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Within Reach of You: a book of prose and prayer

by Francis Etheredge

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.

The author, Francis Etheredge, is a prolific writer. He has written about life and prayer for many years. One supporter writes:” I commend this work as very useful, spiritual and pastoral resource for anybody living the Gospel life.” There are many more accolades about this book!

In his general introduction he begins: “What is the point of prayers? How do I know that I am not talking to myself? How do we know whether anyone is there? If we pray, do we need to do anything about what we pray? What if God does not answer our prayers?” This book has been inspired, by the questions my children ask. But also by Gordon Nary, editor of Profiles in Catholicism, who has asked for a number of written prayers to be published on their online website; and when I asked what he thought of the last prayer that I sent him, he said: ”Your prayers are always the most exquisite prayers that I have ever read” In the end, the requests seemed to prompt the possibility of writing a book of prayers.” Indeed, at this is the third volume of prose and poetry, it looks as if this theme has been there from the beginning but has now come to the fore. At the same time, Annabelle Moseley’s great contribution to the second collection of prose.

This book of prayers, then, endeavors to draw out the fact that there are many events and aspects of life which come to the fore in a particular way through the natural preoccupations of the family and therefore, this is about hoping to give flesh to the daily, ordinary or extraordinary situation out of which prayer arises. Thus, this book is not about the grace prayers of the Church, although, in passing they may arise in their help is ever part of the help each of us can receive. This book is more about the initiative to pray which arises out of the pressing upon us of the sufferings and joys that both pass through our lives like a bushfire and its extinguishing or that plight of people which has come into the corner of our vision and grown, increasingly, into what prayer and action are possible for us. The focus then is on the prayer out of life. The book is filled with prayers and poems for meditation and contemplation for all interested.

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