Book Review: Sacred Space
Author: The Irish Jesuits
Publisher: Ave Maria Press ISBN: 9781594712777
I have been a lover of prayer books ever since reading Scot McKnight’s book, Praying with the Church. Since reading that book, I have collected quite a few prayer books from various traditions exploring, using, and integrating them into my personal rhythms of prayer. Through the past few years I have found a number of the Ignatian Exercises (Examen, Imaginative Prayer, Journaling, Lectio Divina) very helpful in the ongoing development and maturation of my spiritual formation. It was because of this fond attraction to Ignatian Spirituality that I was especially drawn to this prayer book of the Irish Jesuits.
(From the Sacred Space Website) Sacred Space is a work of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus. It originated in the offices of the Jesuit Communication Centre in Ireland in 1999. Being a ministry of the Irish Jesuits, it is inspired by the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Ignatian spirituality).
The prayers are grouped into a weekly theme providing “something to think and pray about each day through the week.” Each day is then ordered into a session of prayer, which proceeds through a series of movements.
- There is the topic or theme with accompanying Scripture verse—Sacred Space ordinarily follows the scripture sequence of the Revised Common Lectionary. Adaptations are made to the Irish calendar to acknowledge the international readership of the site.
- The Presence of God—Opening prayer acknowledging/inviting God’s Presence
- Freedom—Prayerful acknowledgment that I am a free soul; asking God to give me continuing grace and strength to respond obediently to His instructions and guidance.
- Consciousness—A prayerful meditation and examen of consciousness; honest acknowledgement of the condition of my soul and spirit.
- The Word—Leads you to the daily Scripture reading and provides help with the text, if needed.
- Conversation—Prayer of imagination “Jesus himself sitting or standing beside me, opening my heart to him ” and sharing my truthful thoughts and feelings.
- Conclusion—Closing prayer; most often ending in the “Glory be.”
“Although written in the first person, the prayers are for ‘doing’ rather than for reading out. Each stage is a kind of exercise or meditation aimed at helping you to get in touch with God and God’s presence in your life” (p. viii).
I continue to enjoy this prayer book as a supplement to my daily prayer disciplines. I’m thankful that I have found it and plan to continue using it in the years to come. There is a website link that provides this same form and movement of prayer… although I have found some differences in the how the movement is guided. The Scripture readings have been the same as the days marked in the prayer book. I recommend this prayer book for anyone regardless of the stage you may be in your spiritual journey and close this review with a few words from the Sacred Space:
“…Remember that God is everywhere, all around us, constantly reaching out to us, even in the most unlikely situations. When we know this, and with a bit of practice, we can pray anywhere. — Every place is sacred space so you may wish to have this book in your desk at work or available to be picked up and read at any time of the day, whilst traveling or on your bedside table, a park bench, or…”