Book Review: Paths to Prayer

Paths to Prayer: A Field Guide to Ten Catholic Traditions

by Pat Fosarelli
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

Have you ever heard someone speak of “Augustian spirituality” or “Ignatian Spirituality” or “Dominican spirituality” and not been sure exactly what he was talking about? What does it mean to speak about different schools of spiritual thought? If these are questions you would like to know the answer to, then “Paths to Prayer: A Field Guide to Ten Catholic Traditions” is the perfect book for you. Dr. Pat Fosarelli, a teacher at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, has written a concise, informative guide to ten major Catholic spiritual traditions.

Augustinian, Benedictine, Cistercian, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, Ignatian, Salesian, Lay, and Mystical spirituality are all explored. Fosarelli offers a historical background to each movement and the saints that inspired it. She then goes on to explain its key features. Lastly, she offers well-known examples of persons who have made this spirituality their own, and references for learning more. Her section on “Lay Spirituality” is particularly interesting. Rooted in the teachings of Vatican II, it emphasizes the role lay persons are called to play in the spiritual life of the Church.

While certainly not meant to be an exhaustive study of any of these traditions, “Paths to Prayer” does provide a wealth of information. As Fosarelli states, “This is a book that is meant to get readers started, so that, having a better understanding of some of the major Catholic spiritual traditions, readers can then move on to traditions they might like to explore.” She has succeeded admirably in that aim.

“Paths to Prayer” is for anyone seeking a general overview of different traditions of Catholic spiritual thought. It would also be incredibly useful in a college course on spirituality or for use by a Catholic book club.


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