Michael Fitzsimons reviews the latest book from Fr James Lyons, The Lord’s Prayer For Everyone – Ta Inoi A Te Ariki Ma Te Katoa.
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‘The Our Father, common to all Christian denominations, is the prayer Jesus taught his friends when they asked him how to pray. In a new book The Lord’s Prayer For Everyone Ta Inoi A Te Ariki Ma Te Katoa, Wellington priest and author Fr James Lyons relates this universal Christian prayer to a range of personal situations and occupations.
‘The Lord’s Prayer’, says the text on the back cover of the book, ‘is a universe of care, a carrier through waves and wind, sun and storm, teaching interdependence, my need of others; helping me see that I am not in my world but ours.’
In our increasingly polarised society, it is easy to be trapped in ‘my world, not ours’, unable to put ourselves in the shoes of others and imagine what life is like for them. Rampant individualism can easily breed indifference or even hostility.
In The Lord’s Prayer for Everyone, Fr Lyons moves us in the opposite direction. He takes the commonplace words of the Our Father and breaths fresh life into them by exploring how they might apply in the lives of all-comers: the divorced and bereaved, kids and grandparents, caregivers and patients, priests and pilgrims, addicts and artists, writers and widowers, lawyers and doctors, migrants and refugees, priests and pilgrims. The style is meditative and reflective, as the author breaks open the words of the Our Father line by line. His words reflect the day-to-day reality of people’s lives.
Fr Lyons writes in the introduction: ‘The Lord’s prayer is for everyone. This is not a “me only” prayer!’ He goes on to quote Pope Benedict XVI Benedict:
‘In praying the Our Father we pray totally with our own heart, but at the same time we pray in communion with the whole family of God, with the living and the dead, with (people) of all conditions, cultures and races. The Our Father overcomes all boundaries and makes us one family.’
This book is certainly not ‘me only!’ It offers a spiritual vision of an inter-connected, vulnerable human community sharing a sacred life, far bigger than any one individual.
Drawing on his extensive pastoral experience, Fr Lyons has written a range of uplifting pastoral books helping people to better understand and celebrate their faith. The Lord’s Prayer For Everyone is a rich and welcome addition. It is imaginative and empathetic, reminding us that we are not defined by divisions of sex, gender, race, wealth, or whatever else you care to name but are in fact all in this together. The Our Father tells us so.
Copies of The Lord’s Prayer For Everyone Ta Inoi A Te Ariki Ma Te Katoa are available from Pleroma Books (www.christiansupplies.co.nz) and from the Compassion Centre bookshop in Island Bay. The cost is $20 per book. It was published with the assistance of a grant from the Clegg Family Trust and all income from sales will help support the work and ministry of the Sisters of Compassion.