Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Art, Poetry, and Literature: Two New Books on Prayer You Need to Get

I haven't done more than dip into these books but I already know enough to recommend them. Full reviews will follow but I didn't want to wait until I was finished to tell you about them.

Art and Prayer: The Beauty of Turning to GodArt and Prayer: The Beauty of Turning to God by Timothy Verdon
There is an “art of prayer,” when faith and prayer become creative responses by which creatures made in the image and likeness of the Creator relate to him with help of the imagination. ... Richly illustrated, Monsignor Verdon explains that images work in believers as tools that teach them how to turn to God.
They had me at "richly illustrated." Over the years I have become more and more attracted to paintings as keys to helping me connect more honestly and deeply with God.

The book does indeed have many gorgeous pieces of art which are wonderfully explained and made personal by the text of the book. For example, looking at both the inset and whole painting of Piero della Francesca's Baptism of Christ, the author takes us through what the painter hopes to show us, the importance of the original setting for the piece and it's possible impact on the monks who would have seen it daily, and the importance of interior transformation for every one of us. He then uses the painting's landscape to segue into nature, Scripture, and imagination before moving on to the next piece for inspiration. All this is by page 6, by the way.

Needless to say, I am finding this thought provoking, eye opening, and inspirational. This is a gem.

Light Upon Light: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Advent, Christmas, and EpiphanyLight Upon Light: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany by Sarah Arthur

One of my favorite inspirational books is At the Still Point (my review here). It is an unusual devotional for ordinary time with thematically arranged classic and contemporary fiction and poetry which pulls the reader deeper into prayer and worship.

My one wish was that it would be popular enough that author Sarah Arthur would do similar devotionals for the other liturgical times of the year. With Light Upon Light, my wish is  coming true. Appropriate themes take us through the liturgical seasons from expectation and longing to joyful arrival and the cost of such a gift as Christ's incarnation. There is traditional and modern poetry, as well as literary excerpts which are not confined to those we'd expect such as A Christmas Carol (though that is there also).

This is a real treasure, not least because it may introduce you to new sources of inspiration you wouldn't have encountered otherwise.


  1. Thank you so much for recommending these, Julie! Arthur's books look just like my cup of tea - I often find myself navigating a very blurred line between 'spiritual reading' and 'pleasure reading' in literature and poetry. I know what my Advent devotional is going to be this year! (And it may be hard to not let Ordinary Time start before the middle of January...). I haven't even read these yet and I'm pulling for her to do one for Lent.

    1. You're so welcome! I hope you enjoy the devotional. It is really wonderful. :-)