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Innovative guide to Catholic prayer
Posted by Kevin Mark on 07/22/2015
Leah Libresco was a young high-profile American blogger contributing to the Patheos website from an atheist perspective. In 2012 she became the focus of media attention in the USA when she announced that she had converted to Catholicism. A graduate of Yale, Leah is widely read, intellectual and with a philosophical bent, it was her personal exploration of the nature of conscience that led her to belief in God.
She now produces a daily Catholic blog, “Unequally Yoked”, which she describes as “A geekly convert picks fights in good faith”: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/
Leah was raised an atheist in a non-religious household in Long Island, near New York, and first encountered Christian believers she found engaging and credible when at college. When she embraced the Catholic faith, she had no prior religious background by which to make sense of the belief and practices she now felt called to embrace.
Particularly challenging was becoming a person who prayed. In Arriving at Amen, Leah shares her experiences of coming to terms with seven key spiritual practices in the Catholic tradition that have shaped her new-found prayer life, and her often unusual and eclectic paths to doing so.
The spiritual practices Leah presents are petitionary prayer, Confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation), the daily Examen (based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius), the Rosary, the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours), the prayerful reading of Scripture known as Lectio divina, and the Mass. For example, she found the Rosary initially especially challenging, becoming overly concerned with “doing it right”. Drawing on her love of ballroom dancing she comes to understand praying the Rosary as being like learning the rhythm of a basic dance step. She just needs to keep that up and her dance partner will lead her and do the rest. In the Rosary, her “dance partner” is the Spirit.
Drawing on her various life-long interests ranging from literature to mathematics, from computer programming to stage musicals, Leah’s unique perspectives on these Catholic traditions may not all appeal to all readers. But I suspect there is something for everyone who is wishing a refreshing take on Catholicism, whether a long-time church-goer or someone considering the Church.
A testament to the appeal of this young woman’s fresh approach to Catholic belief and practice was the attendance of some 400 young adults at Archdiocese of Sydney’s “Theology on Tap” event in April 2015, just prior to the release of Arriving at Amen. A video of her presentation is available at: