Published by Burns & Oates 2006
Are we to be Mary or Martha? Carmelite Nun Ruth Burrows, challenges the way we pray.
Calling on well known past and more contemporary Religious figures, Burrows puts the case for being more like Mary.
As Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, so we, at any time, like a child, easily, can allow ourselves, the whole flawed self that is, to sit and be open to love. Burrows frequently and adamantly points out that gaining saintliness or holiness is achieved not by what we do – to God or anyone else – but in receiving the pouring out of God’s love.
God is Jesus, seen in those we meet everyday, doing ordinary things. God is the Spirit in every human being; ‘because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’ (Rom.5.5)
“A Spirit who is always praying deep within us,” “for we are made for this Passion” she writes. Holy moments are experienced as we connect with the Heavenly Father and the Spirit in others in relationship.
Objectivity is not denied. If anything it is brought home that a Carmelite’s life is very much about preparing oneself for all worldly endeavours, including developing perception, intuition and reason.
It is the essential focus on deepening prayer through reading the Gospels, participating in the Eucharist, taking timeout to search the soul, but most of all dwelling in loving that the essence of prayer is touched upon – “in our secret hearts.” For Burrows, prayer is a state of being.
Not a light read this book, more iconic – highly suited for individual or group study. Ruth Burrows, who also wrote Bestseller Guidelines for Mystical Prayer, persistently yet gently “took me in,” achieving a transforming, intimate appreciation of prayer for which I am grateful.
Essence of Prayer also has a foreword by Sr. Wendy Beckett.
Review by Krishna Buhler a Chaplain for Life Line Cairns and a member of the Kuranda/Mareeba Congregation