by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Christian writers feature in a new book on prayer that was launched at St Columba Centre in Ponsonby on March 9.
Published by Accent Publications, Journeying into Prayer: People and their Pathways was blessed by contributors and well-wishers at the launch as it was “sent on its way” to a wider readership.
The 289-page book, edited by Auckland-based theologian Fr Neil Darragh, has six sections entitled: Praying in community; Praying in the world around us; Personal prayer and meditation; Prayer in parish situations; Praying from Scripture; Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and multi-faith prayer. There is also an introduction and a concluding reflection from Fr Darragh.
Speaking at the launch, Fr Darragh explained one of the goals in putting the book together was to capture the diversity of prayer styles people use.
“We don’t capture everything, but give a sense of the diversity of prayer that is around now that you might like to experiment with and become adventuresome within in your own journey into prayer growth,” Fr Darragh said.
The book is also an avenue for New Zealand writing about prayer, he added.
“Most of the things we read on prayer are from overseas, although we do have quite a good tradition in New Zealand of prayer writing.”
The 34 chapters included pieces from Catholic priests Frs Neil Vaney, SM, Alan Roberts, James Lyons, John Dunn, Peter Murnane, OP, Peter Murphy, Stuart Sellar and Msgr Vincent Hunt, as well as Abbot Brian Keogh from the Cistercian Monastery in Kopua.
There are chapters by Catholic religious sisters (including Srs Helen Bergin, OP, Alice Sinnott, RSM, and Catherine Jones, SMSM) and laity (including Joy Cowley), people from other Christian traditions (including Anglican Rev Glynn Cardy), as well as from Muslim, Hindu and Sikh writers.
There is also a chapter by Cistercian Fr John Kelly, who died late last year.
The central question contributors were asked to address was: How do you pray? They were asked to write from within their experience and tradition, giving an “insider’s view”.
In the introduction, Fr Darragh wrote that the book recognised that “many people’s ways of praying and meditating are changing”. But the book does not seek to be a “representative sampling of contemporary styles of prayer”.
“It presents the contemporary pilgrim on a journey into prayer and meditation with some fascinating and informative accounts of a variety of expressions of prayer. From these, today’s pilgrims may draw new and perhaps transformative inspiration for their journeys.”