McClain’s book offers daily prayers for Catholic schools, and inspiration for all

By Matthew Vander Vennet

One request that St. Paul asks of us is to “Pray without ceasing.” (1Thes 5:17) In “Called to Pray: Daily Prayers for Catholic Schools,” recently published by Ave Maria Press, Justin McClain takes up St. Paul’s call and gives us the resources to do just that.

One of the great benefits of being Catholic is the plethora of prayers for everything under the sun. McClain, author of “Called to Teach: Daily Inspiration for Catholic Educators” and an educator himself, searched out, compiled, and even wrote some of the prayers contained in “Called to Pray.” He also includes a section of prayers written by some of his students. His book contains prayers for every occasion.

“Prayer is to a Catholic school community as blood is to the body, as air is to the lungs,” writes Justin McClain.

In his introduction, McClain offers the reader why it’s important to pray and what sets Catholic schools apart from public schools — the ability to pray. “Prayer is to a Catholic school community as blood is to the body, as air is to the lungs,” he writes. A Catholic school should be prayer-centered, focused on Christ.

McClain also offers who the book is for, how to use it as a resource, and gives the structure or organization of the book. He lists the five main categories of prayer his book encompasses: special school occasions according to the school year, everyday prayers for individuals or groups at school, prayers marking the feast days throughout a typical school year, prayers written by students for students, and a final section that includes a selection of traditional Catholic prayers.

A few examples of prayer included in this volume are prayers for:

  • a successful school fundraiser
  • after an athletic defeat
  • following a loss in the school community
  • a back-to-school meeting
  • students struggling with identity
  • the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and
  • before starting homework or a study session.

If you can’t already tell, “Called to Pray” is quite comprehensive in scope.

A MUST-HAVE RESOURCE

I’d like to highlight the appendices. In them, McClain includes a brief “how-to” for composing your own prayers. In another appendix, McClain explains the four common types of prayers that Catholics employ. Catholics offer prayers of adoration which give praise to God, contrition or asking God for forgiveness, petition or making a request of God, and finally thanksgiving, which is expressing our gratitude to God for everything and anything in our lives.

This section is particularly useful, not only from an informational standpoint, but also in the context of creating your own prayers. Our prayers need not be a magnum opus. They can be one-liners and, in fact, McClain includes such a section as part of the appendices. I particularly appreciated the reminder that our physical position also plays a part in our praying. We are Catholics, and as such, we use our entire person — we are body and soul composites — when we pray.

If the above doesn’t inspire you to grab this book, his thematic index alone makes this resource a must have. If you are not entirely certain of the prayer you are looking for in a given context, start with the thematic index. Organized alphabetically, it moves from “Academic Subjects” to “Maturity/Growth” and all the way to “Zeal.” I cannot recommend this book enough as an aid to developing a deep interior life of prayer, not only for yourself and your fellow educators, but for anyone you teach as well.

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO TEACH

I am fully aware that not everyone who is reading this review finds themselves in the context of an actual Catholic school setting. However, we are all called, in virtue of our baptisms, to teach others about our faith. We cannot fully imbibe our faith, thus allowing us to evangelize, without the prerequisite prayer time. Only in the context of an active prayer life are we able to come to a deeper understanding of our faith and share that faith with others.

“Called to Pray: Daily Prayers for Catholic Schools”  is available at the Ave Maria Press website, on Amazon, or at your local Catholic bookstore.

MATTHEW VANDER VENNET is advancement director at The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign and a member of The Catholic Post’s new book review team.

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