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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Bringing Out the Better Part
A new book by Father John Bartunek, LC, is now available from Circle Press.

<i>The Better Part</i>, by Father John Bartunek, LC
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.

So you 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 to ask?

Not anymore!

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 ( 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
Father John Bartunek signing books at the International YFE in Atlanta.
Father John Bartunek signing books at the International YFE in Atlanta.
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.

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 heart.
  • 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 with Christ.

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.
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 with others.

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.

In order to buy the book follow this link.



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