Close to the Heart: A Guide to Personal Prayer

Margaret Silf, Author Loyola Press $21.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8294-1452-3

Silf, author of Inner Compass, offers her readers a basic guide to contemplative prayer. Utilizing techniques acquired during her own spiritual formation, Silf maintains that contemplative prayer is an aid to locating the calm below the emotional and mental turbulence that characterizes much of modern life. She urges her readers toward a creative reappropriation of the biblical Gospels by imagining themselves as participants in many key Gospel narratives. The application of such techniques results in encounters with God that are consistently affirming. Organizationally, the book is designed to guide the beginner from the basic elements of contemplative prayer to praying with ""the Word"" as discovered through creation and Scripture. Each chapter ventures a bit further in prayer techniques, as Silf encourages readers to discover the joys of the lectio divina and of experimenting with conversational prayer. Yet while aiming to introduce ""experiential Catholicism,"" Silf is mostly silent about Catholic encounters with God through the sacraments of the Church. Her work is less grounded in Catholicism than it is in generic spirituality, tinged with New Age overtones (the first chapter, for example, is entitled ""Discovering God Inside You""). Silf presents only selected aspects of the Church's collective experience of God through the ages. (Feb.)