The Prayerful Kiss


by Francis Etheredge

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism


Being a professor of adolescent development for over 30 years this book reminds me of the patterns and rhythms established in our lives during adolescence. Etheredge’s book takes the reader in many different experiences throughout life and through the possibility that pain and darkness are the last words. Even if going through dead ends is excruciatingly slow and impossible, the author hopes that it is possible to find that thread of life that is stronger than the gravitational pull of many life experiences. The author points out that prayer is not the preoccupation of this book but it is a prayer that makes it possible to see the daily life that unfolds life in the full. The author encourages us to read the book through your own life. First of all, collecting the pieces that make up the book; secondly setting the book up as a collection of poems, some of which have been published; thirdly bringing the collection of poems together and giving some notice to certain thoughtful and heartfelt poems. There are pictures that are placed throughout as a token to the visual.


The book begins with a reflection on Joseph the husband of Mary, Mother of God in which the author gives Joseph the credit for his manhood and the sense that motherhood was a mystery clothed in Jesus’ birth. This mystery became a springboard for his faith. The author continues that this movement gave him the opportunity to develop the meaning of the marriage to be one openness to life. (The author is married and has 8 living children). He continues that today is where the love of God has brought us with the community of people He has carried on the same journey that we are on.


The poems Etheredge offers us begin with “A Prayerful Kiss” which helps the reader to realize the pilgrimage from loneliness to connectedness. The author asks “How can a kiss not be a prayerful activity if it is indeed the giving of love: a gentle giving that does not steal what is not being given. The author asks: “Did the creator of the whole universe write the kiss upon the lips of lovers to show and to shower the world in moments bursting into flower telling transparently that the existence of the kiss is a sign that we are beings made for love?”

Poem after poem strikes deeply into the yearnings of the soul and heart. The entire book celebrates transcendence, truth, and beauty. It is the kind of book that can be read in little marvelous movements of the heart and call us to deep reflection.

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