Sadly, The Canterbury Bookstore here in Madison is closing up shop after many years of faithful Buchhandlung. The Inn will remain open, each room a theme room modeled after Chaucer's tales. We succeeded, over the course of 1.5 years, in purchasing enough books to get a free nights stay in a room there. Fun.
All of which is an indirect start to sharing where I finished reading Guardini's book on The Art of Praying. At Ancorra, the coffee shop attached to Canterbury. With a clipper of fair trade guatemalan. The book is utterly inspiring; in fact, I found it to be both immediately useful in my ministry of prayer as a pastor, and in the longer term, as a guide to future praying.
I read the first half of the book last night, and used concepts and themes from it for the prayers of the church this morning. Guardini argues at least these points- that prayer begins with confession, then continues with adoration. That prayer is centered around the Lord's Prayer in and through Christ to the Father. He further distinguishes between personal and liturgical prayer, centers prayer in God's Triune life, spends some time reflecting on the central Christological and Trinitarian nature of prayer, but does not exclude the Catholic approach to prayer that includes Mary, the Saints, and particular devotional practices (the Rosary, etc).
Yet it is impossible to summarize Guardini's thoughts, because it is the overall effect of reading the work that accomplishes something and furthers the prayer life of the reader. It is one of those books that leaves you different at the end of the reading than at the beginning, not because of its intellectual audacity, but because of its simple catechetical profundity.