REVIEW: My Prayer Book – Rev. Father F. X. Lasance (1908)

We return again to the work of Father Lasance, continuing our romp through the material of his available in English print. You can find here linked my reviews for Fr. Lasance’s missal and his longer Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book, both of which I highly recommend. My Prayer Book, assembled by Fr Lasance more than a century ago, differs from the larger and more broadly-scoped Blessed Sacrament volume in a number of ways, which we’ll get into below. All in all, however, I do recommend My Prayer Book, though with caveats.

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In comparison to his Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book, this volume seems slim. It clocks in at over 600 pages, however, offering no small number of resources for the average lay Catholic to use to further his interior life. Despite its length, it does still manage to look slim; it’s only about an inch thick, which allows for an ease of transport that his longer volume may not be suitable for. While this probably won’t fit into a normal pocket, you could easily find room for it in a coat or a small tote, if you wanted to bring it with you to Adoration or a chapel for private prayer. In cases such as those, however, I’d probably recommend the Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book over this one, anyway.

IMG_20200520_102623269It’s bound in a nice-looking leather hardcover, with a binding that seems like it will last a while even with regular use. The pages are only a few grades thicker than tissue paper, however, so when flipping through the book, exercise caution. That said, there’s very little ink bleed-through, which makes the pages themselves easy to read even if they seem delicate. The ink is dark, the pages bright white, and the size of the fonts involved all make using this manual an easy experience.

On that note, it isn’t difficult to navigate, either. By dividing it into two parts, Fr. Lasance was able to offer reflections on various practical topics regarding prayer, self-analysis, and the logistics of when or how to pray, while separating out the catalogue of actual prayers. This makes for an intuitively organized volume that is easy to navigate both by its table of contents and by its index. In this sense, the book is every bit a manual rather than a mere collection of prayers. Even the second part includes additional information on the prayers themselves, though briefer in content and limited specifically to the prayers in question.IMG_20200520_102704594

Unlike other prayer books, this book doesn’t come with any sort of placeholder or ribbons, which means you’d better have some prayer cards handy for page markers if you plan on using it regularly. The book is also almost entirely in English, with only select segments—mainly portions of the Mass which are included—being offered in a bilingual Latin/English format. This is fine for most of us, but be aware that if you’re looking for more Latin material, you’ll probably want the more substantial Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book.

IMG_20200520_102745500If you’re looking for your first prayer book (after, of course, your Bible and your missal), this is a perfect choice. The ninety eight meditative commentaries cover topics as ranging as how and why to do daily contemplative prayer, living a life in preparation for death, what sort of entertainment to avoid, sin and forgiveness, and a host of other topics integral to private life. The second section’s intuitive organization of devotions, litanies, novenas, and celebrations will also steer the faithful toward the book’s objective. And if all else fails, there’s always a well-catalogued index.

If this isn’t your first prayer book, however, then you may come away wanting. As with any books of prayer, the selection is always more important than the number of prayers contained, as no book holds every prayer ever penned by a Catholic confessor. And again, if this isn’t your first prayer book, then you likely already have all of the resources here that Fr Lasance reprinted for us. But if you’re looking specifically for the thoughts of the good priest, then this makes a good addition to his other works on your shelf.

GOOD:

  • portable
  • durable
  • affordable
  • well-organized & easy to use
  • a lot of helpful commentary by Fr Lasance

NOT SO GOOD:

  • prayer section largely redundant if you already have another Fr Lasance prayer book
  • need your own bookmarks

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