A School of Prayer
Updated: Aug 20
Friday Book Pick: A School of Prayer: The Saints show us how to pray by Pope Benedict XVI
If you are ever in Rome on a Wednesday, you should consider going to the Holy Father’s general audience. It is held every week either in St. Peter’s square or in the nearby Paul VI audience hall. At this special event you will get to see and hear our Holy Father, and also receive his blessing. The popes have used this weekly forum to be closer to their people since 1939 when the audience began under Pope Pius XII. When this tradition started, it was exclusively for newly married couples who dress in their wedding garb and received an individual papal blessing for their lives together. (Brides and grooms still received preferential seating and a personal blessing, but the general audience is now open for all pilgrims.)
Since John Paul I, and continued by John Paul II, the general audiences have been series of catechesis, allowing the Holy Father a weekly venue to teach his flock on a topic of his choosing. Pope Saint John Paul II taught his “Theology of the Body” week after week during the Wednesday Audience from 1979 to 1984.
Today’s book pick is the compilation of general audiences given by Pope Benedict in 2011 and 2012 on the topic of prayer. It might seem an exaggeration to call a compilation of short addresses a masterpiece, but the way Pope Benedict treats deep Biblical themes with simple profundity in few words must require unique genius. This book is treasure in its scope (it covers the theme of prayer from a Biblical perspective surveying both old and new testaments—especially focusing on the prayer of Jesus) and brevity (each reflection is only two three pages long). I’ll include a few nuggets from A School of Prayer here to pique your interest:
“This attraction to God, which God himself has placed in man, is the soul of prayer.”
“Being saved does not mean merely escaping punishment but being delivered from the evil that dwells within us.”
“Know how to desire the salvation of mankind and ask for it with perseverance and with trust in the Lord who is great in love.”
“Whoever allows himself to be blessed by God, who permits himself to be transformed by God, renders a blessing to the world.”
“The primary aim of prayer is conversion…”
Those are just a few of the sentences I jotted down for further pondering when I was working my way through this book.
I am recommending this book for the incoming participants in NY Samuel Group (an eight-month spiritual formation program for young adults) and for the graduates too, and for any serious spiritual person who wants to further form his intellect in prayer so as to enhance his actual prayer life. I recommend reading one article every two days for slow ponderous and truly spiritual reading.