editions or printings of the Hours, and still use this as a guide. The author makes mention to American or UK editions a few times throughout the book. And the back cover makes mention of British, Irish or American editions.

Another excellent feature is that it is short and sweet. The lessons are clear and concise. And at the end of each of the 6 lessons are questions and exercises, so you can practice what you have learned. I know that these days many people use apps for the Hours, but for those who wish to still use books this is an excellent volume, or the newer edition should both serve well. I made note of several passages while working through this booklet. Some of them are:

“The seven hours of the old breviary did not contain precisely the same sequence of readings, psalms, and prayers as those of today’s Office, but the idea of praying and praising regularly with the whole Church is exactly the same.”

“In addition to the tradition of praying seven times a day is another tradition of praying three times a day. In Psalm 54 (55) the psalmist talks of turning to God three times a day (morning, noon and evening) as does Daniel (Dan 6:10). This was originally linked to the Jewish tradition of three temple-sacrifices each day, but the tradition continues in the Christian Church. In praying the psalm-based hours regularly through the day we become part of this long tradition maintained by God’s people as he guides them through the centuries.”

“It is probably a mistake to think of your book in the same light as books which are begun at the beginning and read to the end. It is better to think of it as containing several distinct sections, each of which has a different purpose. Try thinking of a loose-leaf file with different subjects, a Filofax or personal organizer, or a Sunday newspaper with several supplements. You then have a better idea of how your book has been edited and put together.”

“This lesson (6) looks at ways of praying the hours thoughtfully and personally. By using the Office book imaginatively you praise God more fervently, are nourished by his Words more fruitfully, and are present more attentively to him in prayer. Not all ways of praise and prayer fit each person. Always look to improve your prayer. Don’t be afraid to try other methods, but at the same time don’t think that there is anything wrong is a particular way of prayer doesn’t seem to fit.”

And the passage that I found struck me the hardest was:

“The regular habit of praying the hours is a great strength. Such habits carry us through the bad patches, and build our confidence in the good.

What should be avoided is that prayer becomes merely habit, that the words come out without thought, without feeling and without personal intent."

This is an excellent little read. And in the older style and format from the Catholic Truth Society. If you are interested I would recommend the newer edition, unless you want this original offering. A great little tool for praying the hours.

Reminder there is a newer edition of this booklet called Guide to Morning, Evening and Night Prayer: How to Pray the Prayer of the Church they are very similar, but I only found that out after picking up that one as well.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Father Robert Taylerson:
Teachings on Prayer: The Christian Tradition - CTS Deeper Christianity Series

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