Occasionally I will circle back around and put some additional focus on a book that is a staple in my library. This week I want to introduce to a book that has been invaluable in my own faith journey. Admittedly I may let a book sit on my shelf for a bit but I find myself gravitating back to a few select titles. Such is the case with this book.
The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer is a book I have used and enjoyed often since receiving it. Father John Bartunek is the author of this extensive guide that serves as a daily prayer companion. The more I use it the more I have come to realize what a rich resource it truly is.
First off, what is it? The book contains 303 meditations. Each of these meditation units begins with a Gospel passage from either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. These passages are then followed by commentaries based around the four same themes through the entire book. Christ the Lord, Christ the Teacher, Christ the Friend and Christ in My Life. More in depth description of each of these themes comes from Father John in the introduction:
“The “Christ the Lord” commentary points out how a particular passage illuminates Christ’s mission and qualities as Savior, Redeemer, and Eternal King.
The “Christ the Teacher” commentary draws out the lessons that Christ teaches by word and example, appealing more directly to the intellect.
The “Christ the Friend” commentary brings out the intimate and personal love of Christ’s heart.
The “Christ in My Life” commentary (mostly written in the first person) consists of observations and questions in the form of prayers that help you evaluate how you should follow Christ in light of the passage you are meditating on.”
The key to what makes this book so successful to use is structure. Every meditation unit is laid out the same way affording the reader a sense of rhythm to each unit. As you progress from day to day this structure will help prevent distraction.One thing to note is the content of these meditations. They are deep and well written. These are not light one pagers…..most of the meditations come in at around four to five pages in length.
There are two ways to use the meditations. You can either use either Index one which arranges the units in particular topical area of study. Some examples are charity, confidence in God, patience and suffering. The second way to use the book is via index two which correlates the units to the liturgical calendar and cycle A, B or C.
Father John says the following in the introduction. “No book can pray for you. No book can teach you to pray. At most, a book can be a useful tool. The Better Part is designed to help you engage more actively in the quest of Christian meditation so you can reap more fruits of spiritual growth.” What some books do accomplish is they lead you down a path of spiritual renewal and benefit. The Better Part is one of those books that you will buy and use for a lifetime. Father John Bartunek has assembled a valuable collection of meditations that will certainly aid the reader in building a personal relationship with God.
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