Monday, January 17, 2011

BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS FOR MARRIED COUPLES

This past year when CHANT OF DEATH was published by Pinyon Publishing, co-author Isabel Anders and I were working on other individual writing projects that came to fruition in 2010. Isabel is an editor of “Synthesis,” a resource publication of commentaries on Scriptural readings designed to assist clergy and lay people with their sermons and teaching. In her spare time, she publishes at least one book a year. To date, she has approximately 22 books on her publication list, several of which are endorsed by the famous author Madeleine L’Engle (now deceased).

The book that came to fruition for Isabel is her latest compilation, available this month from Liguori: BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS FOR MARRIED COUPLES: A Faith Full of Love. This volume is a blessing in itself and emphasizes marriage as a sacrament that requires attention to prayer life. In BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS FOR MARRIED COUPLES, Isabel advocates the daily act of affirming marriage vows through the process of collaborative worship. The book is an invitation for couples to regard their union as blessed, and Isabel advises them to keep their hearts open for an enlightened relationship with each other, as well as with God, so that a clear spiritual perspective about the institution of marriage overarches their partnership.

Based on seven lines of the marriage vows, each chapter in BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS FOR MARRIED COUPLES presents a different part of the vows: “I take you to be my spouse…for better or for worse…to have and to hold…in good times and in bad…for richer and for poorer…in sickness and in health…all the days of our lives…” Isabel encourages married couples to pray together at regular times – at mealtimes, bedtimes, and at family events. Her thesis that praying together is the strongest factor in producing long-term, successful marriages is undergirded by the results of a survey that determines only one percent of married couples divorce when they engage in mutual prayer.

Isabel uses positive words to project the ideal for married life: love, listen, care, give, share, and support, and at the beginning of each chapter containing inspiring quotations and prayers, she presents a personal reflection about a part of the marriage vow. At the conclusion of each chapter, she includes questions that partners can use to reflect upon and discuss together.

Quotations in BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS FOR MARRIED COUPLES range from St. Thomas of Aquinas to a Shaker hymn and include Scriptural passages, the work of religious figures, poets, and devoted laypersons. In this amazing array of prayers, poetry, aphorisms, anecdotes, and blessings are such simple directives as:

“The six most important words in the world:
I ADMIT I MADE A MISTAKE.
The five most important words in the world:
YOU DID A GOOD JOB.
The two most important words in the world:
THANK YOU.
The most important word in the world:
WE.
The least important word in the world:
I.”

From SHORT PRAYERS FOR THE LONG DAY by Giles and Melville Harcourt.

Each chapter in this guide to prayer within the married life reflects the diligence and devotion of a committed Christian writer. Isabel affirms the premise that prayer is an expression of the heart and that the sacrament of marriage loses its purpose if prayer is not a part of that sacramental life. She has also achieved that which she hopes for in writing BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS FOR MARRIED COUPLES: “…a spirit of heavenly lightness and even of the humor that is so much a part of my own marriage…” She inspires couples to “imagine a life of trusting in God together…”so that they can be “…a flame of belief and light to a darkened world…”

This is a “how-to” volume containing profound insights that Isabel shares with couples who wish to achieve intimacy with God and each other within the construct of a praying partnership.

Brava Isabel!
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