Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Media Watch
‘Pray All Ways’ available in new edition; ‘Lunch with the Saints’ cards a happy addition to brown-bag meals

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the April 10, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Book Review

Father Edward Hays’s minor classic on prayer, titled Pray All Ways, was first published in 1981. It has now been reprinted in a paperback edition from Forest of Peace Publications of Notre Dame, Ind. The price is $12.95.

I don’t remember if I read Father Hays’s book when it first came out, but I am really taken by it in reading the new edition. Sure, you could argue that if you see prayer possible in all the different ways of our daily life, you could easily take it for granted and prayer becomes vaguely everywhere. But I think Father Hays opens us up to the incredible potential for real prayer that is all around us. He does strongly believe in a time of silent prayer – often to a God who, as Mother Teresa once said, listens to us in silence.

Father Hays has chapters on the senses, such at the eyes and the nose. But he also goes a long way in reminding us of praying with our feet: the traditional pilgrimage. We in the U.S. don’t have the millennium-old tradition of the pilgrimage more common in Europe. As J.D. Salinger is quoted, “All we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of holy ground to another.”

Prayer as play is powerful because it gets out of ourselves and the danger of being too self-centered in our life of prayer. Father Hays writes, “Humor and foolishness make it possible to forget the self. Silliness is but to be free of the self and to be free is to taste salvation.”

Suffering and tears make up separate chapters. He uses the Biblical theme of the grapevines being pruned to bring about the best possible crop of grapes. Father Hays puts it this way: “Each pain in life is but a preparation for the final and ultimate pruning when we will be radically cut back – all the way to the ground in our own death. We can embrace that last great adventure without fear if we have, without fear, allowed the divine pruning knife to touch our lives and our loves. From this last and most creative pruning of all, we will come forth in the full-bodied perfection of our resurrection.”

There are chapters on simplicity and patience which may ring more true today than they did 27 years ago. His wonderful section on “Discipline – To Feast or Fast” and the follow-up chapter on Feasting are particularly important for us in the world of fast foods. He argues convincingly for the need for meals together and special celebrations throughout the year. He quotes Henry David Thoreau, writing in Walden: “A Puritan may go to his brownbread crust with as gross an appetite as ever an alderman to his turtle.” Father Hays also suggests we have failed to carry home from church the message that all meals are mystical.

Following up on Jesus sleeping during the storm, Father Hays makes a case for the value of the holy nap. He says, “The back door leads to the prayer of napping as an external sacrament of the inner ability to let go of managing every aspect of our lives. It is an expression that we are able to allow the Divine Mystery to take over in the midst of troubles and deadlines. It is an expression of faith that the Divine Presence is even concerned with our seemingly common work and difficulties. Sleep is a form of humility, for it says, ‘God is saving the world.’”

Father Edward Hays is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Kansas City. He has written a treasure-trove of a book that resonates in the world we live in. It is very counter-cultural and may seem impossible to those of us who feel we are on a never-ending treadmill. But Father Hays shows us some practical ways to see the possibility of prayer all around us. Don’t miss this one.

Short Take

Jean Bernard’s memoir, titled Priestblock 25487: A memoir of Dachau is the book upon which the German film The Ninth Day was based. The book was published in 2007 in paperback by Zaccheus Press.

The movie is based on a page of the diary in which Jean Bernard has nine or 10 days to return to his homeland in Luxembourg. Jean Bernard did not think this was an interesting part of his story, which the movie makes into a riveting experience.

The diary as we have it is more intensely the story of the priests’ block at Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, where up to 3,000 priests were housed and roughly 1,500 eventually died.

Life in the concentration camp was filled with sorrow and sadness and moments of selflessness. Through a combination of bribery with bread, lots of luck, or Providence, Bernard was released in August 1942. He was down to 100 pounds and in a very weakened condition.

Though he can barely believe it, he begins to feel freedom is imminent. “I asked the SS man for permission to send a telegram home and lurched across the street,” he writes. “I could feel the man was observing me. Now I was standing at the bottom of three steps leading up to the entrance. I hadn’t considered that. I wouldn’t make it up them.... The guard would become suspicious ... and might take me back to the camp with him. To gain some time, I pretended to be interested in the contents of a glass display case next to the entrance, which contained all kinds of notices, and watched the guard behind me in the reflection. For a moment he looked away, and in that instant I crawled up the steps on all fours. I managed to get into the train without difficulty. One person pulled me by my arms, while someone else pushed from behind. Although the train was overcrowded, a woman conductor immediately found me a seat. Should I attribute this to my clerical garb or my shaved head? Probably it was both together.”

Priestblock 25487 is a moving account of the cruel place where more priests were gathered in one place than anywhere else in all the history of the world. It is well worth reading.

Short Takes: DVD

Director Martin Doblmeier has a new DVD out called The Power of Forgiveness that would be excellent for high school or adult education programs, followed by discussion. The 78-minute film begins with the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland during the last 30 years and the efforts by teachers to work with young children on the theme of forgiveness.

The film then moves to the Amish school massacre and a discussion of the ability of the Amish of Pennsylvania to forgive the man who brought death and terror to their one-room school.

Following that are discussions of the Holocaust with Elie Wiesel, including a portion of his challenging talk some years ago to members of the German legislature.

The section on three women who lost close relatives on 9/11 is particularly moving. Their struggles with violence, death and loss are painful, and yet filled with some sense of hope.

Some of the other speakers are the famed Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, the psychologist Thomas Moore, and the African American preacher Rev. James Forbes.

The Power of Forgiveness ends with the reconciliation of the father of a 21-year-old man killed as he delivered a pizza, and the grandfather of the 14-year-old boy who killed the father’s son. They speak at schools in California on the theme of forgiveness. The film was originally on Public Television. For more information go to www.firstrunfeatures.com

Recently Received

• The Peter’s Path company of Issaquah, Wash., has packaged a pack of 31 small cards with a quote from a saint on one side and a place to write a personal note on the other. These cards are called “Lunch with the Saints” and sell for $2 a pack. They are meant to be tucked into lunch sacks. I personally think they would be more collectable for children if there were a picture of the saint. I must admit that brings back memories of holy cards of the saints which were very common to receive at parochial school back in the 1940s. If interested, go to the web at www.peterspath.com

• Skylight Paths Publishing of Woodstock, Vt., has come out with a new book entitled Honoring Motherhood: Prayers, Ceremonies and Blessings. The book is edited, and includes introductions, by Lynn L. Caruso.

It obviously is the kind of book that is made for a Mother’s Day gift. It includes blessings, prayers, and anecdotes from many religious traditions. It is designed to go with the seasons of the years. It is filled with short pieces of poetry and prose from writers including Robert Frost, Thich Nhat Hanh, Maya Angelou and Spokane’s own Kathleen Finley. The book is available in hardcover for $19.99. For more information go to www.skylightpaths.com

• Doubleday offers an addition to the line of books on Pope John Paul II, titled A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope, written by now-Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland. Stanislaw was the personal secretary to Pope John Paul II during that eventful papacy. He speaks of John Paul II’s opposition to war, including his efforts to avert the Gulf War and the current Iraq war. Cardinal Dziwisz spent roughly 40 years at the side of his friend Karol, who became Pope John Paul II. The hardcover book is on sale in bookstores now at $22.95.

(Father Caswell is archivist and Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane.)


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