Recent books in brief

Selected Prayers

by Pope Francis 

(Veritas, €4.99)

Prayer, according to Pope Francis, helps a person to keep their faith in God, and to entrust themselves to him even when they do not understand his will. “Prayer brings you to hope,” the Pope adds. “And when things become dark, with more prayer there will be more hope”–  very much a thought for today.

Since he became Pope his allocutions and papal documents have contained many examples of his own prayers. In three sections this little book provides a selection of them. Many, of course, were intended for particular occasions but this does not affect their appeal to others, for by focusing prayers fully on events and places which have affected many, the individual is enabled to both share the general insights the Pope has, and apply them to their own personal situations.

Readers should not overlook the last section of prayers beloved by the Pope. The first is St Thomas More’s “Prayer for Good Humour” – the relevance of which will appeal to countless people who have discovered (as Pope Francis did long ago) that a little humour eases every situation. Another is the “Five Finger Payer”, which has been mentioned in these pages before.

But the most unusual, and one of very special importance to the Pope, is a “Prayer to Our Lady, Untier of Knots”. This was inspired by a baroque painting by Johann Schmidtner which depicted Our Lady suspended between Heaven and Earth serenely untying a knotted white ribbon.  From this Pope Francis derived a special devotion to “Our Lady Untier of Knots” as a resolver of problems that he shared with his compatriots.  

The prayer is now used to introduce a novena to this devotion. This idea has an immediate appeal both for its special quality and its truthfulness to human nature. For this one prayer alone the booklet is worth buying.


Challenges in Later Life

Mary Threadgold RSC 

(Messenger Publications, €3.95 / £3.50)

We live today it seems to many in an era of unrelenting change. This can be especially difficult for older people who only wish to live quite and undisturbed lives, but also to continue to get as much out of life as they can. 

Today this group amounts to over nearly 12% of the population, by 2041 this figure will have risen to 22%. So in Irish society this is not just a problem area for individuals and their relations and friends, it is a national issue, and one which must be faced realistically.

This little pamphlet by Sr Threadgold deals with some of the issues that can arise in the areas of physical ability, social interaction, intellectual needs and challenges, but especially in the area of emotions and spirituality. She hopes to enable both those of advancing years and their families to deal with situations.  

The book provides not just comfort and advice, but also important information on where to go and who to contact for advice and help. 

For many people then this little book may prove to be invaluable.