QUAERITUR: Good traditional prayer books.

From a reader:

Firstly, thank you for such a wonderful blog. Your analysis, insights, humor, and pastoral concern are all blessings in my daily life.

Of particular interest are the prayers that you post. I came into the Church this past Easter and absolutely adore the older, well worn prayers that you offer to us readers from our beautiful tradition.

When I pray them I am surprised by how much these prayers come off as “from within the trenches.” No abstract niceties or fluffy theology, but rather a soul in the midst of battle calling for help, peace, and courage!

In any case, this leads me to my question. Is there a particular book of prayers that you would recommend as a resource for these gems of our tradition?

Thank you for reading. You and your readers are in my daily prayers.

Thanks for the prayers and the kind words.

I will open this up to the readers.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Our Catholic Identity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Nan says:

    I like my reprint of the 1908 Fr. Lasance book – My Prayer Book by Fr Lasance and Fulton Sheen’s Wartime Prayer book. I’m flirting with Shorter Christian Prayer, which is a smaller version of the one volume Liturgy of the Hours with morning, evening and night prayers. I used to have the Confraternity of the Precious Blood prayer book from 1955 which is even a tinier version and I loved it and want to find another copy; it was in my laptop bag when the laptop was stolen, as were my bible and a couple of other prayer books. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the joke was on the thief.

  2. jasoncpetty says:

    Father Frey’s Book of Psalms, $7, arranged so as to be basically a pocket breviary. Indices in the front list Psalms appropriate for certain situations.

  3. Jerry says:

    My Prayer Book by Fr. F.X. Lasance

    Most traditional missals contain a large number of prayers that can be used outside Mass. I am especially attached to the 1945 St. Andrew Daily Missal, which also contains a brief description of each Sunday and Holy Day and a fairly lengthy doctrinal, liturgical, and historical notes for each liturgical season.

  4. Tradster says:

    For a great collection of traditional prayers, plus lots of other “stuff”, my favorite prayer book is Christian Warfare, published by the SSPX Canada (http://www.christian-warfare.com).

  5. aladextra says:

    In my opinion, the Baltimore Prayer Book is tough to beat (also called the Manual of Payers). Roman Catholic Books has a reprint, but used copies tend to be plentiful. Its unvarnished truth was instrumental in my conversion after I picked it up from a used book sale.

    Also this website has a good list from commenters (ha ha)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. acardnal says:

    “Blessed Be God” by Angelus Press

    “Father John Hardon’s Catholic Prayer Book with Meditations”

    “My Prayer Book”, by Fr. Lasance

    “The Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book” by Fr. Lasance

    “Handbook of Prayers” by Scepter Press

  7. Brent S says:

    Blessed Be God” by Frs. C. Callan & J. McHugh

  8. ReginaMarie says:

    My favorite personal prayer book is The Byzantine Book of Prayer by the Byzantine-Ruthenian Metropolitan Province & published by Byzantine Seminary Press: http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/

    This prayer book contains the Ordinary for the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom & St. Basil the Great, private morning prayers, selections from Matins, private evening prayers, selections from Vespers, prayers in preparation for Communion, prayers in thanksgiving for Communion, prayers for various intentions, selections from the Psalter, the 8 Tones of the Resurrection, selections from the Triodion & Pentecostarion, various devotional services, Common Troparia, selections from the Menaion, & the text of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Two other favorites are…
    The Publican’s Prayer Book from the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton:

    The Rural Life Prayer Book. I purchased the little gem from The Society for the Preservation of Catholic Culture a number of years ago. It may also be purchased through the National Catholic Rural Life Conference: http://www.ncrlc.com/page.aspx?ID=73

  9. dahveed says:

    Blessed Be God is a wonderful traditional prayer book. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    I use this one – although not the large print edition. I’m not quite there yet. Close, but not quite.

    Catholic Book of Prayers

    It contains a lot of traditional prayers and some newer ones, but nothing that I would consider “weird”.

    I also had, but cannot find a very small, little black book, called “My Favorite Novenas”. It was smaller than the size of an index card and had a lot of popular novena prayers in it. I’m sure it will pop up someday when I am looking for something else.

  11. Sonshine135 says:

    The Knights of Columbus have an online one: http://www.kofc.org/un/en/resources/cis/cis309.pdf I believe you can get a small print version ( I have one) from the kofc bookstore at http://www.kofc.org

  12. Geoffrey says:

    Handbook of Prayers” by Fr Socias is excellent, with the Order of Mass for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and many prayers in Latin and English.

    “Blessed be God” is a great traditional prayer book (re-print, old English), but it has very little Latin.

    Lately my standard go-to prayer book has become “Manual of Prayers”, which was originally put together by the North American College for its seminarians, but it became very popular with the laity. There are many prayers in Latin, but without accent marks.

