BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Theology of Prayer

One of you readers sent a book from my Amazon wishlist (thanks, S).  I have started to dig in and it is great.

Joseph Clifford Fenton’s The Theology of Prayer


I was immediately struck by the different style of language than that which we often see these days.  This book was written in 1939 in happier days of clarity and charity.  Msgr. Fenton was a profession of theology at Catholic University of America between 1944-1963.  This volume updates some notes, etc.

Fenton was a peritus for Cardinal Ottaviani at the Second Vatican Council.  That should give you an idea of his reliability.

Here are shots of a couple of pages,to give you an idea of how crisp this book is.

This is a keeper.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    The writing sounds very Dominican. Thanks be to God.

  2. Eric says:

    Just ordered it!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. Eric says:

    Yes! My first star baby. Anyone who hasn’t heard of Fenton, should. He was a warrior during V2.

  4. Julia_Augusta says:

    This has been on my wishlist for several months. Thanks Father for posting about it. I’ll buy it using your Amazon button.

  5. Pingback: TVESDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

  6. Elizabeth D says:

    These kinds of things that appear to turn topics like prayer into an orderly computer code like format are quite a hyper-masculine approach. From conversations with other women I can say I am not the only woman who values men partly because they tend to think in an orderly way and that is pleasing and valuable. But taking it to such an extreme as the above example also suggests to me inevitably why the different approach of women is a necessary complement.

    My spiritual life book study group, having worked our way in detail through The Interior Castle, The Way of Perfection, The Story of a Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, and the Dark Night of the Soul, has now begun the Book of Her life by Saint Teresa. The thing about these Doctors of the Church and great friends of God who are so expert on prayer is that the long of the short of prayer is that it is a love relationship, a friendship, a filial relationship, a spousal relationship. Saint Teresa’s writing is famously messy and colloquial, Saint John of the Cross is far more orderly. The thing that leaves me the most flat about the above example of a “computer executable” of the prayer of petition is that it fails to begin with God’s initiative. Maybe the book discusses that at some other moment. But man never thinks of turning to God wholly of man’s own accord. Already a relationship exists which is hardly alluded to by the above cardboard theology.

  7. un-ionized says:

    Elizabeth D, I’m more or less wired to think like a man, as they say, but, as you indicate, it is good to not overdose on any one approach to spirituality. God approached us first, it’s true.

  8. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Is there anything in it about the official prayer of The Church, the Liturgy of the Hours?

  9. Anneliese says:

    I would like to recommend “Beginning to Pray” by Anthony Bloom. It’s a fairly short book and good if you’re just starting out.

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