|The Better Part, by Father John Bartunek, LC|
Author: Trish Bailey
Moments of grace come in the
most ordinary of ways.
One day you get a sudden
spark of desire to get up earlier, turn over a
new leaf in your spiritual life, do your morning meditation
much better than ever before, grow closer to Christ. No
more of this loafing around. Now we’re getting serious about
things. You can hear the drums and bugles of war
already: you are going to conquer your lower self.
decide: it’s time for a really good book. Not just
any book. It has to be a book that will
teach you how to pray, give you something to pray
about, and make you want to come back and pray
again tomorrow. It has to be new and fresh, yet
classic and timeless, rooted in the Gospels. And it has
to be interesting and insightful.
Brimming with fervent resolution, you march
into a local bookstore — the chic, modern one that
also sells apricot scones and blueberry smoothies — and you
find the section marked “Spirituality”. After browsing in row upon
row of glossy displays, you discover that atheism has somehow
become a religion worthy of inclusion in the spirituality section.
Interesting. Then there are the books about Wicca, Eastern meditation
techniques, self-improvement in 30 days, Satanism, and agnosticism. There are
lots of colorful new releases by evangelical Christians. Those are
always uplifting, but you want something Catholic and substantial, something
that will enlighten your mind with solid doctrine, strengthen your
will with deep motivations, and move your heart by showing
you the beauty of Christ. It has to be something
that you can apply, something practical and down-to-earth, too. It
has to be something better than what you see on
the shelves of the local bookstore. Is that too much
Introducing… The Better Part: A Christ-centered Resource for
Personal Prayer, by Fr. John Bartunek, LC, who also authored
Inside the Passion. Both books are available for purchase
from Circle Press (www.circlepressusa.com). Unfortunately, Circle Press does not
yet send apricot scones with their mail orders.
How can this
book help you with your new resolution?
If ever you’ve struggled
in your prayer life and have wished you had someone
to teach you how to pray well, the entire first
section of this book is an accessible, practical guide for
how to pray. St. Teresa of Avila said that a
person who does not do at least 15 minutes of
mental prayer a day is destined to remain a spiritual
midget. With its step-by-step practical guidance, this book will help
you to avoid such an awful fate.
|Father John Bartunek signing books at the International YFE in Atlanta.|
What should I pray
about? Can someone direct me in my prayer? It might
seem like an impossible, extravagant wish to ask for a
book that gives you over 300 meditations, but fear not:
The Better Part has 303, to be precise. Each meditation
is about three pages long and is based on a
short Gospel passage which it looks at from four points
of view: Christ the Lord, Christ the Teacher, Christ the
Friend, and Christ in My Life. Each subsection has its
own specific purpose:
- The “Christ the Lord” sections help the reader
to look at Christ as a life-model of how our
will and attitudes should be. It offers practical, down-to-earth guidance
in light of Christ’s example.
- The “Christ the Teacher” sections give
solid Catholic doctrine to enlighten the mind with lessons drawn
from the Gospel passage at hand.
- The “Christ the Friend” sections
give a more intimate, affective perspective on Christ, looking at
him not through the mind or will alone, but through
- The subsections entitled “Christ in My Life” take that
friendship to the level of prayer. These sections are written
in the first-person, as a simple, personal, and heartfelt dialogue
All of that richness is enclosed in each
meditation, each of which is prefaced by a small gem
of a quote from a saint, Church father, doctor of
Church, or Pope.
The Better Part is a versatile resource that
|The front and back jacket of the book have a quick reference to remember the meditation methodology.|
can be used not only for personal prayer, but also
for small-group study, since each meditation closes with a few
thought-provoking questions for discussion. In case the meditations provoke the
desire to learn more about a particular doctrine, the text
helpfully supplies references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The book also has some extra features that make it
an eminently practical resource. There are two indices at the
end. The first is a concordance that matches up the
meditations to the readings at daily Mass, in case a
reader prefers to follow the rhythm of the Church’s liturgy
for his daily prayer. The second, a topical index, helps
readers quickly locate particular virtues in the meditations. In case
that weren’t enough, Father Bartunek also included a mini “meditation
guide” on the inner flaps of the front and back
covers of the book, summarizing the basic steps of the
methodology of mental prayer in an accessible format. Such an
abundance of user-friendly resources makes The Better Part an excellent
tool for personal spiritual growth and for sharing the faith
We all have our moments of grace that
push and prod us onward in our spiritual life. We
might start out like Lazarus in the tomb, grow into
a Martha of feverish and complaining activism, and then only
gradually mature into a Mary of simple, loving, and prayerful
listening. But no matter where we stand, this book is
a gift that will help bring out the better part
in us, too: the potential contemplative, teacher, apostle… and saint.
order to buy the book follow this link.