  13. dep says:

    The first and most basic (and in my view, essential) prayer book is Handbook of Prayers published by Midwest Theological Forum. The one issue I have with the book is its insistence on using modern pronouns, which does flatten prayers; you can learn to read past that aspect pretty easily, though.

  14. feeneyja says:

    Just get the 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal. A treasure trove!!!

  15. Titus says:

    There is Blessed Be God: A Complete Catholic Prayer Book, by Fr Charles J. Callan. It’s handy, but it doesn’t have as many litanies and such as I would like, and a lot of its space is taken up with Mass propers, for which most people have a separate book. But it’s a nice little book, available from Preserving Christian Publications.

    Another option would be to get a Raccolta. The grants aren’t good anymore, of course, but the prayers are.

  16. Nan says:

    @Jerry, in a huge break from tradition, I have a St. Andrew’s missal; until I found it, I had no idea there was anything but a St. Joseph’s Missal as the church in my mom’s hometown is St. Joseph so they went with the theme. Last year on All Saints Day, my aunt visited my mom and left my grandma’s St. Joseph’s Missal for me; published in 1928 and holding a collection of holy cards that includes the ordination card of a hometown boy, whose sister became a religious sister, the funeral card of another priest and a holy card from the Bishop of Duluth to pray for the Vatican council. There are others but these are the highlights. My aunt isn’t religious so had no idea it was All Saints Day or that both cards and missal would be meaningful to me; she probably didn’t realize there were holy cards.

  17. Andkaras says:

    Fr John Hardon issued a lovely purse size red leatherette prayer book that has become my go to and travel must , also the magnificat subscription ,simply indispensable for me ,and anyone wishing to do a daily office. Great for beginners and busy family types.There are a lot of others out there and eventually you may want to acquire a number of them for purposes of rare prayers and maybe even learn some of them in Latin? get a good Catholic catalog and read the descriptions to find the kind you might be interested in.

  18. Marysann says:

    Take a look at “Blessed Be God” by the Very Rev. Charles J. Callan, OP, STM, and the Very Rev. John A. McHugh, OP, STM. The copyright date is 1959, but it has been reprinted by Preserving Christian Publications of Boonville, New York. It is filled with traditional prayers and devotions. It also has the ordinary of the EF Mass, as well as the collects, epistles and gospels for all Sundays and holy days for the EF Mass. I love it. I loaned it to my husband when we went to the EF Mass on All Saints’ Day, and he was very impressed with it, too. Another wonderful old prayer book is “The Catholic Family Book of Novenas” originally published by John J. Crawley & Co. Inc. of New York in 1956. I know that this has been republished but I can’t remember by whom. This little book is filled with traditional novenas for our Lord, the Holy Ghost, our Lady, various saints, and for the poor souls. It is illustrated with lovely colored pictures, and uses medieval style letters for the first word in each novena. You can’t find beautiful prayer books like this anymore. Mine was a gift from a friend who bought it on e-bay. I also found one for my sister there so they most show up frequently. This book is worth looking for.

  19. Bea says:

    has always been my mainstay for orientation for holiness. (not that I’m anywhere close to achieving it) but it helps keep me oriented on my final destination and patience in adversity.

    My husbands favorite is

    These 2 are quite easy to find in Catholic bookstores as both are very popular.

    May God Bless you in your quest for holiness.

  20. Patrick-K says:

    Midwest Theological Forum has a Handbook of Prayers in a few different formats. It includes good, traditional prayers (some with Latin text opposite the English) and some line drawing/engraving type illustrations.

  21. LadyMarchmain says:

    Baronius press (baroniuspress.com) publishes the Missal of the 1962 EF which contains many beautiful, traditional prayers. They also publish the Raccolta, a collection of indulgenced prayers that is a treasure trove of devotions. As well there is the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which they offer in a beautiful edition with Gregorian chant settings.

    The FSSP has an online Breviary, exquisitely illustrated, with narratives of the saints, the Liturgy of the hours, and all the collects, which you may access online for a minimal donation at breviary.net.

  22. Filumene says:

    This is a lovely little book. Fits nicely in purses and coat pockets. HERE

  23. pberginjr says:

    I’ll echo the previous writer (jasoncpetty) on Frey’s Psalter. I carry it with me in my bag for work and is the closest I can get (at the moment) to saying the Office (it’s the entire psalter broken up into the different Hours of the day, so just the psalms from the Office, no Antiphons, Responsories, Readings, etc.).

