The Sacred Place of Prayer

The human person created in God's image

Jean Marie Dwyer

Currently out of print £6.99

This gentle book is the fruit of years of study and monastic prayer. It becomes ever more interesting as Sister Jean Marie engages with her subject. It is worth having for the chapter on Etty Hillesum alone.
Timothy Radcliffe, OP, former Master of the worldwide Dominican Order of Preachers and author of numerous books, including Why Go to Church? and Seven Last Words

Content

'I began this book from a desire to share with as many people as possible the great gift of prayer, to show that it is not a complicated set of methods or exercises, but as simple as living life, being ourselves and bringing God into our daily routine.' Jean Marie Dwyer

There are many books available on the subject of prayer, so why add another one? The uniqueness of Jean Marie Dwyer's approach is the conviction that prayer, even contemplative prayer, is natural to everyone because we are created for God and reflect God... As created humans, we are the sacred place of prayer.

What does that mean? In the first three chapters she explores in a very accessible style the philosophical, biblical and theological groundwork for the understanding of the human person as the sacred place of prayer before moving on to consider what it means to be a contemplative.

'The contemplative life does not divorce us from the world or from reality. True contemplative prayer emanating from our innermost centre does not separate us from the real needs of God's people; instead, we become the locus of God's saving action toward the world. The gift of the God-life and the work of grace are not alien to our human capacity but simply stretch that capacity to its true dimensions. Throughout the tradition, beginning with the scriptures, love of God and love of neighbour are inseparable. Union with God is impossible without a corresponding oneness with our neighbour (1 John 4:20).'

Within us all is a deep need for love and a place of belonging. Jean Marie's chapters on desert spirituality, illusions and finding our centre give insight into how we find our true self and our place of home and belonging through prayer.

'An inward stillness helps us to seek God in the daily ordinariness of our lives. Setting aside time for prayer is important. Even a momentary pause in a busy day can be an oasis of stillness to re-centre ourselves. Equally important is stilling the unceasing chatter of our thoughts. In a society where noise and distractions are normal fare, such a commitment to silence takes courage. The early monastic tradition clearly understood and taught this truth. No moment, no situation, no pain or misunderstanding can separate us from God's presence, but calls us to search more deeply for the face of God.'

The book concludes by considering Mary, the mother of Jesus.

'Mary is the sacred space in which the Word of God was conceived. In her openness to God's plan and her response to the Word, we have the model for our discipleship and an illustration for becoming the sacred space for God.'

Much of what is included in this book is drawn from years of reflective study, lectio divina and Jean Marie's own gradual formation through study and prayerful interaction with the scriptures in the Dominican community and in solitary prayer. The book includes practical exercises at the end of each chapter to 'earth' the lessons learned in the reader's own experience. An appendix provides a helpful guide to developing the practice of lectio divina.

'Perhaps, as you read these pages, you will discover that prayer is so much more than you thought. My hope is that this discovery may continue, deepen and be the beginning and end of all you do in life. Take time for wonder and awe at small things, at existence, at life, at the love we can share with one another. It opens the door to God.' Jean Marie Dwyer

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Endorsements

This gentle book is the fruit of years of study and monastic prayer. It becomes ever more interesting as Sister Jean Marie engages with her subject. It is worth having for the chapter on Etty Hillesum alone.
Timothy Radcliffe, OP, former Master of the worldwide Dominican Order of Preachers and author of numerous books, including Why Go to Church? and Seven Last Words

Author info

Sister Jean Marie Dwyer, OP, is a member of a Dominican monastery in British Columbia, Canada. Much of what she writes in this book is drawn from years of reflective study, Lectio Divina, and her own gradual formation through study and prayerful interaction with the scriptures in community and in solitary prayer.

Reviews

This book is for those who want to move from praying lists of prayers and trying assorted spiritual exercises to instead apply themselves to become a place of prayer.

It ranges widely, from Aristotle to Catherine of Sienna and from The Desert Mystics and Dominic to Etty Hillesum, taking each section slowly and carefully. The reader will need to spend time with its separate chapters - it is not a book for reading at a sitting but chewing one chapter at a time and then weaving its words into your way of living as much as your pattern of praying. This will not be easy work but it will reap solid rewards!

The latter part of the book is built on the acted out prayer life of Etty Hillesum and her experiences during the holocaust and it is in this life that the author's words shine brightest. Here the reader sees the possibility of prayer being transformed from simple petition to active service and care wherein the image of God may be finally glimpsed.

Review by Revd Andrew Dotchin

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857462411
  • Published: 24 May 2013
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
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