Last year, I reviewed the Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book of Father Lasance, an exhaustive collection of prayers, meditations, and ejaculations compiled by the scholarly priest during his relatively brief time on Earth. I had only just purchased the book at the time and had yet to familiarize myself with its contents, so the review was brief and limited to immediate concerns like readability, size, and general points of note. But a year has passed, and the familiarity I lacked has manifested over a near-daily use of the volume. So here’s the short version of the review:
While I’m no expert on prayer books, of the ones I do have in my possession, this is the one I use the most. I use it even more than I use my missal, in fact. This doesn’t have everything, and I’ll get into that below, but it has everything you’ll want and an awful lot of stuff you probably didn’t know existed.
Briefly reviewing some of the ground in my last review, I’d like to emphasize how much material is covered in this book. It’s twelve hundred pages covering a lot of ground, but it’s intuitively organized (as a quick glance across its table of contents reveals) and easily navigated by the index in the back. Due to its organization by subject matter, some prayers appear multiple times, such as Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, Contrition, and Desire. Sometimes a litany will be listed in one section in its entirety while appearing in truncated form somewhere else as part of a meditation on its subject matter.
Despite its length, the book is fairly compact. It should fit in a coat pocket without too much trouble, if one is so inclined to conceal it. Additionally, its leather cover ensures a comfortable feel in the palm while also offering the assurance of durability over what could be a lifetime of use. On a slightly more frivolous note, its gold-rimmed pages also make it a good match alongside your missals, breviaries, Bibles, or other such important volumes of Catholic life. The publishers really nailed how to balance the aesthetic with the practical, both of which are important when devoting time to adoration and prayer.
Concerning the content, this obviously isn’t a missal or a breviary. It’s not meant to be progressed through day by day in sequence. It’s a repository of sources that should be used to advance your interior life, expand your love for God, deepen your sorrow for your sins, and otherwise grow in holiness and virtue. As such, both its table of contents and its index are as valuable as they are usable, and you’ll be flipping to them quite a bit. Of course, a bit of purgative soul mining doesn’t hurt either; indulgences, where applicable, are always noted after the prayers or ejaculations they accompany. It’s highly recommended that Catholics memorize a handful of these short ejaculations just to have on them during the day as a sort of spiritual energy boost.
As I mentioned before, the pages are quite thin, which can periodically make it a little difficult to read. On the other hand, this allows the book to be compact enough to carry more than a thousand pages of prayer material around in a space only a little larger than your hand. Also, it only comes with a single ribbon, which for a book of its nature seems absurd, so you’ll want to either get used to dealing with bookmarks or grab yourself a set of ribbon inserts. Even with those, I have a few prayer cards marking different sections anyway.
It’s important to remember that the whole history of Catholic prayer contains more verses than will ever be compiled into a single tome, so it goes without saying that there are things you’ll probably be looking for that Father Lasance neglected to include in this prayer book. It may not be the Last Prayer Book You’ll Ever Want, but it has prayers—and many of them—for nearly every occasion. You won’t find the litany of the Most Precious Blood in here, for instance, but you will find the complete chaplet—with meditations on—the Most Precious Blood (page 631).
In addition to the spiritual material, Father Lasance included some of his own reflections and meditations on various subjects throughout the work, always grouped with but separate from their related prayers. There are too many to list here, but they can be found easily from the table of contents. While I haven’t had a chance to read every single one, I can say that the ones I have read are all valuable resources for deepening contemplative prayer life, offering insight into the mystical body of Christ in a manner fitting of the tradition of Catholic mysticism.
Most sites are selling this for about seventy bucks. All things considered, it’s a reasonable price. The volume seems durable, has held up to this past year of use without so much as a blemish, and of course, contains so much material that you should see a return on your investment pretty quickly. It may not be a book you bring with you to Sunday Mass, but you’ll probably want it handy during Holy Hour or other periods of Adoration, to say nothing of personal prayer before or after a good confession. I highly recommend it.
- includes a LOT of material
- easy to carry
- exhaustive index makes it easy to find things
- intuitively organized with certain prayers repeated according to section
- includes reflections and meditations by Fr. Lasance
NOT SO GOOD:
- pages are thin
- need more ribbons/place markers
- missing some things I’d like to have compiled in one place (minor complaint)
- bit of an investment, but worth it
POINTS OF INTEREST:
- Morning, daytime, and evening prayers – 35-88
- Devotions before and after Confession – 255
- Devotions before and after Communion – 328
- Methods and prayers for Holy Hour – 628
- Reflections on the Sacred Heart – 693
- Visits to the Blessed Sacrament – 880
- Indulgenced prayers on Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost – 1003-1021
- Prayers on behalf of the souls in Purgatory – 1065