    I’ve also been helped by ‘The Original’ Father’s Manual (there’s a Mother’s version too) by Fr. Coomes, SJ (publ. 1969, don’t be put off by the SJ or the year). It’s generally good and helped me to prepare for my vocation as a father (while wife was pregnant). It has, I presume, mostly newly composed prayers the needs of fatherhood and married life, a few of the litanies (Sacred Heart, Holy Name, St. Joseph), Divine Praises, Anima Christi, Memorare, Suscipe, a good and thorough examen (although not labelled as such), and reflections on the Mass. It is post-Vatican 2, prefers you/your to thee/thou/thy, and probably doesn’t really fit the “traditional prayer book” bill, but it is readily available (every Catholic Bookstore I’ve been to has it), affordable ($9 or $10), and portable (3.5 in. x 5 in. x .5 in. or so).

    Thanks to others for mentioning the Lasance again, I’ve been meaning to get one but keep forgetting about it.

  24. Priam1184 says:

    The first 100 pages or so of the 1962 Missal contain an absolutely priceless collection of prayers for the soul engaged in spiritual warfare.

  25. Quanah says:

    Anything by Fr. Lasance. You can’t go wrong.

  26. MaterDei says:

    Fr. Lasance wrote two great traditional books for young people. “The Young Man’s Guide,” and “The Catholic Girl’s Guide.” It has over 200 pages of prayers and devotions in the back, the rest is spiritual reading.

  27. Gaetano says:

    The Key of Heaven (sometimes listed as the Golden Key of Heaven). Some new reprints exist, but you can find an old printing (even early 20th century) for a few dollars on eBay.

  28. stroseym says:

    The Sacred Heart Book” by Fr. Lasance (Leaflet Missal has a copy of it). Also, a good translation of the Psalms. I use St. Joseph’s New Catholic Version of the Psalms (similar to the RSVCE translation).

  29. AlexB says:

    The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook has the Latin prayers, Litanies, and Little Offices. It can be thought of as essentially a superset of Blessed Be God.

    You can view the entire book on Google Books.

  30. Clinton R. says:

    I also recommend Fr. Lasance’s The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook. Many beautiful prayers, many of in Latin and translated into English.

  31. James Joseph says:

    I second the ‘Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary’. The original priestly psalter.

    Thank you St. John of Damascus!

  32. Allan S. says:

    Blessed Be God hands down.

  33. FloridaJoan says:

    Father Z:

    Thank you so much for this blog. After reading this entry and whilst searching for a copy of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius ( at our Parish library), I happened to notice there My Prayer Book by Father Lasance. Naturally I brought it home and marvel at the wonderful prayers within. I have since ordered my own copy( a real treasure) off Ebay. Thanks again Father and readers for the recommendations.

    pax et bonum

  34. AspiringMysticMonk says:

    If you, like me, are a big fan of Carmelite spirituality and a devotee of St. Therese, I highly recommend the Little Flower prayer book by TAN Publishing. It’s a reprint from 1927 and is the only book in current print to have the Carmelite Rite of the Mass in it, though it automatically includes the propers of the Feast of St. Therese. It also include the readings of every Sunday in the old Carmelite Rite along with a great variety of little prayers. I never leave home without it and my Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  35. norancor says:

    Another treasure is the Raccolta, or Manual of Indulgenced Prayers.0

    This version is the 1957 (the last major one) with an addendum of prayers by Pius XII and even a couple of John XXIII, published under Cardinal Spellman in 1962. I have the 1990s version from Marian House, which you can find used, but the one above is a newer hardcover, bigger version that has both black and red lettering, and is VERY nice. There is a stunning array of prayers in it.

    If you search the free eBooks of Google, there are several Raccoltas scanned from the late 1800s to around 1900, to see the kinds of prayers and categories. Just bear in mind most every indulgence listed there is old school, and would now be a partial indulgence.

  36. norancor says:

    For Latin only, someone linked to Preces Selectae above. I have had that one since the 1990s also, and even though it is intended for priests, and has a section just for hearing confessions, offering Mass, the Office, etc, it is a small, thin, lovely Latin only prayer book with a wide array of well known and not so well known prayers.

  37. lana says:

    20 Holy Hours” by Fr Mateo Crawley-Boevey is great if you like Holy Hours. And I love “A Prayerbook of Favorite Litanies” from TAN books.

    Finally, I love the prayers of preparation for Mass that are in the “Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass”, the little red missal you see everywhere for the EF. I had never seen those prayers anywhere and they make all the difference. (I really wish OCP or even Magnificat would put them in their missals). The 1000+ page Missals have the same prayers and more, but a) not very portable and b) I really don’t have much time to say more than what is in the little red missal anyways.

  38. Austin says:

    Let me put in a plug for the Ordinariate volume — traditional prayers in traditional language (some of Anglican origin, but thoroughly vetted).

    Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham

Comments are closed.