Reviewed by S. Leigh Hall

Though published in 1987, this small devotional presents timely instructions, historical information, and beautiful prayers for those seeking an intimate relationship with our Triune God.  Currently in the church, as we hear more about ways to pray such as Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina and placing ourselves in the scene as we read Scripture, Hammes specifically focuses on practices that lead us “to think about God and live in his presence.”

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The subtitle, focusing on Marian meditation, is a little misleading, though it reminds us of the phrase heard by many of us, “coming to Jesus through Mary.” In actuality, the chapters introduce valuable spiritual direction that includes our Guardian Angel, Joseph, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ as well as Mary. The heart of the book brings us to a unity with the Triune God who loves us so much that he sent his Son to redeem the world and sanctify us through the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 4 explains why Hammes emphasizes Mary as is fitting when considering her love for and obedience to the will of God. He refers to her as the living tabernacle of God, ponders the suffering she endured in watching her son die on the cross, and writes the most poetic heartfelt prayers I’ve read in recent times directed to Our Lady.

Nevertheless, the meditations on the greatness of Joseph and his contributions to the early life of Christ brought this great saint to life for me in a deeper, more meaningful manner. Often, I contemplate the Blessed Mother and Simeon’s prophesy that her heart would be pierced by a sword, Luke 2:35. I relate as a mother who hurts for her children when they hurt. However, Hammes reflections on Joseph opened to me the pain and suffering that the adopted father of Jesus must have endured not only for his son but also for his beloved wife. God appointed him to protect this most Holy family. What a responsibility!

Though it isn’t long and could be read quickly, you would miss the grace in its narrative. My only suggestion to make this booklet more helpful would be to update the list of reading materials suggested at the end of each chapter.

I am a firm believer in meditation as a way to encounter the love of our Lord and to keep him close in my heart and soul. This small book belongs on a bedside table or wherever a person spends his or her prayer time. My recommendation is reading any part of it at any time of day to bring a person back to center, reduce stress, and as Hammes points out in the beginning of the book, possibly lower blood pressure.

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Genre:  Non-fiction Devotional

Author’s Worldview:  Catholic

Year Published:  1987

Audience:  YA, Adult, Catholic, Apologists, Non-Catholic

Themes:  Prayer, Meditation, Mary, Joseph, God, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity